Ships 2


Ships 3


Treasure Ship Egypt Sunk In 1922 Collision

By James Donahue

The British liner Egypt was carrying gold and silver bullion valued at over a million pounds, English currency, when it was sunk in a collision with the French steamship Seine in the Atlantic off the Island of Ushant in 1922.  Thus it became a contemporary treasure ship lying in about 360 feet of water.

The collision on May 20 occurred in heavy fog. The 500-foot-long steamship was struck broadside and sank within 20 minutes, killing 15 of its 44 passengers and 71 of the 294 members of its crew. Yet another victim of the crash later died in a French hospital.

The Egypt. Capt. A. Collyer at the helm, was steaming from Tilbury for Marseilles and then Bombay, when she encountered heavy fog after turning south into the Bay of Biscay. Captain Collyer ordered his engines at slow speed and was sounding regular fog whistles. At about 7 p.m. fog signals from an approaching vessel were heard. Then out of the gloom appeared the bow of the Seine just moments before it hit the Egypt on the port side, between the ship’s two stacks.

The big Peninsular & Oriental Steam Company liner listed almost immediately, making it difficult for the panicking crew members to launch the ship’s boats. It was said that some of the ship’s officers, including an army officer among the passengers, kept their heads and helped restore order, thus saving many lives.

The unnamed army officer jumped into one of the boats and forced the Lascar crew members who had filled it to get back on deck and assist in helping passengers board. When the boat was dropped from its davits, an estimated 70 survivors were on their way to safety.

As the list of the doomed steamer got worse, it grew harder to launch boats and it was obvious that not everyone was going to be saved. The officers ran through the ship cutting all of the boats, rafts and deck fittings loose so they floated away when the ship foundered. Consequently nearly everyone that got safety into the water before or as the vessel went under had a raft or some object to cling to until help arrived.

Fortunately the Seine did not sink from the collision. She stood by to take all of the survivors on board, then took them into Brest.

In the cargo deep in the holds of the Egypt were stored about 10 tons of silver, five tons of gold bars and a large amount of sovereigns valued even then at over $1 million. Today the value would be estimated at well over 36 million.