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S.S. Marquette

Other name: Boadicea
Sisters: Mesaba, Manitou, Mohegan, Menominee
Builder: Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, yard number 373
Launched November 25, 1897; maiden voyage January 15, 1898; torpedoed October 25, 1915
Hull: length 486' 6"; beam 52' 4"; 7,057 tons; 3 decks; 10 bulkheads; 7 holds
Power: single screw; triple expansion engine with cylinders of 32", 54", and 90" diameter, stroke 66"; 770 nominal horsepower;
2 double and 2 single-ended boilers, 190 lbs steam; 14 knots; bunker capacity 1,100 tons
Registered in London; official number 106972; call sign MNQ


This ship was built originally for the Wilson & Furness-Leyland Line as the Boadicea and was one of five sister ships purchased by the Atlantic Transport Line on or soon after completion to replace ships bought by the U.S. government for use in the Spanish-American War. The Atlantic Transport Line paid an average of £140,000 for each of these ships. The Boadicea sailed from Glasgow on her maiden voyage to New York and London on January 15, 1898, and started regular London to New York sailings in February. After her purchase by the Atlantic Transport Line the Boadicea made a single voyage under her original name and on September 15, 1898, she was renamed Marquette. She is recorded in the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals making a grand total of 42 arrivals in New York for the line between March 1898 and February 1905.

Passengers in 1899 included the famous actor manager Sir Henry Irving, leaving for his sixth tour of the United States with the celebrated actress Miss Ellen Terry and "their full company." They boarded the Marquette at the Royal Albert Dock and sailed on October 16, "despite their earlier intention to take a faster ship." Irving appreciated that "this was a much less expensive proceeding than traveling by the mail-boats" and enjoyed, "the more homely fare and steadfastness of these ships" and "his remaining voyages across the Atlantic were made by this line" (Brereton and Fyvie, p238).

In February 1901 the Marquette lost two blades of her propeller but was able to maintain a steady 10 knots and completed her voyage. She was under the command of Thomas F. Gates at the time and carrying 39 passengers. By May 1903 she was under the command of Captain Richardson. In that month she was in collision with Preussen in the channel during a thick fog. Both ships were New York bound, and both put in to Southampton for repairs. "The Marquette's stern was stove in above the waterline and part of her railing was carried away."

With the Minne class ships entering service the Marquette and most of her siblings were transferred to the Red Star Line. The Marquette's last voyage for the Atlantic Transport Line commenced on March 24, 1904, and in September 1905 she began work on the Antwerp to Philadelphia route for the Red Star Line, a service she was to be engaged in for almost a decade. Once fitted for wireless her call letters were "MNQ."

In August 1914 the Marquette made her last Antwerp to Boston and Philadelphia voyage and in October 1914 briefly resumed London to New York sailings for the Atlantic Transport Line. By this time her home port of Antwerp had fallen into German hands. Her third and final voyage on the London to New York route started on December 30, 1914, and she then served as a British military transport. The Marquette was part of a convoy that sailed on October 19, 1915, from Alexandria escorted by the French Destroyer Tirailleur. She was under command of Captain John Bell Findlay, and on a routine mission to Salonika, Greece carrying 22 officers and 588 other ranks of the 29th Division Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery, 8 officers, 9 NCO's and 77 other ranks of the New Zealand Medical Corps, 36 nurses from No.1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, and a crew of 95. In addition to the military and medical equipment on board her cargo included ammunition, horses, and mules. Shortly after her escort left the convoy just 35 miles from the safety of the anti-submarine nets at Salonika she encountered U:35. Steaming at a leisurely 9 knots she was struck without warning by a torpedo at 9:15 a.m. She sank 13 minutes after the torpedo struck with the loss of 167 lives. Particularly tragic was the loss of the medical personnel, who could easily have sailed in comparative safety on the hospital ship Grantilly Castle which sailed empty in the same convoy bound for the same destination. As a result of this incident medical units were prohibited from traveling in military transports. A lengthy account of the loss of the Marquette is posted on the South Canterbury NewZealandGenWeb Project website.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; 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; Tragedy Queens of the Georgian Era, Austin Brereton, John Fyvie, 1908, p283; The Great War Forum; The New York Times, October 16, 1899; May 6, 1903

The Marquette's promenade deck from an accommodation plan in an A.T.L. brochure
The Marquette's promenade deck from an accommodation plan in an Atlantic Transport Line brochure (Kinghorn)

The Marquette's saloon deck from an accommodation plan in an A.T.L. brochure
The Marquette's saloon deck from an accommodation plan in an Atlantic Transport Line brochure (Kinghorn)

Red Star Line photo postcard captioned marquettepainted postcard of Marquette, Red Star Line era
Two postcards from Red Star Line days. Although captioned Marquette in this case the same
images were also used to represent each of her sisters, captioned accordingly.


For more information ...

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

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