History of the Merchant Navy
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THE WHITE STAR LINE

The White Star flag was originally the house-flag of the Aberdeen White Star Line, a company which had been founded in 1845 by Henry Threlfall Wilson and John Pilkington. Prompted by the discovery of gold in Australia the company operated a fleet of sailing clippers to cope with the rush of prospectors to the newly found goldfields. The clippers, which started sailings in 1852, operated between Liverpool and Melbourne returning to England with whale oil, seal skins, wool and, more importantly, gold.

Initially the line only operated clippers including the Ellen, the White Star and the Red Jacket but in 1863 Pilkington left the company to be replaced by James Chambers who commissioned the company’s first steamship, the Royal Standard. When the Royal Standard began operations the the passage time to Australia was cut to under 70 days.


“White Star”

In 1864 White Star joined forces with the Black Ball and Eagle Lines to form a conglomerate company, the Australian and Eastern Navigation Company Ltd, but this was short lived through financial difficulties. In order to enlarge it’s fleet the company mortgaged it’s assets, borrowed heavily and became seriously in debt, so serious that the newly ordered Sirius had to be sold on delivery. In 1865 James Chambers left and John Cunningham came in to take his place. In March 1866 a bank failure created serious problems for White Star and in a bid to capture some of the North Atlantic trade deployed the Royal Standard on a voyage between Liverpool and New York but with little success. The company’s mortgages were then taken over by the Royal Bank of Liverpool but in October 1867 the bank was closed down and it was revealed that the line owed £527,000. White Star was forced into bankruptcy in January 1868 and was then sold to Thomas Henry Ismay, a 31 year old shipowner, for £1000.

Ismay’s first change was to introduce iron built sailing ships instead of wood but, as a director of the National Line, he had some experience of steamships and the Atlantic traffic and realised the potential of operating a high-class passenger service between Britain and North America. In 1869 he formed the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, to be known affectionately as the White Star Line, for that purpose. Ismay was joined by a William Imrie and together they set about revolutionising passenger comfort of the North Atlantic route by placing an order with Harland & Wolff in Belfast for four liners which had the first-class accommodation amidships instead of aft, larger cabins and more port holes. They also incorporated a promenade deck which extended the full width of the ship, a notion which was to influence all future passenger ship design. The first vessel, the 3707-ton Oceanic, was launched on 27th August 1870, sailed on her maiden voyage in 1871 and made all other Atlantic liners obsolete. Many observers believed that White Star would continue to operate to Australia but Ismay had other ideas; he intended to join the battle of the Atlantic in competition with Inman, National, Guion and Cunard. The Oceanic was followed by the Atlantic, the Baltic and the Republic. In August 1896 the North Atlantic crossing was made in 6 days, 21 hours and 3 minutes but there was no attempt by the White Star Line to build for speed until the 20 knot vessels Teutonic and the Majestic entered service in 1889 which, incidentally, were the first ships to operate without sails.


Thomas Ismay


Bruce Ismay

By the end of the 19th century the White Star Line was the most powerful British shipping company with vessels trading not only to North America but also to Australia and South Africa. In 1899 the second Oceanic was completed, a vessel which surpassed the dimensions of any other ship afloat and longer than the Great Eastern. Thomas Ismay died in 1899 and his eldest son, Bruce, became chairman and managing director. Having worked his way through the company he took over where his father left off and maintained the company’s on-going policy.

However, after the turn of the century the company was, in 1902, acquired by the American financier J.Peirpont Morgan becoming part of the International Mercantile Marine Company with Bruce Ismay retaining his position as Chairman and Managing Director. With new American money and the shipbuilding skills of Harland and Wolff Ismay embarked on an ambitious expansion programme. The company’s prime concern was passenger comfort and their ships got bigger and bigger until in 1911 the 45324-ton Olympic, the first of three sister ships, made a huge impact with the public as the world’s largest liner. The second sister, the Titanic, followed in 1912 but disastrously hit an iceberg and sank while on her maiden voyage. The third sister, the Britannic entered service in 1914 but, in 1916 , was sunk by a mine while operating in the Aegean Sea during the First World War. However, after the war, despite these losses the company continued to prosper as a strong rival to the Cunard Line.

The White Star Line was acquired by Lord Kylsant shortly before his Royal Mail group failed in the early 1930’s. When Royal Mail collapsed the shipping industry was suffering because of the Depression and so the British government insisted that the White Star Line merged with Cunard and in 1934 the two fleets joined forces as the Cunard White Star Line. This signalled the end of the White Star Line. The ships of the new company flew a double house flags until 1957 when Cunard purchased the remaining shares held by the White Star Line. Cunard then disposed of most of the White Star ships and by 1958 the renowned White Star Line ceased to exist.

Books on the White Star Line are relatively few but we have located-
Merchant Fleets Vol.19: The White Star Line
by Duncan Haws

The story of the R.M.S.”Titanic”


Painting by Ken Marshall

Captain Edward Smith was, in 1912, the senior master of the White Star Line. At 59 years of age he had served with company for almost 40 years and twelve months earlier had commanded the first of the three sisters, the Olympic. On 2nd April 1912 he stood on the bridge of the newer and larger Titanic as it slipped its mooring at the Belfast shipyard of Harland & Wolff and steamed towards Southampton at her maximum speed of 25 knots. With a gross registered tonnage of 46,328 tons and measuring 882 feet in length R.M.S. Titanic was the largest vessel afloat anywhere in the world.

The White Star Lines policy was directed towards passenger comfort and in this respect the Titanic was a magnificent ship, one which Captain Smith could well be proud to command. She was far more elaborately fitted out and luxuriously furnished than the Olympic. To quote an example, the Olympic was uncarpeted in the dining saloon whereas the Titanic was fitted with a deep pile carpet. The design of the Titanic incorporated the latest developments in ship construction. She had a double bottom and was sub-divided by 15 transverse bulkheads creating a series of watertight compartments which would enable the ship to stay afloat even if two adjacent compartments were holed in an accident. Bearing in mind the size of the Titanic no one could envisage a maritime accident large enough to inflict a greater degree of damage. In the minds, of the public and the Master, she was unsinkable.

At noon on Wednesday, 10th April 1912 Captain Smith gave the order to the crew stationed at the bow and stern of the ship to ‘let go fore and aft’ and R.M.S Titanic, with the aid of tugs, moved away from her berth in Southampton to begin her maiden voyage. Even at this very early stage in the voyage the Titanic had a close shave involving the steamship New York. As the Titanic was moving through the dock the New York’s mooring lines parted causing the ship to swing away from the quay to within a few feet of the White Star liner. However, a collision was averted and the Titanic steamed down Southampton Water passing Spithead en route for Cherbourg where French passengers were embarked. From Cherbourg she proceeded to Queenstown (Cobh) in Eire where more passengers boarded and about 3,444 bags of mail loaded. When she finally set sail for New York the Titanic carried 1316 passengers and 891 crew members, a total of 2207.


Based on the palace at Versailles

RMS “Titanic” departing

The after Grand Staircase

 


Capt. Edward Smith

Thomas Andrews

Of the 1316 passengers Britains and Americans predominated with Who’s Who and the Social Register being well represented. The first class passenger list included Colonel and Mrs Astor, Lord Ashburton, The Countess of Rothes and Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon,Bt. Also travelling in the first class saloon, representing the owners and shipbuilders, were Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line and Thomas Andrews, managing director of Harland & Wolff. The third class consisted of mainly Irish emigrants. The Titanic also carried cargo which, while not sizeable, was extremely valuable and included a priceless copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

For three days the Titanic steamed westward at full speed and by midnight on 14th/15th April she was about 300 miles south-east of Newfoundland. Captain Smith was not attempting to break any records. Bruce Ismay had agreed that a morning arrival on the 17th would be more convenient for the passengers than a late arrival on the previous evening. Back home in Britain people were eagerly awaiting the news of the safe arrival of the Titanic in New York; an arrival which would be greeted with the customary firefloat and siren welcome.

The weather on Sunday,14th April was cold but calm. During the morning the ship’s radio officer intercepted messages from the Caronia, the Baltic, the Amerika and the Californian warning of icebergs in the area through which the Titanic would pass. No evidence of ice was seen from the bridge and Captain Smith refused to believe that icebergs would be present farther south than normal at that time of the year. Although the air temperature fell from 43 deg F at 19.00 hours to 33 deg F in the space of two hours Captain Smith did not reduce speed when darkness fell. The Titanic continued on her course at her service speed of 22 knots.


Lord Ashburton

Countess of Rothes

Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon Bt.

Mrs JJ Astor

Col. JJ Astor

By 23.30 most of the passengers had retired to their cabins leaving a handful in the first class smoking room and the third class saloon. Just before 23.40 the lookout in the crow’s-nest high up on the foremast was shocked to see an iceberg looming out of the blackness ahead and immediately .reported “iceberg right ahead” to the officer on watch, First Officer William Murdoch. Murdoch peered into the darkness and saw the glistening white shape ahead and immediately gave the order “hard-a-starboard” and telegraphed “full astern” to the engine room. The bow of the ship fell away to port and Murdoch thought that he had successfully brought the Titanic around in time to clear the iceberg. However, there was a grinding noise as an underwater spur of ice ripped a gash in the ship’s starboard side which extended for some 300 feet, over a third of her length, and opened the six forward compartments to the sea.

Captain Smith arrived on the bridge as Murdoch rang the telegraph to “stop engines” but in the first instance saw nothing amiss but immediately gave the order to “close emergency doors”. Fourth Officer Boxall was immediately dispatched to arrange for soundings to taken of the forward hold but before he could do so carpenter Hutchinson arrived with the breathless report “Sir, she’s making water fast’.

Most of the passengers below deck were unaware that anything had happened. Some felt a slight shudder and ventured on deck where they glimpsed the iceberg but the Titanic was unsinkable, solid and safe; they thought they had nothing to fear. But deep down in the bowels of the ship it was a different story. In the forward boiler room the firemen heard a deafening crash and only had seconds to escape into the adjacent boiler room before they were engulfed by the inrushing sea. That boiler room was also flooding but fortunately the next one, No.4, was dry the only problem having been the avalanche of coal brought down from the bunkers by the collision.

By now the ship had come to a complete stop and the passengers were still not aware of the emergency situation that they were in. Captain Smith had not made any announcements to avoid the risk of panic but, although questioning stewards were given assurances that the ship would proceed in a few hours, below decks the situation was desperate. Water was now pouring into the six exposed compartments. Captain Smith soon realised that his ship was seriously damaged and told Bruce Ismay so when he arrived on the bridge. Thomas Andrews was summoned and immediately went below to inspect the damage. The ship was now listing and from a quick inspection of the damage returned to the bridge to inform Captain Smith that the Titanic must sink. As the compartments continued to flood the ship settled down by the bow with the consequence that the water then flooded over the transverse bulkheads which only extended upwards to D or E decks.

At 00.05, twenty five minutes after the Titanic had struck the iceberg Captain Smith ordered his officers to ready the lifeboats for lowering. It was a further ten minutes before he ordered his radio officer to transmit a distress signal and to fire off rockets. Meanwhile, the stewards were instructing the passengers to put on warm clothing and go onto the upper decks with their lifebelts. On deck First Officer Murdoch and Second Officer Lightoller were ordering the women and children into the lifeboats which had now been swung out ready for lowering. Some men tried to defy the orders, men with young families, or men with wives who refused to go without them, but initially they were restrained. However, many people still believed that the Titanic would not sink and wished to remain on board, so at 00.30 men were allowed into the boats. It was only then that the third-class passengers were allowed onto the upper decks. Their accommodation was in the forward part of the ship and the trim of the ship made it difficult for them to climb the ladders.

Captain Smith delayed ordering the boats into the water for as long as practicable. He was aware of their limited capacity and that no one could survive in the near freezing water for more than a few minutes. He dearly hoped that another ship could reach them before the Titanic finally sank. The distress call had been acknowledged but by ships which were all 150 to 500 miles away. The Frankfurt had replied at 00.18 followed by the Mount Temple, the Virginian, the Burma and the Olympic but the nearest could only hope to arrive in 10 hours or so. At 00.25 there was a glimmer of hope, the Cunard steamship Carpathia was only 60 miles away. Her captain, Arthur Rostron, altered course, increased speed to a maximum of 14 knots and hoped to arrive within four hours. But would the Titanic stay afloat that long?

By 00.45 Captain Smith realised that he could no longer delay the lowering of the boats. The ship was considerable down at the bow and Thomas Andrews had calculated that the ship could only stay afloat for another hour or so. Murdoch and Lightoller were still having difficulty in getting passengers into the boats and as there was a shortage of available seamen to lower the boats it took along time to get them away. the four collapsible boats were not launched until 02.05.


4th Officer Boxall

2nd Officer Lightoller

John Phillips & Harold Bride

Bandleader – Wallace Hartley

At around 01.00 a light was spotted on the horizon. More rockets were fired and wireless signals were sent, but to no avail. The light moved away and disappeared. Survivors of the disaster later described the scene:’ The sea was as calm as a pond, just a gentle heave as the boat dippled up and down in the swell. It was an ideal night except for the bitter cold. In the distance the Titanic looked enormous. Every porthole and saloon was blazing with light. It was impossible to think that anything could be wrong with such a leviathan were it not for the ominous tilt downwards in the bows, where the water was by now up to the lowest row of portholes.’ From a distance of 15 or 16 miles things could have looked fairly normal to an observer.

A stunned Thomas Andrews remained on board, last seen in the smoking room, but Bruce Ismay found a place in a boat and, as a result, faced years of criticism which eventually forced him to resign from the White Star Line and withdraw from public life. With the exception of the seamen detailed to man the lifeboats the ship’s crew stayed on board with the passengers who were left on board and could only watch as the boats pulled away from the ship. Engine-room officers and crew remained at their posts keeping steam up for lights and pumps until the rising waters forced them move upwards onto the open decks. Radio Officer Phillips and his assistant Bride continued to send messages to the Olympic, the Frankfurt and the Carpathia urging them ,’to hurry….hurry’. It was only when the transmitters failed at 02.10 were they forced to give up.

Just before 02.10 Captain Smith gave the order to ‘Abandon ship. Every man for himself.’ He remained on the bridge and was never seen again. At 02.20 the Titanic finally sank to her final resting place in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. A survivor described the final scene. ‘At about 2 o’clock we observed her settling very rapidly with the bows and bridge completely under water. She lowly tilted straight on end with the stern vertically upwards. The lights in the cabins and saloons died out, flashed once more then went out altogether. At the same time the machinery roared down through the vessel with a groaning rattle that could have been heard for miles. It was not quite the end. To our amazement she remained in that upright position for five minutes. We watched at least 150 feet of the Titanic towering above the sea, black against the sky. Then, with a quick dive, she disappeared. Our eyes had looked for the last time on the gigantic vessel which had set out from Southampton. Then there fell on our ears the cries of hundreds of our fellow beings struggling in the icy water, crying for help we knew could not be answered.

