Daily Event for February 11, 2012

White Star Line's Naronic was built at Harland & Wolff in Belfast in 1892 she was 470' long with a beam of 53' and registered at 6,594 tons, she cost £121,000 to build. A twin screw single funnel steamer built to the highest standards of her day. She could carry 150 passengers, refrigerated cargo and over 1,000 head of livestock. Her trials were conducted on July 11, 1892 and all was found to be satisfactory so she was handed over to White Star and headed for Liverpool later that day. She made her maiden voyage to New York on July 15, 1892 and made five further voyages.

Her final voyage began on February 11, 1893 when she departed Liverpool for New York, the voyage usually took ten to eleven days, but after nineteen days red flags began to rise. Her sister ship Bovic had put into New York on Mar. 1, she had left Liverpool on Feb. 17, six days after Naronic. Other ships arriving at New York reported storms, but the powers that be felt that none of these storms could 'greatly retard the arrival of a vessel of the Naronic's class". On Mar. 2 around 4 pm a ship was sighted off Fire Island, it was reported that it was Naronic and the White Star agents in New York sent a telegram to Liverpool of her arrival. However the ship turned out to be the Mohawk, and a second telegram had to be sent. Mohawk brought no word of Naronic.

The usual suspicious about the fate of Naronic were bandied about, thoughts of machinery breakdown, perhaps the rudder post had broken, perhaps she broke a shaft or dropped a propeller, of course her long absence from sight must have conjured up the thought that she went down, but this was not to be spoken until all hope was lost. Perhaps she was drifting just outside the shipping lanes unable to maneuver, maybe she was trying to make port somewhere on her sails alone.

There were storms as mentioned before and Bovic's master, Captain Thompson, was quoted as saying "if one of the vessel's engines had become disabled her captain would find it impossible to make headway to the westward if the vessel had to face the gales my ship had to encounter." Thompson believed that she would turn up in Bermuda, if she turned up at all.

Days turned into weeks and nothing was heard of the Naronic, then in mid March a report came from the Chief Officer of the SS Delano. He stated that a large raft with six feet of spar standing had been sighted by him on Feb. 22 at 55.22N-23.30W (about 600 miles south of Iceland), it was his belief that the raft had been drifting for some length of time. There was no evidence that this raft in any way belonged to Naronic, but a rumor was as good as anything to spark hope.

There was also one other piece of news that was of interest, on Mar. 18 another White Star ship, Tauric, was being unloaded in New York when a lot of "fireworks" were discovered hidden "in the most imflamable part of the cargo" and it was said they "had apparently been placed there with malicious intent". The obvious implication was that an attempt to sink Tauric failed and that Naronic had possibly been lost to a group of Irish Dynamiters. However the ship's officers felt that this was untrue, they did admit that some "firecrackers" had been found in the cargo and that they were not aware of how they got there, but they were sure it was an accident after all "any one bent on the destruction of the vessel would have selected a means more certain".
(In the language of the day fireworks and firecrackers meant dynamite.)

On the 20th of March news was received from Bremerhaven, Germany from Captain Wilson of the SS Covenrty that he had sighted an overturned lifeboat with the name Naronic clearly visible at 42N-46W (420 miles SE of Cape Race, Newfoundland) on Mar. 4 and furthermore twelve hours later he found another lifeboat, this time upright with the masts and oars bound together and used as a sea anchor. This boat also bore the name Naronic, there was now no doubt about the fate of the ship and the seventy-four men on board, but what had caused the loss was still unknown.

As always theories abounded as to why such a fine ship went down, some thought she hit an iceberg, others blamed a derelict, some said she capsized and others she broke up in a storm. However then, like now, people had no idea of what happened and most of the talk was just hot air, people just talking to hear their heads roar and maybe getting their name in the papers, and if evidence later proved what happened, the one who got it right could always say see I said so. But the story did not end there.

