From Ocean to Ocean: Names of Undersea Features in the Area of the Titanic Wreck

Chantal Cormier
(Terminology Update, Volume 29, Number 2, 1996, page 19)

The Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (CPCGN) is the authority on all matters of geographical nomenclature affecting Canada. The mandate of the Committee is to ensure that geographical names are used correctly and consistently across the country.

The CPCGN is guided by several advisory committees, one of which is the Advisory Committee on Names for Undersea and Maritime Features (ACNUMF). The ACNUMF is concerned with names related to features that lie outside the jurisdiction of provinces and territories, but within Canadian waters and in offshore areas of particular interest to Canada.

In 1987, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans published for the CPCGN the second edition of the Gazetteer of Undersea Feature Names which lists some 4 100 names that were approved either in English or French, or, according to the cultural, historical, or physical importance of the entity, in both official languages.

In 1991, the Advisory Committee studied proposals to name undersea features in the area where the Titanic sank. This study was undertaken for the purpose of commemorating the names of those ships which answered the Titanic’s distress call, or which helped in the search for survivors and bodies. Seven names were accepted by the Committee and then officially approved by the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names.

The following is a list of these names and their recommended equivalents:

Titanic Canyon / canyon du Titanic (official in both languages)

This canyon was named after the R.M.S. Titanic which, on her maiden voyage, sank after colliding with an iceberg at 12:15 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic lies on the eastern slope, about 21 nautical miles S of the head of the canyon. The head of the canyon lies at the 3500-metre contour, nearly 46 miles S of Tail of the Bank, and 300 miles SSE of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

Carpathia Seamount / mont Carpathia

This seamount is named for the Cunard ship Carpathia, which was the first on the scene after the R.M.S. Titanic collided with the iceberg. The Carpathia picked up all the survivors. The seamount lies about 365 miles SSE of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and 31 miles SW of the Mackay-Bennett Seamount.

Mackay-Bennett Seamount / mont Mackay-Bennett

This feature is named after the Canadian cable ship Mackay-Bennett. On April 18, 1912, three days after the R.M.S. Titanic’s collision with the iceberg, the Mackay-Bennett left Halifax with clergymen and embalmers in search of victims. It was called a funeral ship in the newspaper reports of the day. Twelve days later, the ship returned to Halifax with 190 bodies, having buried 116 unidentifiable bodies at sea. The seamount lies about 365 miles SSE of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and 31 miles NE of the Carpathia Seamount.

Birma Seamount / mont Birma

This seamount is named after the Birma, one of the ships which responded to the Titanic’s call for help. It lies about 348 miles S of Cape Race, Newfoundland, in the NE portion of the Sohm Abyssal Plain.

Minia Seamount / mont Minia

This seamount is named after the Minia, the Canadian cable ship from Halifax which was sent to help the Mackay-Bennett search for bodies from the Titanic disaster. She returned to Halifax on May 5, 1912, transporting 15 more bodies. The seamount lies about 378 miles S of Cape Race, Newfoundland and 38 miles SE of the Birma Seamount.

Mount Temple Seamount / mont Mount Temple

This feature is named after the Mount Temple, another ship which responded to the R.M.S. Titanic’s call for help. It lies 58 miles NE of the Birma Seamount and about 311 miles SSE of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

Frankfurt Seamount / mont Frankfurt

This seamount is named after the Frankfurt, a German ship which responded to the R.M.S. Titanic’s call for help following her collision on April 15, 1912. The Frankfurt Seamount is situated on the continental rise, and lies 93 miles NW of the Mount Temple Seamount and about 300 miles S of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

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