Rasmussen left out one of the great ship rescues

March 03, 2012

Apparently my good friend, Fred Rasmussen, who wrote an interesting piece about passenger ship founderings over the past century ("Some show bravery, others cowardice," Feb. 26) was not aware of one of the most outstanding rescues in history. Coincidentally, the master in charge was a ship captain from Baltimore. The rescue has been recorded on a painting entitled "And Every Soul Was Saved." An engraving of that painting is included as the frontispiece of a book on America's merchant marine, printed in Baltimore in 1915, with the description reading as follows:

"The engraving opposite, taken from a famous painting by Thomas M. Hemy, commemorates one of the most graphic rescues at sea ever recorded in the history of maritime events. In April, 1889, the emigrant ship Denmark, bound from Copenhagen for the United States, with 735 passengers on board, was ripped open by a broken propeller shaft. She was fifteen days out from port, and not a sail to be seen on the horizon. A heavy sea made it extremely doubtful whether life-boats could live. Slowly the vessel began to sink. For twenty-four hours the passengers prayed and wept as the lashing sea swirled higher and higher about the ship. Suddenly on the afternoon following the accident, the steamer Missouri, of the Atlantic Transport Line, Captain Hamilton Murrell, bound from London to Philadelphia, was sighted. A tow was attempted, but abandoned, and despite the heavy sea, life-boats were lowered and the transfer of passengers and crew begun. Twenty-two infants, sixty-five children, the women and men were taken off in order named. Not a life was lost. The Missouri was loaned free to the American Government as a hospital ship during the Spanish- American War, and after the war purchased by the United States for permanent hospital purposes."

Helen Bentley, Timonium

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