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Crew and Other Rooms - Franconia and Laconia (1912) Cunard Line Agencies

The Laconia is fitted with Marconi wireless telegraphy and the submarine signaling appartus, while and extensive system of watertight compartments, extending the entire length of the ship, has also been installed. Below are scenes from the Laconia depicting crewmen and areas of the ship not available to passengers in general.

Where the Tea and Coffee is Prepared

Photo 18: Where the Tea and Coffee is Prepared

Chef's Office

Photo 19: Chef's Office where the Head Chef reviews food inventories and prepares the daily menu.

The Dispensary

Photo 31: The Dispensary or Pharmacy on board the Laconia

A Corner of the Kitchen

Photo 34: A Corner of the Kitchen / Galley

The Marconi Room

Photo 23: The Marconi Wireless Room

Wireless operators are inportant personaage on a steamship. he ranks as an officer, and takes his orders from none but the captain himself. Most wireless operators have had advanced technical education and often served previously as a telegraph or cable operator. (Putnam, April 1909, Vol. 6, No. 1:77)

Engine Room - Dynamos and Switchboard

Photo 35: Engine Room - Dynamos and Switchboard

Cunard Line Offices and Agencies

Cunard Line Offices and Agencies

Laconia Transports Refugees from the War

The Laconia (I) had a short service life, torpedoed by the Germans in 1917. Below is a harrowing story of escape from the war in August 1914.

The extraordinary conditions under which foreign trade is now carried on is shown in the fact that when the steamship Laconia of the Cunard Line entered New York Harbor on Monday of this week, with American refugees from abroad, she was disguised in the Scandinavian Line cold so as to escape capture by German war vessels. The time across was a most exciting one, and “The Evening Sun gives the following account of the voyage:

"The Laconia of the Cunard line, which left Liverpool on August 8 [1914] with 1,668 passengers, reached port this morning, and officers of the United States revenue service, who have boarded the vessel many times at Quarantine, were startled at her appearance.

Twenty-four hours at sea out of Liverpool sufficed to change the Laconia from a Cunarder into the appearance of Norwegian line ships, tier funnels, formerly red, gleamed In the black with brood bands of red about their middle. The upper rigging were all changed from white to black, the bridge was painted a buff color, and the name was painted out everywhere on the ship. Capt. Irvine was ready at any minute to fly the Norwegian flag.

On Aug. 10 Capt. Irvine said his ship was approached by a cruiser. This proved to be the transformed Cunard liner Aquitania on her patrol as a scout service for the royal navy, her curiosity having been aroused by the Laconia’s appearance. Capt. Irvine bad no trouble in convincing the cruiser's commander that his was an English ship.

The Aquitania Is doing duty on the trans-Atlantic route, watching to pick up information concerning German and French vessels.

Stories of hardships were common among the passengers on the Laconia. The crossing passage through the ship was crowded. Mattresses, beds were placed on the floors of the saloons to do for bunk quarters.

The 1,668 passengers, the number being composed almost entirely of those who usually travel in the first and second cabins, were crowded into the Laconia in helter-skelter fashion before the ship sailed, many being in the steerage. Early on the passage, the Americans, refugees from the war zones, were put in the first and second cabins, only sixty remaining in the steerage.

Many were short of funds. Some told of lost and commandeered automobiles, and one man said his automobile, worth $7,000 had been taken from him on German soil. A vivid description was given of the situation met by Americans and foreigners in Germany Just after the declaration of war by a man who said he was at Wiesbaden when he was overtaken by a overwhelming desire to go to the frontier between Germany and Belgium.

The way was crowded with foot fares, more than 2.000 Belgians and Americans, some transporting their baggage on wheelbarrows. Most of this baggage left behind in passing through Liege just before the fighting began there.

When the ship sailed from Liverpool, it was found that many women passengers In the first and second cabins did not have staterooms. When the number of women who did not have berths was made out a like number of men, who had cabin tickets gave up their rooms and took berths in the steerage.

This was the first trip of the Laconia to New York, her usual run being to Boston.

As reported in The Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Volume 99, No. 2565, Saturday, 22 August 1914, P. 522-523

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