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The passenger vessel YARMOUTH CASTLE was built by William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the Eastern Steamboat Company.
12-February-1927 Launched under the name EVANGELINE.
Tonnage 5.002 gross, 2.470 net, 2.090 dwt., dim. 379.3 x 55.5 x 20.1ft. (draught).
Powered by four steam turbines, 7.500 shp., twin screws, speed 18 knots. Passenger accommodation for 589 first class, and 162 second class passengers.
After completing chartered by the Clyde Line.
2June 1928 Made her first voyage for the Eastern Steamboat Line, between New York and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
29 June1928 Was in collision with the steamship GRECIAN, after the last named vessel sank.
1941 Chartered by the Alcoa Steamship Company, used in the service between New York and Bermuda or New York to the West Indies.
3 May 1941 She made her first departure in this service from New York. The charter ended in December 1941.
Jan. 1942 chartered by the USA army, and used as a transport -vessel, used by the army till 1946.
After redelivery to the owners she got a refit, passenger accommodation decreased to 306 first class passengers. Then used in the last remaining service of the company between Boston and Yarmouth.
First sailing from Boston on 08-06-1947. Used only in the summer season in this service, during the winter months used for cruising from Miami.
The service between Boston and Yarmouth was practically profitless, and the company was eager to withdraw from the line,
1954 The government of Nova Scotia stepped in and subsidised the line to keep the vessel on season longer in the service, till there own vessel was delivered the "BLUENOSE".
9 Nov. 1954 The EVANGELINE sailed for the last time from Boston.
During 1954 The Eastern Steamship Company together with the YARMOUTH a sistership of the EVANGELINE was bought by the Jamaican-born F. Leslie Fraser for $500.000.
In the autumn he bought also the EVANGELINE.
She was sent to a shipyard and air-condition was fitted in the public rooms and 50% of the cabins. Also a small swimming pool aft was added.
Got accommodation for 350 passengers.
After fitting out she was used for a series of ten day cruises from Miami, beginning on 22 December 1954.
1962 The Eastern Steamship Company was sold to W.R. Lovett from Jacksonville.
July 1963 the EVANGELINE was laid up.
1964 Sold to Chedade Steamship Company a daughter company of the Yarmouth Steamship Co., she was renamed YARMOUTH CASTLE.
Thereafter chartered by the Caribbean Cruise Line, and used in cruises from New York to the Bahamas. Her first sailing was on 26 June1964. She made four cruises for the company but due to not keeping up with the 15 mile contract speed the charter was cancelled. The ship was put in dry-dock at the Erin Basin on 24 July, and charges was brought against the Chedade Steamship Company, Chedade counter-charged the Caribbean Cruise Line with wrongfully revoking the charter agreements.
By the owners of the YARMOUTH CASTLE a bond was placed, and the vessel sailed for the south.
Then together with her sister YARMOUTH she was advertised in the newspapers as the Fun Ships offering gala trips four times in the week from Miami to Freeport and Nassau on the Bahamas. Her first voyage in this service was in December 1964.
The end of the Yarmouth Steamship Company can be traced to the loss due to a fatal fire on board of the YARMOUTH CASTLE.
She sailed from Miami on 12 November l965 with on board 371 passengers and a crew of 174 under command of Capt. Byron Voutsian for Nassau. During the early hours of 13 Nov a fire broke out in cabin 610 and the fire spread rapidly throughout the vessel. She subsequently sank some four hours later 60 miles north-west of Nassau in position about 13 miles north-west of Great Stirrup Light, Bahamas in 400 fathoms of water.
In a statement given by the captain later he declared: He had been awakened at 0110 a.m. by the officer of the watch, who had told him that there were signs of fire on board the ship. He then ordered a general alarm to be sounded by intermitted blasts of the ship's whistle. This was reported to be some 40 minutes after the first notification that the ship was on fire. When he reached the bridge it was shrouded in heavy smoke. The chief engineer had told the master that when he had opened the door of Room 610, flames leapt out. He immediately closed the door. Room 610 near the dinning-room amidships was used for storage. Panic was then reported to have broken out amongst the passengers as members of the inexperienced crew tried to help them to find lifejackets and life rings, and to direct them to their boat stations. Many lifeboats were reported to have been destroyed in the flames. Capt Voutsinas went on to state that he was both the first and the last man to leave the ship. He had originally left the YARMOUTH CASTLE in a lifeboat in an attempt to direct the saving of frightened passengers gathered at the stern of the vessel, taking with him the ship's first officer and chief engineer, together with three badly burned passengers. All forward and aft passageways were blocked by fire, he continued. They then tried to row the lifeboats towards the ship's stern but they then sighted the motor vessel FINNPULP and went alongside to transfer the burned passengers and also requested that a SOS be sent on their behalf as none had been sent from the blazing cruise vessel before the bridge and radio-room were gutted by the fire. Capt. Voutsinas and his two crew then had rowed back to the blazing ship to direct rescue operations. They reboarded the YARMOUTH CASTLE, proceeded around the vessel but found no passengers or bodies in the areas they could reach. Most of the YARMOUTH CASTLE was in flames when they eventually left in the last lifeboat but fortunately, the sea was calm as the passengers and crew had abandoned ship. (this statement is copied from Modern Shipping Disasters 1963 - 1987 by Norman Hooke). An other source gives Capt Voutsinas and his top officers were the first to leave the vessel, but when they tried to board FINNPULP the captain of the FINNPULP was so incensed by their lack of seamanship that he refused to allow Captain Voutsinas and his party to board his vessel.
The FINNPULP took 92 survivors, "BAHAMA STAR" rescued 240 passengers and 127 crew, the FLORIDIAN picked up a further 30 people. Twelve of the seriously burned were flown to Nassau for urgent hospitalisation, one died later, bringing the total of numbers of fatalities to 88.
By the loss of the YARMOUTH CASTLE and the bad publicity the company got thereafter, they ceased operation in 1966 and her last vessel the YARMOUTH was sold.
Bahamas 1988 40c sg 838, scott 658.
Sources: US Passenger Liners since 1945. Modern Shipping Disasters 1963 - 1987.