Thursday, February 9, 2012

Steamer Prins Maurits ~ 3 April 1915

What has been described as “the worst storm in the history of central and eastern North Carolina,” hit the state on April 3, 1915 with N.E winds reaching a velocity of 70 mph as far inland as Raleigh. The winds were accompanied by heavy snow—nearly two feet in the capital city—and exceptionally high tides which inundated most of the seacoast. A number of sailing craft—the schooners Hugh Kelly, Alice Murphy, M.E. Cresser, Rob Roy, Clintonia, John B. Manning and Robert Graham Dunn, and the bark Edna M. Smith—were disabled off Hatteras, and the Diamond Shoals Lightship was torn from its moorings and drifted four miles off station.
     The schooner-barge William H. Macy stranded and became a total loss at Wash Woods after breaking loose from the tug Edward Luckenback (which subsequently went to pieces in the surf just north of the Virginia-North Carolina line with the loss of 15 lives.) At Kill Devil Hills the schooner The Josephine came ashore one and three-quarters miles south of the station and broke in two, with four crewmen reaching safety on pieces of wreckage and three others drowning. And at Gull Shoal the coast guardsmen rescued all 7 crewmen from the schooner Loring C. Ballard, which was lost one-half mile south of the station.

Photo: as PRINS MAURITS at Lock 22 of the old St. Lawrence canal on
July 10, 1956, by Dan McCormick
     But the big news in that spring storm was the loss of the Royal Dutch West Indies Line steamer Prins Maurits, which last reported from a point approximately 90 miles east of Kitty Hawk that she was sinking fast. A number of vessels, including two British warships that were blockading Hampton Roads to keep the German sea raider Prinz Eitel Friedrich from escaping, went to the assistance of the Dutch steamer, but when they reached the scene the following morning there was no sign of her.
     The Prins Maurits, 285’ in length, was registered at 1,329 tons and carrying a crew of 45 and four passengers, all 49 of whom were presumed lost, making the sinking of the Prins Maurits one of the half dozen more disastrous ship losses off the North Carolina coast up to that time.

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