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THE WHITE STAR LINE
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POLAND was built in 1898 by Withy & Co. at West Hartlepool with a tonnage of 8282grt, a length of 475ft 6in, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was one of five ships and launched on 31st July 1897 as the Victoria for Wilson's & Furness-Leyland Line which had been incorporated in 1896. On 6th January 1898 she sailed on her maiden voyage from London - New York and in September of that year the entire fleet was sold to the Atlantic Transport Line whose ships were trooping for the US Government during the Spanish-American war. She made one sailing on 4th September as the Victoria before being renamed Manitou. In 1902 she was acquired by the IMMC Group and deployed on Red Star Line's Antwerp - Philadelphia route in their livery. During a voyage to Philadelphia in 1906 her shaft crack forward of the thrust block when she was off Land's End and had to put back into Falmouth. In August 1914, when Antwerp was taken by the Germans, she was transferred to Liverpool and converted to carry 1,100 persons in 3rd Class; the lifeboats being doubled up and an extra pair installed between the fore and main masts. She was renamed Poland for Red Star Line in 1920 although still registered as being owned by Atlantic Transport Line. On 26th April 1922 she was transferred to White Star Line for the Bremen - Southampton - Quebec - Montreal service with the Vedic and after three voyages and when the St. Lawrence froze over, she was laid up. In 1925 she was sold for £18,000 and was renamed Natale for her finale voyage to Italy where she was broken up.

ALBERTIC was built in 1919 by A.G. Weser at Bremen with a tonnage of 18939grt, a length of 614ft 6in, a beam of 71ft 6in and a service speed of 17 knots. Laid down in 1914 construction was suspended for the duration of the First World War and in 1919 it was announced that she would be completed as the München for Norddeutscher Lloyd's intermediate Atlantic service. Launched on 23rd March 1920 she ceded to Great Britain on 28th June as war reparations under the Treaty of Versailles and purchased from the Shipping Controller by the Royal Mail Line. After fitting out, which took three years, she was renamed Ohio on 27th March 1923 and at the time of her trials was the company's largest ship. She commenced her maiden voyage from Hamburg - Southampton - Cherbourg - New York on 3rd April when she replaced the Oropesa which went back to the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. When German ships began to operate out of Hamburg in 1925 her European terminus became Southampton and during that year she made two voyages from New York to Naples with pilgrims for Holy Year. In February 1927, when White Star was purchased by Royal Mail, she was transferred to White Star for £1,000,000 and renamed Albertic. She commenced her first sailing from Liverpool to Canada on 22nd April 1927 and on 5th May 1928 was transferred to the London - Southampton - Quebec - Montreal route. She replaced the lost Celtic on the Liverpool - New York service in 1929 and on 9th May 1930 reverted to the Liverpool - Montreal service for the summer. Laid up during the winter she repeated this pattern for the following two seasons. In September 1933 she was laid up in the Clyde at Holy Loch and in 1934 was transferred to Cunard-White Star when the companies merged. She was never used by the new company and in July 1934 was sold to Japanese ship breakers for £34,000 and broken up at Osaka after only 14 years service.

CALGARIC was built in 1918 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18963grt, a length of 550ft 4in, a beam of 67ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. Laid down in 1914 work on her was suspended until late 1916 and she was eventually launched in January 1918 as the Orca for the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. She was actually completed for the Shipping Controller as a cargo ship with no passenger accommodation and on 18th February 1921 returned to Harland & Wolff who restored her to the original specification. She arrived at Southampton on 18th December 1922 but never entered to South American service and on 1st January 1923 was transferred within the IMMC Group to Royal Mail Line with the same name. Her maiden voyage commenced on 3rd January 1923 from Southampton - Hamburg - Southampton -New York and Halifax was added at a later date. She was converted to Cabin Class in 1924 and in 1925 the call at Hamburg was discontinued. In 1926 she made Royal Mail's last sailing to New York and on 10th January 1927 she was transferred within the Kylsant Group to White Star Line and renamed Calgaric. On 4th May she made her first sailing for White Star from Liverpool - Quebec - Montreal and during the rest of her career interspersed her regular runs with cruises. She was transferred to the London - Canada route on 20th April 1929 and in September 1930 was laid up as a 'sea ready' reserve steamer at Milford Haven. During 1931 she operated one summer sailing to Montreal and a cruise to the Baltic with 650 Boy Scouts led by Chief Scout Lord Baden Powell before being laid up again. On 9th June 1933 she undertook the summer service from Liverpool to Montreal before returning to Milford Haven and lay up on 8th September. In 1934 she was transferred to the new Cunard - White Star Line but being surplus to requirements was put up for sale. Sold for £31,000 she sailed from Milford Haven on 20th December 1934 and arrived at Inverkeithing on Christmas Day where, after being stripped at Rosyth, was broken up during 1936 after only 16 years service.

