A postcard of Her Majesty’s Yacht Alberta and the Titanic – a correction

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Well, I got it wrong – I believed this was the Royal steam yacht HMY Alberta pictured at Cowes the Titanic in the background – but thanks to the sharp-eyed Chris Partridge of the excellent Rowing for Pleasure weblog, I now know this SY Alberta is a different vessel – and correctly named.

SY Alberta changed hands during 1912 and at the time of the photo may have been either the property of either London company  Little & Johnston, which operated her as the royal yacht to King Leopold II of Belgium, or to a Mr Cohn.

The SY Alberta’s story is told by a page on the website of acutioneers Christie’s.

She was designed by GL Watson and built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co at Troon in 1896, and began life as the Margarita – she was the second of three yachts with the same name owned by Philadelphia banker AJ Drexel. Registered at 1,322 tons (Thames), she measured 252½ feet in length with a 33½ foot beam and sported a schooner rig on two raked masts.

SY Alberta had quite a career. By 1918 she was serving in the Russian Navy until seized by the Royal Navy and put to work as a despatch vessel as HMS Surprise. She then passed into private hands b7ut rejoined the Royal Navy in 1939. Things become a little hazy from that point, but she reappeared after WWII ended and was last listed as a yacht in 1950.

I don’t think there’s any doubt about the Titanic. She sank in the North Atlantic five days later, on the 15 April 1912.

A lady called Mary sent the scan of the postcard and asked about the steam yacht – so Mary, please scrub my previous answer and replace it with the correct one. And thanks for the scan of the postcard!


Calshot tender tug trust seeks 20ft lifeboats for Titanic maiden voyage 100th anniversary

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Tender tug Calshot with Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic

Tender tug Calshot with Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic

The Tender Tug Calshot Trust is seeking two 20ft ship’s lifeboats for the tender tug Calshot in time for an event marking the 100th anniversary of the day the liner Titanic left Southampton and set off on her maiden voyage.

Sadly, the Calshot’s original lifeboats were left in a yard by the former owners, with the result that they deteriorated to a point where they had to be scrapped.

The anniversary is on the 10th April 2012, and I gather television historian Dan Snow is scheduled to present a live television programme.

In addition to the two replacement lifeboats, the trust is also seeking information about whether any of the original Titanic lifeboats have survived, as it has learned that they were reallocated to other White Star liners following the ship’s famous and tragic sinking.

The Tender Tug Calshot Trust was set up in 1997 with the prime aim of restoring Calshot to the way she was in the 1930s.

She’s included in the National Historic Ships list of 200 vessels of pre-eminent national significance, and in fact she’s no ordinary tug. Built in Southampton by Thornycroft’s at Woolston, she was a tender as well as a tug, and was certified to carry 566 passengers in first and second class saloons: often the larger liners would anchor offshore as it was uneconomic to negotiate into the docks to transfer a few passengers, and Calshot would then ferry these passengers and small items of freight.

In her time, she also manoeuvred the world’s greatest ocean liners, including the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the United States, the France and the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic.

Images of the Titanic by Robert Ballard

Titanic - photographs by Dr Robert Ballard

https://intheboatshed.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/titanic_4.jpg https://intheboatshed.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/titanic_4.jpg

https://intheboatshed.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/titanic_4.jpg https://intheboatshed.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/titanic_4.jpg

Dr Robert Ballard’s stunning photographs of the Titanic, 12,500 feet
below the sea

Some 96 years after the Titanic sank, the diver who found her wreck in 1985 has returned to take a stunning series of photos and publish them in a new book, Titanic – The Last Great Images.

I have very mixed feelings about this kind of thing. No-one likes graves to be disturbed, but what remains of the old ship is the only monument that exists for most of the people on board who were lost. In the circumstances, it seems wrong that their memorial should be abandoned and forgotten. What’s more, as can sometimes happen with wrecks, these are stunning, outstanding photographs and on balance I think they should be shared, so long as we remember that this is someone’s grave and that they have relations still living.

In writing about returning to the Titanic, Dr Robert Ballard makes it clear he’s mortified by the way the wreck has been vandalised despite the protection provided by a depth of 12,500 feet of cold North Atlantic sea water, and says that the book is a kind of apology and ‘an opportunity to pay my respects to the ship, somewhat apologizing for the mean- spirited way in which the wreck has been picked over and vandalized’.
The following comes from the publisher’s blurb:

‘Detailed images of Titanic’s great reciprocating engines and massive boilers help us understand her technological significance as the culmination of sixty years of intense competition in the world luxury liners. The still-gleaming telemotor on her bridge, the opening to the crow ‘s nest and the lifeboat davits still poignantly extended outboard tell the tale of the dreadful night she sank.

‘A glimpse of the champagne bottles scattered across the sea floor or the gap that once held the magnificent first-class staircase evokes the stratified society that produced Titanic.

‘Other images remind us that Titanic was also a human story. A leather suitcase or a pair of shoes marks where a body once lay, and other haunting reminders of the passengers which found themselves helplessly enmeshed in an epic catastrophe.

Titanic – The Last Great Images provide us the clearest view of Titanic that we have ever seen, or will ever see. The rapidly deteriorating wreck may soon be gone – and then all we have left is her stories.’

It adds that Dr Ballard is a leading marine geologist and has been instrumental in the development of new underwater exploration technology, and with the NOAA international treaty to protect the ship from salvagers.

Get the book from Amazon in the US and the UK:

Titanic – The Last Great Images from Amazon.com

Titanic – The Last Great Images from Amazon.co.uk