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.

Clippers in NYHarbor: Robin Knox-Johnston

Happy April 22–the 40th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race the first round-the-world, solo, nonstop yacht race. The winner was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Messing about in Boats’ began the tribute, and has good post on the boat Suhaili and observations: “Sailing is one of the oldest forms of transport but has evolved so much in 40 years that boats can travel long distance distance 400-500% faster. Is there any other form of transportation that has evolved as much?”

70.8%twilight4 has put up an encyclopedic post and interesting read. Oh! this one’s cool: from Invisible Workshop! and this one is elegant: from Tillerman.
Many others have joined the tribute…(look here for the muster! It’s all hands on deck!)

My RKJ celebration contribution is to share this book: The Twilight of Sail, Robin Knox-Johnson. First American Edition 1979, G.P.Putnam’s Sons, New York

Beautiful black & white photographs (over 120) of clipper ships, full rigged ocean flyers, from the mid 1850’s and on.
Fascinating history:

• the first real clipper ship, the Rainbow, built in 1845, ran from New York to Canton in record time: roundtrip – 6 months and 14 days,
• the China Tea Races and the Opium run from India to China spurred the building of faster ships,
• the British Navigation Act forbade the carriage of cargoes by any other than British ships. When it was repealed in 1849, it brought on a flush of American clippers, like the Oriental, which did HongKong to London in 97 days, with 1,118 tons of tea on board,
• the British fought back, launching the Aberdeen clippers, a race which they won by 1855 taking the trade back from the Americans,
• the only surviving British tea clipper is the Cutty Sark in a dry dock at Greenwich.


“The Procyon with [all sails] set…at 2,132 tons, one of the largest three-masted barques under the British flag, she distinguished herself on the maiden voyage by sailing to New York in fifteen days.”


The largest schooner ever built, the Thomas W. Lawson, was built in Quincy, Massachusetts…she “measured 5,000 tons gross and had a waterline length of 385 feet. Her seven masts were each 193 feet hight and carried nothing but fore and aft sails. All her halyards, topping lifts and sheets were led to two steam winches, one on the forecastle and one aft.” Only sixteen men were required to handle her.

“…the building of the Suez Canal and the establishment of a road across the Isthmus of Panama enabled steamers to move in on these lucrative routes and brought the great sailing-ship era to an end.”

For now. Who knows which way the wind blows? For the stubborn few who continue to dream, take a peek here and sign up for a stint to learn the ropes (if you don’t already know), for when clippers return, we will need you: ASTAAmerican Sail Training Association.

And keep an eye out for more companies sailing products from harbor to harbor, like this one: Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile.