TITANIC was built in 1912 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 46329grt, a length of 883ft, a beam of 92ft 6in and a service speed of 21 knots. Sister of the Olympic she was launched at noon on 31st May 1911 shortly before the delivered Olympic sailed from Belfast. On 3rd April 1912 the largest ship in the world was handed over and on 10th April commenced her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York with calls at Cherbourg and Queenstown (Cobh). The Full Story of that fatal voyage is recounted in the White Star history pages.
BRITANNIC (2) was built in 1915 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 48158grt, a length of 883ft, a beam of 94ft 6in and a service speed of 21 knots. Sister of the Olympic the increased beam was due to the ship having more hull compartments and a double bottom. She was the largest four funnelled ship ever built and also the largest with triple expansion engines. Laid down as the Gigantic her name was changed during construction as it was too similar to the ill-fated Titanic and her completion was delayed until the outcome of the Court of Enquiry into the loss of of the Titanic was known. Launched on 26th February 1914 she was converted into a hospital ship with over 3,300 beds during fitting out. On 13th November 1915 her medical equipping began and on 8th December she was handed over in International Red Cross livery. She sailed from Belfast to Alexandria on 12th December and then made five voyages between Alexandria – Mudros – Southampton or Mudros to Marseilles. On 12th November 1916 she sailed from Southampton bound for Naples where she took on bunkers on the 17th before proceeding to Mudros. At 0815hrs on 21st November she ran into a minefield in Zea Channel 4 miles west of Port St. Nikolo, Kea which had been laid by U-73, a U-boat which had been transported to the Adriatic by rail and reassembled there. Although the channel had been swept the day before the Britannic was racked by an explosion on the starboard side below the bridge which killed seven persons. As the watertight doors failed to function her forward section flooded so the master set a course for the coast and preparations were made to save the 1125 people on board which included 25 medical officers, 75 nurses and 399 Royal Army Medical Corps personnel. There were no patients on board at the time. As she settled by the bow the order to abandon ship was given. Two boats were lowered which were slashed to pieces by the still rotating propellers killing 21 of the 34 occupants which included medical staff. An hour after the explosion she heeled over to starboard and sank in 600ft of water. The survivors were picked up by the escorting destroyers HMS Foxhound and HMS Scourge and the cruiser HMS Heroic. Two of the survivors, stewardess Violet Jessop and fireman John Priest, had previously been rescued after the Titanic sank. A French tug which had sailed from Port St. Nikolo also took part in the rescue. The Britannic was the largest ever British merchant ship ever lost during wartime. The German Kieler Zeitung claimed that she had been torpedoed because she was carrying troops and this led to speculation that she had not been mined; a theory backed up by the bridge officers who stated that she was hit by a torpedo when in full hospital livery. However, U-boat commander Siess’ log stated that he only laid mines and torpedoed nothing. This was supported to some degree when Union-Castle’s Braemar Castle hit a mine in the same area two days later. On 4th July 1919 her shore based equipment was auctioned. In 1976 Jacque Cousteau in his Calypso located the hull but it had disintegrated to such a degree that it was of no interest.
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NOMADIC (2) was built in 1911 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 1273grt, a length of 220ft 8in, a beam of 37ft 1in and a service speed of 12 knots. Launched on 25th April 1911 she was completed on 20th May as a tender. She was present at the sea trials of the Olympic on 28th May and accompanied her to Southampton before proceeding to Cherbourg where she replaced the Gallic. At 1900hrs on 12th April 1912 she carried passengers out to the Titanic. During the First World War she served as a naval tender at Brest. In 1927 it was decided that she was not being fully utilised as a tender serving just ships of the IMMC Group so she was sold with the Traffic to Soc. Cherbourgoeise de Transbordment of Paris but retained her name and service. She was acquired by Soc. Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage in 1934 and at that time was renamed Ingenieur Minard and given a black funnel with a red band. As there was insufficient tender work to keep her fully occupied she also undertook general towing and salvage work. During the Second World War she operated mainly along the south coast of England returning to Cherbourg in 1945. In 1968 she was sold to Somairec for demolition at Le Havre but before that happened she was resold and became a floating restaurant on the Seine at Paris with the name Nomadic. In 1990 she was still in use adjacent to the Eiffel Tower.
TRAFFIC (2) was built in 1911 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 675grt, a length of 175ft 7in, a beam of 35ft 1in and a service speed of 12 knots. Launched on 27th April 1911 the intention was to use her as a back up vessel in any port and her size was determined by this criteria. Handed over on 27th May she attended the sea trials of the Olympic on the following day and then proceeded to Cherbourg to undertake IMMC tender duties. On 12th April 1912 she attended to the needs of the Titanic during her call at Cherbourg. In 1914 she served with the Nomadic at Brest. She was sold with the Nomadic in 1927 to Soc. Cherbourgoeise de Transbordment of Paris and in 1934 to Soc. Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage when she was renamed Ingenieur Riebell. On 17th June 1940, when in French Naval service, she was scuttled at Cherbourg when the town was taken by the Germans. Subsequently raised she was put back into service as a coastal convoy armed escort although she does not appear in the German naval lists. Whilst in German naval service she was sunk during an action in the English Channel on 17th January 1941.
