Mauretania Sinks the Alice P Rogers December 23 1907


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Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi All,

Ninety-nine years ago, on December 23, 1907, while tied up at the Cunard Piers at West Thirteenth Street, the Mauretania (under the command of Captain Pritchard) was hit by a sudden southeasterly squall which caused her to break away from her moorings and sink barge 32 of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Co., miners and shippers of the Eureka Bituminous Coals Co. of Pennsylvania. A very rare unpublished photograph of Mauretania at Pier 54, taken from next to The Department of Docks and Ferries the day before the accident, can be seen here. Mauretania parted six-inch hawsers, snapped half-ton iron bitts embedded in concrete and dropped her two aft gangplanks from the force of the windage created by the early morning squall. As she swung portside, to the northern side of the berth, she crushed and sank the barge Alice P. Rogers. Owned by M. P. Smith & Co. of 115 Broad Street, the barge was taking on coal ash when the squall hit. A scarce unpublished photograph of a Eureka Bituminous Coals barge servicing Mauretania's starboard coal ports at her N.Y. berth can be seen here. The Captain of the Alice P. Rogers, H. Olsen, saved his life by quickly jumping to another barge. Despite the weather, news of the liner drifting out into the river caused a considerable crowd of curiosity seekers to gather at the pierhead, requiring the police reserves to maintain order. Finally, lines were stretched across the berth to the remianing bitts and the Mauretania's hoisting winches were used to pull her back into position. The aft gangplanks were retreived and replaced along the shore. The New York Herald reported the story on Tuesday, December 24, and provided a detailed diagram of the accident, which can be seen here. Ultimately, Cunard paid out a total of $106.70 in damages to Berwind-White on January 8, 1908. The original "White Star Pier" sheds were a single storey in height and less than two-thirds Mauretania and sister Lusitania's length. This allowed the 50-mile per hour winds to act fully on the large surface area of the liner and cause the accident. The new 900 foot Chelsea Piers sheds, completed in 1910, were two stories high and designed to prevent these conditions from occurring again. The Chelsea Piers were demolished 1991; the arch for Pier 54, Carpathia's final destination in April 1912 and Lusitania's final departure point in May 1915, fortunately remains.

Best and Happy Holidays to All,

Eric

R.M.S. Mauretania: The Centennial of her Launch

R.M.S. Mauretania: Farewell to the Tyne
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi All,

A correction - the bill for damages for this accident was not paid by Cunard on January 8, but submitted to Cunard by Berwind-White on January 8. And please pardon the typo's - "holiday spelling" ;)

Best,

Eric
 

Eric Longo

Member
Aug 13, 2004
888
3
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Hi All,

From NOAA National Weather Service: "WINDS OF 20 TO 30 MPH AND GUSTS OF 40 TO 50 MPH POSSIBLE THROUGH LATE TONIGHT. THE STRONGEST WINDS
WILL LIKELY BE EXPERIENCED SOON AFTER COLD FRONTAL PASSAGE."

Not unlike 100 years ago tonight when the Mauretania broke away from her pier! Those winds were from the southeast - tonight's expected gusts to come from the west/southwest.

Best,
Eric
 
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