A total of !,503 passengers and crew perished in the disaster. When the Carpathia arrived on the scene at 03.20 around 712 persons including 393 women and children had been lowered in the boats or subsequently picked up. (Various sources differ on the final number saved.) The recovery operation commenced at 04.10 and continued until 08.30 when the last boat load were finally taken on board. During this time the Californian arrived and the two ships did all they could for the survivors and eventually set course for New York where they arrived on 21st April.

On the morning of the 16th April British breakfast tables were stunned into silence when the following brief announcement appeared in The Times. ‘An ocean disaster, unprecedented in history has happened in the Atlantic. The White Star liner Titanic, carrying nearly 3000 people, has been lost near Cape Race, and there is grave reason to fear that less than 700 of the 2358 passengers have been saved.’ The Daily Mirror was more informative with the headline ‘ Disaster to the Titanic: World’s largest ship collides with an iceberg in the Atlantic during her maiden voyage’. That edition carried photographs of the ship and some of the passengers and crew. The subsequent four editions kept the public fully informed of the catastrophe as the story unfolded, the story of a catastrophe so devastating that King George V and President Taft and exchanged messages of sympathy on behalf their respective countries.

Why did it happen and who was to blame for the heavy loss of life? Two enquires into the sinking blamed the captain of the steamship Californian for ignoring the rockets but evidence indicated that the Californian could not possibly have been the ship which turned away. Captain Smith was not blamed as it was normal practice for ships to proceed at full speed when the weather was calm and clear. As for not spotting the iceberg sooner; it was possible that the iceberg had recently turned over and was showing a dark side. There was no wind or swell to produce ripples close to the iceberg which would have been noticed sooner. Although scapegoats were sought at the time the Titanic disaster was an unfortunate accident. Some good did emerge, however, and new regulations were introduced requiring ships to carry sufficient life boats to carry all the passengers and crew and vessels were required to steer a more southerly course across the Atlantic to keep well clear of icebergs. Another regulation was introduced requiring ships not keeping a 24 hour radio watch to fit an alarm on the bridge which would automatically ring if a distress call was received. Furthermore, an International Ice Patrol was formed to track and report on the ice situation to trans-atlantic shipping.

There are many books about the Titanic and we have bookmarked three-
Anatomy of the Titanic
by Tom McCluskie
The Complete Titanic: From the Ship’s Earliest Blueprints to the Epic Film
by Stephen J Spignesi
Ken Marschall’s Art of Titanic
by Ken Marschall

THE WHITE STAR LINE

The Fleet

RED JACKET was a clipper with a composite hull built in 1845 and one of the original White Star Line ships.

ELLEN was a clipper with a composite hull built in 1845 and one of the original White Star Line ships.

BLUE JACKET was a clipper with a composite hull built in 1845 and one of the original White Star Line ships and later renamed White Star.

ROYAL STANDARD was built in 1863 by Palmer Bros. at Jarrow-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 2033grt, a length of 255ft, a beam of 40ft and a service speed of about 8 knots. She was launched in August 1863 for H. T. Wilson & Chambers and operated by them under the White Star flag. Her maiden voyage, which commenced on 23rd November, was from Liverpool to Melbourne via the Cape of Good Hope and during which her master, Capt. J. E. Allen, died. On 4th April 1864 she hit an iceberg with a glancing blow when 14 days out from Melbourne and was subsequently repaired at Rio Janeiro. During 1866 she made one voyage from Liverpool to New York which commenced on 23rd May and on 27th September she sailed on her last steam voyage to Melbourne. Unfortunately, her steam engine was under powered and she was regularly overtaken by the clipper ships. In 1867 she was sold to a Liverpool syndicate and converted to sail. On 10th October 1869 she was wrecked near Cape Sao Thomas in Brazil.

SIRIUS was built in 1865 by C. W. Earle & Co. at Hull with a tonnage of 620grt, a length of 203ft 6in, a beam of 26ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was launched in February 1865 for Henry T. Wilson & Co’s White Star Line service to the Mediterranean out of Liverpool under charter to regular shippers. Following the collapse of Henry T. Wilson & Co. she was sold in January 1866 to a syndicate of virtually the same shareholders and renamed Columbia. In December 1868 she was acquired by the Anchor Line for their Scandinavian feeder service out of Granton, Leith, renamed Scandinavia and commenced her first sailing in March 1869. Passengers arriving at Leith would then travel by train to Glasgow to join Anchor Line sailings from that port. In 1878 more passenger space was added when she was lengthened at the stern to 258ft. During 1873 when the feeder service ended at the end of the summer season she was transferred back to the Mediterranean service. On 31st August 1888 she was sold to Christopher Furness who changed her name back to Columbia. Two years later she was acquired by J. Meek of West Hartlepool who renamed her Sirius and in 1893 by Oliver & Co. of San Francisco who retained her name. In 1894 she was operating a cargo and passenger service from Honolulu to San Francisco as the Kahului for new owner, C. Nelson of Honolulu. She was, in 1897, transferred to San Francisco by her owner who, at the same time, changed her name to Cleveland. When gold was discovered in the Yukon during 1898 she became a ‘Gold Rush’ ship with room for 1200 persons. To call them berths would be inappropriate as on one voyage she carried nearly twice that number. On 24th October 1900 she was wrecked on Cape Rodney in Alaska.

OCEANIC (1) was built in 1871 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3707grt, a length of 420ft 4in, a beam of 40ft 10in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was launched on 27th August 1870 for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. at a cost of £120,000. Often referred to as the “Mother of Modern Liners” she was the first White Star liner acquired by Thomas Ismay and the first ship to have promenade decks and bathtubs with running water for the passengers. The first class dining room which doubled as a lounge was amidships and equipped with separate chairs for each passenger and had larger than normal port holes to give more light. There were two bridal suites each equipped with double beds and the fares to New York were, Saloon £16.16s.0d (Return £28. 7s.0d), Steerage £6.6s.0d. On 26th February 1871 she arrived at Liverpool looking ‘more like an Imperial yacht’ than a passenger ship to inaugurate White Star’s Atlantic service. Although the finest ship on the New York run at the time she failed to attract much custom and when she departed on her maiden voyage under the command of Capt. Digby Murray, who was later knighted, on 2nd March she carried only 64 passengers as compared with Cunard’s Calabria which carried 300 on a parallel sailing. Unfortunately, when she was off Holyhead her bearings overheated and she had to return to Liverpool where she remained until 16th March when her voyage was resumed. When she arrived in New York she was visited by some 50,000 people. In service she was very wet forward and on the slow side so when she returned to Belfast in January 1872 for her first annual overhaul the opportunity was taken to add a 72ft whale backed forecastle and breakwater which became a standard feature on subsequent buildings until the Teutonic in 1889. To provide more steam pressure two additional boilers were installed and her masts were shortened to reduce rolling. When the Britannic joined the fleet in 1875 she commenced her last sailing from Liverpool to New York on 11th March before being chartered to Occidental & Oriental Steam ship Co. to operate a service from San Francisco to Hong Kong and Yokohama. With White Star officers and Chinese crew she sailed from Liverpool on 14th April 1875 bound for San Francisco via Suez, Hong Kong and Yokohama, and arrived on 29th June after making a record passage. In December 1876 she completed a voyage from Yokohama to San Francisco in a record time of 14 days 15 hours at an average speed of 13 knots. With a trans-USA rail crossing of 7 days and an Atlantic passage of 9 days, the journey time from Yokohama to London was reduced to 32 days as opposed to 60 days via Singapore. In late 1879 she was refitted at Liverpool resuming service on 16th March 1880 when she sailed for the Suez Canal and Hong Kong. On 2nd August 1882 she collided with the coastal liner City of Chester, when off the Golden Gate, San Francisco, which sank with the loss of 16 lives. In November 1889 she made a record crossing from Yokohama to San Francisco in 13 days 14 hrs 5 mins. On 17th May 1895 she arrived at Harland & Wolff’s yard for re-engining but following a survey the plan was abandoned and she was sold for scrap, realising £8,000. She left Belfast on 10th February 1896 under the tow of L. Smit & Co’s tug Oceaan II bound for the river Thames where she was broken up.

ATLANTIC was built in 1871 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3707grt, a length of 420ft 4in, a beam of 40ft 10in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Sister of the Oceanic she was launched on 1st December 1870 and, although a voyage to South America was advertised as sailing in the following January, she didn’t commence her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York until 8th June 1871. On 20th March 1873 she sailed from Liverpool on her 19th voyage and under the command of Capt. J. H. Williams. She was carrying a total of 789 passengers comprising 28 Saloon Class, 577 3rd Class, including 78 children, and 178 Steerage who joined the ship at Queenstown as well as 142 crew members. Fierce gale force headwinds were encountered and on 31st March, after 11 days, only 127 tons of coal remained. Sandy Hook, her landfall at New York, was 460 miles away but Halifax in Nova Scotia was only 170 miles distant and, as a precaution because of the weather and the fuel shortage, course was set for the nearer port. Few sun sights had been possible and as a consequence the ship was some miles off course. At 0300hrs on 1st April, in clear but cloudy weather with a high sea running and whilst searching for the Sambro Light which should have been visible from 20 miles, she ran aground at 9 knots on Marr’s Rock, Meaghers Island near Halifax. The ship lay with a list to starboard and the heavy seas soon tore away her lifeboats and burst open the hull. The Third Officer, Brady, and quartermasters Speakman and Owen swam to the rock with a rope and by dawn five lines had been rigged via the rock to the shore. One passenger saw a sea of heads in the water which he almost mistook for floating cargo as the mass was so dense. As each wave burst over the mass there was a cry of terror and gradually the whole lot were carried out to sea and lost from view. Gradually the passengers were dragged to the shore but many, cold and exhausted, were carried away. As the situation deteriorated the master told the passengers to climb into the rigging until they could be pulled ashore, but in the biting wind many more fell into the sea and were lost while others died where they hung. When dawn broke the islanders came to help with the rescue but out of a total complement of 931 persons 585 drowned including all but one of the children. The survivors were taken to Halifax in the steamships Delta and Lady Head. The company denied that the ship ran out of coal even though the Court of Enquiry at Halifax found that this was a contributing factor on the basis that had there been sufficient the ship would have been nowhere near Halifax. A subsequent enquiry in England confirmed this finding but, on appeal, the Board of Trade Commissioner ruled otherwise as Captain Williams had survived and confirmed that there was coal on board and that his diversion was ‘in case of further gales’ not ‘shortage’. Captain Williams was found to be negligent approaching a coast that was unfamiliar to him and banned for two years. As the ship was self insured the Asiatic and Tropic had to be sold to replace the lost capital.

PACIFIC/BALTIC (1) was built in 1871 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3707grt, a length of 420ft 4in, a beam of 40ft 10in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Sister of the Oceanic she was launched on 8th March 1871as the Pacific but was later renamed when the press recalled the loss in the Atlantic of Collin’s paddle steamer Pacific some fifteen years earlier and harped on the potential superstition of passengers. She commenced her maiden as the Baltic from Liverpool to New York via Queenstown on 14th September. In January 1873 she gained the ‘Blue Riband’ when she crossed the Atlantic in 7 days 20 hrs 9 mins at an average speed of 15.09 knots. On 18th November 1875, during her return voyage to Liverpool, she picked up the crew of the sailing ship Oriental which had become waterlogged in mid-Atlantic. When, in 1883, Inman Line returned the City of Rome to her builder because she was performing below contract speed the Baltic was chartered to the company for fourteen round voyages which commenced on 3rd April. On 10th March 1885 she was again chartered to Inman Line to replace the City of Paris which had been sold to stave off financial collapse. During the second voyage Inman’s went into voluntary liquidation but the liquidators continued the charter for a further ten voyages. In June 1888 she was laid up at Birkenhead and sold for £32,000 to the Holland America Line who renamed her Veendam. She commenced her first voyage for Holland America on 3rd November when she sailed from Rotterdam bound for New York with a call at Cherbourg. In 1890 she was equipped with a triple expansion engine which increased her tonnage to 4036grt. On 6th February 1898 she struck a submerged derelict in the North Atlantic and foundered the next day without loss of life.

REPUBLIC (1) was built in 1871 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3707grt, a length of 420ft 4in, a beam of 40ft 10in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Sister of the Oceanic she was launched on 4th July 1871, hence her name, and was the last of the initial quartet built for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. She commenced her maiden voyage to New York on 1st February 1872 and encountered an extremely rough crossing which caused a great deal of superficial damage. A lot of water was shipped through the ventilators and waves smashed the engine room skylight extinguishing the boilers. As a result of the damage incurred the company changed its policy regarding the stowage of lifeboats. During the voyage the lifeboats which were securely lashed down were smashed to pieces whereas those which were lightly tethered and free to move about survived. On 5th October 1872 she made the first sailing from Liverpool – Bordeaux – Vigo – Lisbon – Rio de Janeiro – Montevideo – Buenos Aires – Valparaiso and thereafter continued to operate around the Chilian and Peruvian coasts. She was deliberately chosen to be the finest ship ever seen on the route and as a challenge to the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. Meeting the challenge PSNC dispatched the Tacora on her maiden voyage the previous day but, unfortunately, she was wrecked near Montevideo on 28th October. However, despite good payloads, the route was not financially successful for White Star. When the Britannic and the Germanic were completed in 1875 she was relegated to the reserve ship. During 1885 she scraped Cunard’s Aurania, which was on a three month charter to Inman Line, in the river Mersey with only minor damage to both vessels. When she was overhauled in 1888 second class accommodation was added at the expense of third class berths. On 16th January 1889 she commenced her final White Star sailing before being sold for £35,000 to the Holland America Line who renamed her Maasdam. Prior to commencing to operate the Rotterdam – Boulogne – New York service on 15th March 1890 she was equipped with triple expansion engines. On 1902 she was sold to ‘La Veloce’ Nav. Italiana of Genoa who initially renamed her Vittoria and later Citta di Napoli for operation on the Genoa – Naples – Palermo – Gibralta – New York service carrying emigrants. When Messina in Sicily was destroyed by an earthquake on 28th December 1908 ‘La Veloce’ placed her, together with the Nord America and the Savoia, at the disposal of the Italian Government for use as an accommodation ship. She was returned to her owner in 1909 and on her arrival in Genoa was sold foe scrap and broken up there.

ASIATIC was built in 1871 by Thos. Royden & Sons at Liverpool with a tonnage of 2122grt, a length of 326ft 5in, a beam of 35ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Launched on 1st December 1870 she was built ‘on spec’ and purchased by the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company in 1871 while she was being fitted out. In March of that year she was placed on the unsuccessful Calcutta trade and in 1872 on the equally unsuccessful South America route although her first voyage was on charter to Lamport & Holt. On 25th February 1873 she commenced her first voyage to South America for White Star but it was not profitable. When the Atlantic was lost in 1873 she was sold to the African Steam Ship Co., later to become Elder, Dempster Lines, and renamed Ambriz. Their largest ship at the time she commenced her first sailing to West Africa on 12th September. In December 1883 she was refitted and reboilered and in the following year was placed on the Liverpool to New Orleans cotton run. She was sold to Cie Francaise Charbonnage et de la Batelage a Madagasgar of Majunga in 1896 and was deployed as a mobile coal depot ship which steamed to Europe, usually Cardiff, when stock needed replenishing. In February 1903 she was wrecked on the coast of Madagasgar.

