Encyclopedia Titanica



The Cable Ship (C.S.) Mackay-Bennett was the first of four ships chartered by the White Star Line to search for bodies in the aftermath of the sinking. Even as the Carpathia was steaming to New York from the wreck site, the Mackay-Bennett was being contracted by the White Star Line at a rate of $550 US per day. She was owned by the Commercial Cable Company and sailed under the command of Captain Frederick Harold Larnder 1. On board were Canon Kenneth Cameron Hind of All Saints Cathedral, Halifax, and John R. Snow, Jr., the chief embalmer with the firm of John Snow & Co., the province of Nova Scotia's largest undertaking firm, hired to oversee the arrangements.

The Mackay-Bennett sailed from the wharf at 155-157 Upper Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia at 12:28 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 April 1912. Upon reaching the wreck site, it quickly became apparent that there were far more bodies floating in the ocean than anyone had expected. It did not take long for White Star Line officials to conclude that a second vessel would be required and arrangements were made to charter the cable steamer Minia to assist the Mackay-Bennett.

At 7 p.m. on 23 April the Mackay Bennett lay briefly alongside the Allan Line's Sardinian, Captain Robert McKillop (en route to Saint John, New Brunswick) to collect additional canvas to wrap or bury bodies.

Just after midnight on Friday, 26 April she met with the Minia and transferred additional embalming supplies at daybreak, she then departed for Halifax. After seven days of searching, the Mackay-Bennett recovered a total of 306 bodies (Body numbers 1 to 306). Of these, 116 were buried at sea and of this number, only 56 were identified. 190 bodies remained on board almost twice as many as there were caskets available.3

The Mackay-Bennett arrived at "Flagship Pier" at North Coaling Jetty No. 4, HM Dockyard, Halifax early on the morning of 30 April 1912. She arrived at the pier to unload her cargo around 9.30 a.m.



  1. C. S. Mackay-Bennett, Official No. 89,965; Call Sign JRHS; built in 1884, length 259.3 ft.; breadth 40.1 ft.; draught 21.8 ft.; registered tonnage 1,731 tons.
  2. Captain Frederick Harold Larnder, lived at 69 Inglis Street, Oxford Apartments, Halifax.
    Canon Kenneth Cameron Hind, priest's assistant, Cathedral Church of All Saints (Anglican), Tower Road, Halifax; boarded at 52 Coburg Road, Halifax
    John R. Snow Jr., undertaker, Snow & Co. Ltd., 90 Argyle Street, Halifax; lived at 206½ Morris Street, Halifax.
    George Peter Snow, stone cutter and undertaker worked at Geo. A. Stanford & Sons (next door to Snow & Co.) at 82-84 Argyle Street, Halifax; lived at 108 North Street, Halifax.
  3. It has been suggested that only those bodies which could be identified or were in good enough condition for embalming were kept on board the Mackay-Bennett, but there is apparently no evidence for this. It appears that, while class had been a factor, the vessel was simply ill-prepared for the number of bodies that were found. Once additional supplies were obtained from the Sardinian on the evening of 23 April 1912 all burials at sea stopped and all bodies were kept regardless of class, identification or state. No sea burials occurred after 24 April 1912.

John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (2000) Titanic: A Journey Through Time.
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Alan Ruffman (1999) Titanic Remembered: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax. Formac Publishing Company Ltd., Halifax ISBN 0-88780-467-5
Alan Ruffman (2001) Personal Communication. Timetable and Details of the Five Trips of Canadian Vessels to the R. M.S. Titanic Loss Area. 23 July revision, 2pp.
Alan Ruffman (2001) Personal Communication. Captains, Clergy and Undertakers on Board the Canadian Vessels which Went to the Titanic Loss Area. 23 July Revision, 2pp.
Garry D. Shutlak & Alan Ruffman (2000) A New Discovery: The Inquest into the Death of Mr. Alfred Rowe, First Class Passenger, Titanic Victim and Body 109 — recovered by the Mackay-Bennett. Atlantic Daily Bulletin, British Titanic Society, 2000, No.4, pp 6-9
White Star Line (1912) Disposition of Bodies ex Titanic Recovered up to May 13, 1912. Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Library Call No. VK T53 D63, dated Monday, May 13, card covers, probably printed in Halifax, 23 pp., unpaged; two sections, List of Bodies Identified and Disposition of Same, 9pp.; List of Bodies Unidentified and Disposition of Same, 14 pp.
White Star Line (1912.) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax, N.S. Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Halifax, N.S., Manuscript Group 100, Vol. 229, No. 3d, Accession 1976-191, 76 pp., unpaged.

Earl Chapman, USA
Bob Knuckle, Canada
Alan Ruffman, Canada
Garry Shutlak, Canada

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Titanic victim being embalmed aboard the Mackay Bennett

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