17th March 1907 –
Suevic runs aground

SUEVIC-1901_01White Star’s Suevic left Melbourne for Liverpool on 2nd February 1907, under Captain Jones. This was to be his last voyage before retirement. Suevic sailed from Tenerife for Plymouth on 13th March, and by 17th March 1907 was nearing the Lizard. The weather had deteriorated with dense fog and this was a dan­ger­ous area for rocks and shoals. Misjudging the distance from the lighthouse, the Captain main­tained full speed. Around 11.30pm Suevic ran onto Maen­heere Rocks, off Lizard Point. Life­boats were sent out, Suevic lowered its own lifeboats and all passengers were taken ashore. Salvage teams were unable to prise the vessel off the rocks, so passengers’ luggage and much of the cargo was removed.

Suevic and rocksDamage was confined to the bow section: the stern with the valu­able engines and accommodation was undamaged. White Star decided to attempt the salvage: the plan was to use some 300 small charges of dynamite to sep­arate the two sections, just aft of the bridge, leaving the wrecked bows on the rocks.

Suevic separatedOn 2nd April, a final blast separated Suevic into two and the stern floated free. After being made seaworthy, the stern section headed to Southampton, towed by the tugs Ranger, Herculaneum and Blazer, with another tug, Linnet, steering from astern. On 4th April, the stern section arrived at Southampton and was moved to No. 6 Graving Dock, pumped out and inspected. The Board of Trade Inquiry into the grounding found that Captain Jones had failed to navigate with “proper and seamanlike care” and suspended Jones’ certificate for three months, but he had retired soon after the accident.
Suevic bow launchAt Harland & Wolff, a new bow section was built from the original plans, and launched on 5th Oct­ober 1907. It was complete, even including masts and rigging, with two lifeboats already in place and the bridge fully equipped. Towed stern-first by the paddle tug Pathfinder leading, with the tug Blazer following, Suevic’s new bow left Belfast on 19th October for Southampton. It arrived at Southampton on 25th October, where J.I. Thorneycroft, which was leasing Harland & Wolff’s repair yard, were to graft the two sections together.

Suevic in drydockOn 4th November, the two sections were offered up to each other. Hydraulic rams were used to adjust the two sections until they were correctly aligned and then combined. On 8th January 1908 the rebuilt Suevic left Southampton’s drydock, bunkered and then headed for Liverpool. Ten months after her grounding, on 18th January 1908 Suevic sailed from London to resume her service to Australia.