Drummond Castle (ship)

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Drummond Castle
StateLibQld 1 146779 Drummond Castle (ship) .jpg
Ship data
flag United KingdomUnited Kingdom (trade flag) United Kingdom
Ship type Passenger ship
home port Glasgow
Shipping company Castle Mail Packet Company
Shipyard John Elder & Company , Glasgow
Build number 246
Launch February 17, 1881
Whereabouts Sunk June 16, 1896
Ship dimensions and crew
111.3 m ( Lüa )
width 13.3 m
Draft Max. 9.5 m
measurement 3,706 GRT
crew 103
Machine system
machine Triple expansion steam engines
600 hp (441 kW)
12.5 kn (23 km / h)
propeller 1
Transport capacities
Permitted number of passengers I. class: 100
II. Class: 120
III. Class: 160
Register number: 82861

The Drummond Castle was a passenger ship put into service in 1881 by the British shipping company Castle Mail Packet Company Ltd., which was built for transatlantic traffic and brought passengers , freight and mail from England to South Africa . On June 16, 1896, the Drummond Castle sank off the French Atlantic island of Ouessant after colliding with a rock. 243 of the 246 people on board were killed.

The ship

The Drummond Castle was built in 1881 at the Scottish shipyard John Elder & Company on the River Clyde and was launched there on February 27, 1881. She was in the service of Castle Mail Packet Company Ltd., a British steamship company founded in 1876, which had specialized in passenger traffic to India and South Africa and was merged in 1900 with the Union Steamship Company Ltd. founded in 1857. formed the Union-Castle Line .

The 3,706 GRT iron steamship was 111.3 meters long, 13.3 meters wide and had a maximum draft of 9.5 meters. The passenger accommodations were designed for 100 guests in the first, 120 in the second and 160 in the third class. The Drummond Castle was named after the eponymous castle from the 15th century in the Scottish town of Crieff named. The ship operated the route London - Cape Town . She had a sister ship , the Garth Castle (I) (3,537 GRT) , which was commissioned in 1880 .


On Thursday, May 28, 1896, the Drummond Castle left Cape Town for England with 143 passengers and 103 crew members. The command was Captain William W. Pierce, who had been with the shipping company for 33 years, had his master's license for 27 years and had already operated seven other ships. It was his first voyage as captain of Drummond Castle . The ship made a stop in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on June 12, where a rescue drill took place on board, and then continued its voyage. When Drummond Castle reached Cape Finisterre on the northwest coast of Spain , the lookout points were doubled.

On the night of June 16, the ship was almost in the English Channel when it ran into a fog bank off the French island of Ouessant , where it deviated about five miles off course due to the lack of orientation. There was also heavy rainfall. The Drummond Castle got into shallow waters, where shortly before 11 p.m. it crashed into the rocky reef of Pierre Vertes at full speed . The chief engineer let the steam out of the boilers to avoid an explosion .

Captain Pierce thought he was stranded and had the lifeboats prepared for sailing. The Drummond Castle , however, had drifted back into the open water after the clash with the rocks and was so badly damaged that she began to sink bow first. She got a heavy list to starboard and capsized just four minutes after the collision. In the short time, none of the boats could be launched. Many passengers had not even made it on deck and drowned in their cabins. Those who were on the boat deck were washed into the sea. Only three of the 246 people on board survived the accident. Passenger Charles Marquardt and crew members Charles Wood and William Godbolt clung to a piece of wreckage until they were found by a fishing cutter from Molène the following day .

Local fishermen helped with the recovery of the bodies , many of which were washed ashore in nightclothes or naked. Most of the fatalities found were buried on the French coast. Several hours after the sinking, a Breton fishing boat found the body of three-year-old British girl Alice Reid. She was laid out in a traditional Breton costume in a country house on Ouessant. The French painter Charles Cottet captured the scene. The picture with the title Gens d'Ouessant veillant un enfant mort hangs today in the Petit Palais in Paris.

In 1929 an Italian salvage company that was actually looking for Egypt , which sank in 1922 , found the wreck . They reported a large hole that reached from the keel to the waterline.

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