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Rescue at Sea | Timeline

Maritime Disasters

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"Lusitania," one of the largest and fastest ships of her time, is struck by a German torpedo near the coast of Ireland in 1915

1850 "Viceroy"
June 24 - New York and Galway Steamship Company's "Viceroy" runs aground off the coast of Nova Scotia. All crew and passengers were rescued before the ship sank.

1854 "City of Glasgow"
March 1 - Liverpool and Philadelphia Steamship Company's "City of Glasgow" leaves England carrying 500 passengers and is never heard from again.

1859 "Royal Charter"
October 26 - Liverpool and Australian Navigation Company's "Royal Charter" runs aground onto rocks off Angelsey on the west coast of England. Over 400 people died in the wreck.

1864 "City of New York"
March 29 - Inman Line's "City of New York," the largest Inman ship to that date, is wrecked outside of Queenstown, Ireland. No deaths were reported.

1873 "Atlantic"
April 1 - White Star Line's "Atlantic" is wrecked off the coast of Halifax after entering rough seas. More than half of its 900 occupants died, marking one of the greatest losses of life at sea up to that time.

1877 "Dakota"
May 9 - Guion Line's "Dakota," travelling from Liverpool to America, is wrecked near Angelsey. Her sister ship, "Montana," met a similar fate in the same area three years later.

1890 "Quetta"
February 28 - British India Steam Navigation Company's "Quetta" hits a rock which tears open the bottom of the boat, causing the ship to sink in minutes. All but a couple on board died.

1900 "Cuvie"
March 9 - Lamport & Holt's "Cuvier" collides with the S.S. "Dovre" off East Goodwin lightship and sinks -- the first passenger ship to do so in the 20th century. Twenty-six people died.

1904 "Norge"
June 28 - Scandinavian American Line's "Norge" runs aground at Rockall in the North Atlantic. Major holes caused the ship to sink quickly killing 550.

1905 "Cyril"
September 5 - Booth Line's "Cyril" collides with another Booth Line ship, the "Anslem," and sinks in the Amazon River. 

1907 "Dakota"
March 7 - Great Northern Steam Ship Company's "Dakota" hits a reef off the coast of Japan. 2700 passengers abandoned the ship, which was later destroyed by a storm.

1909 "Republic" "Florida"
January 23 - Ocean Steam Navigation Company's "Republic" (pictured) is hit by the "Florida," an Italian steamer carrying emigrants to the U.S., while in thick fog off the coast of Nantucket. The wireless operator on the "Republic" sent out a distress message that was received at Siasconsett on the island of Nantucket. The passenger ship, "Baltic," was notified and arrived shortly thereafter.

1909 "Waratah"
July - Blue Anchor Line's "Waratah," carrying 288 passengers, heading for Cape Town, passes the "Clan Macintyre" at sea, then is never seen or heard from again.  

1910 "Pericles"
March 31 - G. Thomson and Company's "Pericles" strikes a reef off the coast of Australia. All 500 passengers made it to safety before the ship sank.

1912 "Titanic"
April 15 - White Star Line's "Titanic," while on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, hits an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic.

1913 "Volturno"
October 9 - Uranium Steamship Company's "Volturno" catches on fire in the mid-Atlantic. Rescue ships saved most of the 1,024 passengers. The "Volturno" eventually sank killing 136.

1914 "The Empress of Ireland"
May 29 - Canadian Pacific Line's "The Empress of Ireland," enroute from Quebec to Liverpool, is hit by the Norwegian ship, "Storstad." Attempts to send out wireless messages failed. The ship sank, taking over 1,000 lives.

1915 "Lusitania"
May 7 - Cunard Line's "Lusitania," one of the largest and fastest ships of her time, is struck by a German torpedo near the coast of Ireland and sinks 18 minutes later. 1,200 died.

1920 "Afrique"
January 12 - Compagnie des Chargeurs Rénuis's "Afrique" reports engine trouble in the Bay of Biscay. Bad weather prevented rescue ships from saving more than 32 of the 458 passengers. 

1922 "Egypt" "Seine"
May 22 - Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company's "Egypt" collides with a steamer, the "Seine." Most of the lives were saved by the "Seine." In 1935, divers recovered 90% of the gold that went down with the "Egypt."

1927 "Principessa Mafalda"
October 25 - Navigazione Generale Italiana Società Riunite Florio & Rubattino's "Principessa Mafalda" has an irreparable boiler malfunction. Rescue efforts saved more than 900 on board before the ship capsized and sank, taking 303 lives.