TROPIC was built in 1871 by Thos. Royden & Sons at Liverpool with a tonnage of 2122grt, a length of 326ft 5in, a beam of 35ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Asiatic she was purchased during fitting out for deployment on the Liverpool – Suez Canal – Calcutta service in competition with Thomas Royden’s Indra Line. On 5th November 1872 she was transferred to the South American service to Valparaiso but only until 4th June 1873 when she commenced her final sailing before being sold to J. Serra y Font of Bilbao who renamed her Frederico. She was acquired by Cia de Nav. ‘La Flecha’ of Bilbao in 1886 who retained her name. After a further eight years service she was broken up at Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire during September 1894.

ADRIATIC (1) was built in 1872 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3888grt, a length of 452ft 4in, a beam of 40ft 10in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. The first of a pair, the usual habit of White Star when ordering ships, she was launched on 17th October 1871and during fitting out by Aveling, Porter & Co. of Lincoln was equipped with gas lamps in place of candles and oil lamps. The gas was manufactured on board from coal but it proved to be a failure in heavy seas due to gas leaks and pipe fractures so the company quickly reverted to the use of oil lamps. She commenced her maiden voyage to New York on 11th April 1872 and in the following May took the record from Cunard’s Scotia, which it had held since 1866, with an average speed of 14.52 knots. In October 1874 she collided with Cunard’s Parthia when they both left New York at the same time and on parallel courses. The venturi effect pulled the ships together so that they brushed against each other causing slight damage to the Adriatic’s port side. If the lifeboats had been slung out, as was the custom, the consequences would have been far worse. In March 1875, whilst proceeding in fog, she ran down and sank the US schooner Columbus off New York and during a night in the following December hit and sank the sailing schooner Harvest Queen in St. George’s Channel. The ship was not identified at the time but the Harvest Queen was the only vessel unaccounted for. On 19th July 1878, when off Tuskar Rock, South Wales, she cut into W. Glenn of Ardrossan’s brigantine G. A. Pike causing the loss of five crew members. The Adriatic was blamed for travelling at an excessive speed. She made her final sailing in November 1897 before being laid up in reserve at Birkenhead. On 12th February 1899 she arrived at the yard of Thos. W. Ward at Preston where she was broken up.
(Photo: John Clarkson)

ARCTIC/CELTIC (1) was built in 1872 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 3867grt, a length of 452ft 4in, a beam of 40ft 10in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Sister of the Adriatic she was laid down as the Arctic but renamed on the stocks because a ship of the same name owned by Collins had, in 1854, been lost with the loss of 322 persons. The decision to rename was taken at the same time the Pacific was changed to Baltic following media pressure. Initially gas lit she was launched on 8th June 1872 and commenced her maiden voyage to New York on 24th October. In January 1874 she lost two blades of her propeller, in days when they were bolted on, and was towed into Queenstown by the Gaelic. Nine years later, in January 1883, she was towed into Liverpool by the Britannic when her propeller shaft snapped when only 24 hours out of New York and after continuing her voyage under sail. On 19th May 1887, when bound for New York and in thick fog, she hit the Britannic at right angles 300 miles off Sandy Hook. The Britannic was holed and the bow plates of the Celtic were stove in. The Court of Enquiry censured both vessels for excessive speed in fog and recommended the Maury’s separate ‘in and out’ passage lanes be extended right across the Atlantic. Second class accommodation was added during the repairs. In October 1892 she was taken out of service and puts up for sale at Birkenhead. On 6th April 1893 she was sold to the Thingvalla Line (Damdsibs Selskabet Thingvalla) and renamed Amerika flying the Danish flag. She commenced her first sailing Copenhagen – Christiana – Christiansand – New York on 27th May 1893 but the service was not a success as she was too big for that market. Consequently, she only made eight voyages during the peak summer seasons. She was the last ship acquired by Thingvalla Line as they were taken over by Det Forende D/S, the forerunner of D. F. D. S., but the Amerika was broken up at Brest before the takeover

GAELIC (1) was built in 1873 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2685grt, a length of 370ft, a beam of 36ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. The first of two cargo ships laid down for J. Bibby she was acquired on the stocks for the South American service and launched on the 4th October 1874. A typical ‘narrow boat’ she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Valparaiso with calls at South American ports on 29th January 1873 but on the following 10th July was transferred to the New York route. In January 1874 she towed the Celtic into into Queenstown after she had shed two propeller blades. On 3rd June of the same year she was transferred to the London – New York service for the summer season and then, on 24th December, to the Liverpool – New York route. From 29th May 1875 she was chartered to the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co. for a five year term and deployed on their San Francisco – Japan – Hong Kong service. During 1883 she was sold for £30,000 for Cia de Nav. ‘La Flecha’ of Bilboa who renamed her Hugo. On 24th September 1896 she stranded on Terschelling Islands in the Netherlands and was declared a constructive total loss. Later refloated she was sold by auction and towed to Amsterdam where she was broken up.

BELGIC (1) was built in 1873 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 2652grt, a length of 370ft, a beam of 36ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Gaelic she was launched on 14th January 1873 and commenced her maiden voyage to Valparaiso on 16th April. On 17th December she made White Star’s last steam sailing on the South American route although the sailing ships continued to trade to that continent. On 30th May 1874 she commenced a voyage from Liverpool to New York before being transferred to the London – New York route for four trips. In the same year, on 20th July, she encountered the disabled Spanish steamer Tornas and towed her into New York. She was transferred back to the Liverpool – New York service in January 1875 but only until 29th May when she was chartered with her sister to the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Co. for deployment out of San Francisco. In 1883 she was sold for £30,000 to Cia de Nav. ‘La Flecha’ of Bilbao who changed her name to Goefredo. On 27th January 1884 she went aground outside Santiago de Cuba and was dispatched to Liverpool for repairs. However, on 26th February 1884 during a voyage to Havana she was wrecked on Burbo Bank at the mouth of the River Mersey.

TRAFFIC (1) was built in 1873 by Speakman & Co. at Runcorn with a tonnage of 155grt, a length of 101ft 10in, a beam of 23ft 7in and a service speed of 8 knots. She was launched on 22nd September 1872 as a baggage and stores tender at Liverpool. In 1896 she was sold to the Liverpool Lighterage Co. for port duties with the same name and in 1919 her engine was removed when she was converted into a dump barge. On 5th May 1941 she was sunk in Liverpool docks by German aircraft during the ‘May Blitz’. She was later raised and returned to service until 1955 when she was broken up on Tranmere beach in the River Mersey.

HELLENIC/BRITANNIC (1) was built in 1874 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 5004grt, a length of 455ft, a beam of 45ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. Costing £200,000 she was designed by Sir E. J. Harland and was initially equipped with an adjustable propeller shaft which could be lowered in deeper water to increase the thrust. The arrangement was not a success and after nine voyages it was replaced with a conventional propeller shaft. Harland & Wolff’s largest ship to date she was laid down as the Hellenic but renamed before her launch on 3rd February 1874. The first of a pair she was designed to compete with vessels such as Inman’s City of Berlin and commenced her maiden voyage to New York on 25th June 1874. She broke both the eastbound and westbound records with passages of less than 7.5 days at an average speed of 15.7 knots. When she returned to service after her propeller shaft modifications on 9th June 1876 she ran like clockwork for the next decade averaging 8 days 9 hrs to New York and 8 days 2 hrs to Queenstown, the best distance in 24 hours being 468 miles. In 1881 she collided with and sank W. Hinde’s sailing ship Julia off Belfast and in July of the same year stranded in fog at Kilmore, near Wexford, Ireland. She was refloated but due to an engine room leak was beached again prior to being patched up and towed to Liverpool by four tugs where she arrived on 13th July. In January 1883 she towed the Celtic into Liverpool and shortly afterwards a squeaking developed and a crack in her propeller shaft was discovered. The voyage upon which she just embarked was cancelled. On 19th May 1887 whilst travelling at 15 knots in fog she was hit at right angles by the Celtic although full speed had been ordered in an attempt to clear the approaching ship before she hit. She was holed at the waterline aft of the superstructure and she put back to New York accompanied by the Celtic. Three steerage class passengers were killed and a further two were injured. In 1889 she collided with J. Marshall’s Czarowitz in Liverpool Bay. She made her fastest Atlantic crossing of 7 days 6hrs 55mins at an average sped of 16.1 knots in 1890 and the speed of both the Britannic and her sister, the Germanic, increased with age. On 16th August 1899 she commenced what was to be her final crossing as, in the following October, she was requisitioned as a troopship for duties during the Boer War. As HM Transport No.62 she was given a white hull and buff funnels and made ten voyages including two to Australia. On 12th November 1900 still with a white hull but with black topped funnels she sailed from Liverpool to Australia to represent Great Britain at a review in Sydney Harbour to mark the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia. Among her passengers was the honour guard and during the voyage she grounded in the Suez Canal. In October 1902 she was sent to Belfast for a survey prior to being re-engined to triple expansion but the ensuing report was unsatisfactory and in July 1903 she was sold to German shipbreakers for £11,500. On 11th August 1903 she left under tow for Hamburg where she was broken up.

GERMANIC was built in 1874 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 5008grt, a length of 455ft, a beam of 45ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Britannic she was launched on 15th July 1874, the drop propeller shaft having been removed during construction. After spending 3 months at Belfast before she was finished and painted due to the fact that White Star did not require her until the start of the Summer season when she replaced the Oceanic, her maiden voyage to New York commenced on 30th May 1875. In the following July she broke the eastbound record when she completed the crossing in 7 days 11 hrs 17 mins at an average speed of 15.76 knots. By February 1876, when the New York – Queenstown record was broken again, both ships were recognised as the best liners on the North Atlantic. In January her propeller shaft snapped and she was forced to resort to sail to complete her voyage to Waterford. Being before the days of wireless her problem was reported by Donald Currie’s Westmoreland whose offer of a salvage tow was refused. Triple expansion engines and new high pressure boilers were fitted in 1895 and on 15th May she was the first ship to embark passengers at Liverpool’s new floating landing stage. On 13th February 1899, whilst coaling at New York in a blizzard, her port side coaling doors were open and she half capsized due to snow and ice on the upper decks causing her to heel over and came to rest almost upright and leaning against the dock wall. Had her sodden passenger accommodation been damage she would have been scrapped but in the event she was refloated on 23rd February and sent to Belfast where she remained out of service for four months. On 23rd September 1903 she made her final voyage for the White Star Line before being laid up for the winter. In 1904 she was transferred to the International Mercantile Marine Company and became American Line’s Germanic. On 24th April she commenced the first of six voyages from Southampton to New York before being transferred again to the Dominion Line for carrying emigrants. She was renamed Ottawa on 5th January 1905 and deployed on the Liverpool – Halifax service during the winter months and from 27th April between Quebec and Montreal for the summer. At the end of the summer season in October 1909 she was laid up and in the following year was sold to the Turkish Government for use as a transport. On 15th March 1911 she sailed from Liverpool as the Gul Djemal operated by the Administration de Nav. a Vapeur Ottomane of Istanbul and commenced carrying troops to the fighting in the Yemen. She was transferred to the Black Sea in 1912 and, although too big for that area, was a prestigious deployment. In April 1915 she was used to carry troops to the Gallipoli Peninsular following the Anglo-French landings and on 3rd May was torpedoed whilst at anchor in shallow water in the Sea of Marmara, by the submarine E-14. She settled with her superstructure above water and the majority of the 4000 men said to be aboard were lost. When she was raised the submarine shared a bounty of £31,000 based on £5 per Turk plus assessed value. In November 1918 she was used to repatriate German troops from Turkey and arrived at the Allied control point off Dover totally unannounced with 1500 armed troops on board which caused much confusion. She was, however, disarmed and sent to Germany. In 1920 she was transferred to the Ottoman – America Line for deployment on an emigrant service from Istanbul to New York and on 10th October 1921 commenced her first voyage. She later operated along Turkey’s Black Sea coast to Trabzon. By 1928 and still government owned she was being operated by Turkiye Seyrisefain Idaresi as the Gulcemal. In 1931 she grounded in the Sea of Marmara and by 1949 she was being used as a store ship at Istanbul. She briefly became a floating hotel in 1950 before being towed to Messina on 29th October where she was broken up after 40 years service with the Turkish Government.

ASIATIC (2)/ARABIC (1) was built in 1881 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4368grt, a length of 430ft 2in, a beam of 42ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. White Star’s first steel hulled ship she was launched as the Asiatic on 30 April 1881 but completed as the Arabic. Similar in appearance to the Adriatic class the intention was to charter her to the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co for operation on their transpacific route but before being transferred to San Francisco she made three end of season voyages from Liverpool to New York, her maiden voyage commencing on 10th September 1881. On 4th February 1882 she sailed from Liverpool to Hong Kong via the Suez Canal to begin her transpacific service. In 1886 she made one sailing to Australia for Occidental & Oriental. When she came off charter in 1887 fifty second class berths were added which were referred to as the Intermediate Class and on 12th May began to operate on the Liverpool – Queenstown – New York service. In May 1888 she reverted to Occidental & Oriental service and in February 1890 was sold to Holland America Line for £65,000 and renamed Spaarndam. She commenced her first sailing from Rotterdam to New York on 29th March and remained with the company until 7th February 1901 when she made her final sailing. In August of the same year she was broken up by Thos. W. Ward at Preston.

COPTIC was built in 1881 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4367grt, a length of 430ft 2in, a beam of 42ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Asiatic she was launched on 10th August 1881 for deployment on the transpacific service of Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co. However, she made two voyages from Liverpool to New York commencing 16th November before, on 11th March 1882, sailing to Hong Kong via Suez to join the transpacific service. In 1883 the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co. became over tonnaged and, as a result, she was chartered to the New Zealand Shipping Co. while they were awaiting the arrival of ships under construction. A 750 ton capacity refrigeration plant was installed in 1884 to enable her to participate in a new joint venture with Shaw, Savill & Albion to New Zealand, a service which had been devised by Walter Savill and Thomas Ismay. Five ships were required and White Star provided three. Her name became a Shaw, Saville & Albion nomenclature and was not repeated by White Star. She made the inaugural sailing of the service, London – New Zealand – Cape Horn – South America – UK, on 26th May 1884 when the First Class fare was £77, the Steerage £7 7s 0d and the First Class ‘Round the World ticket, £105. In 1889 she went aground near Rio de Janeiro, was flooded forward and repaired locally. She was modernised with triple expansion engines in 1894 and reverted to Occidental & Oriental service to replace the Oceanic which was due for re-engining. On 30th October 1906 she made the final Occidental & Oriental sailing from San Francisco and went off charter when she arrived at Hong Kong. In the following December she was sold to the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. and renamed Persia for the same service. She also retained the Red Ensign as she had not been built in the USA. Refitted in 1911 she was sold to Toyo Kisen Kabusiki Kaisya of Tokyo in 1915 and renamed Persia Maru for their transpacific service. By 1922 she was operating on the Dutch East Indies route and in December 1924 was laid up at Yokohama where her furnishing and fittings were sold by auction. She was broken up at Osaka during 1926 after 44 years service.

