RUBEN in SEIGNOSSE

L'EPOPEE DU RUBEN.

Le cargo panaméen RUBEN, lancé en 1951 des chantiers Weser de Brème sous le nom de DELIA a quitté Bayonne dans la soirée du 29 novembre 1976. Il fait route au nord, direction Dunkerque. Il navigue au large de Lacanau en Gironde lorsque la tempête se lève. Il tombe en panne de machine et commence à dériver. Les courants l'entrainent vers Mimizan où l'attendent déjà le VIRGO et l'APOLLONIAN WAVE. Il talonne plusieurs fois mais son équipage parvient a remettre la machine en route. Le navire parvient à se dégager et son commandant finlandais de 72 ans décide de mettre cap au sud, vers Pasajes pour y réparer ses avaries. Lorsque il a touché le fond, la barre du RUBEN a été endommagée et le cargo n'est plus vraiment maître de ses manoeuvres. Ll'ordre est alors donné de mouiller l'ancre en face de la "plage des Bourdaines" à Seignosse pour y attendre l'assistance des remorqueurs.
Hélas, poussé par les courants, le cargo chasse sur son ancre et les vagues le poussent sur la "plage des casernes" à Seignosse. Nous sommes le 5 décembre 1976, il est 23 heures.

Les secours s'organisent depuis la plage toute la nuit et au matin à 8h, grâce à la marée basse, l'équipage est évacué.

Le cargo est en bon état. Son armateur désire de le renflouer. Plusieurs tentatives vont échouer au mois de janvier 1977 et bientôt, le RUBEN est vendu aux enchères. Au mois de mars Monsieur Voisin, un entrepreneur de Coex en Vendée rachète l'épave et s'engage à sortir le RUBEN de sa prison de sable. Après de multiples tentatives, le cargo est enfin renfloué début août 1977 et gagne Bayonne d’où il était parti 8 mois plus tôt. Il y restera 1 an. Le coût du déséchouage, les frais de remise en état sont trop importants. Son propriétaire, M. Voisin ne peut pas payer. Le RUBEN est saisi par les autorités françaises et est vendu à la casse. Il sera démoli en 1978 à Zumaya en Espagne.



RUBEN un Dunkirk. Photo : Frédéric Bogaert

Ruben in February 1977 - Photo : Ph Lauga

THE EPIC OF THE RUBEN.

Panamanian cargo ship RUBEN, launched as DELIA in 1951 by the shipyards Weser in Bremen, left Bayonne in the evening of November 29, 1976. She is en route northbound, towards Dunkirk. The vessel is off Lacanau, when the storm raises. The ship suffers an the engine breakdown and she begins to drift. The currents drag her towards Mimizan, where the VIRGO and the Apollonian WAVE are waiting for her on the beach. She touches the ground several times, but her crew manages to start the engine again. The ship saves herself and her 72-years old Finnish Master decides to go head south up to Pasajes to repair his vessel. When she touched the ground, the bar of the RUBEN was damaged and the ship is not longer really under control. So the Master gives order to drop the anchor off the beach "des Bourdaines" in Seignosse. There, the vessel waits for the assistance of tugs.
Unfortunately, driven by currents, the ship drags her anchors and the waves push her on the beach "des casernes" in Seignosse. We are December 5, 1976, it is 11 p.m.

The rescue is organized from the beach all night long and at 8 a.m in the following morning, thanks to the low tide, the crew is evacuated from the vessel.

The ship is in good condition, her owner decided to try to refloat her. During January 1977, several attempts will fail and soon, the RUBEN is auctioned. In March, Mr. Voisin, a contractor from Coex in the Vendee region buys the wreck and swears he will save the RUBEN from her prison of sand. After several attempts, she is finally refloated at the beginning of August 1977 and arrives in Bayonne in tow, Bayonne from where she had left, 8 months earlier. There she will stay 1 year. The too heavy cost of the salvage operation, hull repairs are too expensive. The owner of the RUBEN, Mr Voisin, can't pay. The vessels is seized and soon sold for scrap. She will be broken up in 1978 in Zumaya, Spain.


Ruben in February 1977 - Photo : Ph Lauga

Very nice picture by Gilbert Saint-Guirons

Propeller of the Ruben : Photo Gilbert Saint-Guirons

RUBEN - Photo from my personal collection

Photo made during preparations for refloating the Ruben

The Ruben is for sale - Photo from my personal collection (Sud-Ouest 1977)

Failed attempt, 2000 people went on the beach - Photo from my personal collection (Sud-Ouest 1977)

RUBEN during one attempt to refloat her - Photo from my personal collection

Another attempt, always a lot of crowd on the beach - Photo from my personal collection (Sud-Ouest 1977)

Mr Voisin won his bet. The Ruben finaly left the Seignosse's Beach on 02-08-77 and reached the port of Bayonne in tow with a list on starboard side- Photo from my personal collection (Sud-Ouest 1977)

Ruben is back in Bayonne. She is moored at the Blancpignon dock

Ruben is back in Bayonne - Photos from my personal collection

The RUBEN is entering the dry dock of the port of Bayonne
Photo from my personal collection

The RUBEN into the drydock of the port of Bayonne - Photo from my personal collection (Sud-Ouest 1977)


Nothing to do. The RUBEN is in a too bad condition. Repairs are too expensive. Mr. Voisin can't find a shipping company interested in buying his vessel.

The French shipowner, who had worked so hard to refloat the ship, must resolve to sell her to a Spanish shipbreaking yard. On July 21, 1978 the RUBEN leaves the port of Bayonne in tow, up to Zumaya.

(Photos from "Le marin", 1978)


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