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The Missouri decked with bunting as she steamed out of New York harbor "Off for Libau" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

S.S. Missouri

Other names: USS Egbert, Stanley Dollar
Sisters: Maine, Maryland, Montana
Builder: William Gray & Co. of West Hartlepool
Launched December 4, 1888; stranded 1905, Japan
Hull: length 320'; beam 40'; 2,845 tons; draft 20' 2"
Power plant: Triple expansion engine with cylinders of 24 ½", 40", and 65" diameter, stroke 42"
Registered in London; official number 95524

 

The Missouri was described in some detail in the Marine Engineer when it covered her launch in its issue of January 1, 1889:

Missouri.—on December 4th Messrs. W. Gray & Co. launched from their New Central Shipyard a fine steel screw steamer, 330 ft. long, 40 ft. wide, and 29 ft. 6 in. deep, built to the order of Messrs. Williams, Torrey & Field, Limited, London. The vessel takes Lloyd's highest class, will carry 4,100 tons deadweight, and is to run between London, Swansea and Baltimore, being the latest addition to the Atlantic Transport Line of steamers, which includes the Surrey, Maryland, Maine and Swansea, also built by Messrs. Gray & Co. The new vessel has an extra thick iron spar deck sheathed with wood, an extra thick iron main deck, and a tier of beams in the holds suitable for a third deck, and the poop, bridge, and forecastle, are joined by a shelter deck for the cattle. The bottom is constructed on an improved cellular double bottom principle. Six watertight bulkheads are fitted, and a permanent iron fore and aft bulkhead in the holds to prevent shifting of cargo. Three strakes of shell plating are doubled at the bilge and topsides, and extra web framing fitted inside—above Lloyd's requirements. All the principal plating is in long lengths, and in addition to a deep bar keel, bilge keels are fitted. Three pole masts will be fitted, with yards on the foremast and a smart rig ; four hatches, with a powerful steam winch at each, and connected to work the bilge pumps, a steam windlass with capstan on the forecastle, steam steering gear in house amidships and screw steering gear aft ; a horizontal multibar donkey boiler, a distiller to supply 4,000 gallons of fresh water per day into large deck cattle tanks and overflow into fore peak tank. A handsome saloon, state-rooms for a few passengers, captain's room, ice house, &c., are fitted up in the poop. The officers are berthed at the fore part of the bridge. Arrangements of the most approved kind are made for conveying about 500 cattle, and a large number of ventilators are fitted to insure a good supply of fresh air to every part. Side coaling and cargo ports are fitted, and everything is provided which can contribute to the safety and efficiency of the vessel. The engines are of the triple-expansion type, working on three cranks. They are supplied by the Central Marine Engineering Works, West Hartlepool, and possess all the latest improvements which the experience of the firm in triple-expansion engines has produced. The cylinders are 25 in., 40 in., and 65 in. in diameter, and the stroke of all the pistons is 42 in. The details of the engines are similar to those of the s.s. Maryland, Maine and Montana, which have been at work for some time on the Atlantic with the most satisfactory results. The boilers are of the double-ended type and designed for a working pressure of 160 lb. per square inch. They are exceptionally large, and are intended to work under natural draught, supplying steam for the development of 1,400 I.H.P. in regular work at sea. The speed will be about 11 knots an hour. The engines and boilers have been built under the superintendence of Mr. A. E. Allan, of Hull, the engineering superintendent for the owners, while the ship and equipment have been under the superintendence of Mr. F. Murrell, of Cardiff, and Captain E. Robinson. The christening ceremony was gracefully performed by Mrs. Torrey, wife of one of the owners, who named the vessel Missouri. Captain H. Murrell, late of the s.s. Maine, takes command of the Missouri, which will be ready for sea in a month. The Missouri is No. 346 in the builder's books but she is the first vessel launched from their New Central yard. In the laying out of the new yard the builders have been guided by their large experience of the requirements of a modern shipbuilding establishment, and have provided the most approved appliances in every department for building the strongest class of vessels. The yard is commodious and the new gas furnaces, hydraulic riveting machines, smithies, machine sheds, with large punching, shearing, drilling, planning, and bending machines, etc., and the railways, traveling cranes, and electric light are so arranged as to facilitate the progress of work to the utmost. A numerous company of ladies and gentlemen witnessed the launch, and a select party adjourned to the drawing office, where the usual toasts were heartily given and responded to.

There was a Missouri Steamship Company that technically owned this ship — it was the subject of litigation as it was being wound up in 1889 on the incorporation of the Atlantic Transport Company Ltd. The motto of the Missouri Steamship Company was "The safety of the people should be the first consideration" and this ship certainly lived up to it. On one occasion Missouri rescued the steamship Delaware and towed her to Halifax, and on another she towed the foundering Bertha to Barry, England. But most famously on April 6, 1889 Missouri came to the aid of the sinking emigrant ship Danmark in mid Atlantic. With no other vessel in sight the Missouri, sailing only for the second time under the command of Hamilton Murrell, lowered all of her lifeboats in heavy seas, and in five hours of considerable exertion her crew rescued every single person on board Danmark, many of them women and children. To accommodate the victims of the disaster Missouri had to jettison cargo to free up space below deck, and she had to leave half of the victims in the Azores because she was too small to carry them all to the United States. It was a truly heroic rescue, and Captain Hamilton Murrell and the crew of the Missouri were appropriately honored on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Missouri was, according to a reference in the New York Times, a rather slow vessel. In 1891 she carried flour and corn donated by American millers for distribution to starving Russians after their crops failed. In 1892 the Missouri evidently rescued not one but two steamers drifting on the high seas in separate incidents. The Delaware and the Bertha were each towed to safety in port. The Missouri suffered an accident of her own on February 29, 1896, when she experienced a catastrophic fire when berthed in the East Dock at Swansea. She partially capsized and rested on the dock floor, with a portion of her starboard side going under water.

