The Florizel was commissioned and built for the New York, Newfoundland, Halifax Steam Ship Company (C.T. Bowring and Co. Ltd.) in 1909 to replace the wrecked 'Silvia' as the flagship of the Red Cross Line .
Built by Charles O. Connell and Co. Ltd. shipyard, Scotstoun, Glasgow, Scotland (Yard # 324), valued at $700,000. She was the second largest of the Bowring's Shakespearean fleet and also one of the world's first steel-hulled icebreakers with a triple expansion steam engine manufactured by Dunsmuir and Jackson Ltd., Glasgow.
The Florizel was registered in Liverpool and flagged as a British ship. She was rated as Class 100 A1 with a Lloyds rating of A4CP. The physical statistics of the Florizel include:
Equipment on the Florizel included:
Her normal daytime wireless range was 200 nautical miles using a wavelength of 300-600 meters with a spark gap 1.5kw transmitter. 80 - 100 Volts DC was supplied from the steam generator in the engine room and converted from DC to AC ( with a loss of 33% ). The antenna was a 350 ft. long wire with a Bradfield insulator on the roof of the Marconi House. The antenna radiated over 3 amps. Reception utilized a multiple tuner and magnetic detector and headphones. The Florizel's call sign was MZL. A second auxiliary set was also fitted using 24 volt power from 12 batteries in the Marconi House. The auxilliary range was 80 - 100 miles. If propogation conditions were good "freak" contacts could be made up to 750 miles.
The Florizel's accommodations were considered very luxurious and included 145 first class and 35 second class rooms. Rates of passage ranged from sixty dollars, for a first class round trip ticket from New York to St. John's to six dollars for a steerage one-way passage from Halifax to St. John's.
The Florizel carried out many roles during her lifetime; including a passenger liner, operating a service from St. John's, through Halifax to New York, and the occasional Caribbean cruise. She was also used as a mail carrier, transporting mail to be delivered throughout the Northern United States and Canada as well as England. Beginning in 1909, the Florizel served as a sealing vessel right up until her demise at Horn Head. She was the only Bowring ship to continue sealing during the war. Finally, she was used to transport the First 500 war volunteers, members of the "Blue Puttees", to England on October 14, 1914 for military service during WWI.
Important dates in Florizel history include:
Commissioned for the New York, Newfoundland, Halifax S.S. Company (C.T. Bowring and Co. Ltd)
First year in the sealing industry.
|1910||Second year in the seal hunt, the crew of the Florizel harvested 49,000 seals and broke the record for both number and weight.|
|1911||Marconi wireless equipment documented in U.S. Wireless act.|
|1912||On June 11th 1912 the Florizel returned to Halifax with the body of James McGrady a steward on the R.M.S Titanic. McGrady's body was the last of 328 to be recovered from the sea after the Titanic sank on April 15th 1912. The body was initially recovered by the S.S. Algerine also of the Red Cross Line.|
|1914||WWI troop convoy.|
|1915||H.M. (Admiralty) Wireless Station constructed in Mount Pearl.|
|1916||Because the rest of the steel steamers had been sent into the war, the Florizel was the only Bowring vessel still able to participate in the seal hunt.
Captain Abram Kean earned the largest salary paid (at that time) to a sealing captain; $5433.94 for a 20-day trip on the Florizel.
|1918||The Florizel ran aground at Horn Head, Cappahayden; 93 people were killed.|
The Florizel disaster was a great blow both financially and personally for the Bowring Company. The Red Cross line began to dwindle as the rest of their steamers had been used in the war effort. In later years, the Bowring Company created a successful and widely expanding business. While the Bowring Company was still thriving, their presence in Newfoundland and Labrador greatly declined during the Recession. Today, Bowring Brothers and Company no longer operate in the province; however, their shipping agents, Harvey and Co. still operate at 87 Water Street, St. John's.