17th July 1918 – Cunard’s Carpathia torpedoed, sunk

Carpathia_SinkingCunard’s Carpathia, best known for hr rôle in saving survivors from the Titanic disaster, was torpedoed on 17th July 1918 by the German submarine U55, off the Irish coast. Five crew were lost in the initial attack. She was part of a convoy heading from Liverpool to Boston, with 57 passengers and 166 crew. She was hit by two torpedoes, and quickly began to sink by the head. Captain Prothero gave the order to abandon ship, and survivors left on the lifeboats. U55 fired a third torpedo into Carpathia, causing a massive explosion. The submarine then surfaced and approached the lifeboats, but was driven away by gunfire from HMS Snowdrop. The sloop then stopped and picked up the survivors. Early in 2000 the wreck was found, some 125 miles off Fastnet, lying more or less upright on the seabed. It is currently owned by Premier Exhibitions, formerly RMS Titanic Inc., but that company has filed for bankruptcy so it is unclear what the future holds for any artefacts recovered.

Carpathia at HalifaxBuilt by Swan Hunter at Newcastle, Carpathia was laid down on 10th September 1901, and was ready for her trials by 22nd April 1903. She was 558 feet long, 13,603grt. She was fitted with four masts, well-equipped with derricks to handle large quantities of cargo, especially frozen meat. Carpathia could also carry 200 passengers in Second Class and 1,600 in Steerage. She was designed to attract the thousands of East European and Hungarian emigrants heading for the USA on the Fiume to New York route. Her maiden voyage was on 5th May 1903, from Liverpool to Boston. She was rebuilt in 1905 to provide better accommodation, and was often used as a cruise ship.

carpathiaCarpathia was most famous for her part in the Titanic disaster, when she was first to arrive on the scene, and rescued over 700 survivors. Requisitioned during the Great War, Carpathia was used to transport American and Canadian troops to the battlefields of Europe. She generally sailed from New York to Halifax, then across the Atlantic to either Liverpool or Glasgow.