ZEALANDIC was built in 1911 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8090grt, a length of 477ft 6in, a beam of 63ft 1in and a service speed of 13 knots. Launched on 29th June 1911 she was built for the White Star – Shaw Savill & Albion Joint Service, delivered on 12th October and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Wellington on 30th October. On 22nd January 1913 she left Wellington with what was then the record cargo for wool exports. Later in the year she was chartered to the Australian Government as an immigrant carrier. On 2nd July 1915 she was chased by U-39 but managed to outrun the U-boat. She was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme on 27th July 1917 and continued to operate the same route until 15th June 1919 when she was returned to White Star when the service was re-routed through the Panama Canal. In 1923, when off Cape Howe, she towed the disabled sailing ship Garthsnaid into Melbourne and earned £6,350 in salvage money. When trade started to decline in 1926 the White Star – Aberdeen and Blue Funnel Joint Service was started and in June of that year she was transferred to the Aberdeen Line and renamed Mamilus for operation with the Herminius between London and Australia. When the Kylsant empire including White Star Line crashed in 1932 she passed, with the Australian service, to Shaw Savill & Albion who renamed her Mamari. In 1933 Shaw Savill & Albion was acquired by the Furness Withy Group. She was sold to the Admiralty in September 1939 and was converted into a dummy version of the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. On 9th April 1941 the real HMS Hermes was sunk in the Indian Ocean by Japanese aircraft and on 4th June the dummy ship, whilst on her way to be re-converted into a cargo ship, hit a submerged wreck and was beached at Cromer after a German air attack. She was finished off by a torpedo from an E-boat before she could be refloated.
CERAMIC was built in 1913 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18495grt, a length of 655ft 1in, a beam of 69ft 5in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Launched on 11th December 1912 she was equipped with 2 permanent guns which were installed under covers on the after deck. She was delivered on 5th July 1913 and on 11th was present at the Mersey Pageant when King George V opened the Gladstone Dock. Third in a line of ships she had some 600 guests on board and at night was lit by white stars along the hull. On 24th July she sailed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Australia on the Joint Service and was the largest ship on the Australian and New Zealand routes until 1923 when P&O’s Mooltan joined their fleet. To this day she holds the record for the loftiest masts to go under Sydney Harbour bridge. She was also the largest ship on the Liverpool – Cape Town leg until Union-Castle’s Arundel Castle entered service in 1921 and was designed to enter the old lock at Tilbury with a foot to spare. In August 1914, flying pennant A 40, she carried troops of the Australian Expeditionary Force to the United Kingdom. She was narrowly missed by a torpedo fired by an unidentified vessel in May 1916 when she was carrying 2500 troops in the Mediterranean. In May of the following year she began operating under the Liner Requisition Scheme carrying mainly refrigerated cargo. On 9th June 1917 she was missed by a torpedo in the English Channel and on 21st July 1917 was chased by a surfaced U-boat off the Canary Islands but managed to outrun it. She was returned to White Star in 1919 and was immediately refurbished before commencing her first post war sailing on 18th November 1920 from Liverpool to Sydney with a call at Glasgow. In 1930 she collided with P.S.N.C’s Laguna in the Lower Thames. She was transferred to Shaw, Savill & Albion in 1934 when Cunard-White Star was formed and commenced her first sailing for that company on 25th August from Liverpool to Brisbane. In June 1936 she was modernised by Harland & Wolff at Govan when her tonnage was marginally increased to 18713grt, a verandah cafe added aft and the forward bridge deck glassed in. At the same time her crew accommodation was repositioned and improved. She returned to Shaw, Savill & Albion on 15th August 1936 and resumed service on 23rd August. In February 1940 she was requisitioned as a troopship and in December of that year she collided with Andrew Weir’s Testbank. On 23rd November 1942 she sailed from Liverpool with 378 passengers and 278 crew and gunners. Around midnight on the 6th/7th December , enroute from Liverpool to South Africa and Australia she was torpedoed off the Azores by U-155 with the loss of 655 lives. A Royal Engineer sapper was picked up by U-515 and subsequently interrogated and the loss of the Ceramic went unrecorded for several months until the survivor was able to write from the POW camp Marlag-Milag-Nord near Hamburg.
LAPLAND was built in 1909 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18695grt, a length of 605ft 8in, a beam of 70ft 3in and a service speed of 17 knots. Launched on 27th June 1908 as the Lapland for the Red Star Line she was, at the time, the largest ship to fly the Belgian flag and commenced her maiden voyage from Antwerp to New York, with a call at Dover, on 27th March 1909. In April 1912 she repatriated the surviving crew members of the Titanic, who had to be segregated in Third Class to avoid journalists, on conclusion of the Court of Enquiry. On 3rd October 1914 she took part in the famed convoy which brought the first Canadian troops to Europe. She was later transferred to White Star and on 29th October 1914 joined the Liverpool – New York run with the Zeeland and the Vaderland. In April 1917 she was mined in Liverpool Bay but managed to reach port safely and in the following June became a troopship under the Liner Requisition Scheme with the capacity for 3000 troops. On the conclusion of the First World War she was placed on what was a makeshift Liverpool to New York service with other ships as and when they were released from war duties. On 16th September 1919 she was transferred to the Southampton – New York run with the Adriatic but only until 26th November when she made her final sailing for White Star. She was replaced by the Olympic in January 1920 and reverted to Red Star’s Antwerp – Southampton – New York service flying the Belgian flag. In December 1924 she collided with the Java, owned by Stoomboot Maats. ‘Nederland’, in the river Scheldt. During 1926 she was mainly deployed cruising from New York to the Mediterranean. On 11th June 1932 she made her final Atlantic crossing before being laid up at Antwerp. In the following year she was sold for £30,000 and broken up in Japan during 1934.
