Collision between the Baltic and Oil Tanker Standard

Daniel Stern

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Aug 1, 2006
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Hello, all...

I am trying to learn a bit more about the incident involving the collision between the liner Baltic and the Oil Tanker 'Standard' in a heavy fog in off Fire Island, NY in 1910. The Standard was owned by the German-American Petroleum Company. I am trying to discover:

(1) Did the Standard survive the encounter? I find nothing definitive that says she made it back to port. If so, was she repaired or scrapped?

(2) Did the Baltic indeed lose a crewman in the collision, as was suggested in one account? If so, what was his name?

(3) Did the injured crewman on the Standard survive his injuries?

Of course, if you have any questions for me, fire away!

Thanks,

-Daniel
 

Mark Baber

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30 June 1910: About 1,100 miles east of the Ambrose Lightship, Baltic
II (Capt. Ranson) is sideswiped by the German-American Petroleum
Company's tanker Standard, carrying 1,000,000 gallons of Standard Oil
Company petroleum from Philadelphia to Copenhagen. Standard's bow
punctures Baltic's port bow, creating a hole six feet (1.85 m) in
diameter, and then breaks off as the two ships separate. Only one
person---a Standard fireman sleeping in the tanker's forecastle at the
time of the collision---is injured; he is transferred to Baltic to
obtain medical attention in New York. Baltic will arrive safely in New
York on 4 July with seven feet of the tanker's bowsprit in the hole in
her side, but will sail for Liverpool as scheduled on 9 July and will
not miss any sailings as a result of the accident. Standard will also
continue on her trip despite her damage, but will be destroyed by fire
at her mooring in the Danish port on 19 July. (Source: The New York
Times, 4, 5, 9, 20 and 21 July 1910; Morton Allan Directory.)
 

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 4 July 1910

WHITE STAR LINER BALTIC COLLIDES WITH OIL TANK STANDARD AT SEA
---
Met Her in a Dense Fog at Midnight Thursday, 1,000 Miles East of Sandy Hook
---
BALTIC'S BOW SMASHED
---
Stopped Two Hours to Patch the Hole With Canvas and Then Proceeded
---
ONE BALTIC SAILOR MISSING
---
The Oil Tank Disappeared in the Fog Without Asking for Assistance
---
BALTIC SAFE DOWN THE BAY
---
Passengers Rushed From Their Berths in Great Alarm, But Were Quieted by the
Officers

---
In the blackness of midnight last Thursday, when the White Star liner Baltic
was 1,000 miles off Fire Island on her way into New York, the ship was in
collision with the oil tank Standard, bound from Philadelphia to Copenhagen.

A large hole, six feet in diameter, was stove in the Baltic's bow and water
began to rush in. The shock of the collision aroused passengers from sleep,
and men, women, and children rushed in a panic to the decks, crying to know
what had happened and how great was the danger.

Capt. Ranson and his officers shouted that there was no danger and that the
boat would soon again be under way. The passengers were not, however, to be
so easily calmed.

The sea looked like a black patch. Even the oil tank steamer which was in
collision could not be seen, and with no shore lights to lend them
encouragement the passengers crowded about wanting to know if they would
have to take to the boast and if the steamer would sink.

Capt. Ranson meantime sent a number of the crew, including carpenters, into
the forward hold immediately after the collision to patch the hole in the
bow. Meantime the others were busy on deck quieting the passengers. The
Baltic had stopped at the moment of the collision as she lay tossing in a
heavy swell beneath a fog-hidden sky for nearly two hours.

Capt. Ranson soon discovered that the damage could be repaired by those
onboard. No help came in the person of a chance passing steamer, and after
a two hours' delay, in which a patch was placed over the hole and things
made as snug as possible forward, the Baltic took up her course again for
this port.

Then it was discovered that a man had been lost in the collision. He was a
seaman on the Baltic, and it is supposed that he was flung overboard by the
shock of the collision.

The oil tank steamer did not ask for help, but the officers on the Baltic
and those of the passengers who were first on deck saw her drifting away,
apparently taking water very fast. She was in view for only a moment or two
and then disappeared into the mist.

The hole in the Baltic's bow was just above the waterline. It was a jagged
tear, and the heavy swells of the sea continually cast water through it into
the forward compartment. It was patched with sailcloth and spars.

As soon as the seriousness of the smash in the Baltic's bow was ascertained,
wireless calls were sent broadcast over the seas, announcing the injury the
big steamer had sustained and asking for help from any passing steamer.
Although the calls were sent out continuously from the moment of collision,
or from an instant or two afterward, there was no response up to the time
that the Baltic resumed her passage two hours later.

