Headline: The Atlantic Transort Line 

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S.S. Alexander Elder

Other name: Merrimack
Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Launched January 23, 1890; Maiden voyage, April 24, 1890; Lost at sea, October 1899
Length 400.6'; Beam: 54.2'; 4,177 tons
Single screw; Triple expansion engine by builder, 390 n.h.p.
180 p.s.i.; 2 double boilers, 12 furnaces, 10 knots


This was the largest ship in the Elder, Dempster Line fleet when built, and left on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on April 24, 1890. Repairs and a refit at Belfast in 1891 provided her with stalls for 870 cattle.

By September 13, 1891 she was in Atlantic Transport Line service, and the New York Times reported that this "recently chartered" ship was one of the four vessels "most likely to be placed on the new line" then being organized by the Atlantic Transport Line from New York to Swansea and London. Alexander Elder, painted in Atlantic Transport Line colors, initiated the service on November 4. By August 1892 she had been renamed Merrimac for her last Atlantic Transport Line voyage. When she was returned to the Elder, Dempster Line she kept this name, for names beginning with "M" had by this time become the standard for this line's North Atlantic fleet.

The Merrimack ran aground on the Burbo Bank in the River Mersey when bound for Liverpool on January, 20, 1895, but sustained no damage. On January 24, 1898, however she developed a serious leak off the Azores. She anchored and her crew evacuated the ship, which was saved by a salvage company soon after. The Merrimack grounded again on July 15, 1899, coming to rest off Antisocsti Island in the St. Lawrence River. She was towed off and sent to Quebec for repairs by Davie SB & Lauzon. She set sail for Belfast on October 25 but she never arrived at her destination. The disappearance was never explained, but striking an iceberg was considered a likely explanation. All 36 of her crew were lost.

Sources: The Ships List; The New York Times, September 4, 1891; Merchant Fleets: Elder Dempster Lines, Duncan Haws, 1990


For more information ...

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

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