The Volturno Ship Disaster - October 1913

The Volturno Ship Disaster - October 1913

The Philadelphia Inquirer

submitted by Arnold Graboyes   © 2001 by Jan Daamen


Special Wireless Dispatch to The Inquirer.
  ON BOARD THE GROSSER KURFUERST, via SIASCONSETT, Mass., Oct. 14. - Following is the report of Third Engineer Finch, of the Volturno, giving some details about the work in the engine rooms:
  "At 7 o'clock I was awakened by a noise of tramping feet above my head and then heard the fourth engineer saying, "The ship is on fire."
  "I dressed as quickly as possible and went on deck to see if it was serious.  I at once came to the conclusion that all was up.
  "Just at this minute the second engineer told me to go below, as the foremen had left the stoke room.  The fourth engineer, Mr. Belfield, went with me and decided to help the second, Mr. Malcolson, to get the men below.
  "When I got on deck I told him he could get on with the fire and that I would get the men below.  I got them below and everybody worked well; the chief and second fighting the fire, the rest of the engineers and firemen below.  The chief and the second engineer have a hand in fighting the fire in place of sailors and officers who were burned and drowned in lifeboats.
  "Below ww were ordered to get as much coal as possible out of the bunkers before the water tight doors were closed.  We kept getting the coal out as long as possible. The watertight doors were then closed and steam was only kept for light, wireless and pumps.
  "These all worked well as long as the steam laster.  After the coal was exhausted and the steam went back we could do nothing.
  "The chief engineer gave orders for the fire to be drawn.  The engineers and an oiler drew the fires and left the engine room in darkness and then stood by on deck.
  "Every man to the last was cool-headed.
  "After the explosion all put on life belts and did not expect the ship to last long.
  "It was not till this time the passengers got in a panic.
  "The chief engineer gave up hope and told the engineers it was useless to stop, as all hopes were given up, and added, "If you see a chance to save yourself, do it."
  "Watching the rescue boats I tried hard to get the passengers to jumpo at the last moment to be saved, but they would not do it.
  "I jumped myself and was picked up by the third officer's boat of the Kurfuerst.
  "The wireless operator worked cooly and bravely until the last moment, and went with Captain Inch next morning from the wreck."

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