IONIC (1) was built in 1883 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4753grt, a length of 439ft 11in, a beam of 44ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. A slightly larger version of the Asiatic she was launched on 10th January 1883 and was powered, for the first time, by a Harland and Wolff engine. A fast freighter with limited passenger accommodation she was initially chartered with the Doric and the Coptic to the New Zealand Shipping Co. who were awaiting the delivery of new buildings for a joint service with Shaw, Savill & Albion. She sailed from Belfast on 26th March, arrived in London on 1st April and commenced her maiden voyage from London to Wellington via the Cape on 26th April completing the voyage in a record time of 43 days 22 hrs 5 mins. Prior to sailing from London she was inspected by the Prince of Wales who later became Edward V11. In December 1884 she was placed on the joint White Star – Shaw, Savill & Albion. the White Star vessels being crewed by their own personnel but managed by Shaw, Savill. On 8th February 1893 her propeller shaft snapped shortly after leaving Cape Town and she had to return there initially under sail and, then after three days, under the tow of Donald Currie’s Hawarden Castle. She arrived in Cape Town on 15th February when £7,000 was awarded as salvage and resumed her voyage in the April. In 1894 she returned to her builder and was extensively refurbished during which an economical quadruple expansion engine was installed which increased her speed to 15 knots. She made her last voyage from London to New Zealand via Cape Town, where she disembarked cavalry horses for the Boer War, in December 1899. In April 1900 she was chartered to the Spanish Government to repatriate troops from Manila following the war with the United States before being sold to the Aberdeen Line for £47,000 to replace the Thermopylae which had been lost in the previous September. Renamed Sophocles she commenced her first voyage for the Aberdeen Line on 23rd October 1900. On 21st August 1906 she made her final voyage and in April 1908 was broken up by Thos. W. Ward at Morecambe, Lancashire.

DORIC (1) was built in 1883 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4784grt, a length of 440ft 11in, a beam of 44ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Ionic she was launched for the New Zealand trade on 10th March 1883 and during her positioning voyage to London called at Holyhead to embark Thomas Ismay and a party of celebrated guests. On 26th July she commenced her maiden voyage from London to Wellington via the Cape under charter to the New Zealand Shipping Co. During the voyage, on 27th August, a baby was born and christened William Doric Jenkin. In July 1885 she was allocated to the White Star – Shaw, Savill & Albion joint venture. She was chartered to the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co. in 1896 for their San Francisco – Yokohama – Hong Kong service and after ten years commenced her final voyage on 8th August 1906 before being sold to the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. who renamed her Asia. After a refit she made her first sailing for Pacific on 11th June 1907. On 23rd April 1911 she was wrecked on Hea Chu Island near Wenchow in South China during a voyage from Hong Kong to San Francisco with no loss of life. The survivors were taken to Shanghai by China Navigation’s Shaoshing and the Doric was looted and and set on fire by local fishermen.

BELGIC (2) was built in 1885 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4212grt, a length of 420ft 4in, a beam of 42ft 5in and a service speed of 14 knots. The first of a pair of sisters which were virtually the same as the Ionic she was launched on 3rd January 1885 and delivered on 7th July for charter to the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co’s Pacific service. After completing her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York she commenced first voyage for O & O on 28th November from San Francisco to Hong Kong via Yokohama. In 1898 she made her final Pacific crossing before returning to the United Kingdom when, in the following year, she was sold to the Atlantic Transport Line who renamed her Mohawk. She commenced her first sailing from London to New York on 7th September 1899 and in the following December was requisitioned for service during the Boer War. After she was released in 1902 it was decided not to refurbish her and she was broken up at Garston, Liverpool during the following year.

GAELIC (2) was built in 1885 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4206grt, a length of 420ft 4in, a beam of 42ft 5in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Belgic she was launched on 28th February 1885, commenced her maiden voyage from London to New York on 18th July and her first Pacific crossing for the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co. on 10th November. In May 1904 O & O gave six months notice prior to cancelling the charter contract and on 13th December the Gaelic commenced her final voyage from San Francisco before returning to the United Kingdom. She was overhauled by her builder early in 1905 and in March of that year was sold to the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. who changed her name to Callao. Purchased for the Liverpool – Valparaiso – Callao service as a stopgap until the new Quillota was delivered she was finally broken up at Briton Ferry during September 1907.

CUFIC (1) was built in 1888 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4639grt, a length of 430ft 8in, a beam of 45ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. The company’s first triple expansion engined vessel she was launched on 10th October 1888 for the carriage of general cargo outward bound to the USA and a 1000 head of cattle on the return. She commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 8th December. In 1896 she was chartered to Cia Trasatlantica Espanola of Cadiz for use as a horse remount carrier between Spain and Cuba during the Cuban revolution as the Nuestra Senora de Guadaloupe. She came off charter in 1898 when she was renamed Cufic. In December 1900 she lost her propeller in the Atlantic and was towed into Queenstown by the Bristol City Line’s Kansas City for which a salvage award of £6,800 was made. She was sold to the Mississippi & Dominion Line Steamship Co. in 1901 and renamed Manxman for their Liverpool to New Orleans during the cotton season and US and Canadian ports at other times. In February 1902 the Dominion Line was taken over by J Peirpoint Morgan’s International Mercantile Marine Co. but that did not affect the ship’s operational programme. She was acquired by Elder, Dempster in 1915 who, in the following year, sold her to R. Lawrence Smith Ltd of Montreal for employment on Canadian Government service. In April 1917 she was taken over by the Shipping Controller under the Liner Requisition Scheme and in February 1919 was sold to the Universal Transport Co. of New York, later restyled United States & Canadian Transport & trading Co. of Toronto, who retained her name. On 18th December 1919 she foundered in the North Atlantic during a voyage from Portland, Maine to Gibraltar carrying wheat with the loss of all hands.

RUNIC (1) was built in 1889 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 4833grt, a length of 430ft 8in, a beam of 45ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Cufic she was launched on 21st February 1889 as a livestock carrier across the Atlantic. In May 1895 she was sold to the West India & Pacific Steamship Co. who renamed her Tampican. On 31st December 1899 she was transferred to Frederick Leyland & Co. with the rest of the fleet. She was sold to H. E. Moss & Co. of Liverpool in 1912 with the intention of being used within their non-tanker fleet which was owned by the Sefton Steamship Co. but, in the event, was almost immediately sold to the South Pacific Whaling Co. of Christiana who changed her name to Imo and converted her for the carriage of whale oil during the Antarctic whaling season. At 0845 on 6th December 1917 she collided with the French Line’s Mont Blanc, which was fully laden with explosives, in Halifax roadstead. The French ship blew up seventeen minutes later and the blast, which was felt some 120 miles away, obliterated the suburb of Richmond. 1,500 people were killed, 2,000 were never found, 8,000 were injured and 3,000 buildings in Richmond were destroyed. Across the water at Dartmouth thousands of buildings were damaged by the blast. The Mont Blanc was totally lost but the Imo, which had drifted clear, was swamped but only lost two masts, her funnel and all of her lifeboats. After she had been repaired she was, in 1918, tactfully renamed Guvernoren. On 26th October 1921 she sailed from Sandford and on 30th November, while proceeding in fog, grounded on rocks 20 miles from Port Stanley, Falkland Islands and was a total loss.

TEUTONIC was built in 1889 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 9984grt, a length of 582ft, a beam of 57ft 8in and a service speed of 20 knots. When her keel was laid in March 1887 her design was approved by the Admiralty who said that “it was the finest ever put forward”. As she had twin screws she was the first ship to have no square rigged masts and, in fact, despite having three gaffs carried no sails at all. Designed by the Hon. Alexander Montgomery Carlisle, Harland and Wolff’s chief designer, she was built under the Auxiliary Armed Cruiser Agreement and launched on 19th January 1889. Completed on 25th July 1889 she was delivered to Liverpool where she was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser within 24 hours and equipped with 8 4.7 inch guns. On 1st August she sailed from Liverpool to attend the Spithead Naval Review to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria as the first AMC. At Spithead she was inspected by the Prince of Wales and Kaiser Willhelm II on August 3rd but because the actual review was postponed until the following Monday because of bad weather the Teutonic had to leave on the Sunday because of her maiden voyage. Hence her omission from the Review line up. On her return to Liverpool she was disarmed for commercial service and sailed on her maiden voyage to New York with a call at Queenstown on 7th August, replacing the Baltic. In August 1891 she broke the westbound crossing record with a passage time of 5 days, 16hrs, 31mins at and average speed of 20.5 knots, a record which she held for the following twelve months. On 26th June 1897 she took part in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Spithead Review, again as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and with the Megantic as her tender. During the review Charles Parsons took his yacht Turbinia ,which was the first vessel powered by steam turbines driving three propellers on three shafts, through the line of ships at an unheard of speed of 32 knots. The Turbinia was later moored alongside the Teutonic and Thomas Ismay and his guest were given a trial run at ’40 miles per hours’. In 1898 she collided with the US transport Berlin in New York harbour. When the Boer War was declared she was deployed as a transport in 1900. In February 1901 she was swamped by a massive tsunami following an earthquake and two men in the crows nest were washed onto the deck and survived. Had the incident happened during the day many passengers on the decks would have been washed overboard. In 1907 her departure port was changed to Southampton and on 12th June she made her first sailing to New York with a call at Cherbourg. She was rebuilt in 1911 and in June of that year operated on the White Star – Dominion Line summer service to Montreal and the winter service to Portland, Maine. In 1913 the First Class was discontinued and she was reconfigured to carry 550 2nd Class and 1000 3rd Class passengers. On 12th September 1914 she was urgently requisitioned for Armed Merchant Cruiser duties to replace the Aquitania which had been damaged following a collision with Frederick Leyland’s Canadian. Attached to the 18 ship 10th Cruiser Squadron she operated on Patrol ‘A’, North Faeroes to the ice belt. On 16th August 1916 she was acquired by the Admiralty and equipped with 6 inch guns and in December of the following year was placed in reserve for a year. She was recommissioned for White Sea convoy escort duties in October 1917 and attached to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron whose flagship was the Alsatian. In 1918 she was taken over by the Shipping Controller, with the White Star Line as managers, and used as a troopship between the UK and Alexandria with the capacity for 1500 persons. She was laid up in Cowes Roads in 1921 where she was sold and eventually broken up at Emden.

MAJESTIC (1) was built in 1890 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 9965grt, a length of 582ft, a beam of 57ft 8in and a service speed of 20 knots. Sister of the Teutonic she was ordered in March 1887, launched on 29th June 1889 and delivered on 23rd March 1890.Replacing the Republic she commenced her maiden voyage to New York on 2nd April and in July 1891 broke the westbound record between Queenstown and Sandy Hook with a time of 5 days, 18hrs, 8mins at an average speed of 20.1 knots, her only record. On 13th December 1899 she was requisitioned as a Boer War transport for service between Liverpool and Cape Town and on 12th February 1900 made a second trooping voyage between Southampton and Cape Town. During 1902-3 she was refitted by Harland & Wolff when her funnels were heightened by 10ft, her mast reduced to two and new boilers installed which increased her tonnage to 10,147grt. During 1905 she was damaged following a bunker fire when in dock at Liverpool. Her terminal port was changed to Southampton in 1907 and she commenced her first sailing to New York on 26th June. In November 1911 she was relegated to a reserve ship and spent much of her time laid up at Bidston Dock, Birkenhead. The wisdom of retaining a reserve ship was demonstrated in May 1912 when the Majestic replaced the Titanic which had been tragically lost in previous April. On 17th October she rescued the crew of the French schooner Garonne and on 14th January 1914 made her final sailing to New York after 24 years service. She was sold for £25,000 and on 5th May 1914 arrived at the yard of Thos. W. Ward at Morecambe where she was broken up.

NOMADIC (1) was built in 1891 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 5749grt, a length of 460ft 10in, a beam of 49ft 1in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was launched as a livestock carrier on 11th February 1891 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 24th April. In October 1899 she was the first White Star ship to be requisitioned as a Boer War troopship and horse transport and as HMT No.34 served for nearly two years. She was transferred within the International Mercantile Marine organisation to the Dominion Line under the company’s Steamship Amalgamation Plan in 1903 and in the following year was renamed Cornishman and deployed on the USA and Canadian routes. In 1921 she was transferred to Frederick Leyland & Co. for deployment on the same routes and with the same name. Sold for £10,500 she arrived at Hayle, Cornwall on 12th May 1926 and broken up at Lelant.

TAURIC was built in 1891 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 5728grt, a length of 460ft 10in, a beam of 49ft 1in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Nomadic she was launched on 12th March 1891 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 16th May. In 1903 she was transferred to the Dominion Line and made her first sailing from Liverpool to Portland on 12th March. She was renamed Welshman in 1904. Transferred with her sister to Frederick Leyland & Co. in 1921 she was eventually broken up at Bo’ness, Firth of Forth in December 1929.

NARONIC was built in 1892 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6594grt, a length of 470ft, a beam of 53ft 1in and a service speed of 13 knots. A slightly enlarged version of the Nomadic duo with extra passenger accommodation to meet increased demand on non-New York routes and costing £121,685, she was launched on 26th May 1892 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 15th July. On 11th February 1893 she sailed from Alexandra Dock, Liverpool under the command of Capt. W. Roberts with 74 persons, including 14 cattlemen, 3,572 tons of general cargo and 1,017 tons of Welsh coal. It was her seventh voyage and after dropping the pilot at Point Lynas was never heard of again. On 3rd March a bottle was found at Bay Ridge, New York Bay with the message “Naronic is sinking with all hands. L.Winsel”. A second message was found on the beach at Ocean View, Virginia which read “February 19 1893. The ship is sinking fast. We can never live in the small boats-one has already sunk. The ship struck an iceberg in blinding snow…she has floated for two hours, it is now 3.20 in the morning and the deck is level with the sea”. The writer was John Olsen, a cattlemen, but neither names were among those listed as being on board. Sivewright, Bacon’s steamer Coventry, on a voyage from Newport News to the UK, reported that she had, on 4th March, passed one of Naronic’s lifeboats floating keel up in position 44N, 47.37W and next day passed one which was empty in position 44.34N, 46.24W, 500 miles off Halifax and roughly on the great circle route. Although the two boats were well separated the second boat was trailing a sea anchor which would have reduced her rate of drift. The ship probably sank well east of Nova Scotia. The messages in the bottles were put into doubt as the ship was well south of the Newfoundland iceberg danger zone and the Court of Enquiry even recorded that there was no ice within 100 miles of her route.