BELGIC (4) was built in 1917 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 24547grt, a length of 670ft 5in, a beam of 78ft 5in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was launched on 31st December 1914 as the Belgenland for the Red Star Line but remained incomplete at Belfast until 1917 when she was handed over to White Star by IMMC and renamed Belgic. Delivered on 21st June 1917 as a cargo ship she was dazzle painted in black, sky blue, dark and light grey camouflage and operated under the Shipping Controller on the Liverpool to New York service. Ownership was recorded as being the International Navigation Co. On 11th August she was unsuccessfully attacked by U-155 and in the same year was fitted out to carry 3,000 troops and actually carried 3,141 on one occasion. During 1919 she was used to repatriate US troops and was later painted in Red Star livery. She never carried the White Star livery. In April 1921 she was laid up at Liverpool until March 1922 when a berth became available in Belfast and she was completed to her original design. Converted to oil burning she was delivered to Red Star on 17th March 1923 and commenced her first sailing from Antwerp to New York on 4th April as the Belgenland, and as she had been registered in Liverpool, flying the red ensign. When the River Scheldt was re-dredged below Antwerp in 1924 London became her terminus and in the same year she became, at the time, the largest ship to undertake a ‘Round the World’ cruise. During the depression in 1930 she operated day trips out of New York and in January 1932 made her final Antwerp – New York crossing before operating cruises from Antwerp to the Mediterranean in the summer. In March 1933 she was laid up at Antwerp but resumed cruises from Antwerp to the Mediterranean during the following summer. She was sold in 1935 to the Atlantic Transport Co. of West Virginia who renamed her Columbia. With a white hull her new owners operated her on cruises from New York to California via the Panama Canal but this proved to be unprofitable as did a winter schedule from New York to the West Indies. Although her First and Second Class were fully booked Americans would not book the Third Class accommodation and, consequently, the services were uneconomical. On 22nd April 1936 she made her final Atlantic crossing from New York to Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth where, after arriving in the May, was broken up by P & W McLellan.
JUSTICIA was built in 1917 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 32234grt, a length of 740ft 6in, a beam of 86ft 5in and a service speed of 18 knots. She was laid down for Holland America Line in 1912 and launched on 9th July 1914 as the Statendam. Her completion was stopped in the following September and in 1915 she was requisitioned and purchased by the British Government. Work on her resumed but continued at a slow pace and to economise on sheet metal her funnels as installed were smaller in diameter than designed. She was completed as the Justicia on 7th April 1917 and destined for Cunard as a replacement for the Lusitania. However, Cunard experienced manning problems and as White Star were able to assemble the previously sunk Britannic’s crew it was allocated to them. Initially delivered with a plain grey livery she was dazzle painted in 1918. At 1350hrs on 19th July, during a voyage from Belfast to New York, she was torpedoed by UB-64 23 miles south of Skerryvore in Scotland as she left the North Channel north of Fanad Head. She listed but did not sink and, despite the escorting destroyers, the UB-64 attacked again and recorded two more hits. Still she did not sink and all but a skeleton crew were taken off before the Justicia was taken in tow by HMS Sonia. The intention was to tow her to Lough Swilley which was the nearest safe deep water but at 1918hrs the UB-64 scored a fourth hit but incurred some damage herself and limped away from the action. On the following day at 0910hrs UB-124 fired two torpedoes which proved to be fatal. By noon the ship lay on her side and 16 engine room personnel had perished. The UB-124 was attacked with depth charges and was forced to surface whereupon she was sunk by gunfire from HMS Marne, HMS Millbrook and HMS Pigeon, all but two of the crew being taken prisoner. Other vessels took off the remaining crew of the Justicia and by the time she sank over 30 vessels were standing by. Since the escort ships had failed to prevent 6 torpedoes from being fired in broad daylight and over a period of 18 hours a Naval stern enquiry found that the bravery and determination of the U-boats had been ‘beyond belief’.
HUNSLET was built in 1898 by Wigham Richardson at Walker-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 5341grt, a length of 418ft, a beam of 54ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was launched on 28th March 1898 as the Tannenfels for D. D. G. ‘Hansa’ of Bremen and delivered in the April for their Hamburg – India route. In August 1914 she was at Batvia when the First World War broke out and became a German naval auxiliary attached to the Pacific Squadron. On 14th September she was captured by the destroyer HMS Chelmer in the Basilan Strait, Philippines and subsequently became an Admiralty supply ship in the Pacific being renamed Basilan at Hong Kong on 8th October 1914. After the elimination of the German Pacific Squadron in 1915 she returned to the UK and in the December was renamed Hunslet by the Shipping Controller. In January 1917 her management was given to White Star Line but later transferred to the Union-Castle Line. She was sold to Woermann Line in September 1921 and renamed Waganda for a joint Deutsche Ost Afrika – Woermann service to Africa. She commenced her first sailing on that route on 15th May 1922 and continued until 21st December 1932 when she was sold for scrap at Hamburg and broken up in Germany.
