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stepping stones of maritime history


The HMS Birkenhead gave way to the idea of "Women and children first" rule used in maritime law. As the Birkenhead had struck a rock on a stormy night. Soldiers on the ship were ordered by a senior officer sword drawn to stand on deck and wait for women and children to leave first. Once they left for shore the troops were told to jump and save themselves. Many died swimming for shore or from the vacuum from the ship.

All women and child were saved.

Today many South Africans today commemorate the bravery of the soldiers and strict discipline on that fateful night.


MasterCaptain Robert Salmond
People on board643
Power564 hp
Speed10 knots ~ 12 mph (19 km/h)
Length210 feet (64 m)
Draft15 feet (4.6 m)
Beam37 feet (11.3 m)
Tonnage1400 ton (700 last)
Displacement1918 ton (959 last)


The site has been excavated and examined numerous times. The site is divided into sites with boilers and port paddles together while the engine and anchor are isolated

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