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What Happened to Carpathia, the Ship That Rescued the Titanic's Survivors?

Jason Ponic works in the exciting world of Hollywood film and television by day and writes by night.



A Legendary Rescue

Carpathia was thrust into history as the ship that rescued the survivors of the RMS Titanic the day after the legendary ship sank on the morning of April 15, 1912. The tiny vessel entered New York as the world waited anxiously for news. After that day, she all but disappeared from the spotlight, cast aside as the tragedy unfolded into an International Maritime Disaster. She never again reclaimed the spotlight and to this day remains a forgotten supporting cast member in the epic tragedy.

Carpathia's crew

Carpathia's crew

Early Years

Royal Mail Steamer Carpathia was launched in 1902 by the Sawn Hunter & Wigham Richardson Company. A tiny vessel by 1912 standards, just 541 feet long and 64 feet wide with a service speed of 15 knots. Her early days saw transatlantic service, transporting immigrants from Hungry and other countries to the United States and Canada. In 1905, Carpathia was refitted as a cruise ship and included 1st and 2nd Class passengers accommodations. Between 1909 and 1911 she saw service in Mediterranean Trade.

In January 1912, Carpathia was placed under the command of Captain Arthur H. Rostron, who regularly made transatlantic crossings, bringing immigrants to America and the wealthy to the Mediterranean for pleasure cruises. On April 11, 1912, the ship embarked on a cruise voyage with approximately 700 people on board.



The Titanic Disaster

Captain Rostron was awakened in his cabin by his wireless operator and told about the Titanic's S.O.S. and C.Q.D. calls. Rostron immediately ordered the ship to assist the sinking liner, over sixty miles away.

As the ship charged full steam through the ice field. Rostron issued a series of orders to prep the ship for rescue operations.

  • Lifeboats swung out.
  • All gangway doors open.
  • Passengers are to remain separate from survivors.
  • Blankets, soup, and drinks prepared.
  • Extra rooms, officer's quarters, and common rooms prepared to receive survivors.
  • Hospitals prepared in dining rooms.
  • Cut all heat, hot water, and steam to passenger cabins to increase the vessel's top speed.
  • Additional lookouts posted to look for bergs and survivors.

His efforts increased the vessel's top speed from 14.5 knots to 17 knots, shaving an entire hour off the journey. The Carpathia passed six icebergs on the way to the Titanic.

At 4:00AM the Carpathia arrived at the site of the sinking and began picking up survivors, a task that lasted 4 hours.

At 8:15AM Carpathia had finished rescuing the survivors and now dangerously overcapacity, set sail back to New York when she was greeted by thousands of people at the Pier on April 18, 1912.

After disembarking the 705 survivors, Carpathia's exit from the world stage occurred when she lowered Titanic's lifeboats into the White Star Berth, all that remained of the World's Largest Liner.

Taken by a passenger on board Carpathia on April 15, 1912 showing one of Titanic's collapsable boats

Taken by a passenger on board Carpathia on April 15, 1912 showing one of Titanic's collapsable boats

SS Californian arrives at the scene

SS Californian arrives at the scene

SS Californian

At 8:00 AM, Carpathia was joined briefly by the SS Californian, a ship that would descend into the depths of controversy as it was only five miles from the Titanic during the sinking and had failed to respond to the disaster until the following day.


Carpathia never again saw prestige. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, World War I broke out across Europe. The Canadian government pressed Carpathia into service as a troopship where she transported Canadian and American troops to Europe throughout the war.

On July 15, 1918, Carpathia departed Liverpool as part of a convoy, it would be her last voyage. On the morning of July 17, 1918, she was struck by a torpedo in the Celtic Sea from German U-Boat U-55. The ship began to sink slowly. Captain William Prothero gave the order to abandon ship. All passengers and crew boarded its lifeboats as the ship went down.

U-55 serviced and fired a final torpedo into Carpathia, sending it to the bottom. U-55 was about to machine gun the survivors when the HMS Snowdrop fired back at the U-Boat forcing it away.