GALLIC (2) was built in 1918 by Workman Clark & Co. at Belfast with a tonnage of 7914grt, a length of 465ft, a beam of 58ft 3in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. She was one of 22 Standard ‘G’ type ships and completed as the War Argus on 12th December 1918 for the Shipping Controller with White Star as managers. In August 1919 she was purchased by White Star and renamed Gallic for the Australian cargo service. After fourteen years service she was sold to Clan Line Steamers Ltd in 1933 for £33,000 and renamed Clan Colquhoun for deployment on the same route. In 1947 she was sold to Zarati Steamship Co. of Panama and renamed Ioannis Livanos. Two years later she was acquired by Dos Oceanos Cie de Nav. S. A. of Panama who renamed her Jenny. In 1951 she was purchased by Djakarta Lloyd N. V. of Indonesia who initially changed her name to Imam Bondjol and then, in 1952, to Djatinegra. She was sold for scrap in 1955 and on 1st December during her final voyage from Djakarta to Osaka had to put ashore at Lingayan near Manila with a flooded engine room. Refloated on 21st February 1956 she was towed to Hong Kong where she was broken up.
BARDIC was built in 1918 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8010grt, a length of 465ft, a beam of 58ft 3in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. Sister of the Gallic she was launched as the War Priam for the Shipping Controller on 19th December 1918. In 1919, during her fitting out, she was sold to White Star and renamed Bardic. Following her trials on 13th March 1919 she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 18th March operated by the Atlantic Transport Line. In 1921 she was transferred to White Star’s Australian service. On 31st August 1924 she stranded in fog on Stag Rock, Lizard and remained there until 29th September when she came off with severe damage to her bottom. She was patched up at Falmouth and subsequently repaired by her builder at Belfast. In 1925 she was transferred to the Aberdeen Line and renamed Hostilius. She was renamed Horatius in the following year and in 1932 was transferred to Shaw, Savill & Albion who renamed her Kumara. In 1937 she was sold to John Latsis of Piraeus who renamed her Marathon. On 9th March 1941 she was sunk by the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst north-east of the Cape Verde Islands. At the time she was a convoy straggler proceeding at her own speed and her transmitted RRR signal and subsequent sinking enabled the remainder of the convoy to escape.
DELPHIC was built in 1918 by Workman Clark & Co. at Belfast with a tonnage of 8006grt, a length of 465ft, a beam of 58ft 3in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. Sister of the Gallic she was launched as the War Icarus for the Shipping Controller and when completed in the following November was managed by Booth Line. In May 1919 she was purchased by the Atlantic Transport Line who changed her name to Mesaba. She was refitted in 1925 and transferred to White Star who renamed her Delphic for the Australian service. In 1933 she was sold to Clan Line Steamers Ltd for £53,000 after being laid up at Milford Haven. Renamed Clan Farquhar she continued to operate to Australia until July 1948 when she was broken up at Milford Haven.
ALEXANDRA WOERMANN was built in 1898 by Sir Raylton Dixon & Co. at Middlesbrough with a tonnage of 3908grt, a length of 351ft 8ins, a beam of 44ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was launched in April 1898 as the Bruxellesville for Soc. Maritime du Congo S.A. of Antwerp for their Antwerp to Belgian Congo route. In 1900 she was transferred to Cie Belge Maritime du Congo under the ownership of Elder Dempster. On 29th January 1901 she was sold to Woermann Line and renamed Alexandra Woermann for operation on their Hamburg – West Africa service. She was at Hamburg when the First World War was declared in August 1914 and subsequently served as a transport in German waters. On 5th September 1918 she collided with and sank UC-91 in the Baltic with the loss of 16 lives. She was ceded to Britain on 26th March 1919 and placed under the management of White Star Line. In the following year she was acquired by Ellerman’s Wilson Line of Hull and renamed Calypso. After sixteen years further service she was broken up in August 1936 by Van Huyghen Fréres at Bruges.
FRANKFURT was built in 1899 by J. C. Tecklenborg A.G. at Geestemunde with a tonnage of 7431grt, a length of 429ft, a beam of 54ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was completed for Norddeutscher Lloyd in 1899 and ceded to Britain in March 1919 when she was placed under the management of White Star Line. In 1922 she was sold to the Oriental Navigation Co. of Hong Kong who renamed her Sarvistan. She was finally broken up in Japan during 1931.
