RMS Mauretania

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RMS Mauretania liner launched in 1906, history and images.

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

SEPTEMBER 20th 1906

BUILT

SWAN HUNTER / WALLSEND / TYNESIDE / ENGLAND

WEIGHT

31,938 TONS

LENGTH

762 FEET

WIDTH

88 FEET

SPEED

26 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

4 - 3 BLADES

ENGINES

4 - DIRECT ACTING STEAM TURBINES - 70,000 HP

Cunard’s Mauretania was launched three months after her near identical sister ship Lusitania. In an attempt to improve on Lusitania’s top speed, Cunard had Mauretania fitted with larger propellers and turbines with more rows of blades.  Mauretania’s maiden voyage from Liverpool - New York began November 16th 1907. She took the eastbound record from Lusitania three weeks later by increasing the average speed from 23.61 to 23.69 knots.

Mauretania’s two inner propellers were damaged beyond repair after hitting a submerged object May 2nd 1908. Although the new four bladed propellers fitted at that time gave Mauretania a higher top speed, it took until September 1909 for her to take the Blue Riband from Lusitania on the westbound route. She increased the average speed in that direction from 25.65 to 26.06 knots. Mauretania then held the record in both directions until the North German Lloyd Line’s Bremen entered service in 1929.

RMS Mauretania liner image

Mauretania was on route to New York when Britain declared war on Germany August 4th 1914. Cunard responded to the outbreak of war by ordering her captain to change course for Halifax/Canada. Before reaching Canada, the British Admiralty ordered Cunard to have Mauretania returned to Liverpool for conversion to a troopship.

In response to Turkey joining Germany in an attack on Russian ports in the Black Sea October 29th 1914, Britain and their Allies deployed 480,000 troops to invade Turkey. The invasion forces landed at Gallipoli and a long and bloody battle followed.

Mauretania as a hospital ship
Mauretania Hospital Ship image

Mauretania’s first deployments during the war were to transport troops to the Island of Lemnos (the Allies base for the Gallipoli Campaign). Between October 21st 1915 and January 25th 1916, Mauretania had to make several voyages between Liverpool and Gallipoli as a hospital ship to evacuate the wounded.

Her next deployment in September 1916 was to make two runs between Halifax and Liverpool, this being to transport Canadian troops bound for the war in France. The completion of that task saw Mauretania laid up in the Clyde over the following five months. After being returned to the war effort in March 1918, she successfully transported over 30,000 US troops to Europe before the war came to an end in November 1918.

Mauretania as a cruise ship
HMHS Mauretania image

Cunard had to wait until the repatriation of American and Canadian troops had been completed before having Mauretania’s interiors restored at Southampton. The completion of that work allowed Cunard to operate her on the Southampton - New York run from September 21st 1921. The following year, Mauretania’s coal-fired boilers were converted to oil burning, this contributing to her increasing the eastbound Atlantic crossing record to 26.25 knots August 25th 1924.

With the depression continuing into the 1930s, Cunard was forced to operate Mauretania more as a cruise ship to help keep her in service. Her final cruise to the West Indies arrived back at Southampton October 2nd 1934. After nine months docked at Southampton, Mauretania set out on her final voyage to the ship breakers at Rosyth/Scotland July 1st 1935.

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