Posted by: Democratic Thinker | May 13, 2013

American Hero—Ferdinand J. Kuehn

American Hero—Ferdinand J. Kuehn



Loss of Old Dominion Liner Monroe.


THE liner Monroe of the Old Dominion Steamship company was sunk in a collision with the steamer Nantucket of the Merchants and Miners’ line off the coast of Virginia at 1:40 o’clock on the morning of Jan. 30, 1914. Forty-one persons lost their lives. Of these nineteen were passengers and twenty-two members of the crew. The Monroe left Norfolk, Va., at 7:40 p. m., Jan. 29 and ran into a light fog when outside the capes. She was proceeding cautiously on her way to New York, blowing a fog whistle every minute by an automatic time clock, and was about half way between Cape Charles lightship and the Winter Quarter lightship when she stopped on bearing a fog whistle on her starboard bow. Signals were exchanged, but in a few moments the other vessel, which proved to be the Nantucket, crashed Into the starboard side of the Monroe. The bow of the Nantucket penetrated one-third of the width of the Monroe and made sinking inevitable.

Every effort was made by the captain and crew to rescue the passengers. One lifeboat was crushed, another fell into the water and was swamped, while the boats on the port side could not be used on account of the heavy list of the vessel to the starboard. Two lifeboats, however, were successfully loaded and launched and several life rafts were also instrumental in saving many persons. Ferdinand Kuehn, wireless operator on the Monroe, after sending out signals for assistance, gave his life preserver to a woman just as the steamer began to sink, and went down with the ship.

The men and women on the lifeboats and rafts were picked up by the Nantucket and conveyed to Norfolk. They numbered thirty-nine passengers and sixty sailors, making a total of ninety-nine. Two of those picked up died from exposure.

—Chicago Daily News Almanac (1915).