BOVIC was built in 1892 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6583grt, a length of 470ft, a beam of 53ft 1in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Naronic she was launched on 28th June 1892 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 26th August. On 14th February 1914 a service from Manchester to New York was introduced, known as White Star – Leyland – Lamport & Holt Joint Service, to which she was transferred as White Star’s contribution to operate with Leyland’s Memphian and Lamport & Holt’s Canning. . To facilitate the Manchester Ship Canal bridges her masts were shortened. In April 1917 she was taken over by the Shipping Controller under the Liner Requisition Scheme and was deployed on war service until 1919 when she was returned to her owner. She resumed the Manchester Joint Service in 1921 and on 16th January 1922 was transferred to Frederick Leyland & Co. who renamed her Colonia. After six years further service she was broken up at Rotterdam in 1928.

GOTHIC was built in 1893 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7755grt, a length of 490ft 8in, a beam of 53ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. Launched on 28th June 1892 she was designed for service in the North Atlantic but under the ownership of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. was placed on the Australian joint service. Her refrigeration was the newly introduced brine, carbon anhydride cooling system as opposed to cold air. Only five ships were required for the service and her arrival released Shaw Savill & Albion’s Arawa for charter. She was delivered in November 1893 and after a positioning voyage from Belfast to London with calls at Cardiff for bunkers and Liverpool where she was inspected by guests, she commenced her maiden voyage to Cape Wellington on 28th December. At the time she was the largest ship to enter the Pool of London and being the first ship on the route with twin screws she made a record passage of 37.5 days. During the summer of 1902 she was deployed as a Boer War repatriation transport and operated between the Cape and the UK and the Cape to New Zealand. In June 1906 her cargo of wool caught fire when she was off Lands End and had to be beached at Cattewater, Plymouth. Her repairs took eight months and when she resumed service her accommodation was configured as 104 1st Class and 250 3rd Class. The First Class cabins were reduced to 3rd Class shortly afterwards. She was refitted in 1907 and transferred to IMMC’s Red Star Line and renamed Gothland for a service under the Belgian flag between, initially, Antwerp and Philadelphia and then Antwerp and New York. In 1911 she was placed on White Star’s Australian service with the name Gothic and accommodation for 1500 steerage passengers. Two years later she was transferred back to the Red Star Line under the ownership of Soc. Anon de Nav. Belge-Americaine of Antwerp for a summer service Rotterdam – Quebec – Montreal as the Gothland. In June 1914 she ran aground on Gunners Rock in the Scilly Isles. All 281 persons aboard were safely taken off by the West Cornwall Steamship Co’s Lyonese and local lifeboats. Her repairs at Southampton took six months and by the time she resumed service Belgium had been overrun by the Germans and, consequently, she was transferred to the Rotterdam – New York service which she maintained spasmodically. After a refit in March 1919 she returned to the Antwerp – New York – Baltimore service and in May 1921 operated for White Star as the Gothland. During 1922 she spent many months laid up and in May 1923 was tried out on an Antwerp – Vigo – Havana – New York service but that proved to be too protracted so she reverted to the Antwerp – Philadelphia run. She made her final Red Star voyage from Antwerp to Philadelphia in March 1925 and in January 1926 was sold for £16,000 and broken up at Bo’Ness, Firth of Forth.

MAGNETIC was built in 1891 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 619grt, a length of 170ft 6in, a beam of 32ft 11in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. She was delivered on 6th June 1891 for use as a passenger tender at Liverpool. Suitably equipped she was also used as the company tug and as a water carrier. On 26th June 1897 she acted as Teutonic’s tender at the Spithead Review to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. On 3rd October 1925 she caught fire and had to be beached at Tranmere where she was subsequently repaired. In December 1932 she was sold to the Alexandra Towing Co. of Liverpool, renamed Ryde and refitted for similar duties. When the No.2 Stanlow Oil Dock was opened in the Manchester Ship Canal in 1933 she carried the guests and in the following year she was moved to Llandudno in North Wales where she was used as an excursion steamer. On 20th August 1935 she was sold after 44 years service and broken up at Port Glasgow.

PONTIC was built in 1894 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 395grt, a length of 150ft 6in, a beam of 26ft 1in and a service speed of 8 knots. Launched on 3rd February 1894 and delivered on 13th April she was used as a water carrier and baggage tender at Liverpool until 9th October 1919 when she was sold to the Rea Towing Co. of Liverpool for similar duties. On 23rd January 1925 she was sold to John Donaldson’s Beardmore Steam Ship Co., with Donaldson Coal Trimmers Ltd of Glasgow as managers, for use as a collier and later as a sand ballast carrier. She was scrapped on the Clyde in 1930.

CEVIC was built in 1894 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8301grt, a length of 523ft, a beam of 60ft and a service speed of 13 knots. A livestock carrier for 1000 head she was launched on 23rd September 1893 as a replacement for the Naronic. She commenced her maiden voyage on 12th January 1894 from Liverpool to New York and on the return voyage loaded the largest cargo to date which comprised 14,000 bushels of grain, 9,000 bales of cotton, 3,500 sacks of flour, 400 tons of metal, 300 tons of fresh meat, 8,400 packages of produce and 896 head of cattle. When the New York cattle service ended in 1908 she was transferred to the Australia route, initially via the Cape of Good Hope, and then, as an experiment, through the Suez Canal. However, her capacity was large for the the route and her deep draught caused her to ground in the canal. On 1st December 1914 she was converted by her builder into the dummy battleship HMS Queen Mary. As she left Loch Ewe on 11th February 1915 she struck a rock which holed her and she had to put back for repairs. On 10th April 1915 she grounded on Ratlin Island in fog as she left Belfast but came off on the following tide. She sailed from Loch Ewe for patrol on 13th April and by 25th April was patrolling off New York after the German raider Kronprinz Wilhelm had applied for internment there. She was decommissioned in September 1915 and restored for commercial duty by Harland & Wolff. At no time was her disguise penetrated. In 1916 she was converted into an oil tanker with circular tanks for use by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as the Bayol. She was transferred to the Shipping Controller in 1917 and renamed Bayleaf under the management of Lane & McAndrews, continuing as a fleet oiler servicing Royal Navy shore establishments. On 9th June 1920 she was sold to the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co. (Shell) for use as a depot ship at New York and renamed Pyrula. She was transferred to Curacao in 1925 for employment as a depot ship and classified as an oil hulk. On 25th July 1933 she was sold for scrap and broken up by Henrico Haupt at Genoa.

GEORGIC (1) was built in 1895 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 10077grt, a length of 558ft 8in, a beam of 60ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was launched on 22nd June 1895 to fill the trading gap left by the Naronic. The largest livestock carrier built at the time and the last of her type she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 26th August. Operationally she was too large for her particular trade as she had difficulty switching to lesser ports because of her deep draught so she remained on the New York run for virtually all her career. On 10th December 1916, during a voyage from Philadelphia to Liverpool via Brest with 1,200 horses, 10,000 barrels of oil and a cargo of wheat, she was shelled, captured and sunk 500 miles south east of Cape Race by the German merchant raider Möwe. She was the largest of 40 ships sunk by the Möwe during her two sorties. After the capture there was protracted arguments between the British and Germans and between the Germans themselves on board the Möwe about the fate of the horses. Finally it was ruled that the placing of a prize crew on the Georgic in order to save the horses was out of the question and the sinking went ahead with consequent results.

DELPHIC (1) was built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8273grt, a length of 475ft 11in, a beam of 55ft 3in and a service speed of 12 knots. Launched on 5th January 1897 her reduced power and lower speed earmarked her for eventual service to Australasia and after her maiden voyage to New York which commenced on 17th June and a subsequent sailing she was transferred to the New Zealand joint service. She commenced her first White Star, Shaw, Savill & Albion Joint Service sailing on 30th September 1897. On 31st March 1900 she was employed as a Boer War troop transport and carried 1,200 men from London to Cape Town during a voyage to New Zealand. She commenced a similar voyage on 4th April 1901 when she carried troops from Queenstown to Cape Town whilst en-route to New Zealand. On 16th February 1917 she was missed by a torpedo fired by U-60 when she was off southwest Ireland. In the following March she was taken over under the Liner requisition Scheme and on 17th August 1917 was torpedoed by UC-72 135 miles of Bishop Rock during a voyage from Cardiff to Montevideo with a cargo of coal. Five lives were lost.

CYMRIC was built in 1898 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 13096grt, a length of 585ft 6in, a beam of 64ft 4in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Originally intended to be an enlarged Georgic she was altered during construction when the cattle space was omitted and the space increased for 3rd Class (Emigrant) accommodation. By this time the concept of carrying passengers on the outward trip and live cattle on the return had become unpopular especially in public relations when terms like ‘treated like cattle’ were bandied about. Launched on 12th October 1897 she commenced her maiden voyage on the Liverpool to New York secondary service on 11th February 1898. Although slow in passenger ship terms she was very economical and her high passenger carrying capacity soon proved very profitable. On 1st January 1900 she made the first of two consecutive Boer War trooping voyages from Liverpool to Cape Town as HM Transport No.74. She commenced service on the experimental secondary Liverpool to Boston route on 10th December 1903 and remained there for many years. On 20th December 1914 she returned to the Liverpool – New York service. On 29th April 1916 she sailed from New York bound for Liverpool fortunately with no passengers. At 1600hrs on 8th May she was torpedoed three times by U-20 140 miles west north west of Fastnet. Commanded by Cdr. Von Schiewger the U-20 had in the previous year sank the Lusitania. The Cymric remained afloat until 0300hrs on the following day. Five lives were lost (4 killed by the explosion and a steward lost when abandoning ship) and 105 persons were saved.

AFRIC was built in 1899 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 11948grt, a length of 565ft, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. The first of three ‘Jubilee’ Class ships she was launched on 16th November 1898 for a five ship monthly service to Australia. She commenced her maiden voyage on 8th February 1899 from Liverpool to New York and on her return went back to Belfast for improvements before commencing her first voyage to Sydney via Cape Town on 9th September. During 1900-02 she carried troops to the Boer War on the first leg of her voyage to Australia. On 2nd February 1917, during a voyage from Liverpool to Sydney, she was torpedoed and sunk by UC-66 twelve miles south of the Eddystone Light in the English Channel. Five lives were lost in the explosion, 17 persons were drowned and there were 145 survivors.

MEDIC was built in 1899 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 11985grt, a length of 565ft, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. Sister of the Afric she was launched on 15th December 1898 but her completion was delayed while the modifications put into the Afric were incorporated. She commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Sydney via Cape Town on 3rd August 1899 and was the company’s first scheduled voyage to Australia. She was the largest ship on the route and on her return carried Australian troops and their horses to the Boer War which had started on 16th October. When the First World War broke out she remained in commercial service, because of her high meat capacity, until April 1917 when she was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme. She was returned to White Star on 26th March 1919 and remained with the company until January 1928 when she was sold to N. Bugge of Tonsberg and converted by H. C. Grayson into a whale factory ship and renamed Hektoria. During conversion she was given a stern ramp, which was a comparatively new innovation, which enabled whales to be hauled onto the ship for flensing. Previously whales were inflated with air and flensed alongside the ship. In 1932 she was transferred to Hektoria Ltd, a London subsidiary of N. Bugge which later became Hector Whaling, and flew the Red Ensign. On 11th September 1942, while in service as at oil tanker for the Ministry of War Transport, she was torpedoed by U-608 in the North Atlantic.

PERSIC was built in 1899 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 11973grt, a length of 565ft, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. Sister of the Afric she was launched on 7th September 1899, handed over on 16th November and commenced her maiden voyage to Sydney on 7th December. On her first voyage she carried 500 troops to Cape Town where her rudder stock broke and she had to wait there until a replacement was shipped out from Harland & Wolff’s. When the voyage resumed in 1900 she repatriated wounded and sick Australian troops and on 26th October of that year she rescued the crew of the burning schooner Madura. During 1917-19 she operated with the Medic under the Liner Requisition Scheme and in September 1918 was torpedoed by UB-87 off Sicily but managed to reach port safely. She returned to White Star in 1920 and was immediately refitted and modernised. In 1926 she was refitted at Govan but due to unrepairable engine wear she eventually left Liverpool on 26th September on her final voyage before being laid up. On 7th July 1927 she was sold for £25,000 and left the Mersey for Hendrik ido Ambacht in Holland where she was broken up.

OCEANIC (2) was built in 1899 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 17274grt, a length of 705ft, a beam of 68ft 4in and a service speed of 19.5 knots. Costing £750,000 and launched on 14th January 1899 she was the first ship to exceed the length of the Great Eastern but not the tonnage. Designed by Marine Superintendent Capt. Cameron it was intended that, although she was the largest passenger liner, she was not a record breaker. Capitalising on the experience gained by the Cymric she maintained a ‘slow and sea steady’ service. She left Belfast on 26th August and on 30th August was thrown open to the Press. On 6th September she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York which she completed in 6 days, 2 hrs, 37 mins at an average speed of 19.57 knots but suffered badly from vibration aft at full power. In 1900 she was struck by lightning whilst at anchor in the Mersey and lost her topmast. She collided with and sank Waterford Steamship Co.’s Kincora in fog off Tuskar Rock with the loss of 7 lives in September 1901. During 1905 there was a crew mutiny on board over staff conditions and 35 stokers were later charged. On 2nd May 1907 she made her last sailing from Liverpool before being transferred to Southampton. With the Majestic, Teutonic and Adriatic as consorts she commenced her first voyage from Southampton on 19th June 1907. On 22nd July 1914 she made her last sailing to New York before being commissioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser on 8th August. Attached to the 10th Cruiser Squadron on the Northern Patrol she was commanded by Capt. W.F. Slater RN, who had no experience on so large a ship, with her own Master Capt. Henry Smith in attendance. On 8th September 1914 she was wrecked while trying to navigate to the west of Foula Island, 20 miles west of Shetland, at high water and in flat calm and clear weather. Due to a navigational error which was compounded by dual responsibility when Smith was overuled by Slayter when he said that she was too close in, the fast current carried her off course and she grounded on Hoevdi in the Shaalds. The trawler Glenogil stood by and transferred some 400 men to Alsatian and other ships which were in the area. On 11th September attempts to save the ship failed when the battleship Hannibal put a 6 inch hawser aboard but the Oceanic was impaled. Two weeks during a period of rough seas the movement of the ship on the rocks eventually stove her bottom in. At the subsequent Courts Martial the Navigator, D Blair, was blamed and the two captains absolved but, as a result, the Admiralty changed the procedures so that ships of this size, which were comparable to battleships ,would be commanded by the regular captain and staff with the Royal Navy being responsible for Northern Patrol actions. By March 1924 much of the ship was still visible and she was cut down to the water level and salvaged. In 1973 work started to remove the remaining wreck and by 1979 the last worthwhile remnants were taken.

