Captain C. W. Kennedy, R.M.S. Germanic, White Star Line
Captain C. W. Kennedy commands a sister ship, the. Germanic. None of the White Star captains look alike, and in some respects are as different as the sea and shore ; but they are for the most part of the practical, serious mould, who rarely unbend to the average passenger's liking. They are all highly esteemed, however, as great sailors, and nearly every one has performed some gallant action and received a public reward.
Like the Commodore, Captain Kennedy is best liked by those who know him best. Those who chanced to be passengers or crew on the Newcastle steamer Hurworth, when she started from Montreal for Rotterdam not many years ago, may perhaps remember Captain Kennedy and the Germanic with gratitude. The Hurworth on her fatal trip had made an ordinarily good run for the first half of the journey. Then her age began to tell upon her, and, like an old charger, she tried to face the foe, but weakened herself with every struggle.
The wind rent her canvas into ribbons, and cracked the big masts as if they were spider legs ; the fierce waves rushed across her decks, splintering the life-boats, and crushing her cabin roof as if it were paper. The ancient hull creaked almost like a human wail. She tossed in the angry sea through one long day, and the hearts of every one aboard were despairing as the night came on.
She could hold out only a little while longer, and every soul aboard knew it. The night was fiercer with the doomed craft than the day, and the winds, increased in violence, kept extinguishing the beacon lights that efforts were made to burn. Presently the red and green lamps of a vessel were seen coming nearer through the thick darkness.
More beacons were ignited, and after what seemed a terrible century of anguish and suspense to every one on. the Newcastle steamer, a rocket was seen to shoot up into the air from the approaching vessel. Help was coming, all knew, but all feared it would come too late, for every instant the poor old craft shook with a tremor that seemed like a dying gasp. The stranger came on with fearful speed, and then a blue rocket went skyward. " We will stand by you," that signal meant.
The rescuer was the Germanic. She ran as close to the disabled vessel as mariners ever find it safe to do in wrecks. So terrible was the sea that it was deemed foolhardy to attempt to get a life-boat afloat in the darkness. The same cheerful signal was again displayed, and then it was recognized by all that there was nothing to do but to wait for daylight. At last it came.
The Germanic's decks were crowded with passengers, who had lost every desire for sleep in their anxiety for the fate of those so near and yet so far. Flying from the cracked mast-head of the wreck were signal flags which to the sailor's eye read thus: "No boats serviceable ; in great distress; send assistance." Long before the sun was up that morning a life-boat was manned by a volunteer crew of the White Star steamer.
Captain Bence, now of the Baltic, was the chief officer of the Gerrnanic, and commanded the relief party. Ten persons were brought back on the first trip. Again the little boat bounded toward the breaking ship, and another load was saved. A third time she made the dangerous journey. All that remained were rescued, but not before the little life-boat had her stem splintered by being dashed by the heavy sea with great force against the sinking hull. Captain Kennedy and Mr. Bence were both highly commended for that gallant rescue, and can show today medals which commemorate the incident.
Both officers had a similar previous experience in the same relative positions in 1872, when they (it is fair to say "they," for one deserved and received as much credit as the other) rescued the crew of the ship Assyrian in mid-ocean. The sea was, if possible, even rougher than on the winter night when the Hurworth tossed in its trough.
It was so rough, indeed, that even the old seamen who manned the life-boat were frightened, and mutinied against making another trip to the wreck; after they had brought one boat's load to safety. Then it was that the brave first officer showed the stuff of which he was made.
He calmly turned in his seat, and pulling the tiller from its groove, raised it above his head, and in a quiet voice threatened to brain the first man who refused to join in the rescue. That deed was one that many men lived to praise, for all that had been left to rescue or to perish on the Assyrian were brought off and safely disposed on the Gerrnanic.