Monday, November 28, 2011

Ship History 6



Kevin Scott Bolinger

    Welcome aboard one and all. Today I bring you a special ship. One that really changed the way passenger ships were designed in the 20th century. A ship that was called  the last of the lean yacht-like racers and the first of the true floating palaces. Though her long life and success would be marred and shrouded behind the tragedies that befell her two sisters, she herself would become known as “The Old Reliable.” So, pull up a deck chair, take in the ocean breeze, and enjoy, whilst I share the tale of the White Star Liner, RMS OLYMPIC.

     Our tale begins with, oddly enough, a dinner party. The year was 1907, and the White Star Line’s chief rival, the Cunard Line had just launched the first of their two new super liners, the LUSITANIA. She would soon be joined by her slightly larger and faster sister, MAURETANIA. Though larger than most liners of the day, it was not by much, however. Coming in at only about 50ft longer than the largest White Star ship of the day, the ADRIATIC,  the true wonder of the two ships was their great speed, made possible by using steam turbines instead of traditional reciprocating engines. So, at this dinner party, held at the home of Lord William Pirrie, head of the Harland and Wolff Shipyard of Belfast, and attended by J.Bruce Ismay, head of the White Star Line, a plan was put in place. 
Lusitania (foreground) and Mauretania

    This grand plan involved building not two monster ships, but three. They would each be nearly 100ft longer than the two Cunarders, and would out weigh them by a large margin, coming in at over 45,000 tons as apposed to the 36,000 tons the two sisters were. The shipyard would need a major overhaul before construction could begin. An area once used to house three ships was rebuilt into two giant slips, with an enormous gantry overhead, built by the William Arrol  Company, who had recently built the Forth railway bridge in England. The Arrol Gantry, as it was known, would be capable of lifting the massive hull plates planned for the new ships. So, on December 18th, 1908, the keel for yard number 400 was laid.
Olympic and Titanic in the Arrol Gantry.

    The general design of the new class of liners fell to Lord Pirrie himself, with the details, equipment, and final look being the job of Alexander Carlisle, Harland and Wolff’s Managing Director. He would create the final hull shape, clean lines and other aesthetics of the ships. However, Carlisle designed the class to hold 64 lifeboats, but when it came time to push this point, he was voted down, and he signed off on the final design. He would later claim that he was “ very soft the day I signed that.” Carlisle would retire in 1910, and be replaced by Thomas Andrews, who would sadly be lost with the TITANIC in 1912, due, ironically, to a lack of lifeboats.

    The great skeleton raising in the number 1 slip was soon joined, in March of 1909, by yard number 401, her nearly identical sister. As the two monster ships grew, they seemed to dominate the horizon near the shipyard, towering over all the buildings and workshops contained therein. As plating was nearing completion on number 400, the two ships names were revealed to the public, OLYMPIC and TITANIC. As the first ship’s launch date was fast approaching, it was decided to paint her hull a light grey, to make it easier on photographers. 
Popular chart comparing Olympic to famous structures.

    The statistics of  the ship are staggering. When complete, she would be 882ft 7in long, 92ft 6in wide. Her gross tonnage at the time of her maiden voyage would be 45,323, however, this would be increased upon subsequent refits, going to 46.358 in 1913, and 46,493 in 1920. Her height, measured from her keel to the top of her funnels came in at just over 150ft, from her forecastle down to the waterline would be a staggering 75ft, she displaced 52,310 tons of water when fully laden. Each link in the chains for her massive anchors weighed in at 150lbs. Her main engines stood 4 stories tall. Her wing propellers came in at a diameter of just over 22ft, making them the largest ever put to a steamship, even her center propeller, though smaller, was still an impressive 16ft in diameter. She would have a combined engine power of over 60,000 horsepower. Everything was done on a massive scale. Her hull would contain over 3 million rivets. Still, by today’s standards, she is small, when compared to ships like the QUEEN MARY 2, but modern ships lack the grace and majesty of the liners of old.
Dwarfed by the Queen Mary 2
The launch!

