In late August of 1871, Captain Mellen on board the Europa was part of the Yankee Whaling Fleet in the Arctic. He and his crew were on one of seven vessels whaling in the open water when disaster struck those closer to land. Those other 32 ships were less fortunate. They all were either crushed in the ice or abandoned as the bad weather and ice floes encroached. Over 1200 lives of men, women and children were at risk.
Captain Jared Jernegan and the crew of the Roman were among those left stranded on the ice. The Roman had been crushed by the ice and sank in a matter of minutes.
The Europa rescued 280 of those left without a vessel, including Captain Jernegan and his crew, and transported them to Honolulu. Mrs. Mellen and daughter Laura were also on board the very crowded rescue ship. A note of thanks appeared on October 23, 1871 in The Seamen’s Friend from the seven grateful masters whose families and crews were rescued by the Europa. The most amazing fact is that not one life was lost during this 40 day ordeal.
Martha's Vineyard Museum