LAURENTIC (2) was built in 1927 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18724grt, a length of 600ft, a beam of 75ft 5in and a service speed of 16.5 knots. Launched on 16th June 1927 she undertook her sea trials on 1st November and carried guests to Liverpool. She was built at a time when a degree of stringency was imposed and she was not built to the usual White Star standards. For example her engines were the same type as those installed in the Laurentic of 1908 and she had the distinction of being the last coal fired triple expansion engined major liner on the Atlantic run. She commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 12th November 1927 and on 27th April 1928 made her first sailing from Liverpool - Quebec - Montreal. On 3rd October 1932 she collided with the Mountain Steamship Co's Lurigethan in the Strait of Bell Isle when 55% of the blame was attributed to the Laurentic. She became part of the combined Cunard - White Star fleet on 10th May 1934 and continued to operate the same service. On 13th July 1935 she was deployed to operate summer £1 per day cruises and on 18th August left Liverpool with 600 passengers on a Northern Capitals cruise when, during the first night and in fog, she was hit abreast the foremast by Blue Star's Napier Star off the Skerries in the Irish Sea with the loss of six crew members. She returned to Liverpool and after being repaired in the Gladstone graving dock was laid up in Bidston Dock, Birkenhead for almost a year. On 14th September 1936 she made one trooping voyage to Palestine and in January 1937 was laid up in Southampton Water. In April 1938 she was moved to the River Dart, Dartmouth until September 1939 when she was converted at Plymouth into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Equipped with 7 x 5.5in and 3 x 4in AA guns she was painted black with brown buff upperworks. On 29th November 1939, when off Iceland, she intercepted Hamburg America's Antiochia which was inexpertly scuttled and, as she sank, was used as target practice. In early 1940 she grounded in fog on Islay and was out of action for six weeks while she was repaired by her builder. On 3rd November 1940 she was torpedoed 3 times by U-99 which was commanded by Otto Kretschmer who was one of Germany's U-boat aces. Off the Bloody Foreland, she was first hit at 22.50hrs after going to the aid of Elder & Fyffes Casanare which had been hit by U-99 at 21.40hrs. Blue Funnel's Patroclus, also an Armed Merchant Cruiser, moved in to rescue the crew and at 02.00 on 4th November was also hit with the first of five torpedoes and sank with the loss of 79 lives. The Laurentic was subsequently hit again at 04.53hrs and 05.25hrs and sank with the loss of 49 lives; 367 being saved. Kretschmer was decorated by Adolf Hitler when Oak Leaves were added to the Knights Cross which was later increased to Swords and Oak Leaves, the equivalent of the Victoria Cross. The wisdom of the Patroclus stopping to rescue survivors when a U-boat was in the area also cause some controversy. (Photo: Stuart Bale/Laurence Dunn)