Even two hours after the collision, when the damage was repaired and the
steamer was ready to proceed on her journey, men and women were still on
deck in their night clothes. Many of the were still panic stricken and did
not seem to realize that the danger was past.

The officers had been unable to calm them at first, many of the women
wanting to jump overboard in their terror and being prevented only by the
cooler heads among the men passengers, the officers, and the members of the
crew. Even when they were restrained, the declined to go below, even for
proper clothing, but stood shivering and crying about the deck.

Many of the men were in an almost similar state of terror, evidencing it at
least by their failure to seek their staterooms and warmer clothing. It was
not until the steamer started again on her way to this port that the last of
the passengers could be persuaded to go below.

Among the Baltic's passengers are the Earl of Suffolk, Miss Gladys Vance,
and Mr. and Mrs. Cady and their son.

-30-
 

Mark Baber

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New-York Tribune, 5 July 1910

BALTIC HERE, HOLE IN BOW
---
Passengers Deplore Sensational Stories of Alarm on Board
---
ONE SLEPT THROUGH IT ALL
---
Report of White Star Officials Fails to State How Collision Occurred

---
The White Star Liner Baltic, one of the biggest freight and passenger
steamers that come to this port, got into her dock yesterday with a hole six
feet by four in her port side, about fifty feet from the stem. She had been
rammed shortly before midnight on June 30 by the oil tank steamship Standard
when 1,089 miles east of Ambrose Channel Lightship. She was never in any
danger after the collision, nor was the Standard, which backed off into the
night and proceeded on her course with oil from Philadelphia for Copenhagen.

No one was injured on board the Baltic. There was some excitement among the
passengers at the time of the collision, and a few women became hysterical,
but within three hours after the crash every one went to bed.

The arrival of the steamer confirmed in all respects the story of the
accident published in The Tribune yesterday morning, and refuted the
exaggerated reports sent out from other quarters.

The only thing which could not be explained yesterday by the Baltic's
commander and the White Star Line officials was how the Baltic got into a
position where she could be rammed. Commander J. B. Ranson could have told
how his ship was hit, for he was on the bridge at the time. He told his
story to his superiors, but declined absolutely to make public how the
accident happened and who was to blame for it. He was seconded by the agents
of the White Star Line in his determination not to talk.

Issued Statement Told Little.

After thinking the matter over the steamship officials decided to issue a
statement for Captain Ranson, but all references as to how the collision
occurred or who was responsible for it were withheld. He merely gave his
time and the name of the vessel that hit him and the fact that he stood
by and sent out a small boat to the Standard.

In the course of a conversation with the White Star officials, however,
Captain Ranson said he could see four or five miles ahead when the steamers
came together. Passengers on deck who saw the Standard rim the Baltic and
back away, declared that she had her sailing lights burning at the time.
Under these circumstances it would seem that there was no excuse for either
master permitting his vessel to hit the other.

It was explained that there was a British law which compelled a master of a
British vessel to refrain from making any public statement until he had
reported the facts to the British Board of Trade and the vessel's owners.

According to various passengers on the Baltic, there had been fog before the
collision. The Baltic, which does not make much better than seventeen knots,
was running at reduced speed. During the fog patch she had been blowing her
siren. The passengers had heard it at regular, short intervals, but many
were positive that no signals had been blown within twenty minutes before
the crash came. At the moment of impact, 11:34 p. nm., there were blasts
from the sirens of both vessels.

The oil tank boat, which was heading north on her way from Philadelphia to
Copenhagen, drove her clipper bow into the Baltic's port side about fifty
feet aft of the stem, and then veered to the side. The Baltic was steaming
west. As the Standard swung aside her bowsprit and figurehead snapped off
and remained in the gap in the Baltic's side. The steel plates gave way and
were crumpled inward, leaving a hole about four by six feet some fifteen
feet above the water line. The wrench caused a fissure to extend down the
side under the water, and the sea poured into hold No. 1, which was filled
with chinaware.

Needed No Assistance

The pumps were started, and under moderate pressure were able to cope with
the flood. As the Standard backed away Captain Ranson lowered a lifeboat at
once and sent it out after her. Captain Ruperti sent back word that his
vessel was seaworthy and needed no assistance. He asked that he be so
reported in New York, and then requested that one of his firemen who was
jostled out of his bunk be taken to New York on the Baltic for treatment.
His name was Richard Houer. He had bruises on his chest and head, but was
not seriously injured. He was treated by Dr. Bell, of the Baltic, and
brought to port.

Captain Ranson lingered in the vicinity of the collision for about two hours
and then resumed his course to port. There were complaints about a failure
of the officers of the Baltic to give assurances or comfort to the
passengers, but the majority of the passengers said there was no occasion to
calm them, as few were alarmed to any great extent.

