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The Grim Story of the Mackay-Bennett, the Titanic's Mortuary Ship

The RMS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912. The RMS Carpathia worked through the night to rescue survivors, but there were only 705 people alive of the more than 220 hundred aboard the Titanic. Someone would eventually need to go and collect those who did not survive.

Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, was the closest major port to the site of the disaster. A Halifax-based cable ship, the CS Mackay-Bennett, was quickly fitted out as a “morgue ship” and dispatched to where the Titanic had sunk two days earlier, more than 800 statute miles away. The Mackay-Bennett carried all the embalming fluid available in Halifax, approximately 100 wooden coffins, 100 tons of ice, and 12 tons of iron bars to weigh down bodies to be buried at sea. But it wouldn't be enough to cope with the huge number of Titanic victims.

The Mackay-Bennett arrived on the evening of April 19. By the next morning, the crew was ready to start recovering bodies. Captain Frederick Harold Larnder found far more victims in the icy waters than he expected. “We saw them scattered over the surface, looking like a flock of seagulls,” he later told The Washington Times.

With insufficient supplies to preserve all the recovered bodies, some had to be buried at sea. Read about the grim mission to recover the victims of the Titanic sinking at Mental Floss. -via Strange Company


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