BRITANNIC (3) was built in 1930 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 26943grt, a length of 683ft 8in, a beam of 82ft 6in and a service speed of 18 knots. When she was launched on 6th August 1929 she was the second largest motorship at the time, Nav. Gen. Italiana's Augustus being the largest, and the first British motor vessel on the Atlantic run. Her fuel consumption was 40 tons per day, down 50% compared with steam and her engine room was so cool that it was equipped with heaters for winter warmth. Her 'Cabin Class' was designed to normal First Class standards and was the largest afloat. She undertook her sea trials on 27th May 1930 and arrived in Liverpool with guests on 21st June. On 28th June she sailed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool - Belfast - Glasgow - New York and during the winter off season undertook cruises from New York to the West Indies. She was taken over by Cunard - White Star on 10th May 1934 and retained her original livery. On 19th April 1935 she began to operate from the King George V Dock in London to Le Havre - Southampton - New York and in 1936, with the Georgic, became the last White Star ships in service. Her war service as a troopship began on 29th August 1939 when she was requisitioned and converted to carry, initially, 3000 troops and later, 5000 troops. Her first first voyage from the Clyde to Bombay commenced in the September and in March 1943 she carried troops from the US to Algiers for the Sicily landings (Operation Husky). By the time the war ended in 1945 she had carried 180,000 troops and had steamed 376,000 miles. During 1919 she was deployed repatriating troops mainly from the Far East and Bombay to the United Kingdom. In March 1947 she was returned to her owner and immediately refitted by Harland & Wolff when her tonnage was marginally increased to 27650grt. On 22nd May 1948 she resumed a single ship summer operation from Liverpool - Cobh - New York and a winter cruising operation from New York to the Caribbean. She collided with the United States Line's cargo ship Pioneer Land on 1st June 1950 in the Ambrose Channel, New York but after inspection was able to continue her voyage. During the winter of that year she undertook 45/55 day cruises out of New York. On 11th November she sailed on her final voyage from Liverpool to New York from where she sailed on 25th November arriving back in Liverpool on 2nd December. She had completed the last passenger sailing of a White Star ship and, in all, had made 275 voyages. On 16th December 1960, having been sold to the British Iron & Steel Co., she sailed from Liverpool under her own power bound for the breakers yard of Thos. W. Ward at Inverkeithing where she was broken up.

GEORGIC (2) was built in 1930 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 27759grt, a length of 682ft 9in, a beam of 82ft 6in and a service speed of 18 knots. Sister of the Britannic she was last ship built for the White Star Line and launched on 12th November 1932. With guests who had been taken to the ship by the Belfast Steam Ship Co's Ulster Monarch which had been chartered for the occasion, she undertook her sea trials on 4th June 1932 and was delivered on 10th June. The Northern Ireland Government had to issue a statement to quash rumours that the building of the ship had been subsidised where, in fact, a repayable loan had been made available. She arrived at Liverpool on 12th June and commenced her maiden voyage on 25th June from Liverpool to New York where she arrived 12 hours early. In the September she hosted the first of a number of annual charity banquets while in the Gladstone Dock. Like her sister she also operated off season cruises out of New York. On 11th January 1933 she replaced the Olympic during her overhaul on the Southampton - New York run and in the October landed a record 3000 ton (51687 cartons) shipment of fruit at Liverpool. She was amalgamated into the Cunard - White Star fleet on 10th May 1934. In January 1935 a fire broke out in a cargo of cotton stowed in her forward hold but was extinguished before it took a hold. In April of that year she joined the Britannic on the London - Southampton - New York service and, as the largest ship to use the River Thames, commenced her first sailing on 3rd May. She reverted to the Liverpool - New York run in September 1939 and made five round voyages before being requisitioned for trooping duties on 11th March 1940. In the April she was converted to carry 3,000 men and in the following May was used to evacuate British troops from Andesfjord and Narvik in Norway, landing them in the Clyde. After that she assisted in the evacuation of Brest and St. Nazaire and after two Atlantic crossings with Canadian soldiers during July and September trooped to the Middle East via the Cape of Good Hope before making two further crossings of the Atlantic. On 22nd May 1941 she sailed from the Clyde with the 50th Northumberland Division for Port Tewfik in a convoy which was virtually unprotected as available Royal Naval escorts were hunting the Bismarck. She arrived on 7th July and on 14th, while at anchor off Port Tewfik in the Gulf of Suez waiting to embark 800 Italian internees, was bombed by German aircraft. Hit twice, her fuel caught fire which gutted the midships section and her ammunition exploded which wrecked the stern area. On 16th July she was beached half submerged and burnt out. It was, on 14th September, decided to salvage her and on 9th October and with the assistance of the salvage vessel Confederate, she was raised on 27th October. By 5th December the hull had been plugged and on 29th December she was towed stern first by Clan Line's Clan Campbell and Ellerman's City of Sydney into Port Sudan where she arrived after a voyage which lasted 13 days. She was made seaworthy and on 5th March 1942 she was towed to Karachi by the Hong Kong based tug HMS St. Sampson with T & J Harrison's Recorder and British India's Haresfield bring up the rear. Moller's Pauline Moller joined the tow at a later stage. After 26 days, on 31st March, she arrived at Karachi where repairs to her were not completed until 11th December. She then sailed to Bombay where she was drydocked for hull cleaning and further repairs before loading 5,000 tons of pig iron ballast which was eventually sold for £10,000 as freight. On 20th January 1943 she sailed from Bombay bound for Liverpool where she arrived on 1st March and then to Belfast where she anchored in Bangor Bay until 5th July awaiting a berth. After 17 months she emerged on 12th December 1944 with a single funnel and a stump foremast and under the ownership of the Ministry of War Transport with Cunard - White Star as managers. She was handed over at Liverpool on 16th December. During 1945 she carried troops to Italy and on 25th December arrived at Liverpool with troops from the Far East including General Sir William Slim the C-in-C South East Asia. In 1946 she repatriated over 5000 Italian POW's before trooping from India for the RAF. On one voyage she landed two cases of smallpox at Suez and was required to go into quarantine. During one voyage from Bombay in the June a dispute broke out between the civilian and service women regarding status and accommodation which led to the decision being made that no civilians would be allowed to travel on troopships unless no other ship was available. In September 1948 she was refitted for the Australian and New Zealand service in White Star livery by Palmers & Co. at Hebburn. She made her first sailing from Liverpool - Suez - Fremantle - Melbourne - Sydney with 1200 'assisted passages' in January 1949. On 4th May 1950 she was chartered back to Cunard for the Liverpool - New York route, continuing to sail in White Star livery and on 22nd March 1951 was chartered again to Cunard for a series of seven Southampton - New York summer round voyages, a pattern that was repeated in the following three years. She made her final sailing from New York on 19th October 1954 and then came off charter. On 16th April 1955 she arrived at Liverpool with troops from Japan and was then put up for sale. However, in the May she was chartered to the Australian Government and on 20 August 1955 sailed from Liverpool to Woolloomoolloo, Australia to load 2,000 troops and equipment for Penang. Then 2,000 French Foreign Legionnaires were taken from Vietnam to Algiers and Marseilles and returned to Liverpool on 20 November 1955. On 11th December 1955 she was laid up at Kames Bay, Isle of Bute pending disposal until January 1956 when she was sold for scrap. On 1st February she arrived at Faslane where she was broken up by Shipbreaking Industries Ltd.

