RMS Olympic

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RMS Olympic liner launched in 1910, history and images.

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

OCTOBER 20th 1910

BUILT

HARLAND & WOLFF / BELFAST / IRELAND

WEIGHT

45,324 TONS

LENGTH

882 FEET

WIDTH

92 FEET

SPEED

21 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

3 - 1 CENTER - 16 FEET / 2 - OUTSIDE - 23 FEET

ENGINES

COMBINATION OF TRIPLE EXPANSION RECIPROCATING PISTON ENGINES AND STEAM TURBINE - 46,000 HP


Cunard’s two 31,500-ton liners Lusitania and Mauretania began a new era in shipbuilding. In response to these ships, the White Star Line’s managing director Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie of the shipbuilders Harland & Wolff, designed an even larger class of liner. The first two of these ships, Olympic and Titanic, were built side by side, with the third Britannic following three years later. Olympic was the largest ship in the world at that time, designed for comfort and luxury. Her slow service speed of 21 knots meant she would take a full day longer to cross the Atlantic than the Cunard liners that had a service speed of 25 knots.

Olympic and Titanic image

Olympic’s maiden voyage from Southampton - New York began June 14th 1911. She had to be returned to Harland & Wolff for repairs after colliding with the British cruiser Hawke on her fifth departure from Southampton. That collision damaged Olympic to an extent two of her watertight compartments were flooded. The loss of her sister ship Titanic in 1912, led to Olympic being returned to Harland &Wolff for a second time so her safety features could be modified. The most extensive part of that refit was having her double skinned bottom and bulkheads extended to above the waterline. These modifications also saw Olympic equipped with enough lifeboats to accommodate all the passengers and crew. With the work complete, her volume increased to 46,359 tons.

Olympic launch image

The British Admiralty requisitioned Olympic to serve as a troopship in 1915. During her 22nd troop-carrying voyage in May 1918, she was attacked by the German submarine U-103. Olympic’s captain made a sharp turn to avoid the torpedo and set a course to ram the submarine. The following collision gave U-103 no chance of survival. As these large troopships had to keep moving to evade submarine attacks, the American escorting destroyer Davis was given the task of picking up the submarines survivors. Olympic’s return to Harland & Wolff after the war saw her interiors restored and boilers converted to oil burning. The completion of that work allowed her to be returned to the Southampton - New York run June 25th 1920.

RMS Olympic in port image

Olympic became part of the newly formed Cunard / White Star Line May 10th 1934. On her first voyage for the new company, she collided with the Nantucket Lightship while steaming through heavy fog. That incident caused the death of seven people. The excess of ships created by the merger of the two companies led to their older liners being sold off. Olympic was laid up at Southampton next to Mauretania in April 1935 so her fixtures and fittings could be sold at auction. Many of those items were bought for the White Swan Hotel in the town of Alnwick / England. Olympic was partially dismantled at Jarrow/England before her remains were towed to Inverkeithing/Scotland for the scrapping to be completed September 19th 1937.

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