Captain Ranson informed the White Star office of the mishap by wireless, but
when the ship news reporters went down the bay on the revenue cutter
yesterday to meet the Baltic he refused to let them aboard.

The gap in the Baltic's side was patched up with wood and steel braces. It
will be cemented and covered with steel plates outside and inside to-day and
the water ballast will be increased aft and lightened forward. This will
keep her bow well up when she leaves for Liverpool on Saturday. She will be
in drydock three days on the other side and will sail on her return trip to
this port on July 23. The Baltic is booked to carry 775 cabin passengers on
Saturday.

Deny Reports of Confusion

Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Campbell, of this city, who had been visiting relatives
in Belfast, Ireland, occupied the first state room forward on the promenade
deck. They are staying at the Hotel Marie Antoinette temporarily.

"There was little excitement or confusion following the collision," Mr.
Campbell said yesterday. "The passengers did not realize at the time that
the Baltic had been struck. The idea prevailed that we had run down the
other boat, and every one was anxious about her fate until, to our relief,
we saw her disappearing in the gloom, apparently uninjured and without
asking for assistance. The real shock to our nerves came the next morning,
when we learned that the Baltic had been rammed and we realized what might
have been.

"I had been in the smoking room until 11:20 and for idle amusement counted
the blasts of the fog horn. The fog horn stopped blowing about that time and
I understood from other passengers that the fog had raised. We retired to
our stateroom shortly afterward, and I was lying in the bunk reading when I
suddenly heard two sharp blasts of the Baltic's whistle, and the whistle of
some boat near by replied. Then the crash came, and we were out of our bunks
and on the deck in about thirty seconds.

"As near as I can judge, the time the collision occurred was about 11:45.
All but one of the first cabin passengers rushed on deck clad mostly in
their night attire. There was one man who slept through the whole thing, and
the passengers afterward took up a collection and bought him an
alarm clock and presented it to him. The officers went about among the
passengers assuring them that there was no danger, and in a short time most
of the passengers went back to bed."

Mrs. Campbell supplemented her husband's remarks by saying that there were
only one or two women who were excited to the hysterical point.

"The women all conducted themselves with marked nerve and coolness after the
collision," she said. "Only two women I noticed became the least hysterical.
The thing we worry about most is that exaggerated accounts of the accident
will reach our relatives on the other side and cause them needless anxiety."

-30-
 

Mark Baber

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New-York Tribune, 10 July 1910

MRS. J. P. MORGAN TO EUROPE
---
Earl and Countess of Suffolk and W. Bourke Cockran Also Sail

---
Mrs. J. P. Morgan sailed for Liverpool yesterday on the White Star liner
Baltic on her annual vacation of two months abroad. Among those at the pier
to bid her goodby were her husband, her son. J. P. Morgan, jr., and her
daughter, Mrs. Herbert L. Satterlee.

Also on the Baltic was the Earl of Suffolk, who arrived here on Monday on
the Baltic. He came over to accompany his wife back to her home in England.
The Countess, who before her marriage was Miss Leiter, of Chicago, a
sister-in-law of Lord Curzon, had been on a month's visit to her relatives
in the West.

The Countess said she had been annoyed in Chicago by a process server, who
represented a man who had been bringing suit against the Leiter estate every
few weeks. She denied the report that she had left her hotel in disguise to
avoid the process server.

W. Bourke Cockran was a passenger on the Baltic. He is on his way to
Antwerp, where he will represent the United States at the free trade
conference to be held there this month. He said he saw
little difference between the issues of the Democratic and Republican
parties. "They are both standing out for tariff revision," he said,
"differing little in their methods of revision. Unless the Democrats come
out flatfooted for free trade there will be little difference in the issues
of the parties in the campaign of 1912."

Although she had been in a crash with another ship on her run to port and
had a big hole punched in her port side, the Baltic took out a large
passenger complement.

-30-
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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The New York Times, 20 July 1910

OIL STEAMER BURNED
---
The Standard Destroyed with over 1,000,000 Gallons of Petroleum

---
COPENHAGEN, July 19---The German tank steamship Standard, with more than
1,000,000 gallons of petroleum aboard, caught fire at her moorings to-day
and was destroyed.

The Standard had recently arrived from Philadelphia and the petroleum was
shipped by the Standard Oil Company.

-30-

*************************
The New York Times, 21 July 1910

Ship That Hit the Baltic Burned
---
The German tank steamship Standard, which was burned in Copenhagen Tuesday
with her cargo of 1,000,000 gallons of oil, was the same ship that was in
collision with the White Star liner Baltic 1,000 miles east of Sandy Hook on
the morning of July 1. The Standard was damaged but was able to proceed
without assistance. The Baltic came into port three days later with a hole
six feet in diameter in her bow.

-30-