This Arabic was the second of three White Star liners by that name. Built
by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, this ship was laid down as Atlantic Transport
Line's Minnewaska but during construction both Atlantic Transport and
White Star were taken over by J.P.Morgan's International Mercantile Marine
Co., which transferred the ship to White Star. Her design was modified and
she was renamed Arabic prior to her launch in December 1902.
Her maiden voyage, Liverpool-New York, began on 26 June 1903. From then
until World War I, she was used at various times on White Star's
Liverpool-New York and Liverpool-Boston services. Unlike much of White
Star's fleet, Arabic remained in commercial service during the war, on the
Liverpool-New York route.
On 19 August 1915, Arabic was torpedoed without warning by U24 off the Old
Head of Kinsale, Ireland, and sank within fifteen minutes. Forty-four
people died, but 390 were rescued. American protests over the attack
prompted a German pledge that there would be no further unannounced sinking
of merchant vessels, a promise revoked with the 1917 announcement of
unrestricted submarine warfare.
In a fitting memorial to the first White Star liner lost as a result of
enemy action, NDL's Berlin, ceded to Great Britain as a war reparation, was
purchased by White Star and renamed Arabic in 1920.
Sources: Haws' Merchant Fleets; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Williams'
Wartime Disasters at Sea.