Collins Liner Pacific

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Jim Wilke

Jul 12, 2004
The Collins liner Pacific is well known to have disappeared at sea in 1856, enroute from Liverpool to New York. It was assumed at the time, and since, that the liner struck an iceberg in Mid Atlantic. Stephen Fox writes in Transatlantic that in 1991 the bow section of Pacific was discovered in the Irish Sea, "only about sixty miles from Liverpool . . " Fox gives his source as a Edward Sloan article in the Bermuda Journal of Archeology and Maritime History (1993) pp 84-92.

I havent been able to locate a copy of the journal and wonder if anyone has additional information on this discovery. It indicates that whatever happened to Pacific did so rapidly, before the ship was in the Atlantic, and Fox suggests a mechanical failure on the part of a new chief engineer, or collision.

Collins liners were considered excellent sailers, and performed very well under contrary weather conditions, but their machinery was taxed by being run consistantly at the highest speeds. They were sound wooden ships with side lever engines operating side wheels, and were very similar in size and construction to contemporary Cunard Liners. Like their wooden rivals, the Collins ships did not employ wooden bulkheads, which allows great room for inquest about the loss of the ship with all hands.

Aside from the mechanics of the loss is a question - apart from the Titanic in 1912, how many liners were sunk by collision with an iceberg? The Pacific, which used to be a prime candidate, is now by location not.

Jim Kalafus

Dec 3, 2000
Hello, Jim: On another thread in the Other Ships and Shipwrecks category I posted an 1856 print of the Pacific and a transcription of her final passenger list.

I've been looking for that article for quite a while, with no luck so far. Researching the reappearance of the Pacific is considerably more frustrating than researching her loss. If I find it I will let you know. In fact, I shall email the library at Hamilton tonight to see if they have a copy on file or can put me in touch with the correct historical society.

Michael Byrne

Oct 11, 2006
Jim / Jim

This is an old thread, over 4 years ago - but I do have a copy of the Sloan article in the Bermuda Journal of Archeology and Maritime History, Vol. 5 1993.

In the fairly short article, Sloan writes after direct contact with the divers concerned with the discovery that the bow section of what is almost certainly the Pacific was discovered in 130 feet of water some 12 miles NW of Anglesey, North Wales. Strong indicators of the wreck identity came from earthenware plates etc. enamelled in blue and reasonably accurately dated to the early 1850's, and an unusual cargo item - a quantity of telegraph wire which indeed appears on Pacific's manifest.
The divers reported discovering a second larger section (presumably the stern) some 3 miles away and in deeper water - but at the point of Sloan's writing no exploration of this had taken place.
Personally, I'm amazed that a ship of that size could break in two in relatively shallow water, and yet the two halves settle on the seabed some 3 miles apart ! Sloan speculates that the larger (tentatively identified) stern section perhaps contains the heavy machinery and sank quickly at the point of breakup, while the lighter bow section may have drifted in the current in a semi-submerged condition for a while before reaching the sea bed.
Sloan mentions at the article's end intended plans to explore and identify the stern section, but since nothing's been heard or published since I wonder if this went ahead.
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