YPIRANGA was built in 1908 by Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft at Kiel with a tonnage of 4907grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 55ft 1in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. She was launched on 8th May 1908 as the Ypiranga for Hamburg America’s South and Central America and commenced her maiden voyage to Brazil on 14th October. In 1910 her route was extended to Buenos Aires and in the following year she was transferred to the Hamburg – Gulf of Mexico service. On 21st April 1914 she was carrying arms to the rebel Mexican General Huerto and stopped by the USS Dolphin. After protests she was unloaded at Puerto Mexico (Coatzacoalcos). In August of the same year she was laid up at Hamburg and at one stage was fitted out to carry cavalry for a proposed invasion of England. On 28th March 1919 she was ceded to Britain and placed under the management of White Star Line. In the April she initially was used to repatriate troops before being placed on the Australia service. She was laid up at Hull pending an overhaul and refit in 1920 and in January 1921 was purchased from the Ministry of Shipping by Anchor Line. Renamed Assyria for the Bombay service she actually entered service in the following June on the Atlantic run. When new Anchor Line ships joined the fleet in 1925 she was transferred to the Bombay service as well as undertaking several cruises. On 21st December 1929 she was sold for £70,000 to Companhia Colonial de Navegacao of Lisbon who renamed her Colonial for their Lisbon – Angola – Mozambique route. Twenty one years later, in 1950 she was sold to BISCO and renamed Bisco 9 for her final voyage to Dalmuir towed by the tug Turmoil. On 17th September 1950 the tow parted during a gale and she was wrecked near Campbeltown. The crew of 17 were saved and she was broken up where she lay.
ZEPPELIN was built in 1915 by Bremer Vulkan at Vegesack with a tonnage of 14167grt, a length of 550ft 4in, a beam of 67ft 4in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. She was launched on 9th June 1914 as the Zeppelin for Norddeutscher Lloyd and on 21st January 1915 was laid up at Vegesack for the duration of the First World War although she was structurally complete but unfurnished. On 28th March 1919 she was ceded to Britain and placed under the management of White Star. When she arrived she carried the full NDL livery including brown lifeboats. In the following year she was purchased from the Ministry of Shipping by Orient Line who renamed her Ormuz and refitted her at Belfast. She commenced her first sailing to Australia on 12th November 1921. Six years later, in April 1927, she was repurchased by Norddeutscher Lloyd who renamed her Dresden and refitted her for their Bremen – New York service. At 1600hrs on 20th June 1934 she stranded on the coast of Norway, 20 miles from Haugesund whilst undertaking a cruise. After striking a rock at Klepp on Boku Island she was refloated and, as a precaution, was beached near Blikshavn, Karmoy Island. On 21st June at 0245hrs she began to list and by 0800hrs had fallen onto her port side. The Norwegian Kong Haakon of Det Stavangerske D/S transferred the passengers and most of the crew to Haugesund but one passenger died and three were lost during the transfer. In the August she was sold locally and demolished where she lay by Stavanger shipbreakers.
VEDIC was built in 1918 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 9302grt, a length of 460ft 6in, a beam of 58ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was intended by IMMC as an emigrant ship to operate out of Europe but although not allocated at this point in time to any of the group’s companies Red Star Line was probably the favourite. Launched on 18th December 1917 her hull had been modified during construction to carry troops. Her trials were undertaken in the Clyde on 28th June 1918 and she was handed over on 10th July commencing her maiden voyage on the following day from Belfast – Clyde – New York where she began trooping. She made her first White Star sailing from Glasgow to Boston on 28th December 1918. During September 1919 she was used to repatriate British troops from Northern Russia where they had been deployed in an attempt to quell revolutionary tendencies. On 19th September she went aground on the Orkneys but came off without any damage. In 1920 she was refitted at Middlesbrough and in the August of that year was placed on the Liverpool – Clyde – Canada emigrant route with the capacity for 1250 passengers. She served between Liverpool – Halifax – Portland, Maine during the winter of 1921 and during the summer New York became her terminal port. On 17th May 1922 she was transferred, with the Poland, to the Bremen – Southampton – Cherbourg – Quebec – Montreal route with Halifax being her terminal port during the winter months. In 1925 she was refitted by Harland & Wolff for the Liverpool – Australia migrant service of the White Star, Aberdeen and Blue Funnel Joint Service and made her first sailing on 31st October. She was extensively used by the Salvation Army on charter and flew their flag alongside that of White Star. On 26th February 1930 she was laid up at Milford Haven and in July 1934, being surplus to requirements following the Cunard – White Star merger, was sold for £10,000 and broken up at Rosyth, Firth of Forth.
