Floating Arsenal

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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NEW YORK TRIBUNE, SATURDAY, MAY 15, 1915

AMERICANS SHUN CYMRIC, SAILING AS ARSENAL SHIP ___________________________________
White Star Liner Carries 525 Passengers, All Subjects of Allies.
___________________________________
CONTRABAND CARGO DEFI TO GERMANS.
Captain, Silent on Course, Has No Fear, but Will Hold Daily Drills.

The 8764-ton White Star liner Cymric, probably the most tempting morsel ever exposed to German submarines, sailed from this port yesterday for Liverpool via the so called war zone. She was laden to capacity with contraband, and carried 525 passengers, all subjects of the allies.

The Cabin List was carefully examined by the White Star officials and it was found that the 98 travellers, including 26 women and 7 children, were subjects of Great Britain, many of them being natives of Canada. The Steerage list of 427 passengers showed that, with the exception of seventeen Russians, all were Canadian and British.

Only part of the ship's manifest was available, but one glance at it showed that thte Cymric was a veritable floating arsenal, which even in peace times might have been looked upon with no degree of cheer by the prospective traveller. Among the consignments taken away by the vessel were:

1750 shells
1152 empty projectiles
36 cases of percussion fuse
10 cases of firearms
4301 cases of cartridges
3 cases of pistols
6505 cases sheet brass
698 cases brass rods
2042 cases spelter
1562 cathodes
95 reels of copper wire
156 coils of copper
17740 bars of copper
140 auto trucks

The Cymric was scheduled to leave at noon, but Captain Beadnell was late in returning from the Custom House where he certified to his manifest. He came up on the pier smiling and expressed the opinion that he would get safely to Liverpool.

The skipper is a man of forty, tall and heavy, with a shock of dark brown curly hair. He didn't think there would be occasion to use either lifebelts or lifeboats, but said he would have a daily drill.

Just what course the Cymric will take is known only to Captain Beadnell and his Chief Officer. The skipper said he would probably arrive in Liverpool early in the morning a week from tomorrow. The Cymric will not make more than fourteen or fifteen knots on the journey across the Atlantic, and the speed will be regulated so that the vessel will pass through the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel at night. if ordered by the Admiralty to avoid the southerly course to Liverpool, the Cymric may go via the north of Ireland and southeast through the North Channel.

Shortly before the gangplank was hauled ashore a messenger carrying two boxes rushed up the pier. He was promptly halted by detectives, but explained that the boxes had been sent up from the offices of J.P. Morgan & Co. He was permitted to deliver them to the purser.



Accompanied by a three column photo of the departing Cymric, with an inset of a child, captioned:

WILL THE GERMANS GET THIS FLOATING ARSENAL?
Besides a full list of passengers, including no Americans, the White Star liner Cymric cdarried thousands of tons of war munitions and other contraband- Margaret Muriel Harvey is one of the many children of British subjects on board.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Interesting that the paper should use the term "Floating arsenal". The supplies listed here would barely have listed more then a couple of hours or so on the front.

German sympathies perhaps? I'm afraid I don't know much about contemporary editorial slants regarding the Great War.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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The same page has an article in which two feminists (one of whom was Mrs. Belmont, of Vanderbilt and Triangle Fire fame) debated the sinking and the role of the US in it, with one stating bluntly that Germany had every right to sink the Lusitania and Mrs. Belmont taking the stand that America had the moral obligation to join the allies after a year of German barbarity, and taking the rather interesting angle that the only reason we were reacting at that point was that so many rich people died in the sinking and had the Lusitania been an emigrant ship it would largely have been ignored. The editorial slant was, in the Tribune at least, middle of the road at that point although there was a lot of outrage against the sinking. The Tribune DID run an earlier article about the contraband aboard the Lusitania, and I think that the reason the term "Floating Arsenal" was used in this case was that they were making the (probably correct) assumption that considerably more munitions were aboard than were listed on the manifest, which had only been partially made available, just as they made that assumption about the Lusitania. Another reason is that 1400 shells and mixed ammuntion aboard a passenger ship is, in addition to being a loathesome concept, a fairly large amount in light of the fact that there should not have been any. I also think that it was used because "Sails With a Mixed Cargo of Shells and Small Arms" is kind of a lame, 'though accurate, headline.