SS Athinai (1908)


The Athinai was a Greek ocean liner that was used in passenger and freight traffic from Greece to New York and on September 19, 1915 burned out at sea and abandoned.

The ship

The 6045 -ton steamship Athinai was built for the newly founded Greek shipping company Hellenic Transatlantic Steam Navigation Company, which took over in 1908 the stocks of bankrupt Hellenic Transatlantic Line. The shipping company took over the only ship of the Hellenic Transatlantic Line, which entered service in 1907 Moraitis, which has been renamed Themistocles. As a supplement was Sir Raylton Dixon & Co. Ltd. at the shipyard. ordered in the northern English port city of Middlesbrough the Athinai, which was launched on 19 June 1908 and was used in passenger traffic of Piraeus via Kalamata and Patras to New York.

The 128 meters long and 15.8 meters wide ship was powered by steam engines on a twin propeller and could a speed of 14 knots (25,9 km / h). From November 1912 to June 1913 was the Athinai as a transport ship in the service of the Greek Navy, after which they took up their passenger service again.

On April 14, 1912 put the Athinai at the coordinates 41 ° 51 'N, 49 ° 52' W41.85 - 49.866666666667 a radio message to the Titanic from which it is informed about icebergs and vast fields of drift ice. In August 1914, the Hellenic Transatlantic Steam Navigation Company went bankrupt and was purchased by the Group Athinai National Steamship Navigation Company, which they put at the service of the National Greek Line. For this cruise line's Athinai still served their usual route.

Fire and sinking

On Monday, September 13, 1915, the Athinai put under the command of Captain Nicolas Boziatgiles in New York for their next crossing to Piraeus from. On board next to the 70 - man crew and a cargo of coffee, rice, cotton and newspapers were a total of 438 passengers (62 first class, 51 second class, 325 third class). On the morning of September 18, broke in the sealed cargo hold No. 2 from a fire. Boziatgiles captain ordered the closing of the ventilation openings of cargo space No. 2 and was guided vapor in the department to bring the fire under control.

The following morning, September 19, the flames kindled again. Now a general emergency was over the wireless radio deposed and fire water pumped into the hold. The distress signal was received by several ships, which then made ​​their way to Athinai, including Tuscania (Captain Peter McLean ) of the Anchor Line, the Minnehaha (Captain Frank Claret) of the Atlantic Transport Line, the La Touraine French Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and the British freighter Roumanian Prince. When the ships arrived, the fire was already out of control.

The passengers and crew members of the Athinai, most of the statements according to the remained calm and disciplined throughout the action, were transferred in lifeboats to Tuscania and Roumanian Prince. Above all, the crew of the Tuscania was then praised for their tireless efforts in the rescue. The burning steamer was finally abandoned in position 40 ° 54 'N, 58 ° 47' W40.9 - 58.783333333333. By accident a man was killed: The 40- year Greek passenger of the Second Class Tomaso Sotoniou succumbed to a heart attack. Seriously injured was nobody. Most of the passengers and crew members met on 21 September aboard the Tuscania in New York, the rest followed shortly after with the Roumanian Prince. Among the passengers were, according to the New York Times, 32 women and 22 children, and a total of 45 Americans.


Immediately after the accident captain Boziatgiles expressed his belief that the fire was triggered on the Athinai by incendiary bombs. He pointed out that the fire broke out in a storage room, were stored in the only flame retardant goods and that the flames had also flared up again several times on the morning of September 19, even though they had been weakened by steam and fire water. In addition, the entrances were closed, so that during the ride, no one had access to the room. Also, the stakeholders of the shipping company announced at a press conference in Athens Hotel in New York that he believed in an attack.

The National Steamship Navigation Company was examined by intelligence investigations the workers who had been involved in the loading of the cargo spaces of the ship. On 24 October 1915, the two Germans Robert Fay and Walter Scholz were arrested after they tried to buy ten pounds of explosive picric acid. This had made them suspicious and the attention of investigators drawn on it, which took place in the apartment of the two men and in a rented locker explosives, maps of New York Harbor and homemade bombs. Fay, who claimed to be a German spy who was convicted along with Scholz and another man because of " conspiracy to attack vehicles ". Whether they were responsible for the fire on the Athinai, or whether it is at all concerned a stop in the incident, has never been elucidated.