THE LAURENTIC SUNK BY A MINE.
121 SAVED OF CREW OF 475.
DIFFICULT RESCUE WORK.
The Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement :-
The fact has now been established that his Majesty's auxiliary cruiser Laurentic was sunk by a mine and not by a submarine. The Admiralty report published yesterday stated that the vessel was sunk off the Irish coast on the 25th inst, by a German submarine or mine and that 12 officers and 109 men were saved.
ORDEAL OF THE SERVIVORS
We have received the following account of the sinking of the ship :-
When the Laurentic left harbour the weather was fine but intensely cold. Within an hour and a half the vessel struck a mine and sank in three quarters of an hour. The crew numbered about 475; 121 were saved. Many of those lost were killed by the explosion. Perfect order prevailed through out, the crew responding to the officers orders with precision and loyalty. At first it is understood an attempt was made to beach the ship. Meanwhile boats were got in readiness and the wireless installation having been destroyed by the explosion, rockets calling for help were sent up. These were seen by lighthouse men and in a few minutes a number of mine sweepers were on their way to the scene.
Shortly before the ship went down in 23 fathoms lifeboats were manned there being accommodation for all who survived the explosion. It was now pitch dark. The life boats were provided with flares and so long as these lasted it was possible to locate the small boats. But the rescuing minesweepers had almost 20 miles to cover before reaching the nearest boats. By the time they arrived on the scene some of the boats had exhausted their supply of flares. Men were taken on board the trawlers as soon as discovered and a systematic search resulted in one boat after an other being found. The men in one boat were seven hours in bitter weather before being rescued.
SHIP SINKS WITH OVER 200 MEN
Telegraphing later an Ulster correspondent says :-
Already close on 100 dead bodies have been washed ashore, and from their frozen condition there is practically no hope of any of the crew who might have been able to get clear of the sinking ship on rafts or by clinging to wreckage having survived the very inclement weather. It is now understood that some 50 of the survivors are suffering from wounds happily not of a serious character received as a result of the explosion. There is no definite information on the subject but the general opinion is that the Laurentic was mined.
In addition to making a terrible hole in the steamer's side and causing her to settle down almost immediately it was responsible for many of the men engaged in the stokehold and engine room being killed and a considerable number of the survivors being injured whether the laurentic was able to send out wireless messages for help has not been ascertained but several fishing boats attracted by the terrific noise of the explosions, hastened to the scene by the time they arrived the vessel had completely disappeared. The crew were, however able to launch some boats, but there was not sufficient time to save all those who had escaped being killed by the explosion and the vessel went down carrying with her over 200 men.
The Times, Wednesday, Jan 31, 1917