There were at least four messages found in bottles, two in the USA and two in the UK, but the authenticity of these messages were disputed by officials with the White Star Line and the authorities in general. The details of the notes were all the same, Naronic was sinking, but the dates varied and none of the names signed on the messages were reported to have been on board. We will never know if any of them were genuine. The customary inquiry was held, but without witnesses or any evidence their conclusions were speculation at best.

The story continued in 1905 with the arrest of one Gesner Russell A.K.A. Gessler Rosseau, an anarchist and dynamiter who, in 1903, had sent an "infernal machine" to the Cunard pier in an attempt to blow up the liner Unbria. He was implicated in numerous bombings from coast to coast and was also selling these infernal machines to Cubans who were fighting the Spanish. In 1903 his New York apartment was raided by police and in it was found a note to a collaborator in Chicago with these words "The destruction of the Naronic is complete". However he never admitted to having played any role in the loss of Naronic, and no evidence beyond this note, which may have been nothing more than bluster, was ever produced.

Now in 2012 the story has no ending, Naronic is still hidden deep in Davy Jones' Locker, her crew along with her, exactly when and exactly why is still not known.
© 2012 Michael W. Pocock
MaritimeQuest.com



Roll of Remembrance
In memory of those who lost their lives in SS Naronic
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Name
Rate
Barnes, Richard
Able Seaman
Berg, Henry
Cattle Handler
Billington, James
Fireman
Bull, Thomas
Greaser
Burke, Patrick
Fireman
Burke, William
Cattle Handler
Burnbridge, Herbert G.
2nd Mate
Butler, Lawrence
Greaser
Cadogan, Daniel
Fireman
Cain, James
Cattle Handler
Cain, John
Trimmer
Campbell, John
Able Seaman
Carr, John
Fireman
Carry, Alexander
Steward
Cummings, Thomas
Fireman
Daly, Edward
Fireman
Davies, Thomas
Boatswain
Duncan, John
Chief Engineer
Dunn, William
Cook
Evans, Isaac
Trimmer
Evans, T.
Able Seaman
Finlay, Patrick
Fireman
Grundy, Samuel
Able Seaman
Hanna, Gilbert
Greaser
Haythornthwaite, Patrick
Able Seaman
Hughes, John
Able Seaman
Ireson, C. G.
3rd Mate
Jolly, John B.
4th Engineer
Jones, Alfred
Fireman
Keefe, David
Fireman
Kenny, Michael
Greaser
Lackey, Thomas
Able Seaman
Larkin, H.
Cattle Handler
Leary, John
Storekeeper
Lucock, R. T.
2nd Engineer
Lynch, Daniel
Greaser
Madden, John
Trimmer
Manley, James
Fireman
Martin, Arthur
Steward
Mayor, Robert
Trimmer
McDanough, John
Greaser
McGinty, Patrick
Cattle Handler
McKee. James
Cattle Handler
McMahon, John
Able Seaman
Monahan, Peter
Able Seaman
Morgan, F. W.
Refrigeratorman
Morris, Isaac
Boatswain's Mate
Morris, James
Steward
Murphy, John
Greaser
Murphy, Thomas
Fireman
O'Connor, Thomas
Cattle Handler
O'Hara, Joseph
Cattle Handler
Owen, J. P.
Carpenter
Phelan, William
Fireman
Pugh, E. F.
3rd Engineer
Rammage, Thomas
Able Seaman
Reid, Patrick
Able Seaman
Roberts, William
Master
Roger, Richard
Cook
Rogers, Thomas
Able Seaman
Routledge, Frank
Trimmer
Shaffer, William
Cattle Handler
Shannon, Joseph
Cattle Handler
Smith, P.
Cattle Handler
Stafford, Joseph
Cattle Handler
Taylor, Isaac
Steward
Tesch, Christopher
Able Seaman
Timulty, Hugh
Trimmer
Tobin, William
Cattle Handler
Watson, John
Cattle Handler
Whelan, John
Greaser
Williams, George
Able Seaman
Williams, Richard
Able Seaman
Wright, George
1st Mate
This list was compiled from several sources and may not be completely accurate in either spelling or rate.


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