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Ships 3


Cargo Liner Armenian Caught In Historic Events

By James Donahue

The steamship Armenian was launched in 1895, served as a cargo and sometimes passenger carrier between Liverpool and New York, was converted to transport prisoners of war and later horses during the Boar War in South Africa, and again during World War I.

Even though it’s existence amounted to a working cargo vessel for all of its 20 years, the Armenian skirted great marine events in the history of that era.

The 512-foot ship was built by the famed ship-builders Harland and Wolff in Belfast just prior to that firm’s launching of the super liners that included the Titanic. She was owned by the Leyland Line, but managed by the White Star Line after 1903.

The Armenian was used to transport 963 Boer prisoners of war to Darrell’s and Burt’s Islands during the Boar War of 1901. Then the vessel was fitted out to transport horses during England’s involvement in that South African conflict.

The ship made a last sailing as a freight carrier in March, 1914, even as the clouds of World War 1 were building. After that it was refitted once again to transport horses, this time to France.

While historians mark the sinking of the Lusitania as one of the driving forces that got America involved in the war, it was the sinking of the Armenian by a German U-Boat off Trevose Head, Cornwall, on June 28, 1915, just 52 days later, that helped cement the rage.

Twenty-nine sailors, most Americans, were killed in the sinking, plus the Armenian’s cargo of 1,400 mules. Survivors were picked up the next day by the President Stevens, a Belgian steam trawler.