the olympic class liners

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/04/15

There were three of the Olympic class liners of the British White Star Lines:

In a recent lecture, Norman Brouwer said it is easy to tell the difference between the Olympic and the Titanic: the 1st class passenger promenade is open in Olympic, in the Titanic, it was closed off.

Also, fewer lifeboats (namely, twenty for 1,178 people) were on the Titanic as “the seagoing public unquestionably thoroughly appreciates the advantage presented by clear deck space as well as unrestricted view.” This quote was found by Conrad Milster in an 1910 engineering journal.

RMS Olympic
 1911-1935     (Royal Mail Steamer)

Length: 882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam: 92 ft 6 in (28.2 m)
Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Capacity: 2,435 passengers

Longest running ship of the line, nicknamed Old Reliable. In 1917, she was beDazzled! and carried Canadian and American troops. During thick fog in May 1934, she rammed and sank LV-117 Lightship Nantucket in the Ambrose Channel with loss of seven lives from a crew of eleven.

 painting by Arthur Lismer, 1919


Length: 882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam: 92 ft 0 in (28.0 m)
Height: 175 ft (53.3 m) (keel to top of funnels)
Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Depth: 64 ft 6 in (19.7 m)
Capacity: Passengers: 2,435, crew: 892

For a visual orgy and offbeat links of that sinking feeling, pls click there.  Forwarded from Old Salt Blog, a Gothamist article on people who were shocked, shocked to learn Titanic was not just a movie, but a real ship.

HMHS Britannic
 1914-1916   (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship)

Length: 882 ft 9 in (269.06 m)
Beam: 94 ft (29 m)
Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.54 m)
Capacity: 675 as hospital ship (300 wounded, 489 medical staff)
Crew: 860
Notes: Carried no civilian passengers

The third ship was to be named Gigantic, but after the loss of the Titanic, White Star Lines changed it to the Britannic. She became a hospital ship and was transporting 1,066 people through the Aegean Sea when she was struck by what is believed to be a naval mine. The ship went down, but 1,036 people were saved.

One crew member, a nurse named Violet Jessop, survived disasters with every single ship of the Olympic Class: the 1911 collision on the Olympic with the  British warship, HMS Hawke, the sinking of Titanic, and the 1916 sinking of the Britannic! She continued working with White Star Line, survived them, and seems to have worked on ships until she retired.

The White Star Lines ships were all built by Harland & Wolff:

In New York, the ships docked here at pier 54:



Today, pier 54 is a long concrete field atop crumbling pilings at the end of 13th street west side. The skyline of Hoboken NJ (not shown) lies across North River.

The big business for the transatlantic shipping was immigration: over 30 million came here to the New World by ship; 12 million of them passed through Ellis Island.

The 1918 Immigrant Act to weed out foreign anarchists, the 1921 Emergency Immigration Act and the work of the Dillingham Commission set quotas and ended that trade.

Luckily for ships, business started going the other direction, and emigrant bunks were converted into tourist berths. The Depression killed off a few lines, two World Wars sunk more than a few ships, but nothing could finish off the ocean liners like the Jet Age, starting with the Comet in 1949.

However, during its heyday, from 1925 to 1935, competition was international and fierce. Most lines competed for speed, the unofficial prize being the Blue Riband of which the last winner is sitting rusting away at Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. The Olympic class was less interested in speed, and went lavish in luxury instead.

Thank you, Norman Brouwer, Conrad Milster for much information.

Weigh in at Tugster’s. Promenade through Old Salt Blog who found this Gothamist article on people who are shocked, shocked it was not just a movie!

A thorough site here:  The Titanic and Other White Star Line Ships

I love books. I love my copy of Frederick Emmons’s The Atlantic Liners.

10 Responses

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  1. walt said, on 2012/04/15 at 15:05

    Across form pier 54 14th street is Steven’s Tech. They’ve taken down their 14 story DWV soil pipe test tower.
    Your’s truly went there in 2008 for an engineering job: the hours were odd 13:00-21:00, so as to enable one to drive in and out of Hoboken on the only viaduct into Hoboken from North Jersey Needless to say, i stayed in Paterson 00:00 to 08:00 doing both engineering and security all alone in a 300,000 SF campus.
    And more than occasionally one can see the FDNY’s McKean with Direct Reversing Enterprise Diesel Engines
    just to the left of this Historic Pier

  2. […] a comparison of Titanic with her two sisters, check out the inimitable bowsprite’s post here . . […]

  3. tugster said, on 2012/04/15 at 15:37

    that last drawing captures the haunted remnants of pier 54 . . . once portal in and out for the rich and famous, inspiration for those who crossed in steerage. click for old footage of carpathia arriving in the sixth boro with titanic survivors:

  4. […] keep reading on Bowsprite […]

  5. starbuck5250 said, on 2012/04/16 at 11:24

    In my mind’s eye, I always see those sisters as bright and beautiful as you’ve drawn them.

  6. mageb said, on 2012/04/16 at 12:28

    Just delightful. You even got the life boats right. I have ship books to envy. 🙂

  7. Ken said, on 2012/04/20 at 22:16

    Very cool drawings.

  8. mageb said, on 2012/04/26 at 11:47

    I thought you might be interested in a current tour of the yard. Peter Knego, at Maritime Matters,
    went on the Marco Polo memorial cruise and they stopped long enough for him to get pictures. Pert three I think.

  9. Vagabonde said, on 2012/05/01 at 19:31

    I enjoyed your sketches of the three White Star Line ships. My last 3 posts were on the Titanic – reading about it on the Queen Victoria, then at home and then going to the exhibit. My current post is about NOLA where we spent a few days – you would have loved it – it was Navy Week and there were tall ships, US Navy ships and even a French Frigate. Two more weeks and we’ll be in NYC – hurrah!

  10. […] Bowsprite – the olympic class liners […]

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