Best Ships from History

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Zack Wyatt

Hi, I'm Zack Wyatt and I'm new here. I have a book called "Ships of the World" by Lincoln Paine. Some of you might have heard of it. I looked through the book and I picked out 34 ships that I consider the best ships from history. They are mostly modern steamships, though. Here they are:

1. America (1940)
2. Andrea Doria (1953)
3. Aquitania (1914)
4. Noah's Ark (Biblical Times)
5. Bismarck (1940)
6. Bremen (1929)
7. Britannic (1915)
8. Californian (1902)
9. Caronia (1905)
10. Carpathia (1903)
11. Deutschland (1900)
12. Edmund Fitzgerald (1958)
13. Egypt (1897)
14. Empress of Britain (1931)
15. Empress of Ireland (1905)
16. Europa (1929)
17. France (1962)
18. Ile De France (1927)
19. Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse (1897)
20. Leviathan (1914)
21. Lusitania (1907)
22. Majestic (1890)
23. Mauretania (1907)
24. Morro Castle (1930)
25. Normandie (1935) *This is my personal favorite!
26. Olympic (1911)
27. Queen Elizabeth (1940)
28. QE2 AKA Queen Elizabeth 2 (1969)
29. Queen Mary (1934)
30. Republic (1903)
31. Rex (1932)
32. Titanic (1912)
33. United States (1952)
34. Wilhelm Gustloff (1938)

Feel free to talk to me about any of the ships on my list, offer your ideas about which ships changed history, and even share with me your personal favorites. I would LOVE to hear your opinions!
An Amateur built the Ark, Professionals built the Titanic.
I don't know that I would call any of these vessels the "Best" in history although they are very well known for the most part. Some of them, unfortunately, are not so well known for any of their qualities as they are for their demise, or for the mistakes made by their crews.

Zack Wyatt

Good point Michael and Mark! This mainly features the best ocean liners, though the Bismarck and the Edmund Fitzgerald don't fit in that category. I'm quite a fan of shipwrecks, so half the vessels on this list had terrible demises. I consider "best" as the most luxurious and/or the most modern. I'm not really a fan of sailing vessels, such as the Mayflower and the Mary Rose. Thanks!
>> I consider "best" as the most luxurious and/or the most modern. <<

Believe it or not, that would rule out any of the Olympics and that includes the Titanic. Harland & Wolff were not quite as innovative at times as some of the popular histories would have you believe, and the appointments of the Olympics were what can best be described as "Restrained good taste" in my opinion. Certainly the Germans and the French outdid anything the British were building at the time, though there was often a price for that. Some of the German ships, notably the Imperator, were notorious for topweight problems.

When you get right down to it, you have to look a lot more deeply then the eye candy to define "best."

Zack Wyatt

Thanks, Mike. Can you tell me some of your favorite ships?
Don't really have any favourites per se though if I was making a transatlantic voyage at the time, I would have preferred an Olympic class liner. Preferably without using icebergs as can openers or parking on a mine. They were handy and comfortable ships and very good seaboats which is a lot more then can be said for their more topheavy competitors.

My career was spent on warships. Hardly luxurious.

Jeff Brebner

I'd have to agree - all the finery in the world isn't quite as enjoyable if you're being rocked all over the place. Give me comfortable, stable, and reliable.

When I worked in Alaska I was on a semi-submersible drilling platform. It rocked, but compared to the service boats? I was glad to be where I was.

Zack Wyatt

My father was on a ship called the USS Fanning in the 1980's. I like warships, but I like ocean liners better because they look cool with their large funnels and sleek bodies. If I had a chance to go on a transatlantic voyage, I would choose the Normandie, because she's my favorite. It's hard to believe that all those famous ocean liners no longer exist.
>>It's hard to believe that all those famous ocean liners no longer exist.<<

Times change and thanks to Mr. Boeing, liners in the classical trans-Atlantic trade are not a profitable proposition except for a niche market. It would have been nice to see a few of them as museums but those are amazingly difficult to make work.

If you're interested in the USS Fanning, click on for a nice photo spread.
I don't know what the Bismark is doing in the list. It would, perhaps, have been better to have proposed lists of the "Best Ocean Liners", "Best Warships" and "Best Sailing Vessels.

In the warship category, we would surely expect to find the Victory, Dreadnought, Hood, Warspite (the WWI/WWII version!), Shannon, Constitution and Warrior.
I don't know that I would include the HMS Hood in the "Best" catagory if only because her spectacular demise graphically showcased some of her fatal flaws. She wasn't a bad design for World War One but in the second go around, she was badly outclassed by a battleship which was already borderline obsolete the day she was commissioned.
The Hood was completed after World War I as a "peace time" ship that would probably never have to face an enemy. Like other WWI capital ships, she was due for a major refit by the time that WWII commenced. If this had been carried out she would probably have received new weaponry, better armour, anti-torpedo bulges and a trunked funnel.

She was sent into action against the Bismark before any of this remedial work could be put into effect. I do not have a full list to hand, but I think I would be correct in saying that none of the fully-modernised WWI battleships were lost, at least not in action against other surface ships during World War II.
>>Like other WWI capital ships, she was due for a major refit by the time that WWII commenced.<<

More like overdue. As I understand it, there were plans to do some work but the usual sort of thing got in the way by way of depression era economies and world events such as the Spanish Civil War, then World War Two. Antony Preston's "The World's Worst Warships" makes for some interesting reading on this and how all the deferrals ultimately came home to bite!
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