The RMS Empress of Ireland was hit by the same kind of cargo ship as the Princess Alice, though this time in Canada’s St. Lawrence River in 1914. Just shy of a thousand died and 465 survived. Legend has it that the ship’s faithful tabby cat suddenly couldn’t stand the thing, and resisted any attempt to bring it back on board for its fateful, final journey.
The SS Morro Castle caught fire off the coast of New Jersey in 1934, spreading quickly and foiling the acting captain’s efforts to save the ship. Of 542 passengers and crew, 130 died, and the charred hulk of the ship washed up on the shore at Asbury Park, where it served as an attraction for a few months before being towed away.
The MV Princess Victoria was caught in a storm in the English Channel in 1953. Only 44 survived of the 179 on board, and contrary to what the photo caption implies, the average women or children on the ship probably didn’t make it out, according to the results of the study.
The only two wrecks studied where the “women and children first” order was both given and followed, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were the two that made it famous: the HMS Birkenhead (1852), where the expression is said to have been coined, and the RMS Titanic (1912), which made it famous. Of course, it helped in the former case that only 1.4 percent of the people on the ship were female. To Captain Edward Smith’s credit, 35 percent of his charge was female, and almost three quarters of them survived.
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