It has been listed on a postcard that Britannic was 900 ft. overall. Some sources say that she was 903 ft. overall. I wonder how this could be, because even with extensive refitting and modifications how could her length have growth 20 feet? And besides the refit looks to have been to height (the poop deck modifications, new davit cranes) she looks just as Titanic did, and her shape in the hull is exactly the same. There didn't seem to be any changes to her hull. I think the listed length is actually wrong and if there was a change, it would have only increased the length a foot or two max. I think Britannic was actually the same length as Olympic and Titanic.
As we all know, in 1907 when the idea for the Olympic Class of liner was conceived in 1907, the plan was for two ships to be built with the possibility of a third ship following the initial success of the previous two.
Based on the enormous popularity of the Olympic on her Maiden Voyage, Harland & Wolff exercised the option for the third liner and the keel plates for Hull No. 433 were laid on November 30, 1911 in Slip No. 2 adjacent to the nearly completed Titanic where the Olympic had been built.
Following the Titanic disaster in April of 1912 all work was ceased on Hull 433 pending on the outcome of the various loss inquiries taking place at that time. Following the completion of both the American and British loss inquiries, several major design changes resulted which were able to be easily incorporated once construction resumed.
One of the most significant modifications was to add a full double skin extending from the keel to the top of the bulkheads; this design change added two feet to the overall beam of the ship. The existing double bottom was extended from five feet in depth to six and was subdivided along the length of the hull. It was thought that this would help to restrict flooding in the event of the ship receiving similar damage which caused the loss of the Titanic.
The watertight bulkheads were raised to higher decks than on Olympic and Titanic. There were no fewer than five extending as high as B Deck which effectively isolated parts of the previously airy First Class accommodations. The remaining twelve were extended to E Deck.
Additional hull strengthening visible externally included extra riveting and the addition of the giant gantry davits which were capable of handling and launching six lifeboats each.
These davits were electrically operated and were fitted with electric floodlights to assist a nighttime launch; they were also capable of reaching across the deck in the gaps between funnels to the other side of the ship and pick up and launch boats should a list prevent or complicate evacuation.
The interiors of this massive ship were also extensively redesigned and some of the changes included additional First Class suites, private bathrooms for nearly every First Class cabin and redesigned public apartments.
It was also during this period that another change not obvious to most was made. Although not officially documented, the general consensus was that Hull No. 433 was to be named “Gigantic” to emphasize her sheer size and steadiness while conforming to the names of the other two ships. However this name was believed to be tempting fate after the loss of the Titanic and was later changed to Britannic.
The inclusion of the internal and external design changes and modifications increased her gross registered tonnage from the 46,000 of Olympic and Titanic to 48,158. Her beam was increased from 92 to 94 feet and her length was increased from 882.5 to 903 feet.
As a matter of fact, the additional beam of Britannic was not a result of the double skin. It was done to increase stability and was planned before the disaster. I have an article from December 1911 in which the new ship was described. "Beyond a bigger beam, she will not differ much in construction [from the other two ships]." The 903 feet business is debunked earlier in this thread.
The Gigantic story is very dubious. There is no authoritive reference to the name and some of the figures put about for her are are ridiculous. The name appears to be a newspaper invention, perhaps aided by a sailor's tall story. There's more on this on other threads.
Mark Chirnside in response to my post-
"Britannic was not 903 feet long; she was definately 882 feet nine inches long. Her moulded breadth was indeed increased from 92 feet, but to 93 feet 6 inches; her extreme breadth from 92 feet 6 inches to 94 feet. Both of Brian's set of stats. are incorrect. While on the topic of the beam, the ships breadth was increased by eighteen inches in 1911, not in steps of 12 inches in 1911 and then six inches in 1912 (as 'Hostage to Fortune' states).
Although I will leave the questions of Britannic's dimensions, and when they changed, to others, I do want to comment on the name issue.
You're right, Dave, that there's no authoritative source for Gigantic, but there's absolutely no pre-sinking mention of the name Britannic that I'm aware of. "Gigantic" is of the same Greek mythological origin as "Olympic" and "Titanic", and those three names fit together much better than "Olympic", "Titanic" and "Britannic" do. That's why, unless a smoking gun to the contrary surfaces, I'm one of the folks who think the references to "Gigantic" are probably accurate, and that the ship's name was changed to Britannic only after Titanic's sinking.
The business of the supposed staged increase in beam from 93' 6" to 94' comes from somebody's failure to understand how ships were measured. The builders needed to know the moulded beam, which is measured across the extremities of the plating. The Board of Trade and Lloyd's Register recorded the extreme beam, which includes rivet heads, railings and the like.
The same problem arises with the Length Between Perpendiculars, which was 850' builder's style and 852' 6" Board of Trade Style.
Frustratingly, I now have a picture of Britannic under construction. There is a big sign in front of her saying RMS Britannic. Trouble is, I can't date the picture.
We all seem to be arguing over a minute couple of inches. As I have said before, a few inches is microscopic to a nine hundred foot ship. (I'm not saying Britannic was 903' long, just rounding it up)Lots of variables of course go into account, Temperatures included. Its the same thing with Titanic being 882' 9" or 882' 8". Britannic was definately as long as Titanic. I think we can put it to rest now.