MERSEY was a three masted sailing ship built in 1894 by Chas. Connell & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1820grt, a length of 270ft 8in and a beam of 39ft. One of five sisters she was launched in June 1894 for James Nourse and deployment on their UK - Calcutta - Demerara - UK service. In 1908 she was acquired by Ismay, Imrie & Co. (White Star Line) for use as a sail training ship for 80 cadets. With a complement of 102 she was registered at Bridgetown, Barbados and given a very light grey hull. She was also equipped with electricity supplied by a small generator. Flying the Blue Ensign (RNR) she traded to Australia and commenced her first sailing from Liverpool to Sydney via the Cape on 20th August 1908. In 1912 her port of registry was transferred to Liverpool and in 1914 wireless was installed which was believed to be the first on a sailing vessel. After six voyages to Australia and when the First World War was declared in August 1914 she was put up for sale. In the following year she was sold to the Transatlantic Motorship Co. of Christiana who converted her to a normal sail trader and renamed her Transatlantic. She was acquired by Kristiania Skoleskibsinstitution (now Oslo Schoolship Association) in April 1916 and was converted back to the cadet ship Christian Radich but because of the war she was not allowed to take cadets to sea and was laid up. In April 1917 she was sold to the Christiana Shipping Co. and renamed Dversgö for normal trading. The profit from her sale enabled the Kristiania Skoleskibsinstitution to acquire the Christian Radich (2). She was sold, in 1922, to Lars Jorgensen's Otra Skibs Akties who retained her name and later transferred her to Svelviks Skibsrederi Akties. In the following year she was broken up in the United Kingdom.

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