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A Ship, Stuck On A Rock. What Happened? What Resulted When The Captain Reversed Engines?

Hello Collectors,



How I fumbled and stumbled on this one.

Here’s the Story.

 I was looking over an estate postcard collection sometime ago, and came across a ship or ocean liner “stuck” on a rock.  

 Now I had seen this postcard view in the past and perceived it to be quite common, but how did the ship get up on these rocks?

 So, I started my research and found that this wasn’t just any ordinary ship but a “hospital” ship, ocean liner.

 Now, hospital ships were quite common in World War I & II, and they were of course intended to provide medical aid to wounded soldiers. 

 These ships were identifiable to most, by a huge Red Cross visible on each side.

 Now upon countless battles at sea, where numerous battleships were sunk, the common understanding was 
"DO NOT" torpedo and sink a hospital ship.

 Obviously one would think wounded soldiers needed medical care, without further perils of war. 

 Did this always happen? 

 Another story another time.

 Now this particular hospital ship “stuck” on rocks, was named the “Letitia” and carried 546 Canadian wounded soldiers. 

 Yes, Canadian military going back home for hospitalization.

 The Letitia was headed into harbour August 1st, 1917. WWI.


 Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

 So, what went wrong? 

 Well, as the ship approached the harbour, a dense fog was apparent which resulted in almost zero visibility. 

 The captain continued his course instructing crew members to listen for fog horn blasts or buoy bells.Thus warning of danger. 

 The captain’s approach to “dead reckoning” (risky) had started to gain some confidence, when the whistle of a “pilot boat” was loudly heard as it approached.

 As a result, the pilot of this vessel came aboard the Letitia to guide her in safely.

 But, within ten minutes a dark figure was spotted, and a hospital ship was now “stuck” on a rock.

 Now, we have to pause for a moment and think. 

 Are you thinking? Or did you fall asleep? OK, OK you are thinking.

 So why was the Letitia on course directly to a rock?.....and what about the 546 wounded Canadian soldiers on the floating hospital?

 What were they thinking at this point?
 Well, the captain unfortunately did not navigate the Letitia’s position correctly, and the “pilot guide” did not check.

 Oh!! Extreme fog was it?  You would think............

 So, up on the rocks, and now what? Well, captain thought, let’s throw this “puppy” in reverse, and just see what happens.  

  Well he did just that, but....another but, the Letitia, which had now sustained damage, was likely to slide off its lodging and possibility flip over. 

 The suspenseful conclusion next week.

Thank You,
John Bucci

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