At 3 a.m. on March 27, 1971, the U.S. flag vessel TEXACO OKLAHOMA, fully loaded with a cargo of black oil, broke up and sank about 120 miles NE of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in heavy seas. The ship was en route from Port Arthur, TX to Boston, Massachusetts with 44 officers and crewmen on board, many from the southeast Texas area. After an exhaustive search only 13 survivors were found – 31 perished. The Gulf Coast community was understandably rocked by the event and several memorial services for the victims were held ashore and at sea.

The tragedy would have a lasting impact on Port Arthur and the nation at large. In 1976, a Memorial Sundial was erected in Port Arthur dedicated to the TEXACO OKLAHOMA and her crew – it is the site of an annual memorial service for all seamen lost at sea. Further, the sinking of the TEXACO OKLAHOMA and other similar incidents in the early 1970s necessitated the decommissioning of 200 WWII era vessels.

The Museum of the Gulf Coast will remember the tragedy of the TEXACO OKLAHOMA with a small temporary display on view in the Maritime exhibits section beginning May 4, 2011. Hosted in association with the Seafarers Center in Port Arthur, the display features photographs, documents, news articles, and objects from the Museum’s collection. The display will draw attention to 40th anniversary events hosted by the Seafarers Center which will include a symposium and memorial service on Friday, March 25, 2011. Projected speakers/guests will include survivors and family members of those who perished. The Museum’s exhibit will remain on view through International Seafarers Day, May 22, 2011.

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is owned and operated by the Port Arthur Historical Society in partnership with Lamar State College – Port Arthur and the City of Port Arthur. It is located at 700 Procter Street in downtown Port Arthur and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. For more information about the Museum please visit or call 409.982.7000. The Seafarers Center is located at 401 Houston Avenue in Port Arthur. For more information about 40th Anniversary memorial events please contact the Apostleship of the Sea at 409.985.4545.