THE WHITE STAR LINE

OLYMPIC (1) was ordered as a sister of the Oceanic but when Thomas Ismay died on 23rd November 1899 the construction of the second ship was shelved. The company then placed a new order with a request for designs to produce ‘the largest ships in the world’ – the ‘Big Four’ class.

RUNIC (2) was built in 1900 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12482grt, a length of 565ft, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. Launched on 25th October 1900 she was the first of a pair built with the same hull design as the Afric but with longer poops. Handed over on 22nd December she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Sydney on 19th January 1901. On 25th November of that year she towed the disabled Union-Castle liner Dunottar Castle into Dakar. During 1917-19 she was operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme. On 3rd November 1928 she suffered damage to her stern when she collided with HMS London of Gourock Pier. In July 1930 she was sold to the Sevilla Whaling Co. of London, owned by the Norwegian A/S Sevilla, and converted into the whale factory ship New Sevilla. A/S Sevilla was acquired by Christian Salvesen in April 1931. On 20th October 1940, during a voyage from Liverpool to Antarctica, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-138 30 miles off Malin Head, Galway, Ireland with loss of two lives. She floated for 20 hours during which time 412 persons were saved.

SUEVIC was built in 1900 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12531grt, a length of 565ft, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 13.5 knots. Sister of the Runic she was launched on 8th December 1900 and commenced her maiden voyage to Australia on 23rd March 1901. She was slightly larger than her sisters and on her outward voyages carried troops to the Cape and on her return, Australian contingents to the Boer War. On 17th March 1901 inbound for Plymouth with 382 passengers and nearly full with cargo she stranded in drizzle and fog on Stag Rock near the Lizard. Her landfall at Plymouth had been calculated when she was 138 miles from Lizard Point and full speed maintained. When she was 122 miles out the Lizard light should have been seen ahead but, in the gloom, it suddenly appeared on the port side. She had overshot by nearly 16 miles and went aground at full speed. As a result, her Master’s Certificate of Competency was suspended for three months. The passengers were taken off by the Cadgwith and Coverack lifeboats and on 20th March an effort was made to lighten the impaled bow when her forward cargo was unloaded into small coasters. The weather worsened on 27th March and she worked her way further onto the ledge. By this time the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association’s tug Ranger was standing by. As the stern was still intact the decision was taken to save the ship by severing her forward section. As oxy-acetylene cutters had not been invented dynamite was placed in position by a diver named Fabian and the fore part was blasted away at a bulkhead just aft of the bridge. The stern section was made seaworthy on 4th April and going astern on her engines and steered by the tugs Blazer, Herculeum and Linnet with the Ranger alongside with pumps to control any ingress of water, the Suevic steamed to Trafalgar Dock, Southampton. A new 212ft forward section was built at Belfast and towed to Southampton where it was attached to the after part. It was a perfect match and, at the time, was the largest rebuilding operating ever undertaken as virtually half the ship had been renewed. The White Star Line carried much of their own hull insurance and it was cheaper to rebuild the ship rather than to scrap her and write the cost off against the insurance fund. Although she was out of service for some considerable time the repair schedule was so precise that even before the forward section was built her next sailing was announced as commencing in January 1908. On 19th October the new forward section was towed from Belfast by the tug Pathfinder with the Blazer at the stern providing the steerage and arrived at Southampton on 26th October when the marriage of the two sections commenced. On 14th January 1908 she resumed commercial service on schedule. When World War One began in 1914 she remained in commercial service with her consorts because of her ability to carry a large quantity of frozen meat. Passenger accommodation was used for trooping. In March 1915 she made one trooping voyage to Mudros during the Dardanelles campaign. During 1917-19 she operated on the same route under the Liner Requisition Scheme. She was returned to commercial service in January 1920 and after a refit resumed the Australian service. She completed her 50th voyage on the Australian route when she arrived at Southampton on 14th March 1924. In October 1928 she was sold to Yngar Hvistendahl’s Finnvahl A/S of Tonsberg for £35,000 who converted her into a whale factory ship at Fruppe’s Germaniawerft, Kiel and renamed her Skytteren. After the German invasion of Norway she was, in April 1940 and with several other Norwegian ships, interned at Gothenburg. As the King of Norway and his government were in exile in London plans were made for the ships to make a break for freedom but the Quisling Government claimed them. At a subsequent Court hearing it found in favour of the exiled owners. On 1st April 1942 and under the codename ‘Operation Performance’, plans were made for 15 ships to make a dash for the open sea where they would be met and protected by Allied forces. The plan was a total disaster. As the ships were not permitted, quite correctly, to sail in Swedish territorial waters they were directed away by that country’s warships into the path of the waiting Germans who had been alerted. Only two ships, Tschudi & Eitzen’s B. P. Newton and J. O. Odzell’s Lind made it to safety. Six ships were sunk by enemy action, three returned to Gothenburg were they were arrested and two whale catchers were captured in Swedish waters by German armed trawlers. The crews were taken prisoner and allowed to leave on the Swedish cruiser Gota Lejon. The Skytteren, Bucaneer and A. O. Andersen scuttled themselves off Maseskjaer, Sweden. Even so the Germans protested about the action but were told by the Swede’s that the navy’s action had predominantly favoured the interests of Germany. However, in breach of international law, the Swede’s had secretly equipped the ships with anti-aircraft guns while they were in Gothenburg. Surrounded as they were by a triumphant German forces nobody, wisely, made a fuss and Sweden did their best to play down what was considered to be a crazy idea.

CELTIC (2) was built in 1901 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 21035grt, a length of 700ft, a beam of 75ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. The last ship ordered by Thomas Ismay she was the first of a class known as the ‘Big Four’ and launched on 4th April 1901. She was the largest ship in the world and the first to exceed the tonnage of Brunel’s Great Eastern which was registered as 18915grt. Her design introduced a new concept for Atlantic liners which was to last for thirty years. Large in size and great in comfort her moderate speed of 16 knots as opposed to the normal 19 knots enabled her to operate at an economical 280 tons of coal per day. With a high passenger and cargo carrying capacity her turnaround time in Liverpool and New York was a week but, with her sisters Cedric, Baltic and Adriatic, she was popular and highly profitable. By this time the company had decided to leave the fast crossings with Cunard and Norddeutscher Lloyd. Handed over on 11th July she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York ,where the approach channel had to be deepened to take her, on 26th July. In 1902 she made a five week cruise with 800 passengers to the Mediterranean and in September 1904 she carried 2957 passengers on the westbound Atlantic crossing, the largest number ever carried by the company. On 6th August 1907 she sailed on the first of two round voyages from Southampton to New York for the American Line as a replacement for the St Paul and soon after White Star began to operate a service form Southampton. She was requisitioned for war service on 4th August 1914 and on 20th October commissioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser with 8 x 6in guns. On 4th December 1914 she was assigned to the 10th Cruiser Squadron. Decommissioned in January 1916 she was then converted into a troopship and operated between Liverpool and Egypt until March 7th when she sailed from Liverpool to New York. On 15th February 1917 she hit a mine which had been laid by U-80 off the Isle of Man with the loss of 17 lives. London & North Western Railway Co’s Slieve Bawn took the passengers to Holyhead and the Celtic was towed into Peel Bay. The Tynwald of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. carried divers and equipment from Liverpool and she was made good and taken to Belfast where she was repaired. Recomissioned at Liverpool she worked under the Liner Requisition Scheme from the following April. As with her sisters she was capable of carrying 700 tons of high grade oil in her deep tanks which was pumped into barges before docking at Liverpool. Each of the ‘Big Four’ supplied 1400 tons per week. On 19th May 1917 an attack by U-57 failed but on 31st March 1918 she was torpedoed by UB-77 in the Irish Sea with the loss of six lives. Towed into Liverpool she was repaired by Harland & Wolff. Returned to White Star in 1919 she was refurbished and resumed her Liverpool to New York service in January 1920. On 21st April 1925 she collided with Coast Line’s Hampshire Coast but only suffered superficial damage. The Hampshire Coast was more badly damaged but managed to reach port. Two years later, on 29th January 1927, she collided with the US Shipping Board’s Anaconda off Long Island with little damage to either vessel. In the same year she was converted to Cabin Class only with accommodation for 2500 passengers. On 10th December 1928 while stopped in gale force conditions awaiting the pilot to take her into Cobh (Queenstown) she was driven towards the shore and grounded on Roches Point. Although the engines were put to full astern and she came off she went aground again on Calf Rocks. Attempts were made to salvage her but she remained firmly ashore and became a total loss. Her funnels were cut down to deck level within days as they obstructed the Roches point lighthouse beam and a bridge was constructed from the ship to shore to facilitate her unloading. By this means everything came off the ship including the rats. The wreck was later sold to Petersen & Albeck of Copenhagen and she was broken up where she lay. The demolition was completed in 1933 and during the final stages ironworks were found which turned out to be the remains of Guion Line’s Chicago which had been lost on the same rocks in January 1898.

CEDRIC was built in 1903 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 21035grt, a length of 700ft, a beam of 75ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. Launched on 21st August 1902 she was the only one of the four to be equipped with Welin davits in place of radials. She was handed over on 31st January 1903 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 11th February. Her accommodation was said to be an improvement on that of the Celtic. During the winter of 1906 she undertook an annual five week cruise from New York to the Mediterranean and between January and March 1911 made two sailings to the Mediterranean. When the Titanic sank in April 1912 the Cedric was in New York and her departure was delayed until the Carpathia arrived with survivors, including crew members not required for the Court of Enquiry, who wished to travel back to Liverpool. In November 1914 she was requisitioned for war service and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser for service with the 10th Cruiser Squadron. She operated on ‘A’ patrol with the Teutonic. Decommissioned in 1916 she was converted into a troopship for operation initially to Egypt and then to the USA. In April 1917 her operation came under the auspices of the Liner Requisition Scheme. On 29th January 1918 whilst in convoy HG 27 she rammed Canadian Pacific’s Montreal off Morcambe Bay. The Montreal was taken in tow but sank the next day 14 miles from the Mersey Bar lightship. She was returned to her owner in September 1919 and refitted by Harland & Wolff. In 1923 she collided with Cunard’s Scythia off Ireland. On 5th September 1931 she made her last sailing from Liverpool to New York before being replaced by the Britannic. Sold for £22,150 to Thos. W. Ward she sailed from Liverpool on 11th January 1932 bound for Inverkeithing where she was broken up.

BALTIC (2) was built in 1904 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 23876grt, a length of 729ft, a beam of 75ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. Launched on 21st November 1903 an additional 20ft was added during construction so that she would retain the title of the world’s largest ship. She was handed over on 23rd June 1904 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 29th June. Unfortunately, her extra length slowed her down which made it difficult for her to maintain her schedules and subsequent engine modifications made her less economical. On 23rd January 1909 she rescued 1260 survivors following a collision between the Republic and Lloyd Italiano’s Florida. The Baltic had been advised of the collision by wireless telegraphy, the first time it had been used for such a purpose. Although only an hour out of New York she turned around and made for the scene of the accident and landed the survivors at New York on the following day. On 14th April 1914 she sent a wireless message to the Titanic warning her of the ice that was causing her to reduce her speed to a crawl. When the First World War broke out she remained on the New York service with the Adriatic until 1915 when she was deployed as a troopship under the Liner Requisition Scheme. On 26th April 1917 she was attacked by UC-66 but received no damage. In May of the same year she carried the Headquarters staff and the first US troops to Europe. She resumed commercial service between Liverpool and New York on 12th December 1918. In 1926 her crew football team acquired the distinction of being the first British ship to win the Atlantic Soccer Club Tournament. On 6th December 1929 she rescued the crew of the schooner Northern Lights off Newfoundland. She commenced her final voyage on 17th September 1932 before being replaced by the Georgic. Laid up at Liverpool on 1st October she was sold in the following January and left Liverpool on 17th February 1933 bound for Osaka where she was broken up.
(Photo: John Clarkson)

ADRIATIC (2) was built in 1907 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 24541grt, a length of 729ft, a beam of 75ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Baltic she was ordered in December 1903 and, although rumours abound, it still remains a mystery as to why she took fours years to build. She was launched on 20th September 1906, the same day as Cunard’s Mauretania (1), and was marginally larger than her sister so as to retain the largest ship in the world accolade. An additional innovation was the inclusion of the first indoor swimming pool and Turkish bath. She commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York and thence back to Southampton on 8th May 1907. On 5th June 1907 she replaced the Celtic on the Southampton – Cherbourg – New York service. In June 1911 she was replaced by the Olympic on that route and was consequently transferred back to the Liverpool – New York service. On 5th May 1912 Bruce Ismay returned from New York on her after he had attended the Court of Enquiry following the loss of the Titanic. As a result of the enquiry all passenger ships were required to carry sufficient lifeboats for all passengers and, as a result, additional boats were installed on the Adriatic. When World War 1 broke out in August 1914 she remained on the Liverpool – New York service and during 1917 – 1918 was operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme when she carried high grade oil in her double bottom tanks. Refurbished in February 1919 she resumed service and on 1st April brought the five ‘ Original Dixieland Jazzband’ members to Liverpool. This was the first time Jazz had come to Britain and their performance at the London Hippodrome lasted one night but the new genre of music was eventually accepted by the British. She returned to commercial service between Southampton and New York on 3rd September 1919 where she operated with IMMC’s Lapland pending the refit of the Olympic. On 13th May 1922 she returned to the Liverpool – New York service and on 11th August five persons were killed in Liverpool following an explosion in a reserve coal bunker. In 1923 a call at Boston was introduced and in 1925 she made her fastest eastbound crossing in 7 days 6 minutes. She commenced winter cruising in 1926 and on 10th July 1927 was the first ship to enter the Gladstone Dock in Liverpool shortly after it had been opened by King George V. No.2 Branch, North Quay became White Star Line’s regular berth. The Gladstone Dock was named after Robert Gladstone, chairman of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board, not the Prime Minister of the day, W. E. Gladstone. In 1928 she was designated a Cabin Class ship and, as such, made her first sailing on 28th April. During the off season she made cruises to the Mediterranean. In 1929 she was laid up for the winter at Liverpool and only undertook voyages in the summer from thereon. She was laid up at Liverpool again on 30th August 1931 after her September cruises were cancelled. During the summer of 1933 she cruised out of Liverpool on a ‘seven days for seven pounds’ itinerary, Liverpool – Coruna – Lisbon – Madeira – Liverpool, until 31st August when she was laid up for the off season. On 24th February 1934 she made her final voyage from Liverpool to New York and on 29th March undertook a ‘Scouters and Guiders’ cruise with the Chief Scout Lord Baden Powell on board. In the July she was transferred to Cunard – White Star and became redundant. She made her final cruise out of Liverpool in the September and was put up for sale in the October. Sold for £48,000 in the following November she left Liverpool on 19th December bound for Osaka, Japan where she arrived on 5th March 1935 for demolition.

