Encyclopedia Titanica

Atlantic Transport Line: Mesaba


The SS Mesaba was among the vessels that sent ice warnings to the Titanic.

At 7.50 p.m. her wireless operator Stanley Adams sent the following message:

To Titanic
In Lat. 42 N. to 41.25 Lond 49 W to Long
- 50.30 W saw much heavy pack ice and
great number large icebergs also
field ice. Weather good, clear

The message was received at 9.40 p.m., by which time second operator Harold Bride had gone to bed and Jack Phillips was alone at the key. Perhaps it was for this reason that the message was never relayed to the bridge.

The Mesaba was built at Harland & Wolff as yard No. 319, for the Wilson & Furness-Leyland Line, and was originally named Winifreda.  She was launched at Belfast on 11 September 1897 and began her maiden voyage on 3 March 1898.

On 11 August 1918, she was in collision in the Irish sea during a fog with the Lizard, a steamer out of Glasgow. A subsequent inquiry into the accident apportioned equal blame for the incident.

On 1 September 1918 the Mesaba was in ballast on convoy duty between Liverpool and Philadelphia when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U118 east of Tuskar Light, off County Wexford in the Irish Sea, 20 crew lost their lives including her Captain and Chief Officer. 78 members of the crew were rescued however, largely through the efforts of Lieut. F. J. Silva R.N.R. of the gunboat Kildini. Silva was later awarded a medal for gallantry by the Liverpool Shipwreck and Human Society.

In 2022 it was reported that the wreck of the Mesaba had been positively identified lying in the Irish sea by a team from the University of Bangor.

Mesaba Wreck
Sonar image of the wreck of the SS Mesaba 
(Courtesy of Bangor University)

John Booth & Sean Coughlan (1993) Titanic Signals of Disaster. White Star Publications. ISBN 0 9518190 1 1
Liverpool Journal of Commerce, 11 April 1919 and 6 June 1919
Innes McCartney (2022) Echoes of the Deep, Sidestone Press. ISBN: 9789464261172
Finding the Ship That Sent Out a Warning to the Titanic (2022), Bangor University
Photo of Mesaba courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

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