SS Persia (1900)

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For other ships of the same name, see SS Persia.
Postcard of SS Persia at Aden, c.1900
Postcard of SS Persia at Aden, c.1900
Career (UK)
Name: SS Persia
Owner: Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company
Port of registry: London
Builder: Caird & Company, Greenock
Yard number: 295
Launched: 13 August 1900
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk, 30 December 1915
General characteristics [1]
Type: Cargo-passenger ship
Tonnage: 7,974 GRT
Length: 499 ft 8 in (152.30 m)
Beam: 53 ft 3 in (16.23 m)
Draught: 24 ft 5 in (7.44 m)
Propulsion: Triple expansion steam engine
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)

SS Persia was a P&O passenger liner, built in 1900 by Caird & Company, Inverclyde, Greenock, Scotland. It was torpedoed and sunk without warning on 30 December 1915, by German U-Boat commander Max Valentiner. 343 passengers onboard the Persia died during the sinking.

History[edit]

Nearly 500 feet (152.34 m) long, with a beam of 53 feet (16.55 m), draft of 24.5 feet (7.47 m) and a size of 7,974 gross register tons (GRT), the Persia carried triple expansion steam engines capable of driving the ship at a respectable 18 knots (33.3 km/h).[1]

SS Persia (1900) is located in Mediterranean
SS Persia (1900)
Wreck location

Persia was sunk off Crete, while the passengers were having lunch, on 30 December 1915, by German World War I U-Boat ace Max Valentiner (commanding SM U-38). The Persia sank in five to ten minutes, killing 343 of the 519 aboard. The sinking was highly controversial, since it broke naval international law, or the "Cruiser Rules", which stated that merchant ships could be stopped and searched for contraband, but could only be sunk if the passengers and crew were put in a place of safety (for which, lifeboats on the open sea were not sufficient). Instead, the U-Boat fired a torpedo with no warning, and made no provision for any survivors. This action took place under Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, but broke the Imperial German Navy’s own restriction on attacking passenger liners, the Arabic pledge.

At the time of sinking, Persia was carrying a large quantity of gold and jewels belonging to the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, though he himself had disembarked at Marseilles. Among the passengers to survive were John Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. His secretary (and mistress) Eleanor Thornton, who was the model for the Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot by Charles Robinson Sykes, died. Also among the dead was Homer Russell Salisbury.[2]

The sinking was front page news on many British newspapers, including the Daily Mirror and the Daily Sketch.

The wreck of the Persia was located off Crete in 2003 at a depth of 10,000 feet (3,000 m), and an attempt was made to salvage the treasure located in the bullion room. The salvage attempt met with limited success, retrieving artifacts and portions of the ship, and some jewels from the bullion room.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "SS Persia". Clyde-built Ship Database. 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Story of the Week". The Independent. 1916. Retrieved 2013-11-23. "Besides Consul McNeeley it seems there was another American drowned, for among the missing is the Rev. Dr. Homer R. Salisbury, a Seventh Day Adventist missionary, who came on board at Marseilles to go to India. He came from Battle Creek ..." 
  3. ^ "Salvaging a sense of history". The Scotsman. 19 January 2004. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°10′00″N 26°00′00″E / 34.16667°N 26.00000°E / 34.16667; 26.00000