Could RMMV Oceanic III have won the Blue Riband?

ADeblois

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Mar 18, 2012
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Hello everyone,

In my view, I see the Oceanic III as the ultimate WSL liner, combining the diesel propulsion of the MV Britannic/Georgic along with the spaciousness of the RMS Majestic, the largest vessel operated by White Star Line ever.

Just a question I want to ask that has been bouncing around in my head. With all the greatness that could have been Oceanic III, do you think it would have been possible for her to gain the Blue Riband from Bremen had she entered service, say in 1932 time frame? This would also have made her the FIRST diesel-powered liner ever to win the speed record, correct?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Just a question I want to ask that has been bouncing around in my head. With all the greatness that could have been Oceanic III, do you think it would have been possible for her to gain the Blue Riband from Bremen had she entered service, say in 1932 time frame? <<

Depends on what sort of speed the ship was designed to do and whether or not the engines had sufficient horsepower to overcome the resistance of the hull form. White Star has officially walked away from any attempt at breaking speed records well before this ship was even conceived. Since diesel powered vessels were designed primarily to be economical rather then speed demons, I doubt very much that this ship was designed to be able to do this.
 

ADeblois

Member
Mar 18, 2012
51
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38
>>Just a question I want to ask that has been bouncing around in my head. With all the greatness that could have been Oceanic III, do you think it would have been possible for her to gain the Blue Riband from Bremen had she entered service, say in 1932 time frame? <<

Depends on what sort of speed the ship was designed to do and whether or not the engines had sufficient horsepower to overcome the resistance of the hull form. White Star has officially walked away from any attempt at breaking speed records well before this ship was even conceived. Since diesel powered vessels were designed primarily to be economical rather then speed demons, I doubt very much that this ship was designed to be able to do this.
I've read online somewhere (can't remember the link right now) that she was "always to be a 30-kt ship", which in my view would have put her in the running for the Blue Riband against Cunard's Queen Mary and the French Line's Normandie.

Other than the 'possibility' of her capturing the speed record, if you compared diesel-electric systems vs. steam turbine systems (geared and turbo-electric), which one would you think would have the edge in terms of being able to be 'forced' beyond their normal ratings in order to achieve record-breaking speed?
 
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At the time, the Turbine or turbo-electric would have had a distinct advantage. The systems available had more power to work with. I think a diesel intended to achieve 30knots would have been overly ambitious for the time.
 

ADeblois

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Mar 18, 2012
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Oceanic III

At the time, the Turbine or turbo-electric would have had a distinct advantage. The systems available had more power to work with. I think a diesel intended to achieve 30knots would have been overly ambitious for the time.
According to an older post by Timothy Trower:

I have read with some interest the claims that the Oceanic III was not planned to have been built at 1000+ feet long. Long a student of this ship, I this evening pulled out my source notes and research material and gave it a read through. (I’ve not conducted any active research on this ship for a good decade.)

The inescapable conclusion that I continually arrived at is that the Oceanic III was intended to be or to surpass 1000 feet in length. Every source agrees with this conclusion.

For starters, two respected Harland & Wolff employees are to be consulted. Cuthbert Coulson Pounder, Director and Chief Technical Engineer of H&W after WWII, released details of the Oceanic that must be accepted as fact due to his position and the fact that H&W nor its employees would have had any reason to lie about a ship that was 20 years distant and never built.

Pounder said that the ship “would have had 47 six-cylinder, exhaust turbo-charged, four-stroke single-acting diesel engines producing a total of 275,000 i.h.p. and coupled in pairs to electric generators. The total weight of the installation would have been some 17,000 tons, equal to the displacement tonnage of a smaller liner of the day!” Additionally the ship “was to measure 60,000 gross tons with an overall length of 1,010 feet, a beam of 120 feet and a draught of 38 feet.” (Damned by Destiny, David Williams and Richard P. De Kerbrech, 1982)

Dr. Denis Rebbeck, a director at Harland & Wolff, delivered a paper read before Section G of the British Association on Friday, September 5, 1952. This paper gave great detail the history of the shipyard, and contained additional facts about the Oceanic III that cannot be ignored. He wrote that “The Musgrave Shipyard will also be long remembered by the people of Belfast as the yard where the keel of a 1000-ft. Diesel-electric passenger liner was laid down for the White Star Line in the late 1920’s …” and “the total power of the ship was designed to be 200,000 shaft horse-power on four screws, and there were to be 47 six-cylinder super-charged four-stroke Diesel engines, coupled in pairs.”

This same paper shows the profile and engine arrangement of the Oceanic III in a plan which must be accepted as Gospel. Indeed, this outline profile is still used today as the basis for all renditions of the ship, as well it should be. It was produced during the design phase for the ship, and was reproduced in print a mere 24 years after the laying of the keel. I hold in great suspicion any plans purporting to show the ship at a shorter length than 1000 feet.
This clearly proves two things: that Oceanic III was to be a 1000 foot liner, as well as having the most powerful engine installation of any merchant ship, before or since. Even more powerful than the SS United States built 3 decades later! I truly believe that H&W had the technical know-how to engineer such powerplants and make them function reliably...just my own opinion.
 
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>>Even more powerful than the SS United States built 3 decades later! I truly believe that H&W had the technical know-how to engineer such powerplants and make them function reliably...just my own opinion. <<

They may have, but they would have been breaking new ground if they had. It's a shame that the Great Depression threw a monkey wrench into it all.