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Chronology of the H.M.T. JUSTICIA (ex-STATENDAM II.)

2021.07.14. 04:14 Doki

President of our Association published his book in 2018 on the the ocean liner s.s. STATENDAM (II), which designed following the TITANIC, ordered by the Netherlands, served under the British flag as H.M.T. JUSTICIA and sank in 1918, just four months before the end of the war. Readers of the copies sold since the publication of the book provide ongoing feedback to help the author learn about the impact of modern interpretation of the hundred-year-old story. These feedbacks can be read by anyone in the “Reader's Corner” section of the author’s Facebook-page. The latest feedback was sent by Myles Chantler, who lives in Kent, England: “Just wanted to quickly message to say your book on the Statendam / Justicia is first class. What a stunning book and so much information about the ship! I've just finished reading it, and I am starting again from the beginning incase I have missed anything! Could I ask a couple of questions if I may? Have you a chronological list of her war voyages. It would be lovely to know how many voyages were sailed, and to / from which ports. [...] Once again, thanks for a great book.” Well, the chronology of the JUSTICIA's life did not compiled yet. However, following the question, Tamás Balogh has now prepared it, as it is an exceptional pleasure for the Author to be able to continue the story following the positive feedback of the Reader.

01.03.1912: Johann Georg Reuchlin, CEO of Rotterdam-based Holland-America Line, orders the ship from Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast. The ship's plans are based on the plans of the OLYMPIC-class ocean liners, which proved to be very successful one year earlier, but the propeller-arrangement differs from that introduced on the OLYMPIC, regarding the central propeller was only three-bladed instead of four (as in case of the TITANIC).

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Figure 1: Elevation plans, top view and lines plan of the ship (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh).

21.03.1912: Joseph Bruce Ismay, CEO of International Mercantile Marine, invites Johann Georg Reuchlin among the leaders of the member companies of the group, to the inaugural voyage of White Star Line's newest ocean liner, TITANIC.

15.04.1912: The sinking of the TITANIC, and the death of Johann Georg Reuchlin. The ship is so similar to TITANIC that the artist William Henry Pearson uses STATENDAM as a model to demonstrate the sinking ocean liner, as it could be clearly identified from the forward end of the ship’s superstructure depicted in the painting.

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Figure 2.: Black and white reproduction of the Pearson's painting and it's characteristic detail which is based on the general arrangement of the STATENDAM rather than TITANIC (Source: Royal Museums of Greenwich).

31.05.1912: Complete redesign of the ship security system, including raising of bulkheads.

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Figure 3.: The ship’s redrawn watertight bulkheads. Modifications made as a result of the inquiry on TITANIC's sinking can be clearly seen with red ink on the drawing (Source: Lloyd's Register Foundation Heritage and Education Center).

11.07.1912: Laying of the ship's keel (yard no. 436.).

09.07.1914: Launch of the ship.

28.07.1914: The outbreak of the First World War.

04.08.1914: Great Britain enters World War I.

01.10.1914: The British Admiralty interested in the high-capacity and fast but semi-finished ship and offers £ 1,000,000 for the hull to Holland-America Line. However, the company wants to keep the ship, so it offers to rent it out for a more moderate fee if the Admiralty give it back after the war, or will provide a similar one if the ship gets lost in enemy action. No agreement will be reached, but negotiations will continue.

02.03.1915 -04.12.1915. a part of the furnishing decorating the ship’s bright interiors was presented at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The exhibition was basically meant to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, which was handed over in August 1914, but in fact San Francisco wanted to demonstrate it' own recovery from the effects of the devastating earthquake of 1906.
Further information:
http://digitized.library.fresnostate.edu/cdm/ref/collection/worldsfair/id/15114.

01.09.1915: Negotiations on the ship's future are concluded. The British Admiralty accepts the Dutch conditions.

08.12.1915: Contract signed and the ship handed over to the British Royal Navy. The International Merchant Marine Co. receives a 10% brokerage commission.

