Serving in the Spanish-American War, USS Harvard (ex-American Lines’ City of New York) departed New York on 30 April 1898 to patrol the western Caribbean in search of the Spanish fleet. Over the next several months she scouted the position of several Spanish units and was engaged in rescue operations associated with the Battle of Santiago. Later in the year, Harvard would be used to transport US troops back home.
On 15 April 1912, sailing again as a passenger liner (for American Line), City of New York came very close to ending Titanic’s maiden voyage almost before it began. As Titanic left the Southampton docks, she came within two feet of smashing into City of New York.
Trivia: On 15 March 1888, City of New York was christened by Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Sir Winston Churchill.
The near miss has been attributed over the years to several causes, including a suction developing between the two large vessels, a narrow channel cluttered with moored ships idled by a coal strike, and the presence of accident-prone Titanic Capt. Edward J. Smith.
Had the two liners actually collided, it’s likely that many lives (as well as Titanic herself) would have been saved.
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