In 2000, the wreck was discovered in 500 feet of water, sitting upright on the ocean floor. Its current owner is Premier Exhibitions (formerly RMS Titanic, Inc.), the same company that owns salvor-in-possession rights of the Titanic.

The wreck of the RMS Carpathia

The wreck of the RMS Carpathia


Pramsec on May 16, 2020:

Company that built Carpathia was Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, a well known Tyneside shipbuilder!

Vessel carried immigrants from Hungary

Californian dismissed distress rockets as fishing boats messing about!!

Alec Owen on June 17, 2019:

My uncle was one of 5 crew members who died when the Carpathia was sunk in 1918. None of my mother's brothers survived WWI and the influenza epidemic that followed. I did not know that the captain of U - boat 55 which sank the Carpathia attempted to machine gun the survivors and was prevented by HMS Snowdrop.

JRigdon on August 26, 2018:

Wow! Thanks for posting that. One of my cousins sailed to WW-I France on the Carpathia. Private Ivic Rigdon, was part of Company D, 2nd Infantry Division and sailed from New York on 10 Sept 1917. He was killed during the Battle for Belleau Wood, France in June 1918 along with 9,000 other men of the 2nd Infantry Division.

Ivan Peter on November 21, 2017:

The topic is interesting, but: Please, learn the country's name correctly: H U N G A R Y and there are the H U N G A R I A N S.

L shaw on August 12, 2017:

My grandmother immigrated from hungry in 1912 she and her mother went to The port of Trieste to board the Carpathia and they were told they had to take the train back home as the ship was picking up survivors from the titanic they finally made passage in December 2 of 1912

Bob Tortoriello on February 19, 2017:

One of the few articles worth reading. Informative, well written, and, as a reader kept me wanting more. Magnificent job. NOW, I want more of your writings. Thank you.

Jdkdk on December 27, 2016:


Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on July 27, 2015:

Contact Cunard directly. That would be your best lead.

Susan on July 25, 2015:

Is there any way to find the passenger list of the Carpathia? Not the crew and not the Titanic survivors. I am told my grandmother was a passenger on the Carpathia and I am trying to find out if this is true.

Randi Simon-Serey from Ohio on September 20, 2014:

Very moving and interesting Hub ... makes me want to read more.

hanphil on July 29, 2014:

it do not sink maybe that's Californian. before it said no

collin on June 04, 2014:

the carpathia was so cool and the titanic i love the titanic do you i hope youPr

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on July 08, 2012:

Dutch, RMS Titanic Inc. is a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. a result of RMS Titanic Inc's IPO in 2009.

Dutch on July 07, 2012:

"It's current owner is Premier Exhibitions, the same company that owns salvor-in-possession rights of the Titanic."

This is not correct. The only company that owns salvor-in-possession rights is RMS Titanic Inc.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 13, 2012:

Writer20, I've seen that one too! It's a great film. A Night To Remember was the title.

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on May 09, 2012:

We watched the original Titanic movie in black and white it was very, but not as dramatic as the newer one.

Great hub, I enjoyed reading.

Voted up and awesome.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on May 08, 2012:

Very good hub. Have thought about the Titanic, but never thought about exactly how the people were saved. I never saw the movie. Thank for this hub. It was very interesting.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 07, 2012:

Thank you so much. I often find myself wondering "What happen to..." It makes the story feel more complete when one knows the fate of all involved.

Faith Reaper on May 07, 2012:

Very interesting piece here. It is obvious a lot of time and research went into this hub. Well done!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 07, 2012:

Thank you so much!

Rodney C Lawley from Southeastern United States on May 07, 2012:

I too enjoyed your article. Nice work.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on May 07, 2012:

Knew the Carpathia was the Titanic ship but sure didn't know it's history and fate. You have an eye for writing on unique subjects jasonponic. Read your 'Best Preserved' earlier too. Also saw where you're a Revolutionary War buff. This isn't any promo but you may enjoy reading a story in a series of battles called Revolutionary War in the South. Welcome to HubPages jason, you've made a great start here!