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Remembering Today - The Sinking of the SS Vedamore


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Remembering the SS Vedamore

February 7, 1917

The ‘Vedamore’ was the fifth ship built by Harland & Wolff, Ltd. for the Johnston Line, Ltd. of Furness, Withy. Weighing in at 6,330 tons, she was of steel construction and she had a single screw, three cylinder triple expansion engine, which produced 627 horsepower. The ‘Vedamore’ was 450 feet long, has a 48-foot beam, and came equipped with a sufficient number of winches and derricks about each of her cargo holds to easily load and unload whatever cargo she was to carry, She was officially launched in October, 1895; her usual route took her between Liverpool and Baltimore. Originally designed as a cattle transport, she was built with pens for this purpose both on the spar and on the upper decks, both fore and aft; she later switched to coal and general cargo. Her Official Number was 105378.

At 6:00 a.m. on February 7th, 1917, a clear but bitterly cold morning, the passengers and crew of the SS ‘Vedamore’ were making the final leg of their voyage through the war zone, and were quietly hoping that their luck would hold until they were safely in port. Little did they know that they had, since first light, been sighted and tailed by a German u-boat, and once it was light enough to have a clear view of the ‘Vedamore’, were set upon by Kplt. Willy Petz and the crew aboard U-85 just off Fastnet Rock, Ireland. Without warning, U-85 fired a single torpedo, which struck the ship with devastating effect abreast of the engine room. Fourteen of the fifteen men in the engine room were killed instantly, torn to pieces by both the detonation of the torpedo and the ensuing explosion of the boilers. The one man who was not blown to pieces, a slight Philippino Stoker by the name of Balbino Batiansilo, was blasted out of his clothing; the force of the explosion literally blew him through the deck above, and off the ship into the frigid waters of the Atlantic. The Vedamore immediately began to sink, and the Captain, W. Henry, sensing time was of the essence, ordered all to abandon ship. Moments later, the deck was awash, and the ‘Vedamore’ slipped beneath the surface and began her final plunge to the bottom of the Celtic Sea; she had sunk in only five minutes.

Stoker Balbino Batiansilo miraculously managed to stay conscious after being blown out of the ‘Vedamore’, and somehow made his way to a waterlogged lifeboat that had also been blown off the ‘Vedamore’ in the initial explosion. He managed to climb on board, and without food, water or clothing, continuously bailed the crumbling lifeboat with his hands in freezing weather for some ten hours before being rescued. Ultimately, thirty-three members of the crew and the three passengers got away in the lifeboats; 24 members of the crew drowned or were killed in the initial explosion of the torpedo.


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Thanks for sharing the story.

RIP :poppy:

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