SS Naronic

Naronic was a livestock carrier operated by the White Star Line, launched at Harland and Wolff, Belfast on 26th May 1892. While on her seventh voyage, in 1893, Naronic disappeared. To this day the ships fate is uncertain.

Bovic
Bovic, Naronic's identical sister ship. No known photographs exist of Naronic.

Naronic was built to carry cargo and livestock between Britain and the United states. Naronic departed Liverpool on her maiden voyage to New York on 15th July 1892, arriving in New York on 24th July. After this voyage Naronic successfully completed a further five voyages.

On February 11th 1893, under the command of Captain William Roberts, Naronic dropped her harbour pilot off at Point Lynas, Wales, after sailing from Alexandra Dock, Liverpool on her normal Liverpool to New York trip, with 74 crew, 1017 tons of Welsh coal and 3572 tons of general cargo – and to this day has never been seen again.

When Naronic, which was before the days ships were fitted with radios, failed to turn up in New York, the worry of where was she started. On 2nd March the New York times reported that Naronic, which had been out nineteen days, had never been out for more than eleven days before and that the much slower Bovic, which left six day after Naronic, had arrived. The next day it was reported that except for one or two, all vessels travelling westward that could have been considered as overdue had safely arrived, none of which had seen Naronic.

In the early hours of 4th March 1893, Coventry, a British steamer, spotted a capsized lifeboat floating in the water with the name Naronic on it; the next day, Coventry again spotted a lifeboat with the name Naronic, floating empty, but in good condition, with its sail and mast floating attached to the boat as if it were being used as a sea anchor. The lifeboats were found around 90 miles from where Titanic would strike an iceberg in 1912. When this news reached New York, later in that month, it was considered that there was no doubt that the ship had been lost. It was also reported in the New York Times that ships had been arriving after battling heavy seas, including gale force winds and snow.

Following the disappearance of Naronic four bottles washed up on shore with messages in them claiming to be from Naronic. The first was found on 3rd March 1893 at Bay Ridge, New York Bay; it said “Naronic sinking. All hand praying. God have mercy on us” – it was signed by “L Winsel” and dated 19th February 1893.

The second bottle was found on 30th March 1893 at Ocean View, Virginia; it said: “3:10 AM Feb.19. SS Naronic at sea. To who picks this up: report when you find this to our agents if not heard of before, that our ship is sinking fast beneath the waves. It's such a storm that we can never live in the small boats. One boat has already gone with her human cargo below. God let all of us live through this. We were struck by an iceberg in a blinding snowstorm and floated two hours. Now it 3:20 AM by my watch and the great ship is dead level with the sea. Report to the agents at Broadway, New York, M. Kersey & Company. Good bye all.” also dated 19th February 1893, it was signed John Olsen, Cattleman.

The third bottle was found in the Irish Channel, in June 1893; it said Naronic had struck an iceberg and was sinking fast. It was signed “Young”.

A fourth bottle with a message was found on 18th September 1893, this time in the Mersey River in the UK, it said: “All hands lost; Naronic”, it then said there was no time to say more; it was possibly signed with “T”.

The British Board of Trade Inquiry into the disappearance dismissed the messages in the bottles as hoaxes, partly due to the fact that the names signed on the messages did not match any on Naronic’s crew list. It was reported in the New York Times that, for the same reason, White Star Line had dismissed the second bottle as a hoax, and had pointed out they that they thought it was impossible for the bottle to reach where it did under the circumstances.

Today people seem to be divided on their views of the bottles, some highly doubt the bottles could have made it to shore in the time in which they did, others argue it is possible and that the bottles were two far apart and perhaps to similar to be hoaxes.

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