Friday, 20 February 2009


On this day....153 years ago, the John Rutledge sank in the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. The passengers managed to get into lifeboats, but the seas were so rough that only one man survived. Less than a month earlier, on January 23, 1856, the SS Pacific was also lost after a similar collision. All 186 people on board were lost. Later a message was found in a bottle washed up in the Hebrides, saying “ship going down. Confusion on board. Icebergs around us on every side. I know I cannot escape.”

The Titanic, of course, is the most famous shipwreck caused by ice, and the one that caused most victims (see my blog of January 21), but there were many others, like the schooner Maria, which went down off Newfoundland carrying 111 refugees from the Irish potato famine in 1849. There were only a dozen survivors.

The SS City of Glasgow which disappeared between New York and Liverpool in January 1854 is also thought to have been a victim of icebergs. 480 passengers and crew were lost.

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