Atlantic (1871) was White Star Line’s second ocean liner. It was also the first White Star liner to sink and the first to sink catastrophically.
Launched on 3 June at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Atlantic featured a steam engine producing a meager 600 horsepower (some 60 horsepower less than a modern Ferrari 599 GTO), driving a single propeller. Atlantic also boasted four masts rigged for sail, which was probably a good idea considering her less-than-robust power plant.
The 3,707 ton Atlantic was 421.3 feet long and 41 feet at beam. On a good day, her speed could reach over 14 knots. The liner carried up to 1,166 passengers.
Atlantic left on her maiden voyage, Liverpool-New York, on 8 June 1871, and made just 18 more voyages after that journey. On 1 April 1873, while en route from Liverpool to New York, Atlantic ran onto rocks off the Nova Scotia coast, becoming the first passenger steamer sinking in White Star Line’s history. The incident also marked the greatest loss of life in a single North Atlantic disaster between the years 1707 and 1912. Out of 835 passengers and 117 crew, at least 535 died.