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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

The Historic Sinking of The SS Arctic

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

On September 27th, 1854, the SS Arctic sank about 50 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. The tragedy was caused by a collision with another smaller ship, the SS Vesta. The arctic sunk four hours after the hit. During those four hours there was panic among the passengers and crew, as folks struggled for access to life boats and attempted to make rafts from debris. The ship was one of the Collins line.

Of the estimated 400 souls on board, only 88 survived. Most of whom were crew members. None of the women or children survived. This disaster holds is often marked by the fact that the crew prioritized saving their own lives over the lives of the passengers.

A media frenzy spiraled after the event, Newspapers calling out the actions of the crew. This stunning monument in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is home to the Brown Family Plot, which is the final resting place of many members of the Brown family. But also those who tragically lost their lives during the sinking of the SS Arctic. Including Maria Miller, Grace, Clara, William B, Herbert, and Grace Alice Jane.

James Brown was actually a main investor in the Collins line of ships. The plot has markers for over 70 burials. It’s a Victorian-era monument that was designed by John M Moffitt. You can see a depiction of the Arctic sinking in the center. The sculptor also created pieces that live on the gates of the cemetery itself.

The silver lining is that the sinking of the SS Arctic caused massive maritime safety reform. The arctic had only six lifeboats, space for less than half of the people on board.

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