07.04.1917: The day after the United States enters the war, the vessel is completed and put into service as a war transport ship. Originally she was offered to the government-subsidized Cunard Line as a replacement of the LUSITANIA sunk by a German U-boot in 1915, so the ship's name was changed from STATENDAM to JUSTICIA (names of all Cunard ships ended with “ia”) as the war propaganda suggests the ‘truth’ restored by this. But Cunard could not display enough hands, sailors, mechanics, and officers (under the conditions established by the Admiralty, all crew had to be provided by the operator). As the Government insisted on bringing the ship into service as soon as possible, they did not wait for Cunard to find a solution, but also offered the ship to the White Star Line, which accept the offer and redirected the surviving crew of the sunken Britannic lost in 1916 (all of them were happy to continue their employment). The ship, with its crew recruited in Piraeus, went to the island of Lemnos, Greece, from where she returned to Britain with British soldiers evacuated from the Gallipoli campaign. The ship's commander was Alexander Elvin Sherwin Hambelton. Further information: https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/community/threads/news-from-1922-1929-retirement-and-death-of-capt-hambelton.25501/; https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/GQC6-FCQ/alexander-es-hambelton-1863-1929).

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Figure 4.: Alexander Elvin Sherwin Hambelton (1863-1929), commander of the JUSTICIA (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

25.04.1917: JUSTICIA arrives in New York on her first Atlantic crossing together with ADRIATIC, another ocean liner of the White Star Line. From then on, she commuted regularly between Liverpool and Halifax, Canada, and New York, USA. She carries an average of 5,000 soldiers and 15,000 tons of equipment on its voyages.

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Figure 5.: The ship in New York harbour. To the left in the background are the buildings of Ellis Island. The ship itself  bears her original colors except the funnels (Source: courtesy of a Dutch collector, exact reference required).

14.06.1917: The British Admiralty, after a year of preparation and several practical trials, introduces a convoy system for merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean (and on 22.02.1917. in the Mediterranean). In 1917, 189 convoys bound for Great Britain (with 2,825 ships) and 164 departing from Great Britain (with 2,365 ships), and in 1918, 417-373 convoys (with 6,866-5,126 ships) crossed the Atlantic.

23.10.1917: The ship arrives in Liverpool with a convoy from Halifax. This time, a total of 1,494 people were on board - 1,391 soldiers (1,075 US, 101 Canadian and 213 Serbian reservists) and 105 foreign passengers. The passenger list also included the names of 7 British subject (all women), 6 the wives of officers in the army carried on board (one of whom was the spouse of major-general Sir Charles McGrigor) and 1 the wife of the CEO of the Bank of Montreal.

06.12.1917: The ship departs for Liverpool with a convoy departing from Halifax. On this voyage, she breaks the record for World War I naval shipments: it carries on board 30,000 tons of war supply (the largest quantity ever transported by ship in the war) and 12,000 Chinese workers, recruited to work behind the front. The ship's departure almost coincided with a massive ammunition explosion in the city when the Norwegian cargo ship, IMO (ex-RUNIC of the White Star Line) collided with the freighter MONT BLANC, which loaded with 2,300 tonnes of picric acid, 200 tonnes of TNT, 35 tonnes of high-octane petrol and 10 tonnes of gunpowder. The MONT BLANC caught fire 10 minutes after the collision and exploded 25 minutes later. Within a 2 square-kilometer area of the ship, all buildings were destroyed, 1,950 people died and more than 9,000 were injured. The 3-kiloton explosion - the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion - caused a tsunami in the port, a pressure wave felled the trees and columns, destroyed buildings and damaged ships. Pieces of the MONT BLANC were scattered over a radius of 6 km (later one of the ship’s several-ton anchors was found 4 km, and the remains of a 90-mm cannon 6 km away). For two days, it was rumored that JUSTICIA was also among the damaged ships (in fact, due to the enormous power of the explosion, many thought 30,000 tons of munitions carried aboard JUSTICIA had exploded), until it was discovered that she left port a few hours before the MONT BLANC collided…

... 01.1918.: The ship's hull, which was uniform gray until that, was provided with a geometric dazzle-camouflage, tested in October of the previous year.

dazzle.jpg

Figure 6.: The ship with dazzle camouflage (Source: Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 101616).