ARABIC (3) was built in 1908 by A.G. Wesesr at Bremen with a tonnage of 16786grt, a length of 590ft 2in, a beam of 69ft 7in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was launched on 7th November 1908 as the Berlin for Norddeutscher Lloyd and after being delivered on 25th April 1909 commenced her maiden voyage from Bremerhaven – New York – Genoa on 1st May before being deployed on the New York – Mediterranean route. On 18th September 1914 she was commissioned as an Auxiliary Cruiser (Hilfskreuzer) ‘C’ for the German navy. She was equipped to carry 200 EBER mines and in the October ,and disguised in Anchor Line livery, laid mines off Tory Island in the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland. On 26th October the battleship HMS Audacious ran into the field and sank after striking mines. Unable to return to Germany due to a shortage of coal she sailed to Trondhein where she was interned on 18th November 1914. On 13th December 1919 she was passed to the Shipping Controller, with P&O as managers, and refitted for trooping at Smith’s Docks, South Bank-on-Tees. On completion she engaged in trooping duties to Bombay. In November 1920 she was purchased by White Star and went to Portsmouth Dockyard were she was refitted for passenger services. She was renamed Arabic and on 7th September 1921 made her first sailing from Southampton to New York replacing the Canopic on the New York – Mediterranean service. In 1924 she was converted to carry 500 Cabin and 1,200 Third Class passengers and on 16th August replaced the Canopic again, this time on the Hamburg – New York run. On 29th October 1926 she was chartered to Red Star Line for operation on the Antwerp – New York service. Initially retaining the White Star livery she was given the Red Star livery in April 1927. On 27th December 1929 she made her final sailing for Red Star on the Antwerp – New York service before reverting to White Star and deployment on the Liverpool – New York service. During the winter months she was laid up. She commenced her final sailing from Liverpool to New York on 15th March 1931 and in December of the same year was sold for £17,000 and broken up at Genoa.
MAJESTIC (2) was built in 1914 by Blom & Voss at Hamburg with a tonnage of 56551grt, a length of 955ft 10in, a beam of 100ft 1in and a service speed of 23 knots. Her keel was laid by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1913 and she was launched on 20th June 1914 as the Bismarck for the Hamburg America Line. She was the world’s largest ship and her sisters, the Imperator (Berengaria) and Vaterland (Leviathan), were already in service. Work on her completion ceased in August 1914 due to the outbreak of war and she remained at Hamburg until the end of hostilities. On 28th June 1919 she was assigned to Britain as part of the war reparations and in 1920 was badly damaged by fire during fitting out. Sabotage by the Germans was suspected on the basis that they didn’t want to give the ship up. Work on her was resumed in 1922 under the supervision of Harland & Wolff and on 28th March of that year was completed as the Bismarck to assuage German feelings. However, together with the Imperator (Berengaria) she was purchased by the White Star – Cunard consortium and was delivered to Liverpool as a replacement for the lost Britannic. Her sea trials commenced on 1st April and on 12th she was renamed Majestic after her acceptance trials. She commenced her maiden voyage from Southampton – Cherbourg – New York on 10th May under the command of White Star Commodore, Sir Bertram Hayes. During Cowes week in the following August she was inspected by King George V and Queen Mary. In September 1923 she made her fastest crossing with a time of 5 days 5hrs 21mins at an average speed of 24.75 knots. Only Cunard’s Mauretania was faster. On another crossing she carried 480 1st, 736 2nd and 1409 3rd Class passengers, a total of 2625, the most ever carried by the company on a single crossing. During 1924 a crack developed on one side of the hull amidships and the plating on both side was strengthened but although a potentially serious problem was solved her hull was, subsequently, slightly suspect. In 1925 she bettered her best speed with a crossing of five days at an average speed of 25 knots. In early 1928 she was refitted and re-boilered at the Boston Navy Dockyard and completed at Southampton as there was not a graving dock in Britain big enough to take her. She resumed service on 29th February. During the summer of 1930 she operated 3.5 day mid week cruises from New York to Halifax with the Olympic when both ships had to remain in New York for a seven day stopover. In July 1934 she was taken over by Cunard – White Star Ltd when the two companies were forced to merge and replaced the Mauretania. During the same year she ran aground at Calshot but came off on the next tide and in the October, during a voyage to New York, she encountered a fierce storm when a massive wave broke the bridge windows injuring the First Officer and White Star’s Commodore Edgar J. Trant who was hosptalised for a month and never sailed again. In 1935 the Normandie superceded her as the world’s largest ship. On 31st February 1936 she commenced her 207th and final crossing to New York after which she was replaced by the Queen Mary and laid up at Southampton. On 15th May 1936, although younger than the Berengaria, she was sold for to Thos. W. Ward for £115,000 but before she set sail for the breakers yard she was purchased by the Admiralty for conversion as a cadets training ship. She was converted by Thornycroft at Southampton at a cost of £472,000 during which her masts and funnel were shortened so that she could pass under the Forth Bridge. Apart from the black tops of the funnels which had been removed she remained in White Star livery as HMS Caledonia. All her machinery remained intact and her sewage disposal system was linked to the shore. As part of the training facilities she was equipped with seven guns and range finding controls. On 8th April 1937 she sailed from Southampton for her base at Rosyth and on 10th April eight tugs took her under the Forth Bridge to her berth. With capacity for 1,500 boys and 500 artificer apprentices she was commissioned on 23rd April. When the Second World War was declared the cadets were transferred to shore accommodation, her berth was vacated for naval use and she anchored in the Firth of Forth within the limits of the naval base. Whilst her future was being decided she caught fire, was completed gutted and sank at her moorings on an even keel. In March 1940 she was sold , yet again, to Thos. W. Ward for scrapping at Inverkeithing. She was cut down to her waterline with the exception of the fore peak to assist towage. On 17th July 1943 she was raised and towed the five miles under the Forth Bridge to the scrap yard.
