A Hundred Years Ago: SUBMARINE SINKS ARABIC; 48 MISSING, 375 SAVED


Mark Baber

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The Evening World, New York, 19 August 1915
Original article digitized by the New York Public Library
Retrieved from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America web site,
Chronicling America « Library of Congress


SUBMARINE SINKS ARABIC; 48 MISSING, 375 SAVED
---
LINER GOES DOWN IN 11 MINUTES; NO WARNING GIVEN, SAYS REPORT
---
British Ship Dunsley Reported Torpedoed With Survivors---German U-Boat Hits
White Star Ship Off Fastnet, Near Lusitania's Grave---423 on Board,
Including 280 Passengers

---
LONDON, Aug. 19---The White Star liner Arabic, which sailed yesterday from
Liverpool for New York, has been sent to the bottom off Fastnet, on the
south coast of Ireland, not far from the point at which the Lusitania was
sunk by a German submarine.

The White Star Company says that 375 persons on the Arabic were saved. This
leaves 48 unaccounted for.

A message from Queenstown to the Press Association says that the Arabic was
torpedoed without warning.

Such reports as were available in London early this evening indicated that
the greater part of the 423 persons on board had been saved. The first
reports were that all of the passengers and crew had been rescued by another
steamer. Subsequently, however, it was reported that the Arabic had gone
down in 11 minutes, raising the question whether it would have been possible
to rescue all on board in that brief time.

A despatch from Queenstown says that two steamers are expected there
bringing about 400 survivors of the Arabic.

A message to the London Press Association says:

"Eleven boats got away and it is feared a large number of passengers were
lost."

The Central News says the crew of Arabic succeeded in launching eleven
lifeboats, which picked up many passengers. It has not yet been ascertained,
this agency says, how many were drowned. Weather conditions were favorable.

The torpedo struck the Arabic at 9.15 o'clock this morning.

A report from the British steamer Magnolia said that the British steamship
Dunsley also had been torpedoed, but that some time after the Arabic went
down she was still afloat and was picking up survivors of the Arabic.

The Dunsley left Liverpool yesterday for Boston. She is a vessel of about
5,000 tons gross, and therefore of sufficient size to accommodate the
persons on board the Arabic.

The White Star Line, after first announcing that there were 410 persons on
board, later gave out a corrected statement giving the total number as 423.
There were 132 second cabin passengers, 48 in the steerage, and 243 members
of the crew.

The following message was received at the London office:

"The Arabic was sunk this morning. Fifteen or sixteen boatloads are making
for Queenstown."

The' company has received no other direct word, but from this message and
the number of boats making for Queenstown they deduce that the greater part
of the persons on board were rescued.
----------
New York Offices Give Out Statement About the Disaster
---
The New York offices of the White Star Line gave out the following statement
at 2.25 this afternoon on the sinking of the Arabic:

"The Arabic was torpedoed at 9.15 A. M. and sank In eleven minutes.

"The Arabic sailed Wednesday afternoon with 131 cabin passengers and 45
steerage passengers and with cargo and mails.

"She was sunk by a German submarine at 9.15 A. M. off the south coast of
Ireland.

"We are hopeful all passengers and crew were saved.

"Fifteen boat loads have been accounted for. That Is all the information we
have."

The statement given out here was cabled by the White Star agent at
Liverpool. It was stated at the company's office here that this message was
probably sent to the Liverpool offices by the British Admiralty and
unquestionably was authentic.

The commander of the Arabic is W. Finch, a lieutenant In the Royal Naval
reserve. W. Greenslade Is the purser, J. F. Stanyer the chief steward and D.
W. S. Mulr the ship's surgeon.

In none of the press dispatches received from London last night is there any
announcement of the Arabic leaving Liverpool The Admiralty has suppressed
news of that character since the German submarines became active off the
Irish and English coasts.

On her last eastward trip the Arabic arrived In Liverpool on Aug. 6 from New
York.

Following the receipt of a cablegram announcing her safe arrival the Bureau
of Combustibles of New York City allowed the fact to become known that two
sticks of dynamite had been discovered on board the liner on July 27, the
night before she sailed from New York for Liverpool.

ARABIC ESCAPED TORPEDO ONCE BEFORE

Once before since the beginning of the war the Arabic had a close call. A
cable message from London on March 27 said that the steamer had been pursued
by a German submarine in the Irish Sea on the voyage which ended on that
day. According to this account, a periscope was sighted as the steamer went
in from St. George's Channel, and it soon became obvious that a hostile
submarine was In pursuit. The Arabic put. on full steam and outdistanced the
submarine.

On the occasion of the apparent attempt to dynamite the Arabic last month,
the explosive was discovered by a private detective, concealed under a
settee In the women's parlor In the cabin accomodations [sic] amidship. No
fuse, detonator or wiring was attached to the dynamite, which apparently had
been placed there some time before.

The Arabic had an Immense cargo capacity and for that reason was one of the
most important liners in the service, She has been crossing the Atlantic
continuously since she was launched and made nearly all her regularly
scheduled trips since the outbreak of the war.

It was Commander Finch's boast that not once after the outbreak of the war
had he used any but the British flag on his ship.

A thorough search of the liner was made by detectives before she sailed on
her last eastward trip on July 28, but nothing was found In the way of
explosives.

On her recent trips the Arabic has carried far fewer passengers than on
normal voyages in times of peace. There were 105 passengers in the cabin, of
whom five were American,' and 80 in the steerage on the last voyage to
Liverpool.

It was reported here some time ago that the Germans would make a special
effort to sink the Arabic because of her great capacity for war munitions.
On one recent trip to Liverpool she carried fifty automobile trucks and
thirty aeroplanes in addition to ammunition.

Fastnet, off which the Arabic is reported to have gone down, lies close to
the lane of steamship traffic between England and America. It it about 40
miles west of Old Head of Klnsale, near which the Lusitania was sunk. German
submarines have been active in these waters since the declaration of the
German Government in February of a naval war zone.

The Arabic was In the class of the White Star liners Celtic and Cedric and
was completed in June, 1903. She was 600 feet long, 65 feet wide and 44 feet
deep, with a capacity for about 16,500 tons of cargo. At the time she was
put Into service she took the place as one of the most luxuriously appointed
vessels of the White Star fleet.

Like the other White Star passenger ships the Arabic was equipped with twin
screws and twin engines, her machinery developing about 10,000 horse-power,
which would drive her under normal conditions at about sixteen knots an
hour. This would make her not difficult of attack by German submarines.
----------
U. S. Inquiry to Learn If Americans Were Aboard
---
WASHINGTON, Aug. 19---The State Department this afternoon took Immediate
steps to ascertain whether any American citizen was aboard the liner Arabic
when she was torpedoed and whether the liner was given warning. Those were
the two final issues made by President Wilson In his last note to Germany.

It was pointed out here that the fact that the Arabic was westward bound
from Liverpool to New York would exclude from any possible controversy the
contention raised by Germany in the Lusitania case that the German U boat
commander's act was justified because the vessel sunk carried war munitions.

The attitude of this Government will be governed by the official reports
from the diplomatic and consular offices in England and Ireland.

In view of the final statement made by the President in his last note, the
question of whether an American was aboard the ship this afternoon probably
was the most momentous faced by this Government since the sinking of the
battleship Maine in Havana Harbor.

-30-
 

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