    The great day came, October 20th, 1910. Crowds were gathered from all around Great Brittan, to witness a true modern marvel take to the water for the first time. As was the tradition of the White Star Line, there would be no christening, just a signal horn at the appropriate time, and a release of the hydraulic triggers holding the hull in place. The ways were covered in hundreds of tons of soap, grease and tallow, to help the great ship slide gently backwards into the harbor. Drag chains were attached to her hull, that were designed to slow her and bring her to a stop once afloat. At the assigned time, the triggers were released, and a warning bell signaled that the ship was in motion. Less then a minute later, she was floating majestically as a fleet of tugs wrangled her to the fitting out basin.
Moments after the launch.

    Over the next few months, thousands of workers would descend upon the yard, transforming the empty hull into a working ship. Unlike their Cunard rivals, the OLYMPIC class, as the three ships would become known as, would use a combination propulsion system. They decided that the ships would have what would end up becoming the largest reciprocating steam engines ever produced. The exhaust steam from these would be fed into a single turbine engine. This gave the ships triple screw propulsion, and would end up being a design flaw that would hurt them in April of 1912. The decided to test this configuration out on two identical sister, the MEGANTIC and LUARENTIC, with the former having a traditional twin screw, quadruple expansion engine set up, and the latter having the triple screw, reciprocating engine, turbine combination. The experiment paid off, with the LAURENTIC being slightly faster, yet still more economical on coal consumption than her sister. White Star always went with the comfort of speed philosophy, and though the new liners would be slower than the Cunarders, with those running at an average of 25 knots and the White Star ships coming in at 21 knots, they would still be highly competitive on the North Atlantic run.
The grand staircase, with the famous clock,Honor and Glory Crowning Time.

    By late May, 1911, the OLYMPIC was ready for her sea trial. She preformed better than her designers had expected, and at one point during her trials, she briefly was brought to the speed of 24 knots. With everything more than satisfactory, it was time to hand her over to the White Star Line. May 31st, 1911, became a double celebration fro the line. The hull of number 401, TITANIC, was ready to enter the water, and the OLYMPIC  would be officially handed over after the launch of her sister.  Once TITANIC was afloat, a luncheon was held upon her sister. Shortly thereafter, the great ship was brought to her home port of Liverpool, where she would be opened to the public, for a small fee of course, going towards local charities. Everyone was astounded by what they saw. OLYMPIC was not only large, but her interiors were spectacular. She easily earned her reputation as a floating palace.
Maiden arrival in New York, with Lusitania departing behind her.

    Upon leaving Liverpool, she was steered towards Southampton, where the final preparations were made for her maiden voyage. Joining the ship would be a guarantee group from Harland and Wolff, there to note any improvements that could be made to her sister, and also to deal with any problems that might arise on the trip. Also coming on board was Captain Edward John Smith, White Star’s most senior Captain, whose job it was to break in any new significant vessel entering service. The maiden voyage got off to a great start, however, upon reaching New York , as tugs were struggling to get her massive bulk into the slip at pier 59, the tug O.L. HALLENBACH  got to close to the liners stern, and the tugs rudder was damaged as a result. Other than that, and the slight against her made by the departing LUSITANIA, whose master refused to return the salute afforded by the OLYMPIC, the trip was a huge success. The ship made the crossing in just over five days, at an average of 21.7 knots. Bruce Ismay reported that OLYMPIC was a “marvel.” She certainly was, as thousands flocked to the piers to see the world’s largest ship.
Above water damage from the Hawke collision.

