Sunday, December 4, 2016

Missing at Sea - Naval Disasters in History by Logan Marshall 1914

Missing at Sea - Naval Disasters in History by Logan Marshall 1914

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THE danger of collision with icebergs has always been one of the most deadly that confront the mariner. Indeed, so well recognized is this peril of the Newfoundland Banks, where the Labrador current in the early spring and summer months floats southward its ghostly argosy of icy pinnacles detached from the polar ice caps, that the government hydrographic offices and the maritime exchanges spare no pains to collate and disseminate the latest bulletins on the subject.


A most remarkable case of an iceberg collision is that of the Guion Liner, Arizona, in 1879. She was then the greyhound of the Atlantic, and the largest ship afloat—5750 tons except the Great Eastern. Leaving New York in November for Liverpool, with 509 souls aboard, she was coursing across the Banks, with fair weather but dark, when, near midnight, about 250 miles east of St. John's, she rammed a monster ice island at full speed eighteen knots. Terrific was the impact.

The welcome word was passed along that the ship, though sorely stricken, would still float until she could make harbor. The vast white terror had lain across her course,

Showing the bulk and formation under water and the consequent danger to vessels even without actual contact with the visible part of the iceberg, stretching so far each way that, when described, it was too late to alter the helm. Its giant shape filled the foreground, towering high above the masts, grim and gaunt and ghastly, immovable as the adamantine buttresses of a frowning seaboard, while the liner lurched and staggered like a wounded thing in agony as her engines slowly drew her back from the rampart against which she had flung herself.

She was headed for St. John's at slow speed, so as not to strain the bulkhead too much, and arrived there thirty-six hours later. That little port—the crippled ship's hospital—has seen many a strange sight come in from the sea, but never a more astounding spectacle than that which the Arizona presented the Sunday forenoon she entered there.

"Begob, captain!" said the pilot, as he swung himself over the rail. "I've heard of carrying coals to Newcastle, but this is the first time I've seen a steamer bringing a load of ice into St. John's."

They are a grim race, these sailors, and, the danger over, the captain's reply was: "We were lucky, my man, that we didn't all go to the bottom in an ice box."


But to the one wounded ship that survives collision with a berg, a dozen perish. Presumably, when the shock comes, it loosens their bulkheads and they fill and founder, or the crash may injure the boilers or engines, which explode and tear out the sides, and the ship goes down like a plummet. As long ago as 1841, the steamer President, with 120 people aboard, crossing from New York to Liverpool in March, vanished from human ken. In 1854, in the same month, the City of Glasgow left Liverpool for Philadelphia with 480 souls, and was never again heard of. In February, 1856, the Pacific, from Liverpool for New York, carrying 185 persons, passed away down to a sunless sea. In May, 1870, the City of Boston, from that port for Liverpool, mustering 191 souls, met a similar fate. It has always been thought that these ships were sunk by collision with icebergs or floes. As shipping traffic has expanded, the losses have been more frequent. In February, 1892, the Naronic, from Liverpool for New York; in the same month in 1896, the State of Georgia, from Aberdeen for Boston; in February, 1899, the Alleghany, from New York for Dover; and once more in February, 1902, the Huronian, from Liverpool for St. John's—all disappeared without leaving a trace. Between February and May, the Grand Banks are most infested with ice, and collision therewith is' the most likely explanation of the loss of these steamers, all well manned and in splendid trim, and meeting only the storms which scores of other ships have braved without a scathe.


Among the important marine disasters recorded since 1866 are the following:

