Imperator

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Mike Norton

Guest
Hi, I am looking to chat with anyone who is a fan of the Imperator (later renamed Berengaria). I collect itmes from this ship and am looking for others who may do so as well. The Berengaria was Sir Arthur Rostrons last ship he commanded before retirement.

Mike Norton ace@thepetdetective.com
 
Dec 2, 2000
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FWIW,I have some of the articals written on the Imperator written up in The Shipbuilder, and John Maxtone-Gahrams in his book "The Only Way To Cross"

One of the traits that struck me was just how topheavy the ship was. So much so that some major refitting had to be done including the addition of permanent ballast as well as cutting down on the hight of the funnels.

To say nothing of that silly eagle of a figurehead on the bow. It was amazing what frills the shipping lines were willing to add to claim some superlative such as longest ship, largest dining saloon and so on.

Can't really say as I'm a fan, but I'm game for a chat if you are.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Mike:
I am a big fan of the Imperator as well. I have an original menu from the Imperator from 1920. She was with Cunard, but still called the Imperator.
Mike
 
Apr 11, 2001
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LOVE this SHIP too-now translate Die Welt is mein campf -or something like that which was on a banner around that blasted eagle. The late Duke of Windsor loved her too and one night brought a troup of his bar-hopping mates over to the pier just to hear her dance band play. I have a few nice b/w and tinted postcards-
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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As I recall, it was "Mein Feld ist die Welt", which was the motto of the Hamburg-Amerika line. (It might be "Die Welt ist mein Feld" as the word order is very flexible in German).

It means, "My field (of operations) is the world".
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Come to think of it, strictly speaking it is, "The world is my field". Never was good at German grammar.

I see that since Hamburg-Amerika united with Norddeutscher-Lloyd the motto is "Unser Feld ist die Welt". (The world is our field).
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Thanks for that tidbit,Mike. I missed it when I read Maxtone-Graham's book.

Dave, since you can hanle even a smattering of German, you've got a big leg up on me. I never was good at picking up languages.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
N

Nienke B

Guest
can someone tell me something about the imperator? i heard it was even more luxurious than titanic... i'd like to know more about it!
 
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Mike Norton

Guest
OK, since I am the resident expert on the SS Imperator I will tell you all you ever wanted to know about her but were afraid to ask. First of all, the Imperator was the first ship ever made that exceeded 50,000 gross tons. She was 919.3 feet long (titanic was 45,000 tons and 882.5 feet long) and she was launched onm May 23, 1912 just 5 weeks after ttianic went down. She was and remained the largest moving object on the planet until around 1921. Imperator to this day holds the record for being the largest ship in the world for the longest period of time. For nine long years no other craft in the world would knock this ship off the top of the hill.

She carried a total of 5,775 passengers (this figure includes 1,180 crew members).

To say that Imperator was more magnificent than Titanic is like saying that a Corvette is a nicer car than a Ford Escort.

Everything on the Imperator was very nice. Do you know how the swimming pool on the Titanic was basically a hole filled with water in a big gymnasium sized room? Well, the Imperators swimming pool area looked like a greco-roman bath. They had huge marble collums and marble benches and a big impressive staircase leading down to the pool.

Its lavish two story dining room made the 1st class dining on Titanic seem quaint.

The United States seized the Imperator from the German owned Hamburg-Amerika Line as reparation for the British owned (and German sunk) Lusitania during WW I. The Cunard Line now owned the Imperator (after the US renamed it the U.S.S. Imperator and used it to bring our victorious troops home from Europe after the war) and put it to use as the crown jewel of their fleet. Shortly thereafter they (Cunard) re-named her the Berengaria and she lived a lnog life until retired in 1938 and, eventually, scapped in 1946 (there was quite some delay due to WW II).
There is an interesting connection between the Imperator and the Titanic disaster. The last ship that Sir Arthur Rostron (former Captain of the Carpathia) was in charge of was the Berengaria. This was his last ship (he came on the Berengaria in the summer of 1927 and was named the Commodore of Cunard Line on July 28, 1929 which, in turn, made the Berengaria the flagship of the entire Cunard fleet. Captain Rostron was at her helm until early 1931.

One Captain said of the Berengaria, "Everybody on the Berengaria, even the dogs, were socially prominent."

