Source Archived Newspaper Transcriptions; thanks to John Schlesinger for postcard images

Captain Nicholas Joseph Kennedy (1877-1942) commanded the S.S. Terra Nova in Newfoundland's Sealing Fleet in 1918. Prior to leading the fleet N.J. Kennedy was Captain of the SS Prospero. He ran this passenger steamer of the Red Cross line for Bowring Bros. out of St. John's, Newfoundland, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and into New York Harbor. Captain Kennedy brought my great grandfather, his first cousin John Kennedy and his son (William Chester) Louis A. Kennedy into Ellis Island. My great grandfather John Kennedy and 8 of his 10 siblings had first traveled to Boston, Massachusetts from Newfoundland (probably on his uncle John Kennedy's schooner Ocean Gem) where his brother William J. Kennedy was a Master Mariner in Boston Harbor from 1890-1916. John went on to NY in 1892 where he became a naturalized US citizen and then returned "home" to Newfoundland married, and had 10 children just like his father. By 1921, he brought all of them to settle in Brooklyn. While his father Skipper Terence Kennedy remained in Harbor Grace, Newfoundland until his death in 1935. His uncle Capt NJK worked the Red Cross passenger line and helped to bring much of the family to New York. Another uncle Captain William R. Kennedy was a navigator for Captain Bob Bartlett on some of his Arctic Expeditions aboard the Effie J. Morrissey which is now docked in New Bedford, Massachusetts (the Ernestina) and is one of the last surviving Essex-built schooners of the 19th century. Follow the link above for tragic story of the SS Viking in 1931 and the ill-fate which fell upon its' navigator our cousin Capt. William R. Kennedy and the NY film crew including Director Varick Frissell.

Other Terra Nova Captains:

In 1918, Captain Nicholas Kennedy take the Terra Nova and heads to the scene of the SS Florizel in a rescue attempt but the ship is a total wreck. See SS Florizel

April 15, 1919 S.S. Terra Nova, Capt. A. KEAN, arrives with 12,568 seals. (1919 Events of the Year St. John's Daily News)

From the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK:

The Terra Nova was built in 1884 as a whaling ship, but became better known as a Polar expedition ship, serving with the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition of 1894-97, as the relief ship for Scott's Discovery expedition in 1903, and for returning to the Antarctic with Scott's 1910-13 expedition.

She was repurchased by her previous owners, Bowring Brothers Ltd, in 1913, and, from 1914-42, was based in Nova Scotia, serving in the seasonal Newfoundland seal fishery during the months of March and April, though generally laid up for the rest of the year. During the First World War she also made some coastal trading voyages with cargoes from Canada's Maritime Provinces to St. John's, Newfoundland, and at least one voyage to Cardiff, with pitprops.

In 1942 she was chartered to carry supplies for US bases in Greenland. On Sunday 12 September that year, while on a passage from Greenland to Newfoundland, she developed a bad leak and at 19.20 hours transmitted an SOS message. This was answered by the US Coast Guard Cutter Atak, which, by daybreak next day, had picked up the crew of twenty four men from the burning Terra Nova, by now in a sinking condition. The Master of the Terra Nova was the last man to board the Atak, which then finished her off with 23 rounds of 3" gun fire. Her approximate last position was 6030'N 4630'W, off the Southwestern coast of Greenland.

For a timeline of the Sealing industry

Back to Captain's Log "The Mariner Kennedy's of Newfoundland"

To the Kennedy's Page

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