    Her next few voyages were also without incident, but all that would change as she was outbound from Southampton on September 20, 1911. With the Southampton pilot in charge on the bridge, the liner was making her way out to sea, when the British warship, HMS HAWKE , which was at first ahead, but had quickly fallen in line with the larger ship, suddenly lost control of her rudder, and was sucked into the OLYMPIC’s stern, puncturing it above and below the water line, and damaging the starboard shaft and propeller. The bow of the HAWKE was crushed and ruined. Though damaged, the OLYMPIC was able to make her way back to the dock and discharge her passengers. Divers then attached temporary patches to the hull, and the great ship headed back to Belfast, where the only dry dock large enough to take her existed.  The problem with this was that the dry dock was currently occupied by her sister, still fitting out. A sad side not to this, given the damage to the OLYMPIC, which was great, the fact that the ship barely even listed to starboard help give credence to the myth that she and her sisters were unsinkable.
HMS Hawke after striking Olympic.

    Men and materials were shifted from finishing TITANIC and put to the task of repairing OLYMPIC. The result was one of the only times the two sisters would ever be photographed together. The Royal Navy was also blaming White Star for the incident, and even though the harbor pilot was in command, they still named Captain Smith as responsible. In the end, it was revealed that the large hull of an enormous liner like OLYMPIC can cause a massive suction effect as it gets up to speed. This effect would come into play in April of  1912, as TITANIC was leaving Southampton.

    After many weeks of repair, the OLYMPIC would return to service, good as new. A few months later, she would return to Belfast yet again, due to losing a propeller blade on an uncharted wreck during one of her crossings. This return would cause a delay in her sister’s maiden voyage, moving it from late March to April 10th, 1912. This trip to Belfast would also mark the last time the two sisters would ever be in port together.
In dry dock, showing the damage below water.

    On the night of April 14/15 1912, the OLYMPIC was a day out of New York, heading to England, when she received a faint distress call from her sister. Her master, Captain Haddock, calculated that they were over 500 miles from the sinking TITANIC. He ordered all speed possible, yet sadly, when they were within 100 miles of the recorded position, they received a message from the Cunard liner CARPATHIA. She had all the survivors on board, and reported that the TITANIC  had gone down at around 2:20 am ship time, taking over 1500 souls with her. At first, it was suggested to Bruce Ismay, who survived the sinking, that the CARPATHIA meet up with the OLYMPIC and transfer the survivors to the far larger ship. This was met by a look of horror on Ismay's face as he pointed out that the survivors might panic when they see the nearly identical ship that had just sunk beneath them. With a heavy heart, Haddock continued on his original course, reducing speed to normal. Using the OLYMPIC’s far stronger wireless, she became the relay station fro the CARPATHIA and the mainland until she too was out of range.
One of the only times the two sisters were afloat together.

    Once she was docked in Southampton, crews went right to work fitting additional lifeboats to her, many coming from liners that had recently been taken out of service. She left on her next trip on April 27th, 1912, but soon, the black gang, consisting of the stokers, trimmers, and passers in the boiler rooms, mutinied. They refused to sail on a ship without adequate life boats for all, claiming that many of the additional boats were not seaworthy, and had reached their useful lifespan.  The voyage was cancelled, until the dispute could be resolved. In late 1912, she was pulled from service and returned to Belfast for her first major refit.
April 1912, receiving new lifeboats.

    It was decided to make the ship far less susceptible to the damage that had been inflicted on her ill-fated sister. Her double hull was extended up the sides of the ship, to above the water line. Her watertight bulkheads were raised, and were capped off with a watertight deck. They also took this opportunity to test a new innovation in ship technology. They installed two oil fired boilers. The plan was to see how well these two boilers would run compared to the manually fed coal boilers. Unfortunately, the fruits of this experiment would have to wait, as the world would soon be plunged into a war the likes of which it had never seen. When she returned to service, in early 1913, she had regained the title of largest ship in the world, her post refit tonnage slightly exceeding her lost sister’s. She would hold this title till June, when Germany would put into service their first super liner, the IMPERATOR.

Audacious with lifeboats from Olympic taken from the liners deck.

