Wreck of Ship That Tried to Warn the Titanic Is Found

SS Mesaba was hit by a German torpedo in the Irish Sea years later
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2022 12:08 PM CDT
Wreck of Ship That Tried to Warn the Titanic Is Found
The SS Mesaba was torpedoed by while making a convoy voyage from Liverpool to Philadelphia. Twenty lives were lost, including that of the ship's commander.   (Bangor University)

The Titanic has long slumbered on the seabed—as has the ship that sent the Titanic an iceberg warning hours before the Titanic fatefully hit that very thing in 1912. Now, researchers have identified the resting spot of the SS Mesaba, which was hit by a German torpedo in the Irish Sea in 1918 while en route from Liverpool to Philadelphia; 20 perished, reports the BBC. As a press release from the UK's Bangor University explains, the merchant steamship's warning was received by the Titanic, but it wasn't relayed to the ship's captain. Ars Technica elaborates: The Mesaba's message referenced "much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice."

The Mesaba was one of six ships to send warnings that day, and Ars Technica reports this particular message apparently wasn't relayed because the "overworked" operators were trying to get through a backlog of "marconigrams" that wealthy passengers wanted sent via the ship's new wireless telegraph system. (A later warning from the SS Californian prompted the harried operator to reply "Shut up! Shut up!") But, back to the Mesaba, which was one of a staggering 273 shipwrecks that were scanned over 7,500 square miles of the Irish Sea using multibeam sonar on the university's research boat. The scanned ships were analyzed using the UK Hydrographic Office's database of wrecks, as well as sources.

Some 87% were identified, with CNN reporting the cost of discovering and identifying each wreck was between just $855 and $1,070. Details of all the wrecks appear in a new book, Echoes from the Deep, by Dr. Innes McCartney of Bangor University. He called his team's approach "a 'game-changer' for marine archaeology. ... Previously we would be able to dive to a few sites a year to visually identify wrecks. The ... unique sonar capabilities [have] enabled us to develop a relatively low-cost means of examining the wrecks. We can connect this back to the historical information without costly physical interaction with each site." (Read more discoveries stories.)

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