March 16, 1844:
Albert Moor of Hampden, Maine receives a patent for a "bomb lance
," the first explosive harpoon deployed by whaling fleets. An explosive charge attached to a barbed harpoon hastens the death of a whale, greatly increasing whalers' ability to wipe them out.
March 16, 1978:
A major winter storm damaged the rudder of the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Amoco Cadiz
. The ship drifted and ran aground the next day, dropping 69 million gallons of crude oil into the English Channel. Its identical sister ship, the M/T Haven, ran aground and spilled an estimated 45 million gallons off — and on — the Italian Riviera thirteen years later.
March 16, 1979:
"The China Syndrome
", a film starring Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, is released. The story features a near-nuclear meltdown at a mythical California nuclear power plant. Twelve days later, at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, life imitates art as a reactor suffers a partial meltdown.
March 16, 1999:
The Ford Excursion makes its debut at the Dallas Auto Show
(a later model of the vehicle is show at right). With Ford on a campaign to sell its environmental virtue, and with environmentalists on the warpath against gas-guzzlers, the massive, 12 mile-per-gallon SUV draws fire. Dan Becker of the Sierra Club calls the car a "suburban assault vehicle."
March 16, 2000:
Fourteen beaked whales, two minke whales and a spotted dolphin go into a sand bar in the northern Bahamas. The marine mammals beach themselves
, and all are discovered to have ruptured eardrums. The U.S. Navy concedes that its sonar testing was responsible.