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Captains of Atlantic Ocean Liners

Biographies of a few Captains of the Atlantic Liners


WHAT can you have to say about Atlantic liners?" said the captain of one of the largest of its class when I told him of my intention to write the present article.

"The subject is exhausted when you have said that they are the biggest ferry-boats in the world, and we the biggest ferrymen."

" But surely there is a little more in it than that ?" said I.

"Well," replied this particular ferryman, "perhaps you may see more in it; but I confess that to myself I am nothing more than the commander of a rather large ferryboat that takes a week in its passage."

"But"—so the conversation ran—"does it not require rather exceptional qualities to hold the command of such a ferry-boat, such as nerve, presence of mind, pluck ?"

" Yes, it requires a good deal of that sort of thing, or you are not much good on one of our big ships. It does not do to lose your head when a risky moment comes. But, then, there is so little of that kind of thing."

"Are you, then, never bothered by fogs ?"

" Oh, yes, we are troubled with fogs sometimes, and very dangerous they are to us while they last. Not infrequently, too, we get among shoals of floating ice, which keep you on the alert while it lasts."

" And what about broken shafts ?"

" There used to be more broken shafts than there are now. They were at one time rather frequent; but now we make them of steel, and they wear better. There have been very few broken shafts or propellers of late years. The Gascaigne, of the French Transatlantic Line, was about the last. I had a shaft break once. That was in one of the Red Star boats. There was no danger attached to it—there seldom is. Ve proceeded along under sail, and in two days the engineers had the shaft all right again."

" And your boats ?"

" They are everything that science and skill can make them. Every year we are making advances, every year improving upon what has been done. At present the Campania and Lucania beat everything else on the ocean, but as they have outdone other boats, so will they in turn be outdone; although, for myself, I cannot see how much advance can be made as regards speed with our present motor."

This chat was held with one of the captains whose portrait is first given, where some notes of his personal experience also appear. It is similar in character to a number of conversations I have had with other commanders of Atlantic liners during the List two or three months; that is, touching the general service.

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