SS La Bourgogne
SS La Bourgogne, circa 1895
|Name:||SS La Bourgogne|
|Owner:||Compagnie Generale Transatlantique|
|Builder:||Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer|
|Launched:||8 October 1885|
|Fate:||Sunk in a collision on 4 July 1898|
|Class and type:||Ocean liner|
|Length:||494.4 feet (150.7 m)|
|Beam:||52.2 feet (15.9 m)|
|Speed:||17 knots (20 mph)|
SS La Bourgogne was a French ocean liner, which sank in 1898, with the loss of 549 lives. At the time this sinking was infamous, because only 13% of the passengers survived, while 48% of the crew did. In 1886 she set a new record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a postal steamer.
She was built in 1885 by Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer for the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (French Line). She was a 7,395 gross ton vessel, 494.4 feet (150.7 m) long and with a beam of 52.2 feet (15.9 m). She had two funnels and four masts, was of iron and steel construction, and propelled by a single screw giving a speed of 17 knots (20 mph). There was accommodation for 390 first class passengers, 65 second class and 600 third class passengers.
Launched on 8 October 1885, she sailed on her maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York City on 19 June 1886. In 1886, SS La Bourgogne traveled the Le Havre - New York transit in a little more than 7 days. This gave the company first place in the New York postal service, and ignited a competition for the record in the trans-Atlantic run. On 29 February 1896 she ran down and sank the anchored British steamer Ailsa, of the Atlas Steamship Company, at the entrance to New York harbour. In 1897-8 she was fitted with quadruple expansion engines and her masts reduced to two.
On 4 July 1898 shortly before five in the morning La Bourgogne collided with the British sailing ship Cromartyshire about 60 nautical miles (69 mi; 110 km) south of Sable Island during a dense fog. Captain Oscar Henderson of Cromartyshire was sailing sounding his fog horn and heard a ship's whistle but was unable to determine direction before the collision with La Bourgogne about midships on the starboard side while most passengers were asleep in their compartments. The liner's compartments adjacent to the collision point filled immediately, starboard side lifeboats were damaged and the ship took a sharp list making launching of port side lifeboats difficult. As the ship started to list, the crew began to panic, rushing for lifeboats without assisting the passengers. La Bourgogne sank just over half an hour after the collision. The Cromartyshire survived the collision, but her crew mistook the La Bourgogne's whistle and signal rockets for an offer of assistance, and they did not realize what was happening until the whistle fell silent. Around 5:30 am, the fog thinned out, and the crew of the Cromartyshire spotted and began rescuing survivors from La Bourgogne.
At the time, La Bourgogne was carrying 506 passengers and 220 crew, of whom 549 were lost, including Turkish wrestler Yusuf İsmail, the American instructor/sculptor Emil H. Wuertz, French artist Léon Pourtau, American painter De Scott Evans, an Armenian Orthodox priest, Rev. Stepan Der Stepanian, his wife and three children, wife and daughter of John Forrest Dillon, the wife and child of George Deslions, and three members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Only 173 people survived, but fewer than 70 survivors were passengers, only one woman was rescued, and all children perished. Reports circulated that the crew had refused to aid passengers in the water, to the point of stabbing them or hitting them with oars. Surviving crew members required police protection upon their arrival in New York.
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- SS La Bourgoyne (+1898) Wrecksite