RMS Oceanic II

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RMS Oceanic II liner launched in 1899, history and images.

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

JANUARY 14th 1899

BUILT

HARLAND & WOLFF / BELFAST / IRELAND

WEIGHT

17,272 TONS

LENGTH

705 FEET

WIDTH

68 FEET

SPEED

19.5 KNOTS - PISTON ENGINES - TWO PROPELLERS - 28,000 HP

The White Star Line’s Oceanic became the first ship to exceed the Great Eastern’s length of 692 feet. With Brunel’s 18,915-ton Great Eastern having been scrapped in 1888, Oceanic was the longest and heaviest ship in service at the start of the 20th Century. She held that title until the first of the White Star Line's ‘Big Four’ Celtic entered service in 1901 at 20,904 tons. Oceanic set out on her maiden voyage from Liverpool - New York August 6th 1899. After seven years on that run, she was transferred to the White Star Line’s new terminal at Southampton. The White Star Line continued to operate Oceanic on the Southampton - New York run, until the British Admiralty requisitioned her to serve as an armed merchant cruiser during World War One (August 1st 1914 - November 11th 1918).

RMS Oceanic 11 image

The Admiralty appointed a navy captain to take control of the ship, with Oceanic’s own captain ‘Henry Smith’ retained to assist him. Whilst rounding the north coast of Scotland, September 8th 1914, Captain Smith instructed the navy officer he was taking Oceanic dangerously close to the Island of Foula. The navy officer’s failure to take his advice, led to strong currents pushing Oceanic onto rocks. After two weeks trying to pull the stricken ship free, the Admiralty called off the salvage operation, as her condition had deteriorated to an extent she was declared a total loss. The wreck of Oceanic remained on the rocks untouched until 1926. As attempts to dispose of the White Star Line ship at that time, only succeeded in dismantling her to the waterline, another salvage operation had to be carried out in 1979 to clear the remaining wreckage from the site. After the Oceanic incident, captains of any large British liners requisitioned for wartime duties, were given full control of their own vessels.

RMS Oceanic launch image
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