Transcribed by Bruce King from the microfilm of the 19 March 1931 Brooklyn Eagle, there
was another page 1
article--a follow-up to the earlier one about the Viking disaster; a
transcription follows. Associated Press (AP) account of the 15 March
1931 explosion that wrecked the sealer Viking, and which killed about 25
men. It appeared in the 17 March 1931 Brooklyn Eagle, and was the main story
on page 1--not surprising, given the large number of Newfoundlanders then
living and working in Brooklyn.
CAPTAIN TELLS HOW BLAST TORE VIKING ASUNDER, KILLING 25
Skipper Hurled on Floe, Badly Hurt-
118 Survive--Frissell Feared Dead-
Sealing Craft Reaches Scene--Rush
Food, Medical Help
Halifax, N.S., March 17 (AP) -- In the first report he has been able to
make to his government, Capt. Abram Kean Jr. told this morning of the
explosion which cost
him his ship and the lives of probably 25 men Sunday
night. His report was cabled to the Canadian press here by H. B. C. Lake,
Minister of Marine and Fisheries.
Captain Kean said he was on the bridge when the explosion rent his
vessel. He was hurled to the ice, through which the steamer was slowly
pushing her way, and was severely injured.
He said a check had been made of 118 survivors who had succeeded in
reaching Horse Island over the eight miles of heaving ice floes. It was
learned by this check, he reported, his three
American passengers, Varrick
Frissell, A. E. Penrod and Harry Sargent, were missing as well as thenavigator, Capt. W. Kennedy; the chief engineer, J. Murphy; the second
engineer, F. Parnell, the third engineer, H. Hanniford; the ship's
physician, Dr. W. J. Road; the wireless operator, C. King, and the steward,
S. Ul?ett. [last name not clear--BK]
Injured in Dory
The mate, Alfred Kean, he said, was still on the ice with a broken leg. Five seriously injured men were in a dory four or five miles from shore,
with two men standing by, the skipper said.
It was hoped the rescue steamers, Foundation, Franklin and Sagona, now
nearing the scene, would be able to rescue these men. It is doubtful whether
they could reach the land unaided,
because of an off-shore wind and their
Need Medical Supplies
All the others who reached Horse Island were unhurt, although many were
in a weakened condition. A rescue ship from the mainland was not expected
until 1 p.m. today and until then
the survivors were without food and
medical supplies and were inadequately housed. The five houses there are
crowded with those survivors who seemed most in need of the warmth the
Most of the men were in their berths, although few had retired, Captain
Kean said. There was a terrific explosion, the cause of which has not yet
been determined. Many were thrown from
their berths and others were thrownto the deck. The ship was plunged into darkness.
Fire Breaks Out
The men in the forward part of the ship, Captain Kean believes, escaped
injury and were able to get off the craft and on to the ice. Those aft,
however, were less fortunate. The explosion
appeared to tear the rear of the
boat asunder. In the shadow light of the night motionless forms could be
seen on the ice floes and cries for help were heard.
Fire broke out, discouraging efforts of some of the men to salvage
personal possessions. Billowing smoke swept across the ice as the
50-year-old Viking was cremated in the ice fields
through which it had
ploughed so many decades.
Friends of Frissell, Yale graduate and film director, said it was more
than likely that the young explorer was quartered aft and therefore in a
section where the full force of the explosion was felt.
There was nothing,
however, to indicate that he was aft at the time of the blast.
The known missing were eight. The known survivors reached Horse Island last night, walking ashore
across the ice. Injury among most of the men was not believed great althoughall were in
need of food and warmth to be provided with the arrival of the
rescue ship carrying the doctors and nurses. Because of the limited wireless facilities and the remoteness of Horse
Island, the Bowring Company, owners of the Viking, as yet has been unable to
check the casualties.
Race to Rescue
Succor meanwhile raced through ice-choked White Bay today for the 118
known survivors of the barkentine Viking, destroyed by an explosion and fire
at sea Sunday night.
Theories on Explosion
The belief among shipping men familiar with the construction of the
Viking was that Frissell, Penrod and Sargent doubtless were quartered aft,
where the explosion was hardest felt.
