08 February 2009


On this day in 1939, the Queen Mary played a role in the attempted rescue of a sinking British freighter, the Maria de Larrinaga, as it took on water in very heavy seas. Too far away to reach the distressed ship, which had been on its way from Houston, Texas, to Cobh, Ireland, before foundering, the Mary relayed the first report of her S.O.S. to the Radiomarine Corporation's coastal station at Chatham, Massachusetts:

Maria de Larrinaga ... requires immediate assistance -- hatch No. 1 stove in.

A short time later, another distress call went out:

Please proceed to my assistance -- urgent -- sinking.

In response, two Holland-America liners, the Veendam and Noordam, as well as the Cunarder Aurania, and the American liner, Scanmail, hurried toward her position. However, upon arrival, none of the vessels could discover any traces of her. After her final S.O.S., which had come five hours after the first one, the Maria de Larrinaga was never heard from again.   


  1. Last night I came across this site and read about the Maria De Larrinaga, which sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean in Feb. 1939. It is close to my heart as my Uncle, Gordon Abbott was lost with this ship. I was named after him and his name continues through my Son and Grandson.
    He was from Leeds, Yorkshire, UK and 22YOA.
    Thanks for the article.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Gordon. Since there are so few people left from that era it's of great significance. Now, at least here, your uncle will always be remembered!

    Karen (kadycee)