SS Austria

The steamship Austria ( 1857 )

The Austria was a steam ship that sank off the Banks of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean on September 13, 1858 after a fire on board.

The ship

The Austria was built in the shipyard Caird & Company in Greenock, Scotland, and left on 23 June 1857 water. The ship was used for the British East India Company as a troop transport. For the first time it came on October 5, 1857 in the Gulf of Biscay in a severe storm, one crew member was killed. Badly damaged, the ship returned to Plymouth for repair back. In the second voyage, the ship ran into a storm again, where one of the two steam engines was badly damaged. This in turn had a repair in Plymouth result.

On May 1, 1858 Austria was taken over by the German Hapag and used on the Hamburg - New York.

The course of the accident

The Austria submitted on September 1, 1858 from Hamburg and took three days later in Southampton in other passengers on. New York should be reached on September 18.

Prior to entering the port of destination New York, the ship was around noon disinfected properly by ausräucherte the lower deck with tar. This tar was placed in a vat and is generated with a red-hot chain was immersed smoke. Two hours later the chain the exporting sailors became too hot and fell to the wooden floor. The thereby resulting fire spread rapidly from amidships such that the steam engine of the ship propulsion no longer stopped and the ship's rudder could not be controlled. The ship then headed at full speed (around 10 knots ) Alternate courses and the incident from all sides wind fanned the fire, additionally.

On board was an outbreak of panic, which was made worse by an explosion. The Captain F. A. Heydt man tried as one of the first to go to one of the eight on board lifeboats. He drowned while trying to rappel on a rope to the lifeboat. Many passengers died after they jumped from the deck of the ship into the water and were pulled through the waves of constantly abdrehenden ship under water. Many passengers died in the water by the rotating propeller.

Of the passengers and crew members still 85 people were rescued. The first ship to the crash site was the French bark Maurice, whose crew perceived the disaster at the prevailing good weather, came to the rescue and was able to clock at seven in the evening, take the first survivors. One of the other ships was the Norwegian sailing ship Catherine.

The downfall of Austria is considered one of the most serious maritime accidents in the time of emigration. When disaster 456 passengers and crew members were killed.


  • Among the victims was also Henriette Wulff, a close friend of the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen.
  • On November 13, 1858 of the Senate of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg awarded the silver medal for saving life at H. C. Nivert for the rescue of 67 passengers of Austria.
  • The animated film An American Tail Walker of the U.S. producer Steven Spielberg is among other things, by Austria.

Pictures of SS Austria