On This Day

14 April


1912 Death of a Titan

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Titanic’s 24-year old look-out man Frederick Fleet, through a slight haze, spotted what he later described as something ‘about the size of two tables’ lying directly in the vessel’s path. He immediately rang the ship’s crow’s nest bell three times and telephoned the Bridge and reported to Sixth Officer James P. Moody. The deck officer asked 'What do you see?', Fleet replied ‘Iceberg right ahead’ and Moody ended their short conversation with 'Thank you.'

The message was immediately relayed to First Officer William Murdoch who ordered the engines full astern and the helm hard-a-starboard. As Titanic slowly turned to port (in 1912 helm orders were the reverse, a leftover from sailing ship days) at 11.40pm she collided with an iceberg. The impact caused underwater damaged to her first six compartments, the first five flooding out of control. 

She eventually sank during the early hours of the following morning - the 15th April 1912 - after approximately 2 hours 40 minutes.


1888 Idar

The 4,049-ton cargo ship Idar (Yard No. 206) was launched this morning for Edward Bates & Son, Liverpool. Idar was a sistership of Iran (Yard No. 185) launched on 5 January 1886.


1888 Lorton - ‘a beautiful example of the shipbuilders art’

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The 1,419-ton steel sailing ship Lorton (WC&C Yard 57) was launched this morning by Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd. for P. Iredale & Son, Liverpool. The christening ceremony was performed by Mrs John Porter. Lorton was completely fitted out at Belfast and furnished with the latest labour saving devices to speed up the handling of cargo. Barque rigged, her dimensions were: Length, 241 feet, 8 inches; Breadth of beam, 37 feet, 4 inches, Depth in hold 21 feet, 7 inches.

Lorton became another casualty at sea during the First World War when she was scuttled by the crew of a German submarine. On 5 February 1917, sailing under the French flag but Peruvian owned, on passage from Caleta Buena to Pasajes with a cargo of nitrate, she was intercepted by U-67 (commanded by Hans Nieland), 11 miles east, north east of Santander. Her crew were ordered to abandon their vessel while the U-boat crew scuttled Lorton.

The incident resulted in a diplomatic row between Germany and Peru; a number of newspapers declared it to be another act of ‘German piracy.’ To add to the general confusion at the time a number of Lorton’s crew were taken prisoner on board the U-boat, one of which was a German citizen.


1942 Acute

The 1,054-ton ‘Algerine’ class minesweeper HMS Acute (Yard No. 1135) was launched today for the Admiralty. The vessel was originally laid down with the name HMS Alert.