24.01.1918: The ship arrives in Liverpool by the convoy from New York, via Halifax. A day earlier, the first - then unsuccessful - torpedo attack against the ship had taken place in the St. George Canal.

19.04.1918: The ship arrives in Liverpool with a convoy departing from New York.

31.05.1918: The ship arrives in Liverpool with a convoy departing from New York.

27.06.1918: JUSTICIA sailed from New York to Liverpool with 5,000 soldiers on board. This was the last time when the ship had visited New York and Captain Hambelton had also disembarked in Europe. This crossing of the ship was also commemorated in the history of the 301th Engineers carried on board (pages 52-58 of the volume). The ship's command was taken over by Hugh F. David.

19.07.1918: At 1:10 a.m., JUSTICIA depart from Liverpool to New York again (barely four months before the armistice). The OLX 39 fast convoy consists of JUSTICIA and six other merchant vessels, including the MELITA, MATEGAMA and LAPLAND ocean liners, as well as six destroyers.

At 2:30 p.m., under the command of Lieutenant General Otto Schrader, the U64 coastal submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship, just 23 miles (42.6 km) from Skerryvore Rock. Schrader confused by the similar silhouette of the USS LEVIATHAN (ex-VATERLAND), an American ocean liner seized from the Germans (which was a high-capacity troop transporter for the war, and every German submarine wanted to sink it). One of the torpedoes missed the target, but the other exploded in the JUSTICIA's engine room, on the port side. The engine room soon filled with water and the ship became immobile, although her condition was stabilized by the damage-control crew. Commander David was prepared to tow by a Navy tug called SONIA to an emergency naval repair base in Buncrana, a 16-hour navigation away.

At 16:30, however, during the preparation for the towing operation, Schrader fired two more torpedoes. One of them was missed the target and the other was destroyed by JUSTICIA's onboard guns.

At 20:00, the U64 will launch another torpedo, which neutralized again by gunners of the JUSTICIA.

At 21:00, JUSTICIA crew will be evacuated 20 minutes before sunset (as the chances of a successful rescue during a night torpedo attack are much lower), leaving only 16 volunteer crew on the damaged ship for the most necessary tasks at the time of towing. Using the radio, other German submarines in the nearby were alarmed by the commandant of U64, which was damaged by destroyers that escorted JUSTICIA. His call was answered by submarines U54 (Hellmuth von Rückteschell) and U124 (Hans Oscar Wutsdorff).

20.07.1918: At 4:30 a.m., the damaged ship were just 28 miles (45 km) from the shore (this means more than half of the distance to Buncrana was done, together with the distance completed during the 11-hour struggle of the previous day) only a 6-hour navigation away. The U124 fires a torpedo at the ship, which, however, misses the target.

Around 6 a.m., further British reinforcements arrive: 12 destroyers and 14 other patrol ships are already securing the wounded giant.

At 9:15 a.m., the U124 launches two more torpedoes (the seventh and eighth torpedoes fired at the ship): the first blasted into the empty cargo hold No. 3 in front of the boiler rooms, while the second into the empty cargo hold No. 5., under the main mast. Along with the results of Friday's attacks, 4 of the ship's 11 watertight compartments were irreparably flooded.

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Figure 7.: Artistic representation of the 24-hour struggle of the JUSTICIA by William Lionel Wyllie (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

At 10:30 the 16-man crew leaves the ship, which SONIA is still towing at a speed of about 6 knots, ready to let go if things get worse.

At 11:32 a.m., the newly arrived U54 submarine launches two torpedoes in the direction of JUSTICIA. Both torpedoes explode before reaching the target, without the submarine crew becoming aware of it (they only hear the detonation, but have no visual connection), so they think their torpedoes hit the ship.

At 12:30 the ship, sinking deeper into the water, and barely ten minutes later the whole ship plunged. Position is 55 ° 38 'N, 07 ° 39' W.

