June 1911: Olympics's Maiden Voyage

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Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 27 June 1911

OLYMPIC PREPARING TO SAIL
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Mayor, Lunching Aboard, Discusses Pier Extension with Mr. Ismay
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A double force of men will to-day finish grooming the giant White Star liner Olympic for her first voyage from this port. She will sail at 3 P. M. to-morrow. It was said last night at the White Star Line pier that she would probably finish coaling by this morning.

The Olympic will carry out on her first departure one of the largest passenger lists to leave this port in months, and the largest cabin list on record. There are booked to depart on her 725 first cabin, 500 second cabin, and 1,000 steerage passengers. The line yesterday refused to give out an advance list of cabin passengers.

The seating capacity of the saloon on the Olympic is 523 persons at one time. When the sale of cabin tickets last week began to mount up to 700 the company officials feared that all could not be fed in the first cabin saloon. So they lowered the rate, agreeing to give purchasers of tickets a $25 discount provided such ticket holders ate in the “a la carte” restaurant during the voyage. Those who have received the $25 discount will eat only twice a day if they want to get through on the $25 saved in the purchase of tickets.

It is estimated that the Olympic passengers will pay between $250,000 and $300,000 for their accommodations. Of this amount probably $40,000 is contributed by the steerage.

Yesterday was not a regular inspection day aboard the big liner, but it is estimated nonetheless that fully 3,000 persons visited her. The day was set apart to allow intending passengers and their friends to go aboard. Three thousand passes were issued, and it is said that every one of them was used. It is calculated that during Friday and Saturday, when an admission fee of 50 cents was charged, 16,000 persons passed up and down the gangplank of the Olympic. A record in this respect is held by the North German Lloyd, for in 1897, during the four days that the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was open for inspection, 48,000 persons visited her.

There was a luncheon party yesterday on board the Olympic. J. B. Ismay, the President of the International Marine [sic] Company, and P. A. S. Franklin, the Vice President, entertained Mayor Gaynor, Robert Adamson, his secretary; Dock Commissioner Calvin Tompkins, State Engineer Benzel, R. A. C. Smith, and several members of the New Jersey Riparian Commission. After the luncheon the party inspected the vessel. They examined also the temporary pier extension which was built to accommodate the Olympic and her sister the Titanic.

At the office of the White Star Line, it was said that the gathering was entirely unofficial. Following the visit of Mr. Ismay and the company officials to Montauk, the meeting on the Olympic, it was stated, was arranged for the purpose of permitting those present to exchange their views regarding the extensions of the piers to meet changed conditions.

The period under which the present extension of the White Star Line piers was sanctioned by the War Department is eighteen months, and the permission can be rescinded at any time. Mr. Ismay and Mr. Franklin desire that permanent facilities be provided for berthing the big liners at New York, and during the few days of his stay on this side Mr. Ismay wished to meet the men interested in the subject and to look over the ground.

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M

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 28 June 1911

OLYMPIC OFF TO-DAY WITH RECORD LIST
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Has 1,205 Cabin Passengers, Greater Number Than Any Ship Ever Before
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ROUND TRIP PROFIT, $150,000
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Twelve Tugs Will Help Her to Leave Her Berth This Afternoon at 3 o'Clock [sic]
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The new White Star liner Olympic sails at 3 o'clock this afternoon for Southampton via Plymouth and Cherbourg, with 1,205 cabin passengers, the record number ever carried by a single ship from any port in the world. Out of that number there are 730 in the first class, which includes 60 maids and valets.

It was stated yesterday that the earnings of the Olympic on her round trip this maiden voyage might be estimated at from $325,000 to $350,000, and her expenses, according to James [sic] Bruce Ismay, President of the International Mercantile Navigation [sic] Company, would not amount to more than $175,000, including wages, coal, and food for crew and passengers. This gives a profit to the company of $150,000 for the three weeks' voyage.

Twelve tugs will be in readiness at Pier 59 at 3 o'clock to help the Olympic back out into the river and straighten away.

[Several hundred lines of cabin passengers' names have not been transcribed for the sake of the sanity of the transcriber.]

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M

Mark Baber

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The lead article concerning Olympic's departure from New York describes English aviator Tom Sopwith's flying over Olympic after she had passed the Narrows and trying---apparently unsuccessfully---to drop a packet of some sort onto the ship's deck.