If that proves true, and if the men
were there at the time of the explosion, it is more than likely they were
Shipping men believe the explosion may have resulted from dynamite often
used to blast a ship's way through the ice. Friends of Frissell in New York,
however, said the Viking
carried no explosives, it was learned here. One explanation that received credence was that the Viking, seeking to
pound its way through the fettering floes, may have put too great a strain
on the boilers, putting on so much steam as to result in an explosion.
The account of the explosion as given to the Newfoundland Government by
Captain Kean did not give any explanation as to its cause, and it was
unlikely that he, on the bridge, would
have such information. It was known,
however, that the explosion occurred close to, if not actually in, the
engine room. The engine crew were numbered among the dead in the accounts
from the island.
The explosion, coming about 9 o'clock Sunday night, found most of the
members of the crew--all Canadians--in their berths, although few probably
Meanwhile the sealing fleet, from which the Viking was separated several
days ago, was reported today to have abandoned its hunt for seals to race
through the Strait of Belle Isle
toward Horse Island to assist in the rescue
work. The sealer Ungava was the first to reach the scene.
The fleet, leaving the Viking behind, steamed through the Strait last
week into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Last night the Strait was said to be
jammed with ice, which prevented the vessels
from passing through, but
reports today indicated the was was now clear.When the Viking was separated from the rest of the fleet, she was left
alone on what is known as "The Northern Front."
The Viking was the first sealing vessel even to be separated from the
other ships of the fleet on the frigid Northern Front.
First details of the disaster came from Miss O. Bartlett, 18-year-old
wireless operator on Horse Island, when communications was re-established
early today. She was the first to flash the
news that Frissell and his
companions, Penrod, camera-man, and Sargent, explorer, were missing. They
were aboard to make sound movies of the sealers.
When the Viking sailed from here March 9 she carried a list of about 142
persons. Two stowaways were found aboard after the ship was at sea. The first news of the disaster was contained
in a message from Miss
Bartlett saying she had heard a terrific explosion and could see the burning
wreckage of a steamer about eight miles to the eastward.
Operator Describes Scene
As she watched the survivors toiling across the shifting, insecure ice
toward the island in the glare of their burning ship she sent another
message with told graphically of the difficulties
besetting their escape.
Carrying the injured made progress slow. "No particulars at hand yet." she wired. "Ice in bad condition. Heavy
sea, wind blowing off shore. First crowd of men may
reach island. Others
have very little chance. Making very slow progress."
Making Seal Picture
It was the Viking on which Frissell and his two companions sailed with
sound motion picture equipment to take additional scenes for Frissell's
picture of the seal fisheries, which he
began on an earlier trip.He is 27 years old, a graduate of Yale University and a member of the
Royal Geographic Society. He is the son of Dr. Lewis F. Frissell of New York
and a relative of Governor Pinchot of Pennsylvania. Sargent is a graduate of Harvard College in the Class of 1912. He wasengaged in exploration and research work and spent
last year in Scandinavia.
---------- start, Brooklyn Eagle, 19 March 1931 ----------
FIRST SURVIVORS OF VIKING BLAST TAKEN OFF ISLE
Rescuers Battle Way Over Ice Fields With
Food and Medical Help as Balchen Aides
Rush Alterations on Plane
St. John's, Newfoundland, March 19 (AP) -- The first party of Viking
survivors to leave Horse Island were taken aboard the steamer Sagona, fitted
out as a hospital ship, this morning.
Rescuers on the sealer Imogene, which
carried the survivors from the ice barrier to the Sagona fed them en route.
The rescuers landed through united efforts of the crews of seven sealing
ships, which for many hours had been pounding the ice in an effort to make
way for the Sagona.
Wireless Operator C. King is suffering from gangrene in his legs and
Navigator W. Kennedy is ill with pneumonia, wireless reports added. The
remainder of the survivors were
in "fairly good condition," reports
Dr. Frosey and members of the crew of the sealer Imogene made their way
to the island over close packed and hummock ice.
Crews of the Beothic and Sagona, with additional doctors and supplies,
reached the island close behind the crew of the Imogene.
The men of the Viking have been on the island since Monday, the day after
an explosion wrecked their ship.