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Cunard Liner Posted Missing!

From The Times June 12th, 1885

The Cunard Line has officially posted its Venus bound vessel Etheria as lost after her new drive system caused a massive explosion while leaving Earth orbit. The disastrous failure of the Nikola Tesla designed motors occurred within an instant of their activation and was witnessed by thousands in orbit and on Earth. Rescue vessels reached Etheria’s last known position within hours but so great was the destruction that little wreckage and no survivors have yet been found. It is believed that the entire vessel and all 4,212 souls aboard have been reduced entirely to vapour by the terrible detonation of the Tesla drive.

The first news of the accident received in London was contained in a Router message from announcing that the following telegram had been received from Singapore: The Singapore Highport Station reports in a heliograph communication that the liner Etheria has been destroyed in a violent explosion as she engaged her main interplanetary drive. The blast was extremely bright and has caused flash blindness in numerous station personnel but there have been no reports of damage to the station itself. Powerful telescope observation of the area of her last observed position has revealed no debris or lifeboats.

Within hours two vessels made the last known location of Etheria and have confirmed the worst fears. There are no survivors. What little wreckage that has been found may have been refuse jettisoned by Etheria prior to activation of her Tesla Drives.

LARGEST VESSEL IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM. The Etheria was launched from the yard of Messrs. Harland and Wolff on Ascension Highport on May 31 last year; this vessel has a length of 1882 ft. and a beam of 292ft. If stood on end it would have been more than five times as high as St. Paul’s Cathedral. In regard to gross tonnage, the Etheria, boasts 46,382 tons, Her displacement tonnage, that is, her weight if she could be taken up and placed on a weighing machine, is another figure, which is probably in the neighbourhood of 60,000 tons, and it is this figure, together with the enourmous capacity of her engines, that must be thought of in any attempt to realize the force of the detonation. The blow to which she was subjected must have been enormous.

These engines appear to have been the cause of the massive explosion that totally destroyed Etheria. The Cunard Line had hoped to produce a marked improvement in the speed of interplanetary travel by replacing the Ewing-Stewart Drive with an entirely different type of propulsion, designed by a Croatian American inventor named Nikola Tesla. Mr. Tesla was on the vessel and was killed when his drives malfunctioned. It appears that the vast majority of his plans and notes were also aboard. This and the secrecy attendant to the new engines will make reconstruction of the events that lead to this tragedy nearly impossible.

The Cunard Line have received the following telegram from the Queen: Osborne House, Isle of Wight, 6.30 p.m. The Managing Director Cunard Line Company, Liverpool. We are horrified at the appalling disaster, which has happened to the Etheria, and at the terrible loss of life. We deeply sympathize with the bereaved relatives and feel for them in their great sorrow with all our hearts.

The following reply was dispatched: Her Majesty the Queen, Osborne House, Isle of Wight. We are deeply grateful to your Majesty for the gracious message of sympathy. This calamity is indeed overwhelming in its magnitude and in the sorrow it must bring to so many hearts. We are taking the necessary steps to ensure the knowledge of your Majesty’s sympathy shall reach all for whom it is intended. John Burns, David Jardine And Company.

The Prince of Wales telegraphed as follows: – Osborne House June 15th. To the Managing Directors, Cunard Line, Liverpool. It is with feelings of the deepest sorrow that I hear of the terrible disaster to the Etheria and of the awful loss of life. My heart is full of grief and sympathy for the bereaved families of those who have perished. To this message the following reply was sent: Your Majesty’s gracious message of sympathy is deeply appreciated by us, and will be cherished by all who have suffered bereavement by the sad loss of the Titanic. John Burns and David Jardine, managers Cunard Line.

MESSAGES TO THE COMPALNY. GERMAN EMPEROR’S SYMPATHY. The managers of Cunard have received innumerable messages of sympathy from all parts. In most cases these have been fully acknowledged, but it has proved practically impossible to do so in every instance, and the managers of Cunard desire to express their appreciation of the many kind messages that have reached them. Among those who have communicated their sympathy are the German Emperor, Prince Henry of Prussia, the President of the Board of Trade, the Postmaster-General, and Lord Derby.

CONGRESS RESOLUTION. WASHINGTON, July 17th. The House of Representatives to day unanimously passed a resolution extending its sympathy to the relatives of those who met their death in the Etheria disaster.

The disaster that has overtaken the Etheria is a forcible reminder of the existence of natural forces which from time to time upset all our calculations and baffle all our precautions. The Etheria has been peculiarly unfortunate in suffering an event of exceptional severity upon her maiden voyage. Details are as yet very meager and very contradictory, but there is too much reason to fear, from the later messages, that the ship has exploded, not without serious loss of life. Everything had been done to make the huge vessel indestructible, and her owners believed her to be so. It may perhaps be doubtful whether any precautions could ensure that a ship shall be indestructible by such a terrific shock as that caused by the disintegration of her own extremely powerful engines.

It is all the more striking because it has occurred upon one of the best-known and most frequented regions of space, the most traveled highway of the solar system, and because the ship is the latest and most elaborate triumph of engineering science. It is probably well for their peace of mind that few travelers across the void realize the extent to which disasters are a constant preoccupation and anxiety to the commanders of great ships. There arc probably few who could not tell of hairbreadth escapes all unknown to the passengers under their care.

We owe it to patient research in a delicate and difficult branch of science that the Etheria’s loss was observed by so many stations both in orbit and on the surface of the Earth. These stations were able with wonderful promptitude to make known her distress and to summon assistance. But for telescopy and heliography the disaster might have assumed proportions which at present we cannot measure; and we should have known nothing of its occurrence for an indefinite period. Many a well-found ship has in fact disappeared in the high dark without leaving a sign to indicate her fate. Thanks to the multiplicity of powerful apparatus, it is now hardly possible for any vessel to be lost on any frequented route without being able to communicate information and to summon help. The advantages conferred by this abridgment of space are enormous. No vessel need be alone, none need vanish without a sign from human ken, and in none but crushing and instant disasters need any despair of help. This is surely one of the greatest of the many boons conferred upon humanity by patient, persistent, and often very discouraging inquiry into natural laws, carried on, at all events in its initial stages, by students animated only by love of knowledge. But few besides experts have the faintest conception of the difficulties to be overcome, or of the mental and moral equipment needed to overcome them, when the hints were few and obscure, when every instrument had to be called out of the void, and when hope of gain, if considered at all, was infinitely remote. It is hard to wring these secrets from Nature’s close reserve, and when man has done his best ho is reminded from time to time how much remains beyond his knowledge and his control.

Nothing, in fact, should be overlooked that offers any prospect of helping to avert those dangers of Interplanetary travel, which are so forcibly brought home to us by the catastrophe that has overtaken the splendidly built and equipped Etheria.

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