03 March 2009


On this day in 1938, the first class lounge on the RMS Berengaria caught fire while at port in New York Harbor. The U.S. Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, backed up by Lloyd's of London, the ship's insurer, deemed her unfit for service and directed the removal of all passengers only an hour before sailing time. Subsequently, four hundred of them found room aboard the Queen Mary and were able to cross the pond six days later. 

The Berengaria, after returning to Southampton empty, never made another transatlantic journey. Due to her fire risk caused by faulty wiring--she had had two previous fires, one of them in her first class cabins two years earlier while in dry dock at Southampton and another more recently in her third class cabins--she was purchased for demolition, her furniture and fittings auctioned off the following year. During her career with Cunard White Star, the ship carried many famous personalities, among them Rin Tin Tin and Edward, Prince of Wales (traveling separately, of course). 

New York Times

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