Stella Maris (ship)

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Name: Stella Maris
Owner: Halifax Trading & Sealing Co (c.1917–)
Builder: Samuda Bios
Launched: 1882
Type: Gunboat and minesweeper (1882–c.1917)
Tugboat (c.1917–?)
Tonnage: 229
Length: 124.5 ft (37.9 m)
Beam: 23.6 ft (7.2 m)
Depth: 12.2 ft (3.7 m)

Stella Maris (from the Latin for "star of the sea") was a ship involved in the Halifax Explosion in 1917.

Stella Maris was built in Poplar, England in 1882 by Samuda Bios. The vessel was 124.5 feet (37.9 m) long, 23.6 feet (7.2 m) wide, and 12.2 feet (3.7 m) deep, and had a tonnage of 229. It was powered by steam. Formerly employed as an English gunboat and minesweeper, by 1917 it had been converted into a tugboat and purchased by Halifax Trading & Sealing Co, owned by James Augustus Farquhar.[1]

On 6 December 1917, Stella Maris, with Captain Horatio Horace Brannen and 23 others aboard, was towing two scows near mid-channel in the Narrows of Halifax Harbour leading into Bedford Basin. Shortly before the explosion, the tug narrowly avoided being hit by SS Imo, which then collided with Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship. The collision started a fire on Mont Blanc, forcing the crew to evacuate. The burning ship then began drifting towards Halifax's Pier 6 on the western shore. After a failed attempt to get close to the French ship, Stella Maris '​s crew were in the process of retrieving a ten-inch hawser from the hold to assist a party of volunteers from HMCS Niobe's steam pinnace in securing a line to Mont Blanc. They wanted to pull the French vessel away from the pier to prevent it from catching fire. Before this could be done, the explosion occurred.

The Halifax Explosion was the largest man-made blast prior to the Trinity Test of the atomic bomb. Stella Maris was severely damaged; 19 men were killed, including Captain Brannen. The tug was salvaged and rebuilt for service in the First World War.[1][2][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Stella Maris". Ships of the Halifax Explosion. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Archived from the original on 2013-06-05. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Halifax Explosion". CBC Radio. Archived from the original on 2011-11-21. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Imo vs Mont Blanc, Volumes 1 & 2, Southern Pacific Whaling Company (principal author) & Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. In the Privy Council on appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada between the ship "Imo" (Southern Pacific Whaling Company, Limited, Owners) (Defendant), appellant and La Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (plaintiff), respondent record of proceedings, volume 1 Constant & Constant ... appellant's solicitors, William A. Crump & Son ... respondent's solicitors, testimony of Walter Brannen and William Nickerson