The S.S. Grandcamp was originally christened the S. S. Benjamin R. Curtis in Los Angeles in 1942. It served with the Pacific fleets during World War II. After the war was over, the U.S. government offered the ship to France to aid in the restoration of Europe. A French line renamed it S.S. Grandcamp after the beach at Normandy, "Grandcamp-les-bains."
The Grandcamp moored at dockside.
The day of the Texas City Disaster began as an ordinary day on April 16, 1947. The weather was unseasonably cool at 56 degrees, and there was a 20 mph wind from the North Northwest.6 The cargo ship S.S. Grandcamp had docked in Texas City five days earlier.
Before arriving in Texas City, the Grandcamp made several stops, including one in Belgium where sixteen cases of small arms ammunition were loaded onto the ship. After crossing the Atlantic, it docked in Cuba and Houston to exchange several freights of commonplace items like twine and peanuts before anchoring in the Port of Texas City at the North Slip of Pier O. The Grandcamp had docked in Texas City to pick up a load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.