On 9th January 1918, after nearly three months of prevarication between the Navy, the department of Public Works, and the War Ministry, the steamer "Barsac" takes on board about 2,000 tons of nickel-bearing earth. This represents four-fifths of the 2,880 tons that had been transported from New Caledonia to Brest by the sailing vessel "Amiral-Halgan", a ship of the Société des chargeurs de l'Ouest, chartered by the company Le Nickel, which chose the Worms & Cie branch of Brest as its maritime agent. Heading towards Le Havre where it has to deliver its cargo, the "Barsac" is torpedoed and sinks, on the evening of 11th January, 14 miles from its port of arrival. Twenty crew members perish and only seven people escape. Due to a lack of communication between the Brest branch and Le Nickel, the cargo seems not to have been insured by the latter. Compensation for acts of war became the subject of a dispute between Worms & Cie and the Administration under the various agreements signed on 30 January 1917, 18 and 19 December 1917 and 7 January 1918.