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Maritime Image of the Day: “Titanic Survivors”

PortandTerminal.com, January 15, 2020

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Today’s “Maritime Image of the Day” is a rare photo of a lifeboat full of Titanic survivors as they are being rescued and about to be brought onboard the Carpathia on April 15, 1912.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of the Carpathia‘s captain and crew the Carpathia rescued 705 Titanic survivors from lifeboats. Such was their bravery, the Carpathia’s crew was given a bonus of a month’s wages by Cunard as a reward for their actions. Later, some of Titanic‘s passengers joined together to give them an added bonus of nearly $1,200 ($117,000 today), divided among the crew members.

Grainy black and white photo of lifeboats filled with passengers from the Titanic coming up alongside the Carpathia
More lifeboats coming alongside the Carpathia for rescue.

Of course, not everyone was so lucky. Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making the sinking one of modern history’s deadliest peacetime commercial marine disasters. 

For nearly two months after the Titanic sank, ocean liners continued to encounter the floating corpses of its victims.

Black and white photo of sailors in a rowboat dragging a body wearing a white life-vest out of the water
Crew members of the recovery ship CS Minia pulling a lifebelted Titanic victim from the sea.

In one grisly incident, a week after the Titanic sank, the SS Bremen was underway when passengers on deck suddenly began to scream. Their ship was steaming into waters scattered with the floating victims of the RMS Titanic.

Priest praying over Titanic victims before they are buried at sea
Priest praying over Titanic victims before they are buried at sea

“We saw one woman in a nightdress with a baby clasped closely to her breast,” reported passenger Johanna Stunke later. “There was another woman fully dressed, with her arms tightly clutching the body of a shaggy dog that looked like a St. Bernard.”

In another incident, almost a month after the sinking, at a spot more than 180 miles away from the Titanic’s last reported position, the RMS Oceanic was ordered to stop at the sight of a peculiar half-submerged shape bobbing in the waves.

It was Titanic lifeboat Collapsible A that they discovered. What they saw was haunting. Apparently, as water overtook the Titanic’s bridge, the canvas lifeboat became the scene of a desperate scramble for seats.

Black and white photo of sailors in a rowboat coming up on an overturned lifeboat from the Titanic.
A boat from the ship MacKay-Bennett examines an overturned lifeboat from the Titanic in waters of the Atlantic in 1912. REUTERS/Courtesy of Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, N.S. Thomas Head Raddall Fonds/Handout

A party of sailors sent to investigate the shape came upon a nightmarish scene: Tooth marks, badly decomposed bodies wedged under seats and “women’s rings” in the boat’s bottom— the result of husbands trying desperately to haul their wives aboard.

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