At 19:00, the U124 sunk by JUSTICIA’s escorting destroyers, HMS Milbrooke and HMS Pigeon.

There were 10 victims of the sinking of JUSTICIA. The explosion of the first torpedo immediately killed 9 people and injured the death of a third engineer officer, James Thomas, who died of his injuries the next morning. Among the dead were Christopher Foran storekeeper, Percy Grant fireman, James O’Neil, Thomas Russel and John W. Sutton greaser, Maurice Johnston, Samuel J. Turner, David Watt and William J. Jones trimmer. The loss of life of the U124 crew is deck engineer Karl Engstfeld and Lieutenant Paul Seevers.

The loss of the JUSTICIA - as the second largest merchant ship which lost in the war after the BRITANNIC (1916) and before the LUSITANIA (1915) - was reported in the press on both sides of the ocean, highlighting that (for the first time during the war) a whole pack of submarines attack on the target ship.

The case was followed by an official investigation that felt the weaknesses of the warship escorts of the transatlantic convoys.

The unequal struggle between the liner and a submarines had an artistic representation as well made by the famous English naval painter of the age, William Lionel Wyllie.

29.01.1919: The British government provides the Dutch with 60,000 tons of steel for reconstruction of the ocean liner, in accordance with the agreement of 08.12.1915, signed for the charter of the vessel. Holland-America Line orders the new ocean liner from Harland & Wolff Shipyard. As the United States drastically reduced immigration opportunities between 1922 and 1924, transoceanic passenger traffic also changed, and consequently the STATENDAM III. became slightly smaller than its predecessor. Although based on her builder's model it can be seen that the ship is still clearly in close connection with STATENDAM II. as definite continuator of her aesthetic, despite of minor changes in design (e.g. cruiser stern). (Construction of the ship was paused between 1924 and 1927 due to a series of strikes, and was finally towed to the Netherlands in an unfinished state, where its fitting out was completed by 1929. The most popular Dutch ocean liner of the interwar period was destroyed on 11.05.1940, in German attacks on Rotterdam. Today, her memory is preserved only by the numerous contemporary photographs of her).

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Figure 8.: Builder's models of the STATENDAM II (above) and III (below) from the Harland & Wolff Shipyard (Source: Het Maritiem Museum, Rotterdam)

1993: Divers Norman and Simon Bamford find and identify the wreck of JUSTICIA while performs the first diving to her wrecks.

1995: Leight Bishop, a well-known underwater photographer and wreck diver, takes impressive underwater photos of the wreckage, which attract hundreds of divers and make a significant contribution to making the wreck known.

2005: The first SONAR image of the wreck is completed as part of the Irish National Seabed Survey.

2014: Diver Norman Woods is the first to make an underwater film footage showing larger areas of a wrecksite by attaching his GoPro camera to his scooter, so he was able to swim back and forth along the longitudinal axis of the huge ship in 13 minutes.

2018: Tamás Balogh prepares the first monographic elaboration of the history and wreck of JUSTICIA, which was presented to the public exactly on the centenary of the ship's sinking at the ship's birthplace, Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast as a symbolic returning to home of her. A centenary diving expedition commemorates the sinking of the ship, led by diver and underwater photographer Darragh Norton.

2019: Diver Barry McGill identifies the wreckage of the U124. The first documentary about the history and wreck of JUSTICIA has been made, directed by Matt Bone, with the help of experts from Barry McGill and Tamás Balogh.

2020: Gerard Dooly, a researcher at the University of Limerick in Ireland and a fellow at the University's Mobile and Marine Robotics Research Center, initiated the latest generation of tools (underwater scanners and augmented reality) to support the research of the shipwreck.

2021: Based on the plans of Tamas Balogh, Bennett Gyurik created the first virtual reconstruction of the ship, which was inserted into a 20-second animation by the staff of the KGB Studio.

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Figure 9.: Modern 3D visualization of the ship (Source: courtesy of Dr. Tamás Balogh).

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