The New York Times, 29 June 1911

10,000 SEE OLYMPIC SAIL
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Crowd Pier Heads and Cheer as Biggest Liner Moves Out
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Probably 10,000 persons saw the Olympic sail at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. About 8,000 persons visited her earlier in the day. Every pier head in the vicinity was crowded. The thousands cheered and waved handkerchiefs from the minute the biggest ship in the world began to move into the North River until she finally straightened out and headed down the bay. Many remained until she was lost to view below the Battery.

The Olympic took out 732 first, 495 second, and 1,075 steerage passengers, and 1,617 bags of mail. When the time came for the vessel to move out into the river the tide was at ebb, and so the Olympic was breasted off from her pier alongside the pier to the north to prevent her striking the new temporary pier extension work, as the tide carried her downstream. It took a dozen tugs to straighten her out, and, this done, she started off with her whistle answering the salutes which greeted her from shore and stream.

So many visitors were aboard just previous to sailing that the stewards had hard work getting them ashore. Many of those who crowded on board, it was evident, had simply taken advantage of sailing day to inspect the liner, and every one going aboard had many friends to see them off.

Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., and her three children were among the passengers. She was booked as "Mrs. Vincent." Mrs. Vanderbilt, who went to her stateroom at the last minute, appeared to be surprised that her presence aboard was known. She would say nothing regarding her plans, She was asked why she had booked passage as "Mrs. Vincent." She smiled and said, "I never submit to an interview." The children occupied the imperial suite and Mrs. Vanderbilt the next adjoining.

William H. Truesdale, President of the Lackawanna Railroad, and Mrs. Truesdale sailed for a two months' tour of the chí¢teau district of France. Mr. Truesdale said that in his opinion business would improve in ratio with the improvement in the crop situation. Another passenger was Capt. J. B. Greenhut, who said he found business conditions slowly improving.

"This country has evidently not yet learned its lesson-how to regulate big enterprises without destroying them," he said. "Germany has made greater progress in that direction, which is indicated by the general prosperity it is enjoying, while this country with its immense natural resources is hanging back."

Mr. Greenhut will tour France, Germany, and Austria, finishing at Marienbad.

George F. Bear, President of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, goes abroad with Mrs. Bear for a motor trip through the British Isles. Regarding the railroad situation he said: "The steel makers have received big orders since the merger decision, but I can only speak of my own companies and say that they have already spent all they probably will for new equipment. We have spent more money in the past two years than before, and much of it was spent to give employment to our men, so the situation does not affect us in the same proportion that it may others."

A delegation of the men of Abraham Lincoln Post No. 21, Spanish-American war veterans, most of them in the uniform of the Police and Fire Departments, were down to wish a happy voyage to Mr. and Mrs. James Speyer. They carried aloft the two banners presented to the veterans by Mrs. Speyer last May. They presented Mrs. Speyer with a large bunch of American Beauty roses. Mrs. Speyer said that $31,000 had been donated for the building of a hospital for animals, and that a farm at Peekskill had been given for that purpose. The work is being done by the New York Women's League, of which Mrs. Speyer is President.

Also on the sailing were Mr. and Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, the former having an optimistic word to say regarding the business outlook; John B. Stanchfield, Emil Boas, director of the Hamburg-American Line, who is taking his usual trip on a new liner; Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Gimbel, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Gould, who will spend the Summer abroad; J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, and Mrs. Ismay; Col. and Mrs. William Jay, Mr. and Mrs. J. Frederick Kernochan, the Right Rev. Edward E. Lines, Capt. Philip Lydig, Gen. and Mrs. Charles Miller, Miss Virginia Moffatt, Prof. J. W. Peck, Mrs. George T. Shrady, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Shearn, Mrs. H. McK. Twombley, and Miss Twombley, and Charles H. Whelan.

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M

Mark Baber

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This ends The New York Times' coverage of Olympic's maiden voyage. All articles appearing in that paper have been reproduced here, except a lengthy feature article which appeared in the Sunday magazine section. I may someday transcribe that article as well; if I do, I will let you know.

The New York Times, 6 July 1911

Foreign Ports
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Arrived
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SS Olympic, at Southampton, July 5.
...

