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The SS Amerika

SS Amerika was a steel-hulled, twin-screw, steam passenger liner.  She was launched on 20 April 1905 at Belfast, Northern Ireland, by the noted shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff, Ltd. Built for the Hamburg America Line, the steamer entered transatlantic service in the autumn of 1905, when she departed Hamburg on 11 October, bound for the United States.

Easily one of the most luxurious passenger vessels to sail the seas, SS Amerika entered Upper New York Bay on 20 October, reaching the Hamburg America piers at Hoboken, New Jersey, in mid-afternoon. Some 2,000 people turned out to watch her as she was moored at the Hamburg America Line pier near her consorts, which were bedecked in colorful bunting.

Lavishly decorated throughout, SS Amerika boasted of a couple of unique shipboard features; an electric passenger elevator, and an ‘a-la-carte’ restaurant which, from early morning to midnight, offered a variety of dishes to delight the discriminating gourmet.

From 1905 to 1914, SS Amerika plied the North Atlantic trade routes touching at Cherbourg, France, while steaming between Hamburg and New York. Toward the end of that period, her itinerary was altered so that the ship also called at Boulogne, France, and Southampton, England.

On 14 April 1912, a ship's officer sent a telegram message to the Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C. reporting that the ship "passed two large icebergs in 41 27N 50 8W on the 14th of April" signed "Knutp, 10;51p[m]". This message was, coincidentally, relayed by the Marconi operator on RMS Titanic to the station at Cape Race because the transmitter of SS Amerika was not powerful enough to reach Cape Race directly.

SS Amerika was responsible for the accidental loss of the British submarine B2 by collision 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) northeast of Dover in the early hours of 4 October 1912. All but one of the submarine’s crew of sixteen lost their lives.

A Bit of Speculation

Chairman, Martin Young, came across a picture of this postcard and wrote, "I’ve known of this photo for a number of years as black and white, but never been able to find it until this evening when looking at the Tilmanstone village website looking for possible references to the location of the 1910 Moissant airfield, when to my surprise this coloured photo appeared with the text:

‘The trans-Atlantic liner ‘SS Amerika’ at Prince of Wales Pier. Dover.  Postcard with 22 September 1906 postmark. Posted to Rainham, Kent, by E.B.’

Although six years earlier than Harriet’s crossing on her, it might have been the case that the Amerika was still using Dover as a port of call in 1912.  If so, HQ might have disembarked in Dover!

Makes sense when you think that she stayed in The Lord Warden Hotel.

Speculation I know, and I daresay that DHB have daily shipping records squirreled away somewhere that would confirm that she docked at the time Harriet said she arrived in England."

This speculation turned out to be wrong as the SS Amerika, with Miss Quimby onboard, docked at Southampton.

 ‘The trans-Atlantic liner ‘SS Amerika’ at Prince of Wales Pier. Dover.  Postcard with 22 September 1906 postmark. Posted to Rainham, Kent, by E.B.’




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