On this day – 12 November 1928 – The British ocean liner SS Vestris sank in the western Atlantic Ocean with the loss of 111 lives.

1928 – The British ocean liner SS Vestris sank in the western Atlantic Ocean with the loss of 111 lives.

SS Vestris was a 1912 steam ocean liner operated by Lamport and Holt Line and used on its service between New York and the River Plate. On 12 November 1928 she began listing about 200 miles (300 km) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, was abandoned, and sank, killing more than 100 people. Her wreck is thought to lie some 1.2 miles (2 km) beneath the North Atlantic.The sinking attracted much press coverage at the time and remains notable for the loss of life, particularly of women and children when the ship was being abandoned.

The sinking and subsequent inquiries may also have shaped the second International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in 1929.

In 1911–13 Workman, Clark & Company of Belfast, Ireland built three sister ships for Lamport and Holt. Vandyck was launched in 1911, Vauban in January 1912 and Vestris in May 1912. The trio were similar in size to Vasari that Sir Raylton Dixon & Co built for Lamport and Holt in 1909. Vauban and Vestris had passenger accommodation slightly larger than that of their older sister Vandyck.Since 1906 Lamport and Holt policy was to name its passenger liners after artists and engineers beginning with “V”. Together they became known as “V-class ships”.

Vestris was built as yard number 303 and launched 16 May 1912 and made her maiden voyage on 19 September 1912 from Liverpool to River Plate.She had five double-ended boilers to supply steam to a pair of quadruple-expansion engines. These drove twin screws and gave her a speed of 15 knots (28 km/h).On 10 November 1928, just before 16:00, Vestris left New York bound for the River Plate with 128 passengers and 198 crew.

Her ballast tanks had not been pumped out, the hatches of her bunkers were buried under coal but had not been battened and secured, and she was overloaded below her load line marks.She may even have been listing slightly when she left port.

On 11 November she ran into a severe storm that flooded her boat deck and swept away two of her lifeboats. Part of her cargo and bunker coal shifted, causing the ship to list to starboard.

About 19:30 that evening a heavy wave caused her to make a lurch further to starboard.

Time and The New York Times reported that from the complement of 128 passengers and 198 crew on board, 111 people were killed

The same total was given at the Official Inquiry into the loss of Vestris.

68 dead or missing from a total 128 passengers.

60 passengers survived.

43 dead or missing from a total of 198 crew members.

155 crew survived.

None of the 13 children and only eight of the 33 women aboard the ship survived.

The captain of Vestris, William J Carey, went down with his ship. 22 bodies were recovered by rescue ships.The father of future Major League Baseball pitcher Sam Nahem was among those who drowned when the ship sank.

Published by Jörgen Hartogs

I offer tours in Dutch, Flemish, German and English in Ireland , Wales and Scotland. I also offer walking tours in Adare, Newcastle West, Limerick, Ballingarry, Rathkeale and other towns and cities. I'm a fully qualified, Fáilte Ireland certified, guide and a full ATGI (Association of approved Tour guides of Ireland) and ITGA (Independent Tour Guides of Ireland) member.

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