November 12: SS Vestris Shipwreck, the Airbus crash over New York, and other events of the date
A number of important events have taken place on November 12th in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1928 – SS Vestris Shipwreck
The SS Vestris was built 16 years earlier in 1912 and was an ordinary passenger steamship of the time, owned by Lamport and Holt Line. The ship was used for the route between New York and the River Plate territory. The Vestris’ last cruise began November 10, 1928, as it left New York for the River Plate with 325 passengers and crew members aboard. One day later, November 11, the ship went through a severe storm that caused some damage.
Then, early the next day, November 12, the SS Vestris started sinking, as the ship was taking on water through numerous leaks, and unfortunately the crew didn’t realize what was happening; the order to prepare lifeboats didn’t come until between 11 a.m. and noon, but it was already too late.
Another fatal mistake by the crew was that they sent incorrect coordinates for the ship, as they were off by no less than 37 miles. Thus, the disaster happened.
The overall number of people who drowned is still unknown, varying between 110 and 127. The father of future Major League Baseball pitcher Sam Nahem was among those who drowned when the ship sank; no women and children survived, nor did the captain of the SS Vetris.
1942 – Second World War: Pacific Theater: The beginning of the naval battle of Guadalcanal
One of the key naval battles of the whole Pacific Theater of WWII took part back in 1942, as the American and Japanese navies went head-to-head near Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands.
In general, this was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles between the Allied (primarily America with the minor support of Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians) and Imperial Japanese forces during the months-long Guadalcanal Campaign during World War II. The battle consisted of combined air and sea engagements over the course of four days, from November 12 through November 15, mostly near Guadalcanal.
The battle was caused by the Japanese effort to reinforce land forces deployed on the island. Interesting and tragic fact: The only two U.S. Navy admirals to be killed in a surface engagement during the Second World War (Daniel Callaghan and Norman Scott) were lost precisely in this battle.
As a result of the battle, which ended in a strategic American victory, both sides lost numerous ships and thousands of sailors: the Americans lost 2 light cruisers, 7 destroyers, 36 aircraft and 1,732 men, while Japanese forces lost 1 heavy cruiser, 2 battleships, 3 destroyers, 11 transports and no less than 1,900 men.
2001 - American Airlines Flight 587 catastrophe
American Airlines Flight 587 was a regularly scheduled international passenger flight en route from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Las Americas International Airport in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. On this day 17 years ago, November 12, 2001, an Airbus A300B4-605R crashed shortly after takeoff into the densely inhabited Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, New York City. All 260 people aboard the plane (251 passengers and nine crew members) were killed, along with five people killed on the ground.
The mere location of the accident and the fact that it took place only two months and one day after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center initially spawned fears of another terrorist attack against America, yet, as was later learned, the co-pilot’s aggressive use of the rudder controls was the cause of the catastrophe.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on November 12th, at least in our view.