Anyways, that's it in a nutshell about the Imperator/Berengaria. I plan on making an impressive web page about her someday as I have a WAY cool collection of memoribillia from her as both Imperator and Berengaria. In fact, just minutes before I wrote this I received a cool enamel and silver spoon from the Imperator that I bought recently from an antique dealer in New York. I really should put photos of my collection online as it is most impressive.

If you have any more questions about the Imperator I would be the one to ask.

Mike Norton
ace@thepetdetective.com
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
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Dec 29, 2000
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Hello, Mike---

I won't pretend to know much or anything about Imperator's aesthetic qualities, but I do know something about her history, and there are a couple of points I'd like to address.

First, Imperator did not hold the "largest ship" title for a record length of time; in fact, her reign was quite short. Her sister, Vaterland/Leviathan entered service less than a year after Imperator, and was some 3,000 tons larger. And the third of the Hapag sisters, Bismarck/Majestic was even larger and held the "largest ship" title from her maiden voyage in 1922 until Normandie made hers in 1935, a few weeks over 12 years.

But even that's not a record. Great Eastern, launched in 1858, made her maiden voyage in 1860 and was scrapped in 1889, and was the "largest ship" for that entire period of time. (In fact, it would be another another 12 years after she was gone before White Star's Celtic II would become the first ship larger than her to enter service.) But the longest run as "largest ship" was, I think, Queen Elizabeth's. She made her maiden voyage in 1940 and was still the largest ship when she sank in 1972. In fact, as of 1994, no larger ship had ever been built. (I do not know which of the modern cruise ships was the first to exceed QE's tonnage; that's beyond the scope of both my knowledge and my interest.)

Next, there are, as with many ships, different capacity figures out there; the number you quote is in, among others, Braynard's Classic Ocean Liners, but Bonsor gives a somewhat smaller total (passengers only) of 3,424 for her as Imperator.

Finally, she was seized by the Allies as part of a general seizure of the German merchant marine, and not specifically as reparation for Lusitania. And, although operated by Cunard after her stint as U.S.S. Imperator, she (and Majestic) were jointly owned by Cunard and White Star from 1921 to 1931.

Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Haws' Merchant Fleets; Dugan's The Great Iron Ship; Miller's Pictorial Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners, 1860-1994; Braynard's Classic Ocean Liners.

For a listing of Largest Ships (excluding GE and ending with QE), see http://www.greatships.net/largest.html.

MAB
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Well, if were going to debate largest ships and how long they held the title, let's not forget the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) which at 92,000+ tons was no bathtub toy. Also, the really big supertankers had passed the 100,000 ton benchmark by the middle of the 60's.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Since 1979 the largest ship of any kind in the world has been the ULCC "Jahre Viking". At 564,763 Dwt and 458.45 metres LOA she could about take Titanic as deck cargo. Don't ask her to visit you unless you have a lot of deep water. She draws 24.56 metres. That's 21 years as the world's largest ship and counting.
 
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Mark- I think I have to agree with you about the old Queen Elizabeth- she was surely the longest passenger liner-of course I guess we have to compare apples and apples- gross tonnage, length- what's the criteria for biggest? Displacement, etc.? And then we are talking about passenger liners and not warships or barges, or container ships, etc. Although the Old Queen wore a lot of hats in her day- such a sad ending for her. Did you catch her in the Bond flick Man with the Golden Gun-still in Hong Kong harbor? I wonder if any of her fittings were salvaged and auctioned?
 

Eric Sauder

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Nov 12, 2000
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Hi, Shelley

About the Queen Elizabeth, you asked: "I wonder if any of her fittings were salvaged and auctioned?"

A lot of smaller items from the ship (china, silver, etc.) were sold while she was in Florida. A few weeks ago, I met a man who worked for the Tung organization in the early 1970's and was quite involved in the Elizabeth's refit. He gave me some photos he had that were taken aboard the QE about a week before she caught fire. I'm sorry to say that most of her original furniture was still on board and was lost with her. Most of her art, however, was removed before she burned, but I haven't been able to determine if it was sold in Florida or taken off by Cunard. I have a feeling it was probably the latter, but I can't prove it. A number of pieces of her art were on display in Southampton about ten years ago at an exhibit called "Art on the Liners."

If you can find a copy, the book "The Queens and I" by her last master, Commodore Geoffrey Marr, gives an extremely interesting look into the final voyage from Florida to Hong Kong.

Eric Sauder
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Thanks Eric! I have Captain of the Queens (who doesn't?) but had not heard of Marr's book. Sorry I missed that Southampton exhibit! Now you need to publish a book with those pix.