Atlantic was constructed for the White Star Line by Harland and Wolff's Belfast yard, and was launched on the 1st December, 1870.

Atlantic began her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Queenstown and New York on the 8th June, 1871.

On 20th March, 1873, Atlantic left Liverpool on her 19th voyage, under the command of Captain J. H. Williams. The passenger list for the voyage comprised 28 in saloon class, 577 in third class, including 78 children, and 184 in steerage, who had joined at Queenstown, Ireland. In total, there were 789 passengers, together with 142 crew, making a total of 931 aboard. Atlantic had to endure fierce head gales throughout her journey. On 31st March, after 11 days of steaming, Atlantic had just 127 tons of coal remaining in her bunkers. Sandy Hook was 460 miles away, but Halifax was just 170 miles distant, and as a precaution, the course was set for Halifax, because of the small amount of coal. Because of the terrible weather on the journey, it was difficult to get accurate fixes of Atlantic's position, and she was some miles of her course. On the 1st April, at 3.00a.m., and whilst looking for Sambro lighthouse, Atlantic ran at 9 knots onto Marrs rock, Meagher's Island, near Halifax. Atlantic ended up with a list to starboard, and swept by the still heavy seas, she lost her lifeboats, and her hull burst open on the rocks. Atlantic's Third Officer Brady, together with her Quartermasters, Speakman and Owen, swam to the rock, carrying a rope, and by the time dawn came around, they had managed to attach five lines to the shore. One of Atlantic's passengers reported seeing a mass of heads in the sea, so dense that he thought it must be floating cargo, until from it came a low moan, and as each wave surged, there was a cry of terror. All of the people in the water were carried out to sea, until lost to view. As far as the people still on the rock, they began to be pulled through the waves, towards the shore. Many of them,. cold and exhausted, were washed away in the attempt to rescue them. Captain J. H. Williams told the remaining people still aboard Atlantic to climb the rigging, until they could be safely pulled ashore, but in the biting cold, many fell, or were washed into the sea. At daylight, assistance from the islanders came, but a total of 585 of the crew and passengers were lost. Only one boy from the 78 children aboard Atlantic was saved. One of Atlantic's crew turned to to be a woman. All of the survivors were then taken to Halifax, aboard the steamers Delta and Lady Head. Allegations that Atlantic had run out of coal were denied by White Star Line, even though the Halifax court of inquiry gave it as a contributing factor. The first enquiry in England made a similar judgement, but on appeal, it was ruled by the Board of Trade Commissioner, that fuel had nothing to do with Atlantic's loss, and Captain Williams confirmed this. His diversion was to avoid further gales, and not because of the coal shortage. However, he was held negligent on approaching a coast that was unknown to him, and banned for two years.

To replace the capital loss of Atlantic, Asiatic I and Tropic I were both sold.


N.B. Image source Wikipedia



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