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Whatever Happened to Carpathia, The Ship that Saved Titanic's Survivors?

Updated on December 27, 2016

The Stage

Carpathia was thrust into history as the ship that rescued the survivors the RMS Titanic the after that 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 cast member in the epic tragedy.

Carpathia's Crew
Carpathia's Crew | Source | Source

Early Years

Royal Mail Steamer Carpathia was launched in 1902 by the Sawn Hunter & Wigham Richardson Company. A tiny vessel, she was 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.

SS Californian arrives at the scene.
SS Californian arrives at the scene.

SS Californian

At 8:00AM 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 Titanic during the sinking and had failed to respond to the disaster until the following day. But that's another story.

The Titanic Disaster

Captain Rostron was awaken in his cabin by his wireless operator and told him 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 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.


Carpathia never again saw prestige. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, World War I broke out across Europe. Carpathia was seized by the Canadian government and pressed 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. It's current owner is Premier Exhibitions, the same company that owns salvor-in-possession rights of the Titanic.

The wreck of the RMS Carpathia.
The wreck of the RMS Carpathia.


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    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

      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!

    • kryptowrite profile image

      Rodney C Lawley 4 years ago from Southeastern United States

      I too enjoyed your article. Nice work.

    • jasonponic profile image

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago

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

    • jasonponic profile image

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      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.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      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.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

      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.

    • jasonponic profile image

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

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

    • profile image

      Dutch 4 years ago

      "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.

    • jasonponic profile image

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

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

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      collin 2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      hanphil 2 years ago

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

    • chowchowgrl profile image

      Randi Simon-Serey 2 years ago from Ohio

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

    • profile image

      Susan 20 months ago

      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.

    • jasonponic profile image

      Jason Ponic 20 months ago from Albuquerque

      Contact Cunard directly. That would be your best lead.

    • profile image

      Jdkdk 3 months ago


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      Bob Tortoriello 5 weeks ago

      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.

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