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S.S. Philadelphian

Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Launched 1891; Torpedoed February 1918
Length 455'; Beam 45'; 5,120 tons; 11 knots
Single screw; Draught 26 feet 6 inches


The Philadelphian had one funnel and four masts, and was built for the Leyland Line by Harland & Wolff in Belfast. She entered service in 1891.

At 20 minutes past 11 o'clock in the morning of the 27th of April, 1892, a short distance above the upper middle buoy in Boston harbor Philadelphian collided with the 75' schooner Lizzie Williams. The legal action brought later by the schooner's owners established that "a steamship is not liable for collision with a schooner unnecessarily tacking across the steamer's bow, in a narrow channel, and in such close proximity that the steamer cannot avoid her."

Frank Bowen noted in 1930 that when the British governement recquisitioned three of the Minne class ships in 1915 the Atlantic Transport Line wasable to draw upon vessels from other International Mercantile Marine Company fleets to maintain its services. Specifically Bowen records that the Red Star Liner Samland and the Leyland Line's Lancastrian and Philadelphian "took over the sailings from Tilbury."

On May 8, 1916, Philadelphian rammed LV 68, the Fire Island Lightship, cutting her side plating and stoving it in to a depth of two feet. The crew had to shift coal and swing out boats filled with water to maintain the lightship's trim and she had to be taken off station for repairs. Philadelphian left New York for the last time on February 11, 1918, and was torpedoed and sunk off the Lizard peninsula on or about February 21; four lives were lost. She lies at 49°10.460' N, 004°51.424' W.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; The New York Times, October 25, 1914; December 10, 1916; A Century of Atlantic Travel: 1830-1930, Frank Charles Bowen, 1930



For more information ...

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

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