Friday, 24 June 2016

SS AFRIQUE - TOP HEAVY?


http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?132499

general
nationalityfrench
purposetransport
typepassenger ship
propulsionsteam
date built1907
status
(not found)
details
tonnage5406  grt
dimensions119.17 x 14.75 x 6.46 m
materialsteel
engine1 x 3-cyl. triple expansion engine, single shaft, 1 screw
power7200  h.p. (rhp)
speed17.5  knots
yard no.801
about the loss
cause lostcollision
other reasonsfoundered
date lost11/01/1920 


PERILS OF THE SEA.
450 LOST ON AFRIQUE..
LONDON. January 13.
The wreck of the Afrique proves to be
the biggest disaster in the history of the
French mercantile marine. So far only
30 people have been saved out of a total
of 488, of whom 192 were Senegalese riflemen. 
Tugs and naval vessels are still
searching for boats, but the terrible seas
give little hope of many further survivors.
Rescued men narrate that tihe liner Ceylan
went to the assistance of the Afrique in
response to a distress signal when the
storm was at its worst, and was escorting
her to port when the Afrique struck the
Plateaux Rochebonne— a well-known reef
50 miles from Barochell (Bay of Biscay),
and two fathoms below the surface. 
The collision caused a terrific shock. 
It was midnight, and the ship was 
plunged into darkness owing to
the dynamos failing. The wireless was
just able to raise enough power to send out
a despairing S.O.S. 
The captain, realizing that the Afrique
was doomed, ordered the boats to be
launched, despite the huge waves. The
Ceylan meanwhile was unable to keep close
owing to the seas, and wirelessed that she
was steering a parallel course, and would
meet the Afrique at a given spot at dawn.
She received an S.O.S., 'We cannot keep
afloat till dawn,' followed by another,
'We are abandoning the ship:' The Ceylan 
closed in and commenced a desperate
search in the darkness for the boats. She
was able to rescue a few, but there was no
trace of the Afrique at daylight. Evidently 
she struck the rock and sank rapidly.

I have had a look at a number of accounts about this visually top heavy steamer and there is no clear cut explanation for her experiencing problems in the storm BEFORE striking the rock. All I can find is that she was 'damaged in the gale'. One does wonder if this is a case of a truly top heavy vessel which was tested and failed in a storm of 'exceptional violence'. It's almost as mysterious as the loss of the Waratah..... 



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