White Stat Line RMS Atlantic
White Star Liner Atlantic 1871-1873
Atlantic was the fourth of a quartet (Oceanic, Republic, Baltic and Atlantic) of liners built exclusively for the White Star Line under the new ownership of Thomas Henry Ismay. The Atlantic was built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast in 1871. She was assigned to the Liverpool to New York route. In 1973, Atlantic ran into a severe storm near Halifax. Stranded and, fearing a shortage of fuel on board, Atlantic's Captain headed for Halifax. (Only 127 tons of coal remaining) Upon doing so, the Atlantic ran aground after striking Meagher/Golden Rule Rock on April 4, 1873. The heavy seas ripped the ship's lifeboats off and split her hull open. In desperation, crew members swam ashore with a line and ferried remaining passengers ashore. Survivors were picked up the next day and taken to Halifax aboard the steamers Delta and Lady Head. 585 passengers lost their lives. Not a single woman survived and only one child survived. A Board of Trade Commission found Captain Williams negligent for taking his ship into water not familiar to him. He was banned from mastering a vessel for two years.
Currier & Ives lithograph
The loss of Atlantic was the first major tragedy suffered by the White Star line, the loss of lives and circumstances surrounding the incident almost spelled doom for the company.
Although shipwrecks with loss of life weren't uncommon in the 1870's, the public avoided WSL for almost a year with low numbers of passengers booking subsequent sailings.
White Star was forced to sell Cufic and Runic (livestock carriers) to regain capital from Atlantic's loss.
Burying some of the recovered bodies from the Atlantic wreck in Halifax.
Return to Fleet List Return to Home