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Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
Mark,

This is the first time that I've had a detailed reading of these articles on Olympic and her maiden voyage. Thanks for transcribing them. They're great. It's fascinating to find mentioned the impression which Olympic had on people on its arrival in America and to read of Smith and Ismay on that trip. I was especially intrigued with the account of Olympic's maiden return sailing from New York and that such society leaders as Mamie Stuyvesant Fish and an incognito Anne Vanderbilt were on board.

I see we're getting onto another anniversary of the Big O's maiden trip.

Thanks Mark!

Randy
 
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Martin Pirrie

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Has anyone any good evidence that Lord Pirrie did sail on the second, or any other, voyage of Olympic apart from the one he made in June 1924 when his body was brought back to the UK after he had died on a cruise through the Panama Canal?

He did sail from Belfast to Liverpool on Olympic with J. B. Ismay and J. Pierpoint Morgan on 31st June 1911.
 
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Steve Anderson

Member
Martin:

Lord Pirrie sailed on the RMS Aquitania a few times after the war.

Pirrie, stated to Chalres Spedding(Aquitania's purser): "Spedding you have made the Aquitania the most popular ship in the world; the atmosphere of ocean travel in entirely changed."

These comments were based on the fact that Cunrad's Aquitania was not an "Atlantic Ferry" she was more a "palace" of enjoyment.
 
M

Mark Baber

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Randy---

Quite welcome.

Martin---

The immigration records available at www.ellisisland.org show Lord Pirrie as arriving in New York on Olympic on 19 July 1911 and 3 November 1920. (These are the two records which turn up using the correct spelling; there may be others if his name was spelled incorrectly on other occasions. The records only show about four or five trips to New York by Pirrie at any time, which I'm certain is not correct.)

Oddly enough, the Ellis Island records also show his arrival on Ebro in June 1924, without any indication that he had died before Ebro reached New York.
 
M

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, Wednesday, 19 July 1911

OLYMPIC CUTS HER OWN TIME
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Five Days, 13 Hours, 20 Minutes from Daunt's Rock to the Lightship
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The new White Star liner Olympic, which arrived in Quarantine last night and anchored, made even better time on her second voyage westward than she did on her first, nearly a month ago. She left Queenstown at 2 P. M. on Thursday, July 13, and passed the Ambrose Channel Lightship at 10:50 P.M. last night, making the voyage across in 5 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes from Daunt's Rock.

Capt. E. J. Smith, in his wireless dispatch last night, said that the Olympic's daily runs were 525 miles to noon on Friday, July 14; 560 to noon on Saturday, 534 to Sunday, 536 to Monday, and to noon yesterday 518 miles, making an average speed for the five days of 21.68 knots an hour.

The Olympic is expected to dock at 8 o'clock this morning. Among her passengers is Lord Pirrie, head of Harland & Wolff's shipbuilding yard at Belfast, who was the principal associate with J. Pierpont Morgan in forming the Atlantic combination now known as the International Mercantile Navigation [sic] Company, of which the White Star line is a part.

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Eric Longo

Member
Hi All,

97 years ago today! And thanks again Mark for all this wonderful data you post about these vessels and voyages.

Best,
Eric
 
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Jon_dalbyball

Guest
Hi
I was reading an old BTS Bulletin and someone said the Titanic slipped out of Southampton virtually un-noticed when compared to Olympic! Hence with the Olympic being the first in the class did she get more attention ? They did make more of a special effort painting her white for the photographer during her launch. So at the time (before Titanic's loss) was the Olympic the more famous ship ultimately getting more attention than Titanic ?

Cheers

Jon
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
Yes, of course. Likewise I can still recall the excitement of the media coverage of the first Moon landing, but number two was just more of the same. After that, as with the Titanic, it took something more dramatic ("Houston, we have a problem") to focus the World's attention for a second time.
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
You'll notice that the first departure of Olympic was filmed and preserved, but no film of Titanic's departure exists.

Compare the number of spectators at Olympic's departure with the few captured in Francis Browne's photos.

By the Titanic departed, the technical magazines were turning the the German big three, all larger than Titanic.
 
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Paul Lee

Member
The film of Olympic was on the return leg of her voyage, as she was leaving New York.

[Moderator's Note: This message and the three immediately above it, originally a separate thread in "General Titanica," have been moved to this pre-existing thread about Olympic's maiden voyage. MAB]
 
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