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Sarah

Former Name(s)

Litchfield (Litchfield I)

Description

Refrigerated cargo ship

Length

168’ (51m)

Tonnage

409 tons

Built

1960

Flag state(s)

Reported to be Honduras, but actually Panama

Later the Principality of Sealand

Stations Housed

Radio New York International

(23rd - 28th July 1987 and 15th - 18th October 1988)

Ultimate fate

Scrapped after being used in the film ‘Blown Away’ in 1993

Sarah

(Photo Hank Hayes)

Following the failure of the second attempt to launch RNYI in 1988 the MV Sarah remained in Boston Harbour. There were stories in September 1991 that she had been sold to a new consortium, MPLX, in which John England (who had earlier planned to re-launch Radio London from an offshore base - WRLI) was involved with an associate, Genie Baskir. They had plans with groups in China to establish an offshore station, Radio Tianamin, and for this purpose the Sarah was to be renamed Liberty. There were also some stories that the ship may have been used to broadcast programmes to North America using the Radio Caroline call sign, but nothing definite came of  either of these plans.

In  June 1993 the  Sarah was sold to a subsidiary of MGM studios and used in a scene involving an explosion on board ship. The film "Blown Away", directed by Stephen Hawkins and starring Jeff Bridges as Jimmy Dare of the Boston Bomb Squad centres on his pursuit of an Irish terrorist, played by Tommy Lee Jones.  

She was converted for her role in the film - a new plywood deck was constructed on the ship, 5,000 feet of fuse wire was laid beneath this false deck leading to 30 pounds of explosives and 500 gallons of petrol. The explosion, which was carried out  by members of the Boston Police Explosive Ordinance Unit, was watched by a large crowd which had gathered in the Boston Harbour area.

Two stuntmen leapt from the deck into the Harbour just seconds before the explosion (which were actually four separate explosions triggered at five second intervals) sending a 300 foot fireball into the air. Hundreds of windows in buildings were blown out by the explosion and later the film company was inundated with damage claims for cracked walls and ceilings. Fortunately the producers had taken out large insurance policies to cover such claims - one building near the film set on the quayside was insured for $20 million.

AFTER OFFSHORE  RADIO

Above: two screen shots from the film ‘Blown Away’ showing the scene where the Sarah is blown up.

(For more details about the film, and the involvement of the Sarah visit the Offshore Radio on the Big (and Small) Screen Gallery in the Basement)

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Thanks to Martin van der Ven for allowing us to use some additional information from the Broadcasting Fleet section of the Offshore Radio Guide  in this Gallery

 Floor 2

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Floor 2

Ships - The Main Fleet

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In her days working as Lichfield 1