1928 "Vestris"
November 12 - Lamport & Holt's "Vestris" encounters rough seas while enroute to Barbados and Buenos Aires from New York. Lifeboats were launched saving most of the passengers and crew. The ship eventually capsized and sank.

1930 "Tahiti"
August 15 - Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand's "Tahiti" is headed to San Francisco when the engine malfunctions, prompting the captain to call for help and abandon ship. 

1932 "Georges Philippar"
May 16 - Messageries Maritimes's "Georges Philippar" catches fire near the Gulf of Aden. Quick response to the SOS calls accounted for many lives being saved. The ship sank four days later.

1934 "Morro Castle"
September 8 - New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Company's "Morro Castle," sailing from Havana to New York, is engulfed with flames off the New Jersey coast. A series of careless errors led to a blazing inferno that took over 100 lives and sparked an investigation on maritime safety by the U.S. Senate.

1934 "Dresden"
June 20 - North German Lloyd's "Dresden" hits a submerged rock while cruising in the North Sea. The damage caused the ship to list 90° before sinking.

1939 "Athenia"
September 3 - Anchor-Donaldson Line's "Athenia" is rammed by two torpedoes while sailing across the Atlantic. The ship went down twenty minutes after the incident, taking with it over 100 lives.

1940 "Niagara"
June 19 - Canadian-Australasian Line's "Niagara" enters a mine field in the Hauraki Gulf while enroute from Auckland to Vancouver. Wireless calls made to nearby ships saved the lives of all passengers and crew members.

1953 "Klipfontein"
January 8 - United Netherlands Nav. Company's "Klipfontein" runs into an object while travelling from Holland to Africa. The ship sank 45 minutes after the collision.

1956 "Andrea Doria" "Stockholm"
July 25 - Italia-Società per Aziono di Navigazione's "Andrea Doria" collides with Swedish American Line's "Stockholm" off the coast of Nantucket in thick fog. The "Andrea Doria" immediately began to sink. Less than 50 of the 1,700 people on board died thanks to rescue ships in the area.

1959 "Hans Hedtoft"
January 30 - Royal Greenland Trading Company's "Hans Hedtoft" is headed to Greenland on its maiden voyage when it encounters heavy snow and hits an iceberg. A few hours after sending its last distress call a rescue ship arrived only to find no evidence of the ship or even of lifeboats or debris. An unsuccessful search for the ship was called off after one week.

1961 "Dara"
April 7 - British India Steam Navigation Company's "Dara" sinks in the Persian Gulf in 60 feet of water after an explosion on the ship. More than 200 people died.

1961 "Bianca C"
October 22 - Costa Armatori's "Bianca C" catches on fire after an explosion in the engineroom. Attempts to beach the ship failed. It sank off the coast of Grenada.

1963 "Lakonia"
December 22 - Fire breaks out on the Greek Line's "Lakonia" while the ship is cruising to the Canary Islands. The ship sank off the coast of Gibraltar while being tugged. 

1965 "Yarmouth Castle"
November 13 - Yarmouth Cruise Line's "Yarmouth Castle" sinks on its New York-to-Nassau run. A fire that started in one of the storage rooms engulfed lifeboats and radio equipment and eventually destroyed the ship, taking almost 100 lives.

1966 "Heraklion"
December 12 - Typaldos Line's, "Heraklion," a Greek Islands ferry, is on itsovernight run when rough seas jar a trailer truck loose and into a bow door, allowing water to come flooding in. All that remained when the rescue ships arrived was floating debris. Some passengers were later found clinging to rocks at a nearby island.

1972 "Seawise University"
January 9 - C.Y. Tung's "Seawise University," formerly known as the "Queen Elizabeth," catches fire and sinks in Hong Kong Harbor. The "Seawise University" was one of the largest ships ever to have sunk, outweighing the "Titanic" by a factor of almost two.

1980 "Prinsendam"
October 4 - Holland America Cruises' "Prinsendam," on a cruise from Vancouver to Singapore, catches fire and is abandoned by all passengers and crew near the coast of Alaska. The ship later sank.

1981 "Reina Del Mar"
May 28 - Dolphi Shipping's "Reina Del Mar" is completely destroyed by fire and sinks while undergoing renovations.

1991 "Oceanos"
August 4 - Epirotiki Line's "Oceanos" sinks off the coast of South Africa after springing a leak. All passengers were safely rescued. This marked the third Greek cruise ship to sink in two years.

1994 "Estonia"
September 28 - Estonian Steamship Line's "Estonia," while enroute to Stockholm, hits rough seas and sinks in the Baltic Sea. Over 900 lives were lost; most of the passengers never made it out of their cabins.

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