The S.S. Ohio, the T2 tanker that replenished Malta during the Second World War in 1942 saved the Islands from capitulation. En route, the tanker was bombarded and heavily damaged but remained afloat. This historic event provided a research opportunity to analyze the tanker's residual strength and how she survived. A strength assessment of the damaged hull indicated that the S.S. Ohio was at risk of collapse. However, simple beam theory indicated that when least damaged, large bending moments were exerted on the ship's midship but diminished with further damage, providing evidence on how the S.S. Ohio survived, shedding light on this 75-year-old mystery.

1. Introduction

The T2 tanker, S.S. Ohio, is enshrined in the Maltese history as the saver of the islands during the Second World War (WWII). On the 15th of August 1942, the S.S. Ohio was towed into the Grand Harbour of Valletta, Malta, carrying vital oil replenishments essential to continue the fight against the enemy. Had it not been for the cargo the T2 tanker was carrying, the island fortress of Malta would have capitulated to the Axis Powers within 3 weeks (Caruana 1992; Holland 2003; Pearson 2004). En route to Malta, knowing how important the oil tanker was to the survival of the Maltese, the Axis Powers attacked her relentlessly, inflicting heavy damage. Yet the tanker remained afloat, but on the brink of sinking. Those living and witnessing the event were mesmerized on how the S.S. Ohio survived. The historians hypothesize that the tanker survived without breaking in half, thanks to her adequately strengthened and fully welded hull which was capable to withstand such an onslaught (Shankland & Hunter 1983). Thus, through this historic event, a research opportunity was identified. A residual strength analysis was conducted to assess the damage sustained, with the main aim to confirm or disprove the historical hypothesis.

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