1866, Jan. 11.—Steamer London, on her way to Melbourne, foundered in the Bay of Biscay; 220 lives lost.
1866, Oct. 3.—Steamer Evening Star, from New York to New Orleans, foundered; about 250 lives lost.
1867, Oct. 29.—Royal Mail steamers Rhone and Wye and about fifty other vessels driven ashore and wrecked at St Thomas, West Indies, by a hurricane; about 1,000 lives lost.
1873, Jan. 22.—British steamer Northfleet sunk in collision off Dungeness; 300 lives lost
1873, Nov. 23.—White Star liner Atlantic wrecked off Nova Scotia; 547 lives lost.
1873, Nov. 23.—French line Ville du Havre, from New York to Havre, in collision with ship Locharn and sunk in sixteen minutes; 110 lives lost.
1874, Dec. 24.—Emigrant vessel Cospatrick took fire and sank off Auckland; 476 lives lost.
1875, May 7.—Hamburg Mail steamer Schiller wrecked in fog on Scilly Islands; 200 lives lost.
1875, Nov. 4.—American steamer Pacific in collision thirty miles southwest of Cape Flattery; 236 lives lost.
1878, March 24.—British training ship Eurydice, a frigate, foundered near the Isle of Wight; 300 lives lost.
1878, Sept. 3.—British iron steamer Princess Alice sunk in the Thames River; 700 lives lost.
1878, Dec. 18.—French steamer Byzantin sunk in collision in the Dardanelles with the British steamer Rinaldo; 210 lives lost.
1879, Dec. 2.—Steamer Borussia sank off the coast of Spain; 174 lives lost.
1880, Jan. 31.—British trading ship Atlanta left Bermuda with 290 men and was never heard from.
1881, Aug. 30.—Steamer Teuton wrecked off the Cape of Good Hope; 200 lives lost.
1883, July 3.—Steamer Daphne turned turtle in the Clyde; 124 lives lost.
1884, Jan. 18.—American steamer City of Columbus wrecked off Gay Head Light, Massachusetts; 99 lived lost.
1884, July 23.—Spanish steamer Gijon and British steamer Lux in collision off Finisterre; 150 lives lost.
1887, Jan. 29.—Steamer Kapunda in collision with bark Ada Melore off coast of Brazil; 300 lives lost.
1887, Nov. 15.—British steamer Wah Young caught fire between Canton and Hong Kong; 400 lives lost.
1888, Sept. 13.—Italian steamship Sud America and steamer La France in collision near the Canary Islands; 89 lives lost.
1889, March 16.—United States warships Trenton, Vandalia and Nipsic and German ships Adler and Eber wrecked on Samoan Islands; 147 lives lost.
1890, Jan. 2.—Steamer Persia wrecked on Corsica; 130 lives lost.
1890, Feb. 17.—British steamer Duburg wrecked in the China Sea; 400 lives lost.
1890, March 1.—British steamship Quetta foundered in Torres Straits; 124 lives lost.
1890, Dec. 27.—British steamer Shanghai burned in China Seas; 101 lives lost.
1891, March 17.—Anchor liner Utopia in collision with British steamer Anson off Gibraltar and sunk; 574 lives lost.
1892, Jan. 13.—Steamer Namehow wrecked in China Sea; 414 lives lost.
1892, Oct. 28.—Anchor liner Romania, wrecked off Portugal; 113 lives lost.
1893, Feb. 8.—Anchor liner Trinairia, wrecked off Spain; 115 lives lost.
1894, June 25.—Steamer Norge, wrecked on Rockall Reef, in the North Atlantic; nearly 600 lives lost.
1895, Jan. 30.—German steamer Elbe sunk in collision with British steamer Crathie in North Sea; 335 lives lost.
1898, July 4.—French line steamer La Bourgogne in collision with British sailing vessel Cromartyshire; 571 lives lost.
1898, Nov. 27.—American steamer Portland, wrecked off Cape Cod, Mass.; 157 lives lost.
1901, April 1.—Turkish transport Aslam wrecked in the Red Sea; over 180 lives lost.
1902, July 21.—Steamer Primus sunk in collision with the steamer Hansa on the Lower Elbe; 112 lives lost.
1903, June 7.—French steamer Libau sunk in collision with steamer Insulerre near Marseilles; 150 lives lost.
1904, June 15. General Slocum, excursion steamboat, took fire going through Hell Gate, East River; more than 1000 lives lost.
1906, Jan. 21.—Brazilian battleship Aquidaban sunk near Rio Janeiro by an explosion of the powder magazines; 212 lives lost.
1906, Jan. 22.—American steamer Valencia lost off Cloose, Pacific Coast; 140 lives lost.
1906, Aug. 4.—Italian emigrant ship Sirio struck a rock off Cape Palos; 350 lives lost.
1906, Oct. 21.—Russian steamer Variag, on leaving Vladivostock, struck by a torpedo and sunk; 140 lives lost.
1907, Feb. 12.—American steamer Larchmond sunk in collision off Rhode Island coast; 131 lives lost.
1907, July 20.—American steamers Columbia and San Pedro collided on the Californian coast; 100 lives lost.
1907, Nov. 26.—Turkish steamer Kaptain foundered in the North Sea; 110 lives lost.
1908, March 23.—Japanese steamer Mutsu Maru sunk in collision near Hakodate; 300 lives lost.
1908, April 30.—Japanese training cruiser Matsu Shima sunk off the Pescadores owing to an explosion; 200 lives lost.
1909, Jan. 24.—Collision between the Italian steamer Florida and the White Star liner Republic, about 170 miles east of New York during a fog; a large number of lives were saved by the arrival of the steamer Baltic, which received the "C. Q. D.," or distress signal sent up by wireless by the Republic January 22. The Republic sank while being towed; 6 lives lost.
1910, Feb. 9.—French line steamer General Chanzy off Minorca; 200 lives lost.
1911, Sept. 25.—French battleship Liberte sunk by explosion in Toulon harbor; 223 lives lost.

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