WW1 Era Wreck Photos


Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Here are two from a series of several photos taken from a 1917-'19 Block Island photo album. The series shows a midsize passsenger or passenger/ cargo ship under tow after encountering some sort of mishap while in trooping colors. There are some shots which clearly show fire damage, and others which show that she was settling at the stern. I have no idea what the story behind these is, but figured I'd post a few. Any ideas? The photo album was totally without captions.
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Apr 11, 2001
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Great photos- Block Island off Rhode Island I am assuming? I know they have an historical society on the island, but I bet the Steamship Historical Society folks will know- Bill Ewen lives right in Westerly so we'll give him a ring. She looks like a cargo ship too by the size of her deck equipment. Snow has written a great book Wrecks off the New England Coast- it may be in there. Too bad the name is obscured.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Is that the Snow book which came with a splinter of wreckage from the Portland bound into it? He later tried the same stunt with an alleged piece of Sultana debris but, unlike the Portland chunk the provenance in that case was hardly flawless. Snow lost an aunt, or great aunt, aboard the Brother Jonathan off Crescent City Ca. in 1865- quite a nasty wreck.

And, yes, it is the familiar Block Island, with its craggy beaches, Victorian hotels, flawless ocean vistas and deer ticks.
 
S

Scott R. Andrews

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Jim,

I believe that your photos are of the sinking troopship USS Covington, which was the seized former HAPAG passenger liner "Cincinnati". She was torpedoed by U-86 off Brest and was lost after an unsuccessful attempt to tow her to port. Check the following links which have an account and photos of the event from different angles:

http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~cacunithistories/uss_covington.htm

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2500336770&category=20139

The resemblance of the ship in your photos to the one on these two sites is uncanny.

Also see:

http://shiplover2.virtualave.net/Germany/Cincinnati.html

The photo of the ship in harbor could be either again the USS Covington prior to her loss, or possibly her identical sister, the USS Mobile (ex-HAPAG liner s/s Cleveland):

http://shiplover2.virtualave.net/Germany/Cleveland.html

Regards,

Scott Andrews
 

Jim Kalafus

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Scott- Continued thanks- it occurred to me that the original owner of this album, who was in one of the Nautical service branches may have been ON the Covington (for after seeing those sites I believe that you have identified her) during the disaster. I assumed that since nearly everyting else he preserved was of Block Island, the disaster was also somewhere in the Rhode Island vicinity. The "before" shots may have been done in Europe prior to the sinking. There are no "during" shots taken onboard, but on a military ship that is hardly surprising. The album was sold on a "page by page basis" and I am now kicking myself for letting some of the more non-descript ones go. I would have liked to have had the lot (of several dozen photos- not just of this wreck) but the owner was set on separate sales. I can't blame him (more money that way) but still.....
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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This came from a Russian album of WW1 photos. I have no idea as to date, name, location or even nationality of this departing vessel. ANy ideas?
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