     When World War 1 first broke out, the OLYMPIC was still used for passenger service. However, by October, Germany had threatened that her U-boats would sink the great ship on site. On October 20th, 1914, she left New York and began her return to England, though with very few passengers on board, many having cancelled after Germany’s threat. As she was approaching the coast, she received a distress call. The new British battleship, HMS AUDACIOUS had struck a mine and was sinking. It was thought that the OLYMPIC could be used to tow her to shallower water, where she could be beached. The attempt was made, but the battleship had taken on too much water, and coupled with the rough seas, the tow lines kept parting. The officers and crew of the AUDACIOUS were rescued by the OLYMPIC and a few smaller vessels. Then, the great liner was ordered to Lough Swilly, where she would be interned for a while, the head of the Royal Navy wanting to keep the sinking of the AUDACIOUS hidden from the public for morale reasons.
A cleaver disguise, but not cleaver enough.

    Another interesting incident from the beginning of the war happened shortly after hostilities broke out. In New York, a call came down from Bar Harbor, Maine. The harbor master there was wondering why the  OLYMPIC was sitting anchored in his harbor. The man in New York quickly informed him that the OLYMPIC was currently tied up to her normal spot at pier 59, and that the harbor master was mistaken. It was soon revealed that the German liner,  KRONPRINZESSIN CECILIE, in an attempt to avoid capture by the British, had painted her funnels to look like the famous White Star liner.  She made for the United States, currently neutral, and snuck into Bar Harbor in the middle of the night. The ship would be interned and eventually put to use in the war effort. After the war, she and three of her sisters would spend about 30 years rusting away, anchored together in the back waters of Norfolk, Virginia.
Very rare photo of Olympic and  Britannic (foreground).

    Soon after, the OLYMPIC  and her nearly completed sister, BRITANNIC were both called up for service, along with many other liners from both Cunard and White Star. BRITANNIC was converted to a hospital ship, and she served well in this role, until her untimely sinking by a mine in the Aegean sea in November of 1916. The OLYMPIC it was decided, would become a troop transport. She was refitted for this purpose, with 5 inch guns added fore and aft. With her speed and size, she would run separate from the convoys that many slower ships traveled in. Soon she was off to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to bring thousands of troops to the war effort.
In her "war paint"

    For most of the war, the OLYMPIC would perform her duties admirably. She was even sent to the Dardanelles region, to assist with evacuation, marking one of the few times she was ever seen with the BRITANNIC. She was popular with the troops, and it was they that gave her the nickname she would keep for the rest of her days, “Old Reliable.”

    As the war was reaching a fever pace, an incident occurred that would forever put the OLYMPIC in the record books. On May 12th, 1918, in the early morning, a U-boat was spotted. The ship was fully loaded with troops, and a torpedo hit would be disastrous. The U-boat, later identified as U-103, began to make for the liner, but the gun crews on deck began to fire at it. On the bridge, Captain Bertram Hayes grabbed the wheel and turned the OLYMPIC directly at the sub, it’s crew trying to crash dive to avoid the liner. The great ship’s bow sliced into the U-boat just aft of the conning tower, and as she passed over, her port propeller sliced into the pressure hull of the sub. The crew of the U-boat had no choice but to abandon ship, scuttling the sub in the process. The OLYMPIC did not stop to pick up survivors, leaving that to a US destroyer, the USS DAVIS. The White Star liner is the only passenger ship to ever sink an enemy warship during hostilities. After the war, a medal commemorating this would be placed in her first class grand staircase.
In Halifax after the war.

    When the war ended, the OLYMPIC was tasked with repatriating troops to Halifax. On one such journey, as she was being lead into the harbor, all the men lined the rails, to the point where the OLYMPIC took on a slight list. Everyone was happy to be home. Once she was released from government service, it was off to Belfast for a much needed dry docking and refit.

    The post war refit was one of the most significant of her life. For one thing, there was a lot of damage from the war to be dealt with. Her regular maintenance was neglected during the war, and she looked older then she really was. Also, her stem had been twisted two degrees from impact with the U-103. When they finally got her into the dry dock, they discovered something very curious. On her port side bilge area, about midway down her hull, was a series of plates that had been dented inwards, enough to allow a small amount of water into her bilge. Apparently, at some point during the war, she had been struck by a dud torpedo, the sub commander that fired it must have been cursing his bad luck. 
Entering a floating dry dock in Southampton.

