In the 1850s, navigating Ice Alley was deadly for ships



In February eighteen fifty six a three rematch ship called the John Rutledge set sail from Liverpool England one of the many ships that frequently traversed the icy and dangerous North Atlantic on board were two dozen crew and more than one hundred and twenty mostly Irish immigrants on their way to New York and new lives in the United added states. It was the most dangerous trip nate ever take during those years shipwrecks were so common that they were barely mentioned and in newspapers the only way to know a ship's fate was whether or not it ever arrived in port without the Transatlantic Telegraph or radios the arrivals brought with them the only reliable news of the most harrowing part of the Journey Ice Alley if a ship was going to sink the most likely place was ice alley a dangerous stretch of ocean off the coast of Newfoundland and filled with icebergs and Burgi bits when the John Rutledge departed sketchy reports of heavy ice were just reaching Liverpool some captain said they had never seen ice alley so filled with huge birds and smaller but menacing ice fragments still so the John Rutledge headed out the captain and crew gambling with everyone's lives. If the ship went down the chances which is a anyone surviving in the frigid water and coal whipping winds was slim to none on February nineteenth. The ship slipped into thick fog near the edge of the grand banks about three hundred and fifty miles southeast of Newfoundland. Suddenly an unseen sharp edged Berg gouged a hole in the ship's. Hull crews tried to plug the leak with cargo. It was pointless. The ship was is quickly sinking the John Rutledge like nearly every American built vessel in those years was designed with an open hull without separate water blocking compartments. The sea was free to flood the length of the ship. All five lifeboats were lowered but not everyone could escape many were instantly swallowed by the Chili Atlantic thirteen. People boarded the final lifeboat including three immigrant. The children and three crew members among the latter was Thomas Nine a tough twenty two year old born into a prominent maritime family for Massachusetts it uses the situation was grim. This survivors had about a gallon of water and six pounds of cement firm biscuits the food and water quickly disappeared and one by one they started to die some from exposure to the winter air others from the horrors of drinking seawater organ failure delirium and Matt Nine days after the John Rutledge sank. You know I was alone adrift with four bodies surrounding him he was too weak to push the dead overboard so fortunately the Germania a ship sailing from France to New York spotted the lifeboat and discovered by the only survivor of the John Rutledge. Nuys rescue was a brief sensation. It was exceedingly rare for anyone one to be plucked from a North Atlantic wreck the influential nautical magazine and Naval Journal use the sinking and knives accounts to try try to shame shipowners accused of avoiding watertight compartments because of higher costs in coming years more American ship rights began began to make potentially life-saving design modifications. It finally took the loss of the titanic in nineteen twelve to force sweeping sweeping rules for bulkheads and water blocking chambers in all. US ships all told more than eight hundred and thirty people bull were lost in early eighteen fifty six among the most tragic seasons in North Atlantic shipping for decades to come gone. Were the John Rutledge in many other ships that attempted to cross ice alley only Ni- survived

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