PITTSBURGH was built in 1922 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 16322grt, a length of 601ft, a beam of 67ft 10in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was laid down in November 1913 for IMMC’s America Line and was designed as a coal burner. Work was suspended in August 1914 when the First World War was declared as construction was too far advanced for her to be completed as a cargo ship. On 17th November 1920 she was launched as the Pittsburgh for the White Star Line with ownership being recorded as International Navigation Co. Converted to oil burning during completion she was handed over on 25th May 1922 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool – Philadelphia – Boston on 6th June. At 1800hrs on 14th November 1922, during a voyage from New York to Bremen, she rescued the 45 crew members of Libera Trestina’s new steamer Monte Grappa which was sinking. On 1st December 1922 she made her first sailing from Bremen – Southampton – Halifax – New York. In April 1923 a giant wave demolished the wheelhouse injuring the occupants. Her terminal port in Germany was changed from Bremen to Hamburg in November of the same year. She was transferred to Red Star Line’s Antwerp – Southampton – Cherbourg – New York service with ownership being registered as Frederick Leyland & Co. In 1926 she was renamed Pennland for Red Star Line and commenced her first sailing under that name and on the same service on 18th February. On 16th November 1934 she commenced her last sailing for Red Star Line before the company collapsed. In January 1935 she was sold to Arnold Bernstein of Hamburg for his Red Star Line GmbH and was refitted at Kiel prior to commencing her first voyage from Antwerp – Le Havre – Southampton – Halifax – New York on 10th May. Red Star Line GmbH was sold to Holland America Line of Rotterdam in June 1939 and the Pennland continued to operate the same service without a change of name for her new owner. On 27th April 1940 she commenced her final sailing from Antwerp before returning to Liverpool where she was chartered by the Ministry of War Transport as a troopship for operation under Dutch control. After the July strike to immobilise the French battleship Richlieu she sailed to Dakar with General de Gaulle and 1,200 Free French. When the strike failed the Free French troops, but not the General, were disembarked at Duala. Thereafter she carried internees and POW’s to Jamaica before proceeding to Canada where she embarked Canadian troops for the United Kingdom. During 1941 she carried troops to Egypt and shuttled reinforcements to Greece. On 25th April, during her second voyage, she bombed seven times and sunk by German aircraft in the Gulf of Athens. (Photo: Harland & Wolff)
REGINA was built in 1918 by Harland & Wolff at Glasgow with a tonnage of 16313grt, a length of 601ft, a beam of 67ft 10in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Pittsburgh she was laid down in 1913 for the Dominion Line of Liverpool and was the first of a class of six intermediates for IMMC and Holland America. Launched on 19th April 1917 she was completed in 1918 as a troopship and in the December began operating on the Liverpool – Boston route repatriating troops and carrying emigrants. In August 1920 she returned to her builders in Belfast where she was completed to her original design. She undertook her sea trials on 2nd March 1922 before sailing to Liverpool from where she commenced her maiden voyage in Dominion Line colours on 16th March and operating between Liverpool and Portland, Maine on the White Star – Dominion Line Joint Service. In February 1923 she made her only call to Bermuda, where she landed naval replacements, during a voyage to New York. She was, in June 1924, accredited with being the first ship to experiment with ‘Tourist Class’. During a voyage to Europe much of the Third Class accommodation was occupied by 500 Canadian students on a ‘College Tour’. The basic Third Class was augmented with greater space and better food and amenities at a higher fare for other passengers. Thereafter, ‘Tourist Class’ became the new innovation, initially on the eastbound voyage only. In 1925 she was transferred to the Antwerp – New York route and in December of that year, together with other Dominion Line ships, was given White Star livery on the demise of the Dominion Line. She commenced her first sailing in White Star livery on 12th December 1925. In December 1929 she was transferred to the Red Star Line and re-registered as being owned by Frederick Leyland & Co. Deployed on the Antwerp – Southampton – New York service she was a perfect example of the mish mash of identity within the IMMC Group – a Leyland ship with a Dominion name, painted in White Star livery and operated by Red Star Line. Early in 1930 she was renamed Westernland and continued to operate the same route until 1934 when she was laid up. On 1st January 1935 the Red Star service between Antwerp and New York was discontinued and she was acquired by Arnold Bernstein’s Red Star Line GmbH and she became one of the first car transporters between Europe and the US in addition to carrying 500 Tourist Class passengers. On 31st December 1935 she rescued the crew of the sinking French trawler Satanile. Less than a year later, on 8th November 1936 she rescued the only survivor of Hamburg America’s Isis which had sunk in a storm with the loss of 39 lives. At the end of the 1938 summer season she was laid up at Antwerp and in June 1939 the Holland America Line acquired the entire fleet which continued to operate the same routes with the same name and livery. When the Germans invaded Holland in April 1940 the ships escaped to Britain and on 10th May she became the HQ ship of the Dutch Government in Exile docked at Falmouth. In July 1940 she was requisitioned for trooping duties and converted at Liverpool. She was purchased by the Admiralty in November 1942 and converted into a repair ship, becoming a destroyer depot ship, still as the Westernland, during 1943. Decommissioned in 1945, Cunard – White Star became her temporary managers and they had the idea that she could be converted for their Canadian service which was being operated by only one vessel. Due to her age the concept was dismissed as being unfeasible and she was laid up in the River Blackwater. In October 1946 she was sold to Christian Salvesen for conversion into a whaling ship but this idea was also abandoned because of the work involved and she was sold on 15th July 1947 to BISCO for breaking up. On 1st August 1947, still a coal burner, she arrived at Blythe where she was broken up by Hughes Bolckow.