On July 1, 1898, the Missouri was loaned to the U.S. government for up to 12 months for use as hospital ship during the war with Spain. When the British colors where hauled down, "the officers who were mostly British, applied for American citizenship and the Stars and Stripes were raised." The New York Times noted that "Major W H Arthur will be in charge, and his staff will be Capt. A. M. Stark, Assistant Surgeon; Dr. Brown, who has been detached from the Olivette, and Dr. E. M. Parker of Washington, D.C. There will be a hospital corps of twenty privates, ten contract nurses, and four hospital stewards." She was intended to carry 600 patients and Bernard N. Baker paid for the ship's crew and operating expenses — each month evidently cost him $5,000. After the conflict the Senate made a vote of thanks to Baker and resolved that a gold medal "with appropriate design be prepared by the Director of the Mint " for presentation to Baker by the President.

Realizing that they needed the Missouri longer than she had been offered for, the U.S. government tried unsuccessfully to charter her in 1899, but Baker was eventually persuaded to sell her for $200,000. Additional work was done to prepare her for long-term service in the Pacific, but she proved unsuitable for that climate and being in poor repair and needing yet more costly alterations she was transferred instead to become an Army transport. Her service as the USAT Egbert proved however to be very brief. She was soon sold for $50,000 to B. H. A. Michaelson of St. Thomas in the West Indies. She was then managed by the Dollar Steamship Company, renamed Stanley Dollar, and employed as a freighter on San Francisco to China run. In 1904 she was again renamed Missouri, but reverted to Stanley Dollar the following year. On September 6, 1905, she was stranded on an uncharted rock off Katsuura, Japan, and became a total loss.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; Thomas Hemy website; The Ships List; Buffalo Medical Journal, August, 1898, p.64; www.norwayheritage.com; Merchant Fleets in Profile 2; the Ships of the Cunard, American, Red Star, Inman, Leyland, Dominion, Atlantic Transport and White Star Lines, Duncan Haws, 1979; The New York Times, February 12, 1898

The Missouri tied up in an American port, possibly Boston (Kinghorn)
The Missouri tied up in an American port, possibly Boston (Kinghorn)

A print of Thomas Hemy's monumental painting "Every Soul was Saved." (Peter Searle)
A print of Thomas Hemy's monumental painting "Every Soul was Saved" (Peter Searle)

A wood engravings depicting Danmark passengers on board the Missouri after their rescure (www.NorwayHeritage.com)A wood engravings depicting Danmark passengers on board the Missouri after their rescure (www.NorwayHeritage.com)
Two wood engravings depicting Danmark passengers on board the Missouri after their rescure (www.NorwayHeritage.com)

Hamilton Murrell recieving a gallantry award in London after the Danmark rescue (Illustrated London News)
Hamilton Murrell recieving a gallantry award in London after the Danmark rescue (Illustrated London News)

A print of a painting by N. Sotheby Pincher entitled "Millers' Russian Relief Movement: Steamship Missouri in Libau Harbor 1892" (Peter Searle)
A print of a painting by N. Sotheby Pincher entitled "Millers' Russian Relief Movement: Steamship Missouri in Libau Harbor 1892" (Peter Searle)

The Missouri decked with bunting as she steamed out of New York harbor "Off for Libau" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
The Missouri decked with bunting as she steamed out of New York harbor "Off for Libau" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

"Captain Findley" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)"The Saloon" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
"Captain Findley" and "The Saloon" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

"In the Chart Room 1st Officer Browne" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)"In the Engine Room" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
"In the Chart Room 1st Officer Browne" and "In the Engine Room" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

"2nd Officer Gibbon" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892) "Chief Engineer, Purser and 1st Officer" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
"2nd Officer Gibbon" and "Chief Engineer, Purser and 1st Officer" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

"On the Bridge" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892) "Looking Toward the Bridge" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
"On the Bridge" and "Looking Toward the Bridge" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

"The Last of the Flour" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)"Looking Aft" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
"The Last of the Flour" and "Looking Aft" (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

The Missouri decked with bunting and ready to sail home from Libau (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
The Missouri decked with bunting and ready to sail home from Libau (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

The Missouri at sea (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)
The Missouri at sea (W. C. Edgar, The Russian Famine of 1891 and 1892)

The launch presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution to the Ambulance Ship Missouri
The steam launch presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution to the Ambulance Ship Missouri

 

 

For more information ...

Kinghorn "The Atlantic Transport Line 1881 - 1931" McFarland, 2011

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