     As her outer hull was being repaired, inside, she was fully converted from being coal fed to being oil fed. This would reduce the engineering departments head count from over 300 to just around 60. As she was nearing the end of her refit, a fire broke out as they were doing a test of the new oil system. It was quickly extinguished, and the culprit was found to be faulty valves. The next few weeks were spent replacing every single valve with far more reliable ones. Her passenger accommodations were given a much needed overhaul, reducing the number of first class cabins, and adding more public lavatories. Unlike the cruise ships of today, back then, cabins did not come with their own plumbing.

    Just as she was back in 1911, when she returned to service after the war, the OLYMPIC was opened to public inspection. She would soon be joined by two new running mate, since both her sisters were sitting at the bottom of the sea. These new ships would come from German fleets, prizes of war, some would call them, taken as a way to repay the lines for the losses they suffered at the hands of German U-boats. The two largest losses belonged to Cunard and White Star respectively, with the former losing the LUSITANIA, in a horrendous act I already covered in a previous blog, and White Star losing the BRITANNIC, a victim of war, never having seen a paying customer. White Star would be given the largest ship the Germans had, the BISMARK.  She would be renamed  MAJESTIC and would return to White Star the honor of having the largest ship in the world. The third ship to be paired with OLYMPIC and MAJESTIC on the New York run would be the former COLUMBUS, renamed HOMERIC, though she would be the weak link in the trio, being far slower than her larger running mates.
Olympic's funnels seen here in New York in the 20's (far right)

    The 1920’s brought prosperity and regularity to the OLYMPIC. She was always one of White Star’s most popular ships with both the regular public, and with celebrities and dignitaries of the day. She lived up to her was nickname of “Old Reliable,” and her performance week in and week out proved it. On two separate occasions, she made identical runs. Given the unpredictability of crossing the North Atlantic at that time, that is to be highly commended. However, the White Star line had changed hands, and now, under Lord Kyslant and his Royal Mail Group, many irregularities were beginning to show in the company ledgers. When the crash of 1929 hit, Kyslant would end up arrested, and the company thrown into chaos.
A New York Arrival in the 1920's

    1924 would be an odd year for the ship, one marked with both a minor collision, and then later, a great honor. The collision occurred as she was being backed out of her slip and into the Hudson river in New York, on March 22, 1924. Further up river, the Bermuda bound liner FORT ST. GEORGE, had just left her berth, and was racing her rival on the Bermuda run, the ARCADIAN. As the two ships sped up, trying to outdo each other, they failed to notice the giant White Star liner as it was backing into the channel. The ARCADIAN, being on the outside track, would easily clear the OLYMPIC. Alas, the same could not be said for the FORT ST.GEORGE. The ship would brush past the OLYMPIC’s stern, tearing away 150ft of railing, and causing other damages. Her trip to Bermuda was then cancelled, and her passengers transferred to her rival. As for the OLYMPIC, she would stop near quarantine, where divers would check her for damage, which was only cosmetic. Another sad incident to mark the year was the passing of Lord Pirrie on June 6th, while he was onboard another ship, headed to New York from a business venture he had in South America. The OLYMPIC was given the sad task of bringing his body home for burial. As the year closed, on October 25th, the great ship would have the honor of carrying as her passenger, the Prince of Wales, returning to England after touring the United States and Canada. While he was onboard, the ship encountered a storm, yet the OLYMPIC had always handled heavy weather admirably, and this was no exception. The Prince was very pleased with his crossing.
In dry dock during a refit.

