Headline: The Atlantic Transort Line 

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S.S. Maine (III)

Other Name: Sierra Blanca
Builder: D. & W Henderson, Partick, Scotland, job number 440
Launched November 19, 1904; torpedoed March 23, 1917
Hull: length 375'; beam 46'; 3,616 tons
Power: single screw; triple expansion engine by builder with cylinders of 24", 40", and 67" diameter, stroke 45"; 363 n.h.p.; steam pressure 185 p.s.i.; 11 knots
Registered in Liverpool; official number 120821


The Sierra Blanca was built for the Sierra Blanca Steam Shipping Company of Liverpool (Thompson, Anderson & Co.). In 1913 she was acquired for the Atlantic Transport Line for $38,500 and was renamed Maine (III). Although a freighter, she occasionally carried small numbers of passengers. The National Archives at Kew preserve a list of passengers landed by Maine (III) at Plymouth and London in October 1915; on that occasion she had sailed from Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia bound Maine was torpedoed by the UC 17 south of Devon's Berry Head on March 23, 1917. Her captain sent distress calls and tried beaching her but her engines stopped. She was towed by a torpedo boat an then by an Admiralty tug but her bulkheads gave way at 12:45 p.m. and she sank "gracefully, upright and on an even keel." She was the only Atlantic Transport Line freighter lost during the war.

The wreck lies at a depth of about 30-35m. It was bought in 1961 by the Torbay Branch of the British Sub Aqua Club, which paid £100 for the wreck, and promptly salvaged and sold her bronze propeller for £840! The wreck is popular with divers because it is so accessible. The gun on her poop was removed by unofficial salvors but her brass bell eluded discovery until 1987. The wreck was a hazard to mariners for many years, but has since had its masts and superstructure removed and the debris lies to the port side of the hull, which remains substantially intact.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; www.shipwrecksofscotland.com; www.divernet.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

a sketch of the wreck of the Maine
A sketch of the wreck of the Maine marked to identify the chief features for divers (John Liddiard)

For more information ...

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

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