The PS America, a Titanic Tender
When it comes to Titanic tenders, most people know about the Nomadic. Nomadic was the little Titanic built in France, in the same country where some of the most famous passengers boarded. Cherbourg was the gateway for the rich and famous. Many notable passengers boarded there, such as Molly Brown, John Jacob Astor, his young wife and many businessmen. However, there is a lesser known tender that Titanic came into contact with the next day. Older than Nomadic, this ship carried Irish passengers to Titanic. White Star Line’s PS America.
About the PS America
Built in 1891, she was a paddle steamship to the White Star Line.America carried three 1st class, seven 2nd class and one hundred and thirteen 3rd class passengers to the doomed voyage. Most of the 1st class passengers who didn’t board in Southampton departed from France. This is why there wasn’t many 1st class to board in Ireland.
Like Cherbourg, Queenstown, Ireland’s little port was too small for Titanic. The company required the tenders to bring passengers. Otherwise it would have been physically impossible to get Titanic close enough to the port for those to board. Ships of these sizes weren’t commonplace yet, and it was too much for the small ports to handle.
At 11:55 on April 11th, Titanic dropped anchor in Irish water. Working with America, another tender named the PS Ireland helped to retrieve mail from Titanic. The White Star regarded them as important vessels. They were invaluable to the company, and necessary for business.
Ireland sailed to the Titanic first. She did it in impressive speed, collecting over 1,000 pieces of mail from the ship. America was still preparing to go out. The America was carrying over a 100 giddy passengers to the massive titan that sat before them. Despite the small size of America, the company still split the passengers up by class best they could, a showing sign of the times.
As America finished transferring passengers, a nearby musician began playing, bring excitement and joy to the steerage passengers now on Titanic. “Mr. Daly is a well-known performer on the war-pipes; he had a set with him on the Titanic, and as the tender on which he left Queenstown cast off, he played up “A Nation Once Again,” his performance being received with delight and applause by his fellow-travelers.
He played many native airs on board the tender, and as the latter moved away from the liner, the pipes were heard once more giving forth “A Nation Once Again.” Those who were on board the tender that day heard with extreme pleasure of his being amongst the survivors.”
Although most were happy to be on Titanic, soon in just a few days their luck would take a drastic turn. That’s why it’s incredibly lucky that some left Titanic in Queenstown, including the famous photographer of Titanic, Francis Browne. Browne took iconic photos of Titanic, including this picture of a boy playing on deck below.
In the few days that their luck changed, America’s flag went to half down to honour those who perished aboard. It’s not entirely sure what happened to the PS America after Titanic. She wore down over time and the company scrapped her in 1945.
In Ireland, where she brought those to sail on Titanic, has been named “Heartbreak Pier”. In 2018 the pier was to be destroyed until the town’s Titanic group performed restoration, preserving the piece of history. It’s still a tourist spot you can visit today.