    On Monday, November 18th, 1929, a very unusual occurrence happened, catching everyone on board off guard. The ship was in the middle of the Atlantic, steaming on a calm sea with clear skies, when suddenly, the entire ship was shaken violently for two minutes. Her Captain at the time, Walter Parker, came running from the chartroom to see if they had hit anything. Fearing that they may have lost a propeller or worse, he sent for the ship’s carpenter to sound the ship, meaning to check if she was taking on water. All her tanks were dry, and other than the electricity in the mailroom being knocked out, the ship was fine. The great OLYMPIC had just had a run in with mother nature, an undersea quake, whose epicenter was ironically not far from the sunken remains of her sister TITANIC, had shaken the ship like a leaf. 

    The Great Depression took it’s toll on all the shipping lines. Cunard had hired the John Brown Shipyard to construct a new super liner for them, one that would become famous in her own right. However, as funds began to dwindle, all work stopped on what was known as just Hull 534. White Star had a similar problem. They too had started a new giant, but it was soon abandoned, the steel that had already been laid being reused into a new BRITANNIC, the company’s first diesel driven motor ship. With both of her premiere shipping lines in danger of going under, and the fear of having no ships in case of war, the British government stepped in, and forced a merger of the two rivals. The new Cunard-White Star Line would be given an loan from parliament to finish Hull 534, and also to construct a suitable running mate. These two ships would go down in history as the QUEEN MARY and the QUEEN ELIZABETH
In Southampton's Ocean Dock.

    By 1934, the OLYMPIC  was again turning a profit, and things were finally looking up. However, with the merger, the new company was getting rid of much of it’s outdated tonnage. Even the great MAURETANIA was not spared. With Cunard having the larger control margin of the new company, many of the ships to go to the block were older White Star ships. The OLYMPIC probably would have been spared, given her fantastic condition and reliability, if it were not for an incident that would mar her otherwise outstanding career.
Speeding past the LV 117 in 1933

    As ships back then would approach New York, they would generally make their final turn as they passed the Nantucket Lightship. This small vessel, known officially as LV 117 and permanently anchored in place, acted both as a visual and radio beacon to ships. It was crewed by just eleven men. Many times, ships, usually in fog, would get too close. Even the OLYMPIC would be guilty of this, one of the crew snapping a picture as the great ship sped by at close range. Her captain even said that one day, one of the big liners would run them down. He was sadly prophetic. Earlier in the year, the liner GEORGE WASHINGTON had actually bumped the tiny lightship as it came past. Unfortunately, in May of 1934, one would come even closer.
LV 117

    May 15th, 1934 found the OLYMPIC  approaching New York in very heavy fog. This was nothing new, as fog is common in that part of the North Atlantic. Her master, Captain John Binks, had ordered half speed, and was trying to get the lightship’s radio beacon, so that he could get a better fix on his position. Once they had the beacon, he set course, and slowed even further. With the OLYMPIC crawling through the fog, the Captain had the lookouts keep a sharp watch. He further reduced speed, so that the ship was now just making 8 knots. Suddenly, the fog lifted, and to their horror, they were headed directly into the light ship. Binks tried to stop the OLYMPIC and she did get down to just 3 knots, but her momentum and bulk were more than a match for the poor lightship. The liner struck the small ship, ironically, hitting it right on the radio antenna they had been following in. The vessel quickly sank to the bottom.

Olympic's bow, showing signs of collision with LV 117.

    Some of the crew from the lightship were now in the water. Lifeboats from OLYMPIC pulled seven out of the frigid sea. Three of whom would die of their injuries. Out of a crew of eleven, only four were saved, including the lightship’s Captain. The OLYMPIC resumed course to New York, and the company was told of the incident via wireless. There, her bow was examined, showing it had been twisted by the impact. Many had claimed that the liner sliced the LV 117 in two, but a recent dive on the small ship has show that although the damage sustained was critical, the OLYMPIC did not cut her in twain, proving that she was not speeding in the fog.
1930's New York. MV Britannic, Olympic, Leviathan, and Paris.

