RMS Atlantic

RMS Atlantic

RMS "Atlantic" was a transatlantic ocean liner of the White Star Line that operated between Liverpool, United Kingdom, and New York City, United States. During the ship's 19th voyage, on April 1, 1873, it ran onto rocks and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia. It remained the deadliest civilian maritime disaster in history until the sinking of the SS "Norge" in 1904.


The "Atlantic" was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1870, and was the second ship built for the newly reborn White Star Line. She was powered by a steam engine producing 600 horsepower driving a single propeller, along with four masts rigged for sail. She sailed for New York on her maiden voyage on June 8, 1871.


On March 20, 1873 the "Atlantic" departed on her 19th voyage from Liverpool with 952 people onboard, of whom 835 were passengers. En route, the crew decided to make port at Halifax, Nova Scotia to replenish coal for the boilers.

During the approach to Halifax on the evening of March 31st the captain and 3rd officer were on the bridge until midnight, while the "Atlantic" made her way through a storm, proceeding at 12 knots (22 km/h) for Terence Bay, Nova Scotia, experiencing limited visibility and heavy seas. Unbeknownst to the crew or passengers, the "Atlantic" was approximately 12½ miles (20 km) off-course to the west of Halifax Harbour.

At 2:00 a.m. local time on April 1, 1873, the "Atlantic" struck an underwater rock called Marr's Head 50 metres from Meagher's Island, Nova Scotia. Lifeboats were lowered by the crew but were washed away as the ship began to sink, killing 562. The ship's manifest indicates there were 156 women and 189 children on board (including two who had been born during the voyage). All perished except for one boy, John Hindley. Every member of the crew survived, with a total survivor count of 390 people of the 952 aboard. This was the worst civilian loss of life in the Northern Atlantic until the wreck of "Norge" on Rockall on 28 June 1904. The Canadian government investigation was concluded with the statement, "the conduct of Captain Williams in the management of his ship during the twelve or fourteen hours preceding the disaster, was so gravely at variance with what ought to have been the conduct of a man placed in his responsible position".

Today, most of the ship still lies under fifteen to ninety feet of water.Fact|date=February 2007 Artifacts recovered from several salvage operations are on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia and also at the SS Atlantic Heritage Park and Interpretation Center, in Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia.

After the wreck, as the bodies were recovered and prepared for burial, it was discovered that one of the crew members was actually a woman, between 20 and 25 years old. According to a newspaper account at the time, she "had served as a common sailor for three voyages, and her sex was never known until the body was washed ashore and prepared for burial. She is described as having been a great favorite with all her shipmates, and one of the crew, speaking of her, remarked: 'I didn't know Bill was a woman. He used to take his grog as regular as any of us, and was always begging or stealing tobacco. He was a good fellow, though, and I am sorry he was a woman.' It is said that the poor thing was an American, and, among the crew, perhaps the only one of that nationality."

A young doctor from Germany, Emil Christiansen, had been listed as dead in transcripts of the passenger lists sent to newspapers, but it appears he had survived. Apparently, Dr. Christiansen had survived the wreck with only a broken arm and left for the United States. It is believed that he did not speak very much English and did not know to report his status to the proper authorities. It is not known how he traveled to the United States, but it is known that he married in 1876 and had four children. A descendant of Dr. Christiansen had visited the SS Atlantic Heritage Park and Interpretation Centre and pointed out the error in the passenger list at the museum site. Also, the spelling of the name was different on the passenger list transcripts , possibly leading to some confusion; on various copies of the list, it had been sometimes spelled "Emile Christianson". Many names on the list were spelled phonetically; perhaps there are more cases of mistaken identity.

RMS "Atlantic" was the second liner commissioned by White Star ("Oceanic" being first) but carried the notoriety of being the first White Star Line steamer to sink. (The company had previously lost the clipper RMS "Tayleur" in Dublin Bay in 1854). Other White Star Line ships lost in the North Atlantic include SS "Naronic", RMS "Republic", and RMS "Titanic".


*Length: 420 feet, 4 inches (128.4 m)
*Beam: 40 feet, 10 inches (12.4 m)
*Tonnage: 3,707 tons
*Speed: 14.5 knots (service speed)
*Passenger capacity: 1,166

References and sources

* [http://www.norwayheritage.com/articles/templates/great-disasters.asp?articleid=1&zoneid=1 Norwayheritage.com info on the Atlantic]
* [http://www.norwayheritage.com/articles/templates/new.asp?articleid=112 Reprint of April 1873 newspaper coverage of the disaster]
* [http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mma/wrecks/wrecks/shipwrecks.asp?ID=493 On the Rocks: Shipwrecks of Nova Scotia - Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia]
* [http://ns1763.ca/hfxrm/ssatlanhrm.html S.S. Atlantic Memorial, Sandy Cove]

External links

* [http://www.rmsc.org/capsule/2000%201%20198.html Carte-de-visite photograph of unidentified boy (possibly RMS "Atlantic" survivor John Hindley?}] {Note:2007-this photograph no longer online. However a picture of Hindley can be found on website [http://www.maritimequest.com/liners/atlantic_1871.htm] {Note: this second website is copyrighted and is here for reference only}.
* [http://ns1763.ca/hfxrm/ssatlanhrm.html Photographs of the SS Atlantic Memorial at Terence Bay, Nova Scotia]
* [http://ns1763.ca/hfxrm/ssatlansos.html Photographs of the SS Atlantic Memorial at Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia]
* [http://www.ssatlantic.com Website of the SS Atlantic Heritage Park and Interpretation Center in Terence Bay, Nova Scotia]
* [http://www.immigrantships.net/v6/1800v6/atlantic18730320_04.html Passenger list]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • RMS Atlantic — Holzstich aus der Zeitung Harper s Weekly, April 1873 p1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • RMS Atlantic — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Entierro de las víctimas del naufragio del RMS Atlantic. El RMS Atlantic fue un barco de vapor de la White Star Line que operaba entre Liverpool y Nueva York. Durante su decimonovena travesía, el 1 de a …   Wikipedia Español

  • RMS Oceanic (1871) — RMS Oceanic p1 Sch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • RMS Republic (1872) — p1 RMS Republic p1 Schiffsdaten Flagge Vereinigtes Konigreich …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Atlantic (disambiguation) — The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world s oceanic divisions.Atlantic may also refer to:In geography: * Atlantic Northeast region of North America * Atlantic Canada, consisting of the four Canadian provinces on the Atlantic Ocean *… …   Wikipedia

  • RMS Titanic — was an Olympic class passenger liner owned by the White Star Line and built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland). On the night of 14 April 1912, during her maiden voyage, Titanic hit an iceberg, and sank… …   Wikipedia

  • RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 — ( QE2 ) is a Cunard Line ocean liner named after the earlier Cunard liner RMS|Queen Elizabeth, which in turn was named after Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the Queen consort of George VI. She was the flagship of the line from 1969 until succeeded by… …   Wikipedia

  • RMS Lusitania — was a British luxury ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Company and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. Christened and launched on Thursday, 7 June 1906, Lusitania met a disastrous end as a casualty of the First World… …   Wikipedia

  • RMS Queen Mary — is an ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line (then Cunard White Star Line). Built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland, she was designed to be the first of Cunard s planned two ship weekly …   Wikipedia

  • RMS Aquitania — was a Cunard Line ocean liner that was built by the John Brown and Company shipyard near Clydebank, Scotland. She was launched on 21 April 1913 and sailed on her maiden voyage to New York on 30 May 1914. Aquitania was the third in Cunard Line s… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.