CRETIC was built in 1902 by Hawthorne, Leslie & Co. at Hebburn-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 13507grt, a length of 582ft, a beam of 60ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was launched on 25th February 1902 as the Hanoverian for Frederick Leyland & Co., the company’s largest ship, and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on 19th July. After only three voyages the company was taken over by the IMMC combine and she was transferred to the Dominion Line and renamed Mayflower. On 9th April 1903 she made her first sailing for the group from Liverpool to Boston. In the same year IMMC decided to make the White Star Line their premier company and, as a result, she was one of five liners transferred to White Star and renamed Cretic. She initially served on the Liverpool to Boston service but in November 1904 was transferred to the New York – Mediterranean route where she remained until 1910 when she reverted to Boston as her terminus. Between 1917 and 1919 she was operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme and in September 1919 she returned, with the Canopic, to White Star’s Mediterranean service. In June 1923 she was transferred back to Frederick Leyland & Co. and renamed Devonian for service on their Liverpool to Boston run. During 1927-28 she was operated by the Red Star Line for three round voyages between Antwerp and New York with a call at Southampton. On 15th September 1928 she made her last sailing before being laid up and in the following year she was broken up by P & W McLellan at Bo’ness, Firth of Forth.

REPUBLIC (2) was built in 1903 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 15378grt, a length of 570ft, a beam of 67ft 8in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 26th February 1903 as the Columbus for the Dominion Line, handed over on 9th September and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on 1st October. Later transferred by IMMC to White Star Line she was renamed Republic and commenced her first voyage as such from Liverpool to Boston on 17th December. In October 1904 she was transferred to the New York Mediterranean service. On 22nd January 1909 she sailed from New York at 1500hrs with 525 passengers and 297 crew bound for Naples with a call at Madeira. At 0551hrs on the following day she was rammed by Lloyd Italiano’s inbound Florida off Nantucket, 175 miles from the Ambrose Light. As there was thick fog both ships were proceeding slowly but the Florida struck the Republic on the port side aft of amidships flooding the engine room. At 0600hrs the distress signal CDQ (come quick danger) was sent out for the first time. The Marconi wireless station at Siasconsett relayed the message to the Baltic who immediately altered course and raced to the scene of the accident. All the Republic’s passengers and the crew, apart from 47 who remained on board, were transferred to the Florida who, although her bow had been stove in, was watertight. Soon Anchor Line’s Furnessia, French Line’s La Lorraine, Cunard’s Lucania and America Line’s New York picked up the distress signals and hurried to the scene. US Coast Guard vessels set sail from New York and on arrival took off all the Florida’s 800 passengers together with those from the Republic. By now the Baltic was lying dead in the water without lights and listing to port and the US Coast Guard Revenue Cutter put a line aboard while the Furnessia, at daybreak, put a second line aboard at the stern to provide steerage. At 2005hrs the Republic began to settle in the water and before the skeleton crew could be taken off she quickly sank by the stern in 34 fathoms off Martha’s Vineyard Island. Captain Sealby and his crew had to be rescued from the water. On 24th January the US Coast Guard’s Seneca and the New York escorted the Florida into port. Four lives were lost as a result of the accident and, at the time, she was the largest liner lost at sea. The White Star Line successfully sued the Lloyd Italiano Line for negligence and was compensated after the Florida had been repaired and sold for about £40,000. She too was lost after a collision on 12th December 1917.. The Republic was supposedly carrying $265,000 (1999=$6,000,000) US Navy payroll destined for the Atlantic Fleet in Gibraltar. It was also rumoured that the cargo included a politically sensitive shipment of newly minted Gold eagle coins with a current value of between $400,000,000 and $1,600,000,000 depending on condition. The wreck was found in 1981 but, as far as is known, nothing has been recovered.
For more information on the Republic visit- http://rms-republic.com/index.html

ROMANIC was built in 1898 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 11394grt, a length of 550ft 4in, a beam of 59ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was launched as the New England for the Dominion Line on 7th April 1898 and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on 30th June. In November 1903 she was transferred to White Star Line and renamed Romanic, commencing her first voyage as such from Liverpool to Boston on 19th November. It was also White Star’s first sailing on that route. On the following 5th December she commenced her first sailing on the Boston – Mediterranean service. After positioning from Genoa to Glasgow she was, on 3rd January 1912, sold to the Allan Line of Glasgow and renamed Scandinavian and on 23rd March started on the Glasgow – Halifax – Boston route. In May of the same year she was transferred to the Glasgow – Quebec – Montreal summer service. On 22nd August 1914 she carried Canadian troops to Glasgow and on 1st October 1915 was taken over with the fleet by Canadian Pacific Ocean Services but continued on the Canadian service. During 1917 – 1919 she operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme and on 18th May 1920, back in commercial service, was deployed on the Antwerp – Quebec – Montreal route. In July 1922 she was laid up at Falmouth as a result of a surplus of tonnage and on 9th July 1923 was sold to F. Rijsdik Rotterdam for scrapping. On 16th July she was re-sold to Klasmann & Lentze of Emden and in the following October was broken up at Hamburg.

ARABIC (2) was built in 1903 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 15801grt, a length of 600ft 8in, a beam of 65ft 6in and a service speed of 16 knots. Laid down as the Minnewaska for the Atlantic Transport Line which was acquired by IMMC during construction, she was, consequently, launched on 18th December 1902 as the Arabic for the White Star Line. She commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 26th June 1903. On 14th April 1905 she was deployed on the Liverpool – Boston route but alternated with New York as trade demanded. She reverted to the Liverpool – New York service on 20th June 1907 but went back to the Boston route on 1st August 1911. In 1913 First Class was discontinued and extra lifeboats added as a result in the change of regulations following the loss of the Titanic. When the ‘Big Four’ were requisitioned for war service she was transferred to the New York service on 23rd December 1914 and retained her peacetime livery. On 19th August 1915, outbound for New York with 200 passengers, she was torpedoed by U-24 50 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale with the loss of 44 lives. The action was contrary to a German pronouncement that passenger ships would be given sufficient warning to allow passengers to escape and happened three weeks before the Lusitania was sunk by U-20 in the same location. Resentment was strong in the USA and many say that a hardening of attitudes as result of the Arabic sinking led to America entering the war.

CANOPIC was built in 1900 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12097grt, a length of 578ft 4in, a beam of 59ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 31st May 1900 as the Commonwealth for the Dominion Line and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on the following 4th October. In November 1901 she made three winter sailings from Boston to Genoa before reverting to the Liverpool – Boston run. She was transferred within the IMMC Group to the White Star Line in 1903 and renamed Canopic before making her first sailing from Liverpool to Boston on 14th January. Twelve months later she was transferred to the New York – Mediterranean service. When the 1st World War was declared she remained in commercial service between the USA and the Mediterranean and in 1915 she operated between Liverpool and New York or Boston. On 26th April 1917 she came within the control of the Liner Requisition Scheme where she remained until February 1919 when she was returned to the White Star Line and deployed on the New York – Mediterranean route. She was replaced on the Mediterranean route by the Arabic in 1922 and subsequently transferred to the Liverpool – Halifax – Boston run, making her first voyage on 13th April. During that summer she operated to Montreal and on 10th November 1922 commenced her sailings from Bremen to New York with calls at Southampton and Halifax. In November 1923 her terminal port was changed to Hamburg (Cuxhaven). From September 1924 she operated between Liverpool and Philadelphia and Portland, Maine before being broken up at Briton Ferry in October 1925.

ATHENIC was built in 1902 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12345grt, a length of 500ft 4in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. The first of three sisterships built for the New Zealand White Star – Shaw, Savill and Albion joint service she was launched on 17th August 1901 and commenced her maiden voyage from London to Wellington on 14th February 1902. During a dock strike in Wellington in 1912 the crew refused to join the strike and local farmers loaded their own produce. Because of her meat carrying capacity she remained on commercial service when the 1st World War broke out. On 28th February 1916, when at Santa Cruz, Tenerife, she embarked British prisoners who had been victims of the German raider Mowe. They had arrived there in J Westoll’s Westburn which had been taken as a prize and later scuttled. Between 1917-19 she operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme carrying frozen meat from Australia and New Zealand via the Panama Canal. When the USA entered the war she often carried troops on the northbound voyages. On 3rd May 1920 she rescued the 80 passengers and crew from the Munsen Line’s Munamar which had run aground on Little San Salvador Island, Bahamas, and took them to Newport News. In October 1927 she made her last voyage to New Zealand before being sold in May 1928 for £33,000 to Hvalfangerselskapet Pelagos, A/S Svend Foyn Brunn of Brunn & Von de Lippe of Tonsberg, Norway who converted her into a whale factory ship at Smiths Dock Co., South Bank, Tees. Renamed Pelagos her former first class accommodation remained intact, the most luxurious for a whaler. On 15th January 1941 she was captured in the Antartic by the German raider Pinguin along with another factory ship, a depot ship and 11 whale catchers. She was sent to Bordeaux and subsequently operated by the German whaling company Erste Deutsche Walfang Ges. as a depot oiler to the 24th Submarine Flotilla which was based in Norway. On 24th October 1944 she was sunk at Kirkenes and in the following year was raised by the Norwegians and put back into service with a modified superstructure. She was sold to SF Brunn of Hamburg on 25th June 1962 and immediately resold to Eckardt & Co. of Hamburg where she was broken up.

CORINTHIC was built in 1902 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12367grt, a length of 500ft 4in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Athenic she was launched on 10th April 1902 and commenced her maiden voyage to New Zealand on 20th November. On the outbreak of the First World War she remained in commercial service until 1917-19 when she was operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme on the meat run but with troops in the third class accommodation. She returned to commercial service in 1920 and in 1929 was converted to Cabin and Third Class accommodation only. In August 1931 she made her final sailing to New Zealand before being sold for £10,250 to Hughes, Bolckow for demolition at Wallsend. The low scrap price was a consequence of the depression.

IONIC (2) was built in 1903 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 12352grt, a length of 500ft 4in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Athenic she was launched on 22nd May 1902 and commenced her maiden voyage to Wellington, New Zealand on 16th January 1903. In August 1914 she was requisitioned as a New Zealand Expeditionary Force troopship and on 31st December 1915 was missed by a torpedo when operating in the Mediterranean. Between 1917-19 she was operated under the Liner Requisition Scheme returning to commercial service on 31st January 1919. In 1927 she rescued the crew of the Grand Banks fishing vessel Daisy. Her accommodation was converted to Cabin and Third Class only in 1929 and in 1934 she was transferred to Shaw, Savill & Albion when Cunard – White Star was formed. On 9th September 1936 she commenced her 79th and final voyage to New Zealand and on her return to Avonmouth was transferred to the group’s Norfolk and North America Steam Ship Co. She was sold for £31,500 on 6th January 1937 and broken up in Japan. Her bell is now in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

VICTORIAN/RUSSIAN was built in 1895 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8825grt, a length of 512ft 6in, a beam of 59ft 3in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was launched on 7th July 1895 as the Victorian for Frederick Leyland & Co. for deployment as a mixed cargo and cattle carrier and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on 7th September. In November 1899 she was requisitioned as a transport for Boer War service and was used mainly for carrying horses to South Africa which she did almost continuously until November 1902. On 28th February 1903 her management but not ownership was transferred within the IMMC group to White Star and on 24th April joined the other cattle boats on the Liverpool – New York service. During 1904 she remained in Leyland ownership but operated on the White Star service in their livery but in 1910 she was painted in the Leyland livery. In August 1914 she was renamed Russian on the instructions of the Admiralty in order to avoid confusion with Allan Line’s Victorian. On 14th December 1916, during a voyage from Salonika to Newport in ballast, she was torpedoed and sunk by UB-43 210 miles east of Malta with the loss of 28 lives.

ARMENIAN was built in 1895 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8825grt, a length of 512ft 6in, a beam of 59ft 3in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Victorian she was launched on 25th November 1895 as the Indian for Frederick Leyland & Co. but delivered in the following September as the Armenian, commencing her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on 28th. From November 1899 until 1902 she served alongside her sister as a transport during the Boer War. On 20th March 1903 she was transferred to White Star management, but not ownership, and joined the cargo service between Liverpool and New York, the passenger service having been discontinued. In 1910 she reverted to the Leyland livery with a pink funnel. She commenced her last sailing on 3rd March 1914 prior to being briefly laid up before being deployed as a horse transport to France. On 28th June 1915 she was torpedoed and sun by U-24 off Trevose Head in Cornwall after the crew were allowed to abandon ship.

CUFIC (2) was built in 1895 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8249grt, a length of 475ft 11in, a beam of 55ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was launched on 8th August 1895 as the American for the West India & Pacific Steamship Co. and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New Orleans, where cotton was loaded, on 9th October. In 1898 she was chartered to the Atlantic Transport Line for their New Orleans and Baltimore services. On 1st January 1900 the entire fleet of twenty ships was taken over by Frederick Leyland (1900) Ltd. which, at the time, had John Ellerman as chairman. Retaining her name she was deployed as a Boer War transport. In the following year the fleet was taken over by J. Pierpoint Morgan prior to his IMMC being incorporated in 1902. Within the IMMC Group she was transferred to White Star and renamed Cufic in 1904 and commenced her first voyage from Liverpool to Sydney on 21st May. In 1914 she was requisitioned by the government for war service and between 1917 19 was operated by the Shipping Controller under the Liner Requisition Scheme. On her release she reverted to the Australia trade where she remained until December 1923 when she was sold to G. Lombardo of Genoa for scrap. On 25th January 1924 she was sold to Soc. Anon. Ligure di Nav. a Vapore of Genoa who renamed her Antarctico and operated her until 1927 when she was sold on to Bozzo & Mortola. Renamed Maria Giulia she continued to trade until April 1930 when she was put up for sale. In November 1932 she was sold for scrap and broken up at Genoa.

TROPIC (2) was built in 1896 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8262grt, a length of 475ft 11in, a beam of 55ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. Sister of the Cufic she was built as the European for the West India and Pacific Steamship Co. and commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New Orleans on 9th July. On 1st January 1900 the entire fleet was taken over by Frederick Leyland (1900) Ltd and, with the same name, was used as a Boer War transport. In 1901 she became part of the IMMC Group and in 1904 was transferred to White Star ownership for deployment on the Australia service as the Tropic. On 12th December 1908 she collided with the Argonaut Steam Navigation Co’s coaster Wyoming off the Skerries. When the First World War was declared in 1914 she remained on the Australia meat run and in May 1917 came under the control of the Shipping Controller within the Liner Requisition Scheme. She reverted to the Australia run in 1919 where she remained until 1923 when she was sold to Ditta L. Pittaluga of Genoa who retained her name. In the following year she was sold to Soc. Anon. Ligure de Nav. a Vapore of Genoa who renamed her Artico. Three years later she was sold back to Pittaluga who changed her name to Transylvania. After a further six years trading she was broken up at Genoa during 1933.