    Shortly after the sinking of the lightship, in March of 1935, OLYMPIC was taken out of service. With the QUEEN MARY  getting close to completion, she would no longer be required. Her running mate, MAJESTIC would also be withdrawn, though she would get an easy yet brief , second chance at life, being used as a cadet training ship for the Royal Navy. Alas, the same could not be said for OLYMPIC. After sailing more than a million miles, and carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers, she was tied up at the death row for ships in Southampton, ’Berth 108,’ her old rival, MAURETANIA moored behind her. Rumors of a second life began to circulate, including talk of her becoming a floating hotel, a fate that would befall the QUEEN MARY many yeas later, but, all the rumors were found to be false. In 1935, she was sold for scrapping, the destruction of her hull bringing many needed jobs to the small community of Jarrow. On October 11th, 1935, she went to her death under her own power, only a skeleton crew aboard.  A few days after tying up in Jarrow, an auction was held for all her fittings. Once everything was sold off, an army of workmen descended upon the ship, and with hammers and cutting torches, the work of dismantling the great liner began.
"Berth 108" the liners death row.

    The truly sad thing about her scrapping is that she still had many useful years ahead of her. If only they had foreseen the coming of World War II, where her great size would once again have come into play helping to bring troop across the sea. Her engines were still as good as they had been when they were first installed. Her machinery was still in top condition, and her hull was still as sound as the day she was launched. It was so well put together that it took extra effort to break her down. The sad reality was that she had become a victim of both a downtrodden world economy, and company politics. Cunard - White Star only left two original White Star ships on the roster, the two newest, the motor vessels BRITANNIC and  GEORGIC. Both were allowed to keep their original White Star colors, and fly both lines house flags.  The BRITANNIC would serve the line until 1960 and then she too would be scrapped, the last White Star liner ever built.
Cut down, her propellers just breaking the surface.

    So it came to pass that her mighty funnels were removed, her superstructure cruelly cut down, until, by 1937, only the lower portion of her hull remained. Unable to demolish more of her in Jarrow, the remains of her hull were towed to Inverkeithing, where at the Thomas W Ward shipyard, her final demolition began. By 1938, the great and powerful RMS OLYMPIC was gone.

    Her story does not end there though. Over the years, with the surge in popularity of her sister TITANIC, many of the fitting sold at auction have come to light. A potion of the aft grand staircase, as well as the first class lounge, can be found at the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, Northumberland, England. The Southampton Maritime museum has in their collection the clock from the grand staircase, identical to the one on TITANIC, with Honor and Glory crowning Time. Numerous private residences in England contain wood paneling from the ship. The Celebrity Cruise Line’s MILLENIUM contains what is known as the RMS OLYMPIC restaurant, containing wood paneling and other fixtures from the liners A la Carte restaurant. In 2004, Branson, Missouri’s TITANIC museum installed a surviving first class cabin, saved from storage in England.  Though gone, she is not forgotten, thanks to her sister.
Her hull, under tow to Inverkeithing for final demolition.

    I wish she had been allowed to continue, that she had been offered the chance to serve her country one last time in war. As it was, there was only one liner to serve in both world wars, Cunard’s AQUITANIA, a ship, that although designed after her two older sisters, MAURETANIA and  LUSITANIA, was built to eclipse the OLYMPIC in size. She would serve well in World War II, but after the war, her age caught up with her, and while still in military use, she began to fall apart. The floor above the grand piano gave way one day, sending it crashing to the deck below, luckily, no one was injured. I would like to think that if the OLYMPIC had been saved for war use, she would have come through it in far better shape than her rival.

    If you would like to learn more about this fantastic ship, I would suggest two books by author Mark Chirnside, RMS Olympic, Titanic’s Sister  and The Olympic-class Ships. Both are fascinating reads into the history behind this great ship and her sisters. I shall end this here. Next time, I do believe we shall enter into the fires of World War II and the destruction of a ship moored in paradise. Till then, may your journeys be safe, and your destinations be bright, bon voyage!

1911 - 1935 The Queen of the Atlantic.

1 comment:

  1. RMS Olympic was a wonderful ship. She was an irreplaceable queen and a hardworking lady. May her memory always shine bright.