13th February 1899 – iced-up Germanic sinks in New York

Germanic iced inOn 10th February 1899 the temperature in New York was down to –6°F (–21°C). The next day, White Star’s Germanic arrived at Pier 45 from Liverpool, covered in ice after sailing through severe gales and heavy snow during the crossing. The weight of ice on her decks, superstructure, masts and rigging had given her a 4 degree list to starboard, and the gangways had to be cleared using axes and steam hoses before the passengers could debark. For the next two days crew and dock workers struggled to clear the ice, in spite of further bad weather sweeping over the harbour. Coal barges had been brought alongside but were unable to offload, as the list had now increased to 10 degrees.

On 13th February a blizzard hit North River, causing Germanic to heel over, now taking on an 8 degree list to port. Within an hour she swung over again, listing at 8 degrees to starboard. Water from the river flooded in as the coaling ports were open, ready for the barges to start work. In an attempt to gain a more even trim, cargo was loaded, but the weight of ice on the superstructure proved too much and later that evening she heeled over again, and eventually settled into the mud on the river bed. Her next sailing was cancelled and passengers were transferred to Cymric.

Pumping out started the next day, but she continued to sink deeper into the mud, until eventually her promenade deck was at water level; by 18th February water was within two feet of the bridge deck. Eventually two wrecking companies brought in 18 heavy duty pumps, and also built coffer dams round the hatches. Even with that it needed a large floating derrick at the stern to lift Germanic free of the mud. She was finally refloated on 23rd February, and was towed to Brooklyn for assessment. Passed as sufficiently seaworthy, she eventually returned to Belfast where she was thoroughly refurbished by Harland & Wolff. Germanic returned to service on 7th June 1899.