GALLIC (1 was built in 1894 by John Scott & Co. at Kinghorn, Fife with a tonnage of 416grt, a length of 150ft and a beam of 28ft 2in. She was built as the ferry Birkenhead for the Corporation of Birkenhead. Their last paddle steamer, she operated firstly on the Woodside-Liverpool service and later on the Rock Ferry-Liverpool route. Acquired by White Star in March 1907 she was renamed Gallic and stationed at Cherbourg when calls were made there after the ships were transferred to Southampton. In 1911 she was replaced by the Nomadic and Traffic and in the following year returned to Liverpool where she was used as the occasional baggage boat. She was broken up at Garston in the River Mersey during 1913.

LAURENTIC (1) was built in 1909 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 14892grt, a length of 550ft 4in, a beam of 67ft 4in and a service speed of 17 knots. Laid down in 1907 as the Alberta for the Dominion Line to compete with Allan Line and Canadian Pacific she was launched as the Laurentic on 9th September 1908. She was engined with the newly introduced turbines which proved to be so successful that later new buildings were similarly equipped. With her sister, the Megantic, they were the largest liners, but not the fastest, on the Canada run and marked White Star’s entry to that route. The pair were marketed as ‘The White Star – Dominion Joint Service’. She was delivered on 15th April 1909 and commenced her maiden voyage Liverpool – Quebec – Montreal on 29th April. With the Megantic and Dominion’s Canada and Dominion they maintained a weekly service. In 1910 the wife murderer Dr. Crippen and his lover Ethel Le Neve fled to Canada on Canadian Pacific’s Montrose using the name Robinson and nephew. When Crippen’s identity became suspect Scotland Yard was wirelessed and Inspector Dew boarded the much faster Laurentic which arrived off Father Point, St. Lawrence in time to arrest Crippen before he could disembark and escape British jurisdiction (Crippen was a Canadian citizen). All three returned on the Megantic and Crippen was subsequently hanged for his crimes. It was also the first time that wireless was used in the apprehension of a criminal. In 1911 she broke the record for the Canadian run with a round trip time of 13 days 4 hrs. On 13th September 1914, when in Montreal, she became a Canadian Expeditionary Force troop transport for 1800 men and on 26th September made her first sailing from Montreal. She joined the famed 32 troopship convoy which carried 35,000 Canadian troops to Europe on 3rd October in Gaspe Bay and with ‘Blue Squadron’ which comprised Royal George, Lapland, Virginian and Tunisian, anchored off Plymouth on 14th October. In 1915 she was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. On 25th January 1917, during a voyage from Liverpool to Halifax with a secret cargo of £5,000,000 of gold bullion to pay for Canadian munitions, she hit two mines which had been laid by U-80 off Northern Ireland near Lough Swilley. She capsized and sank in 125ft of water with the loss of 354 lives out of a total complement of 475. Fifteen lifeboats managed to get clear but many of the occupants died of exposure in the severe winter conditions. On 9th February she was located by Commander G. C. Durant RN and a team of 12 divers in 20 fathoms and listing 60 degrees to port. Recovery was curtailed when gales broke up the hull and the gold bars fell into the bowels of the ship. Due to war needs the recovery operation was temporarily abandoned. During the five summers from 1919 to 1924 Commander Durrant and his team recovered £4,958,000 and at the final tally it was found that only 25 bars valued at £41,292 were not recovered. Over 5000 dives were made at a cost of only £128,000 and, as a result, Durrant was promoted to Captain and awarded the DSO and each diver received £6,739 and the OBE.

MEGANTIC was built in 1909 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 14878grt, a length of 550ft 4in, a beam of 67ft 4in and a service speed of 17 knots. Sister of the Laurentic she was laid down as the Albany for the Dominion Line but launched on 10th December 1908 as the Megantic. Propelled by conventional machinery she was used to measure comparisons with Laurentic’s new turbines. Turbines proved to be more efficient but the cost of re-engining the Megantic was cost prohibitive and, in the event, quadruple expansion engines were perfectly adequate for her duties. Delivered on 3rd June 1909 she completed the requirement for four ships on the weekly White Star-Dominion Joint Service between Liverpool and Montreal and commenced her maiden voyage on 17th June. In 1910 she carried the wife murdered Dr Crippen from Canada to the UK after his arrest. On 3rd October 1914 she sailed from Gaspé as part of the famed 32 ship convoy which carried 35,000 Canadian troops to Europe accompanied by the warships Charybdis, Diane, Eclipse, Glory and Talbot. When the convoy was approaching the UK it was split into squadrons which had varying ports of disembarkation. The Megantic was allocated to White Squadron together with the Bermudian, Royal Edward and Franconia and proceeded to Plymouth where they were to arrive ahead of the Blue Squadron. On 14th October they anchored off Devonport. She was later placed on the Liverpool-New York route. In April 1915 she was used as a troopship with accommodation for 1800 men. On 24th February 1917 she was attacked by UB-43 but sustained no damage and in the following April was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme. She quickly returned to commercial service following the conclusion of World War One and made her first post war sailing from Liverpool to New York on 11th December 1918. During 1919 she was refurbished at Belfast and subsequently returned to the Canadian service with the Canada which had replaced the lost Laurentic. During the off-season she operated cruises between New York and the West Indies. In January 1920 she made one sailing on the White Star-Shaw Savill & Albion joint service carrying Government staff to Sydney before proceeding to Wellington. She was converted to Cabin Class in 1924 and in 1927 was chartered for one voyage to carry troops to Shanghai. On 22nd March 1928 she was transferred to the London – Le Havre – Halifax – New York service while the St Lawrence was ice bound and to Quebec and Montreal in the summer months which became her annual schedule. During 1930-31 she operated economy cruises together with the Adriatic, Calgaric and Laurentic (2). In May 1931 she reverted to the Liverpool-Quebec-Montreal service before being laid up in Rothesay Bay in the following July. She sailed for Osaka where she was broken up in February 1933.

ZEELAND/NORTHLAND was built in 1901 by John Brown & Co. at Clydebank with a tonnage of 11905grt, a length of 561ft 7in, a beam of 60ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was launched on 24th November 1900 for the Red Star Line flying the Red Ensign. Their largest ship she was ice strengthened forward which was a rare event at that time. Delivered on 5th April 1901 she commenced her maiden voyage from Antwerp to New York on 13th April flying the Belgian flag. In 1902 her controlling owners were the International Navigation Co. of New Jersey which, in February 1902, became the International Mercantile Marine Co (IMMC). She collided with Ropner’s Hartlepool of the Straits of Dover in 1909 when both ships were deemed to be equally at fault. On 11th April 1910 she was transferred within the IMMC Group to White Star and pending the delivery of the Olympic was used as a replacement for the Republic which had been lost. She commenced her first sailing, in Red Star livery, from Liverpool to New York on 19th April and during the off season disembarked at Boston. On 14th September 1911 she reverted to Red Star under the British flag but in the following year was re-registered at Antwerp and flew the Belgian flag. In July 1914 she collided with Atlantic Transport’s Missouri during a voyage to New York. On 11th September, following the closure of Antwerp due to wartime conditions, she was returned to White Star to replace ships requisitioned for Government service. As Southampton had become a military port she operated between Liverpool and New York and then Liverpool to Canada. In June 1915 she was taken over for trooping duties and as her name sounded too Germanic was renamed Northland with International Navigation Co. recorded as her owner. She reverted to the White Star-Joint Dominion service to Canada in August 1916 and after seven voyages was taken over by the Shipping Controller under the Liner Requisition Scheme in March 1917. Decommissioned in September 1919 she was refitted at Liverpool and Belfast during 1920 and refurnished in Antwerp before being renamed Zeeland and recommencing her Red Star sailings from Antwerp to New York with a call at Southampton on 18th August. Her terminal port in Europe became Hamburg in 1921and in 1924 she was converted to Tourist Class. In January 1927 she was sold to Atlantic Transport Line of Liverpool and renamed Minnesota. With the Megantic she made one trooping voyage to Shanghai with Royal Marines before being deployed on the London to New York route. In October 1929 she was sold to Thos. W Ward and during 1930 was broken up at Inverkeithing.

VADERLAND/SOUTHLAND was built in 1900 by John Brown & Co. at Clydebank with a tonnage of 11899grt, a length of 560ft 8in, a beam of 60ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Zeeland she was launched on 12th July 1900 for the International Navigation Co. and allocated to the Red Star Line flying the British flag. Delivered on 29th November she commenced her maiden voyage Antwerp- Southampton-Cherbourg-New York on 8th December. In 1903 she was registered at Antwerp and flew the Belgian flag. She also made frequent calls to Dover instead of Southampton. On 25th July 1914 she made her final pre-war sailing from Antwerp arriving in New York shortly before World War 1 was declared. When Belgium was overrun by the Germans in the August she was transferred to White Star Line and commenced her first sailing from New York to Southampton on 3rd September. In 1915 she was renamed Southland as the Dutch name ‘Vaderland’ was too similar to the German ‘Vaterland’. At the same time she was transferred to the White Star-Dominion Joint Service from Liverpool to Canada and in the Spring was requisitioned as a troopship for the Dardenelles campaign. She carried troops to Mudros which was the British army’s transhipment port from where the troops were taken to the beaches on warships or ‘K’ type landing barges. On 2nd September 1915 she was torpedoed by UB-14 whilst transporting 1,400 men of the 2nd Australian Division from Alexandria to Mudros and was assisted into port by HMS Racoon. By August she was back on the Liverpool to Montreal Joint Service route and when the Americans entered the war in April 1917 she was used for eastbound Atlantic trooping. On 4th June 1917 she was hit by two torpedoes from U-70 and sank 140 miles north-west of Tory Island with the loss of 4 lives.

BELGIC (3) was built in 1903 by New York Shipbuilding Corp. at Camden, New Jersey with a tonnage of 9748grt, a length of 490ft 5in, a beam of 58ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was completed as the Mississippi for the Atlantic Transport Line and equipped to carry cattle eastbound. Transferred within the IMMC Group to the Red Star Line in 1906 she was renamed Samland and flew the Belgian flag. Operating on the Antwerp-New York service she carried cargo only and no cattle. When the Nederland was scrapped she replaced her on the Philadelphia service. In the following year she was herself replaced on the Philadelphia route by the Gothland and returned to the Antwerp-New York run. On 30th August 1911 she was transferred to White Star Line ownership and renamed Belgic. Two years later, in 1913, she reverted back to the Red Star Line and Samland on the Antwerp- New York service. In 1930 she was laid up and in 1931 was broken up by Van Huyghen Fréres at Ghent.

OLYMPIC (2) was built in 1911 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 45324grt, a length of 882ft, a beam of 92ft 6in and a service speed of 21 knots. Her keel was laid down on 16th December 1908 in the yard vacated by the Laurentic. The berth had to be extended to accommodate the new keel and a new 150ft floating crane had to be built to facilitate the fitting out. Originally designed by A.M. Carlisle with three funnels, a fourth was added which was a dummy and only used for the galley uptakes. The first of three ships for a weekly service to New York, the Titanic and Britannic being her sisters, she was launched at 1100hrs on 20th October 1910. She took 62 seconds to become waterborne and reached 12.5 knots as she slid down the slipway. At the time of her launch she was the largest ship in the world but her sisters were both fractionally larger when completed. On 28th May 1911 she undertook her trials attended by the new tenders Nomadic and Traffic and five Alexandra Towing tugs. She was at Liverpool on 1st June with guests and was opened for inspection by the public. Her maiden voyage commenced on 14th June and she completed the run from Southampton to New York in 5 days 16 hrs 42 mins at an average speed of 21.17 knots. On 20th September when bound for New York under the command of Capt. Edwards Smith and pilot G. W. Bowyer she was rammed by the cruiser HMS Hawke in the Solent. The cruiser had attempted to pass astern of the Olympic but hit her abreast of the mainmast on the starboard side. HMS Hawke was towed stern first into Portsmouth and the Olympic with a 42ft gash below the waterline proceeded to Belfast for repairs which took 6 weeks. Amazingly, the Olympic was blamed for the accident as her size and speed had sucked the cruiser, whose initial separation distance exceeded that laid down by the Admiralty, off course. Litigation followed and although the case went to the House of Lords the verdict was upheld. In February 1912 she was overhauled at Belfast during which time a new propeller was fitted and she was photographed with the Titanic which was fitting out. Following the loss of the Titanic in April 1912 she completed five voyages before returning to Harland & Wolff for safety rebuilding which took six months. Her double bottoms were extended to the waterline, bulkheads were brought to full height and 28 additional lifeboats were added in accordance with the Court’s recommendations. The cost was £250,000 which could almost have bought a new secondary liner and all the White Star ships were similarly treated as were all British liners which did not have sufficient lifeboats for the passengers. The rebuild increased her tonnage to 46439grt and during her absence the America Line undertook her sailings. In August 1914 she was requisitioned for use as a troopship and on 27th October , when inbound for the Clyde and off Tory Island, attempted to tow the mined and sinking battleship HMS Audacious into Loch Foyle. When the battleship began to founder she took off the crew and was subsequently required to wait in Loch Fyne for a week while the minefield, which had been laid by NDL’s Berlin, was swept. She consequently acquired the distinction of being the largest Oceanic Steam Navigation ship to visit the Clyde. During September 1915 she trooped mainly to the Mediterranean under the white ensign, dazzle painted and equipped with a 6 inch gun. On 1st October she was chased by a U-boat and on 23rd and 26th February 1916 was missed by torpedoes when in the Mediterranean. On 12th May 1918, during her 22nd trooping voyage, she avoided a torpedo attack and proceeded to ram and sink U-103 off the Lizard. The survivors were picked up by the escorting American destroyer. On 8th December she carried 5000 Canadian troops home to Halifax. During 1919 she repatriated Canadian and US troops and all in all carried over 200,000 troops and steamed some 180,000 miles during her wartime service. Nicknamed ‘Old Reliable’ she returned to Harland & Wolff on 12 August where she was refurbished at a cost of £500,000. During the refurbishment she was converted to oil burning and, as a result, her engine room staff was reduced from 246 to 60. On 21st July 1920 she returned to the Southampton – New York service with the Adriatic and in the following year made her fastest crossing in 5 days 12 hrs 39 mins. In 1924, on 22nd March, she collided with Furness-Bermuda Line’s Fort St. George and broke her stern post. During 1929 she ran 3.5 days ‘Quick Trips’ between New York and Halifax with the Majestic and their stay in New York lasted for one week. On 10th May 1934 she was taken over by Cunard-White Star and six days later rammed and sank the Nantucket Light vessel killing 8 people. She commenced her final sailing from New York to Southampton on 27th March 1935 and on 12th April was laid up at Southampton. In the following September she was sold to Sir John Jarvis for £100,000 and later re-sold to Metal Industries (Thos. W. Ward) for demolition and on the condition that she was broken up at Jarrow to relieve the unemployment there. After 24 years service she arrived at Jarrow on 13th October where she was dismantled down to waterline level. At the point, on 19th September 1937, she was towed to Inverkeithing for final dmolition.

THE WHITE STAR LINE

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.
For more detailed information on the Britannic visit- http://members.aol.com/kumquatw/britannic.htm

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.