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A Ship Tried To Warn The Titanic About The Iceberg. Over A Century Later, It's Been Found.

The SS Mesaba came very close to changing history, but its warning was ignored.

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockSep 27 2022, 16:09 UTC
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Multibeam sonar image of the SS Mesaba lying on the sea bed in the Irish Sea.
Here lies SS Mesaba, the ship that tried to avert the Titanic from its water doom. Image credit: Bangor University

The little-known ship that tried (and, clearly, failed) to save the Titanic from its icy doom has been discovered laying at the bottom of the Irish Sea. The merchant steamship SS Mesaba was also crossing the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912 when the Titanic was embarking on its maiden voyage

Via a radio message, the SS Mesaba sent a message to Captain Edward Smith of Titanic, warning that rogue icebergs were drifting around the coast of Newfoundland.

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The message was received, but the warning was ultimately never acted on – and we all know how that ended. In the ice-cold water of the North Atlantic Ocean, four days into its journey, the "unsinkable" ship struck an iceberg and sunk, killing over 1,500 people. 

Meanwhile, the SS Mesaba continued without much fanfare. It continued working as a merchant vessel over the next six years before being torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1918, the last year of the First World War. There it laid at the bottom of the sea undetected for over a century, until now. 

In a recent project, researchers at Bangor University in Wales were able to identify the Mesaba's shipwreck and pinpoint her final resting place with the help of the Prince Madog research vessel, armed with state-of-the-art multibeam sonar.

Multibeam sonar image of the SS Mesaba lying on the sea bed in the Irish Sea.
Another sonar image of the SS Mesaba. Image credit: Bangor University


Identifying the wreck was no small feat. The Irish Sea is littered with the wrecks of 273 ships in just 19,424 square kilometers (7,500 square miles) of seabed. Among those pinpointed by the latest research, over 100 were likely to be previously unidentified or previously misidentified.

“Previously we would be able to dive to a few sites a year to visually identify wrecks. The Prince Madog’s unique sonar capabilities has enabled us to develop a relatively low-cost means of examining the wrecks. We can connect this back to the historical information without costly physical interaction with each site,” Dr Innes McCartney, a nautical archaeologist and historian from Bangor University, said in a statement

“It is a ‘game-changer’ for marine archaeology,” he added.

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On the other side of the Atlantic, the Titanic's wreck is still found 690 kilometers (370 nautical miles) off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada. Just recently, a deep sea expedition captured some of the highest-quality footage of the infamous shipwreck ever recorded. 

Just as previous dives have shown, the shipwreck has seen better days. Since its discovery in 1985, the ship's forward mast has collapsed, the poop deck collapsed, the crow's nest has disappeared, and the gymnasium by the grand staircase has collapsed. It’s feared the ship's bow could be next. 


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  • tag
  • shipwreck,

  • ship,

  • history,

  • Titanic,

  • Archaelogy,

  • maritime archeology

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