(Photo: Stuart Bale)
DORIC was built in 1923 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 16484grt, a length of 601ft, a beam of 67ft 10in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Pittsburgh she was launched on 8th August 1922 and delivered on 29th May 1923, for service with the Regina, and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool – Quebec – Montreal on 8th June. In October 1932 she was laid up after the end of the St. Lawrence season but in the following year began cruising out of Liverpool. She was transferred to Cunard – White Star in 1934 and although surplus to requirements for the combined services continued to cruise during the summer before being laid up pending a decision about her long term future. At 0400hrs on 5th September 1935, whilst returning from a Mediterranean cruise with 700 passengers, she was damaged forward after colliding in fog with Chargeurs Reunis’ Formigny off Cape Finisterre. The No.3 hold flooded and, as a list developed, an SOS was sent out and at 0530hrs P&O’s Viceroy of India arrived on the scene and took off 241 passengers. Later Orient Lines Orion, which was on a maiden shakedown cruise, arrived and took off 486 passengers together with 42 crew members to look after them as the Orion only had First Class guests on board. The Doric then proceeded to Vigo for temporary repairs from where she sailed on 12th September bound for Tilbury where the damage was surveyed. She was deemed to be not worth repairing, declared a total constructive loss and sold to J. Cashmore for £35,000. She sailed from Tilbury on 9th November bound for Newport, Monmouthshire where she was broken up after only 14 years service. Her Fixtures and fittings were sold at public auction. (Photo: Laurence Dunn Collection)
HAVERFORD was built in 1901 by John Brown & Co. at Clydebank with a tonnage of 11635grt, a length of 531ft, a beam of 59ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was built as the Haverford for the American Line and launched on 4th May 1901 for service between Southampton and New York. Commencing her maiden voyage on 4th September she was, after only two voyages, transferred to the Liverpool – Philadelphia – Boston service. It was rumoured that the captain and many of her crew were football fans and when she arrived back in Liverpool on a Saturday was always two hours ahead of her scheduled noon arrival time. On 25th May 1913 she ran aground on Carrigadda Rock when leaving Queenstown and flooded two holds before being refloated the next day. When the First World War was declared in August 1914 she remained in commercial service until 1915 when she was deployed as a troopship at Mudros during the Dardanelles campaign. On 26th June 1917 she was damaged during a torpedo attack off Ireland with the loss of 8 lives and the subsequent repairs took almost six months. In the following year, on 17th April, she was missed by two torpedoes in the Atlantic. At the end of the war she was used to repatriate US troops before returning to commercial service on the Liverpool – Philadelphia run. In March 1921 she was transferred by IMMC to White Star and commenced her first voyage on 1st April on the Liverpool – Philadelphia – Boston service. She was later replaced by the Pittsburgh and in 1922 was placed on the Hamburg – New York route before, on 16th May, reverting to the America Line for the summer Liverpool – Philadelphia service. On 27th August 1924 she commenced her final voyage to Philadelphia before being sold in the December for scrap. She was broken up in Italy during the following year.
HOMERIC was built in 1922 by F. Schichau at Danzig with a tonnage of 34351grt, a length of 751ft, a beam of 83ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots. She was launched in December 1913 as the Columbus for Norddeutscher Lloyd and, at the time, was the largest twin screw reciprocating engined ship in the world. When the First World War was declared in August 1914, although nearly finished, work on her was suspended and she was laid at Danzig for the duration. On 28th June 1919 she was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Versailles and in June 1920 was purchased from the Shipping Controller by White Star. She was completed under Harland & Wolff supervision and on 31st January 1922 arrived in the UK from Germany where she was renamed Homeric and commenced her first sailing from Southampton – Cherbourg – New York on 15th February. Working alongside the Majestic and Olympic her service speed of 18 knots was considered too slow but she became noted for her steadiness in rough seas. In October 1923 she was refitted by Harland & Wolff during which she was converted to oil burning. Returning to service on 9th April 1924 her increased speed of 19.5 knots was still considered to be too slow by Atlantic standards and this caused scheduling problems but it still reduced her crossing time by 24 hours. As a consequence of US immigration controls her third class capacity was too great which made her unprofitable. In 1928 the new 60,000grt Oceanic was announced as her replacement and on 1st June 1932 she made her final Atlantic crossing before operating Mediterranean cruises out of British ports. On 28th September 1932, while at anchor off Teneriffe, she was damaged after being rammed by Cia Trasmediterranea’s Isla de Teneriffe when her steering failed as she was circling the Homeric. During the winter of that year she operated winter cruise to the West Indies. In 1934 she became part of the Cunard – White Star fleet and in September of the following year was laid up of Ryde in the Isle of White. On 27th February 1936 she was sold for £74,000 and broken up by Thos. W. Ward at Inverkeithing.
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.