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SS Lanthorn was a 2,299 GRT cargo ship built in 1889 as SS Magnus Mail, renamed in 1916 and sunk by enemy action in 1917. She was a combined steamship and two-masted sailing ship.

MagnusMail 1895 AntonioLuzzo.jpg
Ritratto della steam ship Magnus Mail in navigazione, 1895, by Antonio Luzzo
United Kingdom
  • Magnus Mail (1889–16);
  • Lanthorn (1916–17)[1]
  • Captain Magnus Mail;
  • "lanthorn", an alternative name for a lantern
Builder: Short Brothers of Sunderland[1][2]
Cost: £22,720[3]
Yard number: 184[3]
Launched: 1889[3]
Completed: 1889[3]
Out of service: 1917[1]
Identification: official number 95287[3]
Fate: sunk 21 May 1917[1][2]
General characteristics
Type: cargo ship[4]
Tonnage: 2,299 GRT[3]
Length: 290 ft (88.4 m)[3]
Beam: 39 ft 1 in (11.91 m)[1]
Height: [1]
Draught: 21 ft 7 in (6.58 m)
Installed power: 202 NHP three-cylinder triple expansion steam engine[1]
Propulsion: Single screw
Sail plan: 2-masted schooner (1895)

With Westoll Line 1889–1916Edit

Short Brothers of Sunderland built her in 1889 for the Westoll Line, also of Sunderland.[3] Her triple expansion steam engine and two boilers were built by Thomas Richardson and Son of Hartlepool.[1] She was named after Captain Magnus Mail (1858–1916), a friend of James Westoll.[3]

Magnus Mail was one of the last tramp steamers to be built with a clipper stem.[1] A painting of her from 1895 by the Italian artist Antonio Luzzo (1855–1907) shows her under sail with her two masts under schooner rig.[5] Westoll Line ships exported coal and patent fuel to Italy and Egypt and imported grain from Black Sea ports to the United Kingdom.[4] In February 1908 Magnus Mail ran aground outside Garston Docks in Liverpool.[3]

With the Gas Light and Coke Company 1916–17Edit

The Gas Light and Coke Company of Westminster bought Magnus Mail in 1916[1] to carry coal from North East England to Beckton Gas Works. The GLCC renamed her SS Lanthorn and placed her under the management of Stephenson Clarke and Associated Companies.[1]

On 21 May 1917 the German U-boat SM UB-41[2] shelled her from astern in the North Sea off Whitby.[1] Lanthorn was hit in her saloon amidships, twice in her port quarter and then in her stokehold and engine room, bursting her main steam pipe.[1] All her crew survived the attack, abandoned ship, and rowed away.[1] From their lifeboat they saw the U-boat come alongside her and assumed a German boarding party went aboard Lanthorn.[1] The U-boat then left the area and half an hour later Lanthorn suffered an explosion amidships, which her crew assumed was caused by charges planted by the Germans to scuttle her.[1]

Vessels from Whitby rescued the crew, found Lanthorn still afloat and took her in tow.[1] However, before she could reach safety she sank about half a mile south of the Whitby Rock buoy.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Allen, Tony; Lettens, Jan (10 February 2011). "SS Lanthorn [+1917]". WreckSite. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Lanthorn". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Searle, Peter. "Page 055 The Shipbuilders – page 021". The Sunderland Site. Peter Searle. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b Searle, Peter. "Page 131 James Westoll & the Westoll Line of Sunderland (1868/1959)". The Sunderland Site. Peter Searle. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  5. ^ Harnack, Edwin P (1938) [1903]. All About Ships & Shipping (7th ed.). London: Faber and Faber. pp. 20 & 23.

Coordinates: 54°30′N 00°29′W / 54.500°N 0.483°W / 54.500; -0.483