The 29th Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) Flotilla of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) had been in continuous action in the English Channel since D-Day (6 June 1944). During that time, it had fought a series of running battles with German MTBs and destroyers. On the morning of 14 February 1945, the 29th MTB Flotilla was in the Belgian port of Ostend to rearm and refuel in preparation for night patrol duty along the Belgian coast.
The crew of MTB 464 drained a considerable amount of water from its central fuel tank. In the process, they inadvertently pumped 190 litres of high-octane fuel into the water. About 4 p.m., the volatile fuel slick ignited. Canadian sailors rushed to extinguish the blaze, but the wooden MTBs quickly caught fire. Ammunition and fuel tanks exploded with a deafening roar, and the concussion shattered virtually every window in Ostend.
Lieutenant William Hale of MTB 466 ordered his crew to evacuate, but he remained to try and contain the fire. As he battled the conflagration, MTB 466 exploded. Nearby Royal Navy (RN) MTBs were soon engulfed in flames.
The 29th MTB Flotilla disaster claimed 35 RN and 29 RCN lives and destroyed five of the 29th's MTBs and seven RN MTBs. With the end of the war in sight, the RCN decided to disband the 29th MTB Flotilla on 8 March 1945. The survivors declined an offer to join the RN 65th MTB Flotilla and returned to Canada.