I checked this out too and I'm more confused than ever, which is saying something. Several sources give 903' LOA. A few give 882' 9" LOA. At least they agree on a beam of 94'.
I've not got Lloyd's Register handy, but it seem the LBP was 852' 6", just like her sister ships. If that's correct, there would have to be some added overhangs at the ends to get her up to 903'. That might show up as a bow that was well off the vertical but in photos she look much the same as Titanic. The same goes for the stern overhang. I wonder whether the 903' is a bit of White Star hype.
Jeremy, there's confusion here because of the distinction between overall length (LOA) and length between perpendiculars (LBP).
The best figures for LOA are Titanic 882' 9" and Olympic 882' 6". I suspect that the difference is merely due to a small variation in the way the structure faired up.
LBP is what is quoted by the Board of Trade and Lloyd's Register. It's measured from the after end of the stern post to the extreme forward edge of the stem, just below the bowsprit (if any) . I believe it was the same for all three ships, but Lloyd's Register is 20 miles away from me.
Just to add to the fun, the builders used to measure LBP from the after edge of the stern post to the point where the waterline met the forward edge of the stem. That's why you'll sometimes see Titanic's LBP given as 850'.
LBP was used to measure ships because often the overhanging ends contain little useful space. LBP gives a better idea of the ship's real carrying capacity.
"The best figures for LOA are Titanic 882' 9" and Olympic 882' 6". I suspect that the difference is merely due to a small variation in the way the structure faired up."
There really is no evidence for Olympic being three inches longer than Titanic. At least, none that I have uncovered. Same goes with Britannic, though I'm surprised by the 903' measurement that's been floating around.
I'm going on Michael McCaughan for the difference between Titanic and Olympic. I think he's pretty authoritative.
On Britannic, I've found everything from about 883' to 903'. Going on photos, I'd bet on the 883', if the LBP was the same for all ships. I don't think that the overhangs on Britannic are longer than those on the other two.
McCaughan may be authoratative, but that's little use when his sources are wrong. The newspaper accounts he utilised which talk of three inches' difference are in error; all three ships had exactly the same length overall, as confirmed by the builder's plans, frame numbers and spacings which I have seen. I had originally made the same mistake as him, but was able to correct this.
Britannic's counter stern was no larger than the other two ships.
From James Carlisle of the Ulster Titanic Society, I get the information that all three ships were 882' 8" overall. He attributes this figure to Harland and Wolff. It seems we are quibbling over a couple of inches. The main thing is that the 903' figure is certainly wrong. On another forum they are asking how Britannic could get into the Thompson Graving Dock if she was 903' long, but as she wasn't, the problem disappears.
I wonder how much the length varied with temperature. Is there an engineer in the lifeboat?
I could easily believe 882' 8" considering temperature changes and so on. The plans themselves, to be dead accurate, indicate 882.751 feet in length, or just over 882'9"; and they are also from Harland and Wolff. With such similarity, I think we can dismiss the differences.
Indeed. The 903 foot figure has been around for a long time. I suppose part of the problem may have been that the ship was advertised as 'about 900 feet long' in a bid to make her sound the largest afloat, even if she was just the largest British afloat (at gross tons anyway); one 'information file' I've seen in an archive gives her length as 903 feet, but is dead accurate otherwise. This could have misled researchers.
We know Britannic needed entirely new framing plans, deck plans, etc., owing to her beam which changed the hull plate shapes somewhat, so I can imagine that a longer ship would have made the work even harder!
I remember in 1925 HAPAG said that the Bismarck/Majestic was only six feet longer at 956 feet than her sister Vaterland/Leviathan, just to make her publicity betteras the longer ship. But, for these six feet, 'enormous expense' was entailed in the ship's otherwise very similar (to Vaterland) design. I think that's the story anyway.