Leviathan Monster of the Deep

Jan 5, 2001
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Originally named Vaterland, this fine vessel served for twenty-four years. She saw heart-breaking, glorious and astonishing years throughout her life.

So *why* aren't we talking about her?

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I guess because she didn't sink on her maiden voyage.

For those interested in this great liner, there is a fine labour of love called World's greatest ship"; the story of the Leviathan, by Frank O. Braynard. It runs to six volumes and gives an immensely detailed account of the ships life.

Leviathan is not alone in being neglected. I'm a fan of Aquitania, a ship that served so long and well in peace and war.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

I'm slowly adding to my Leviathan collection, with volumes 3 and 5.

She seems more successful than many people credit her for; she was not unpopular, despite all her disadvantages as to alcohol, and ticket agents. Although a calamity, the story of her 1929 crack is fascinating.

What do people like about Leviathan?

Likewise, I find Aquitania fascinating. Aa far as I know there are two books on her, Neil MvCart's 1994 'Aquitania' being the finest. Hopefully someone will write another.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
Glad you are enjoying the Leviathan books! I bought the whole set about 10 years ago and enjoyed it very much. The Levi has been misunderstood by many and was actually quite popular.
I too would also like to see more on the Aquitania. She was a very successful ship.

Brent
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Yes, I am enjoying them. I found it astonishing that the original plan for four volumes grew to five and then six!

For most historians the problem is always finding enough information.
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Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Well, thanks to Dave and Brent for your conbributions. Has anyone any favourite anecdotes or has Leviathan as their favourite liner?

We could get a good thread going.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
In my opinion, the Levi was the best of the Ballin trio. This was especially so after her thorough reconstruction by William Francis gibbs. She was probably the fastest of the three. She was rewired and did not suffer from the wiring problems of Berengaria and Majestic. The Leviathan was quite popular, usually ranking near the top of the list in passenger carryings. Much of the criticism of the ship comes from her final years during the Depression when she slipped into the red. Of course most of her peers were doing little better at the time. (Many did worse)
I never have understood why she was not placed in the reserve fleet like the George Washington and America (1905). Her sale for scrap was puzzling at that time. The Levi would have been very useful during WWII to the Allies.
Brent
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Hello Mark:

One of my favorite pieces...a real photo postcard of LEVIATHAN (Troopship tenure) with a penned message and wonderful content...

In part...

"This is the same ship that brought your Father home with General Pershing"

The writer aslo penned.."LEVIATHAN means Sea Monster".
By the looks of the image on the postcard...tired and worn from her service in then Great War...LEVIATHAN appears just that.

Michael A. Cundiff
USA
 
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Hi!

General Pershing! WOW. Leviathan did look astonishing in some of her camoflage (sp?). Knowing she was rebuilt after the war, what exactly had been the problem -- clearly, new fittings, etc., but had she suffered any structural problems or uptake trouble from her overloading? Because I recall she once carried 15,000 troops on one crossing! That's an even bigger WOW.

I think Levi was the fastest -- although that famous 27.48 knots is so often quetioned that it may as well not exist. She did 25.8 knots on trials in 1914 if I recall.

Personally, I wonder why so many ships did not serve in that war; Berengaria was nearly kept after Churchill asked; Leviathan was scrapped; Majestic *was* a training ship but it is sad that she sank. Homeric was idle by the end of 1935 but still, in 1936 there was already the possibility of war in Europe; British and French rearmament was going up, as did Germany's. These vessels would have done sterling service, even if many were ageing by that time.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Mark, correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't all of these ships suffer from structural problems and electrical fires? I'd be a little bit reluctant to use a ship for a transport that could turn into a Zippo lighter with no warning.
 
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Seems the wiring didn't hold up all that well. Mark, I can see another book for you in this. From what I've seen, you've done a lot of digging around into the problems facing these ships. Have you given that any thought?
 
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Hi!

Mark, I can see another book for you in this...Have you given that any thought?

Thought is something I could cope with. Any more than that I am not sure. Still, I am more than half-way finished on my second one, and I *do* have an idea for a third -- although it would be more of a 'booklet' than a fully-fledged ['three-figure-page'] book, or let's say a short book.

Time is the problem (isn't it always!), but I have pretty much settled on an idea for a third project -- and I might well squeeze this techie info. into it. The topic does wander from the Olympic class, but not by that much.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Yeah, time is always a problem. Sometimes, I wish there were thirty hours in a day so I could devote more of it to research.

You've got me interested in details concerning your book projects. Feel free to e-mail me if you don't feel comfortable discussing them on the public forum.
 
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Mark,

In recently rewatching the silent film "The Unchastened Woman" (1925), starring Theda Bara, the original "vamp" of the movies, I noticed that the Leviathan is featured in the story. Theda's character takes a voyage on it. There are only brief glimpses of the ship at dock, departing and sailing off but it might be worth a look.

"The Unchastened Woman" is available on VHS (and maybe DVD?) at Grapevine Video

Randy

Theda Bara by Arnold Genthe
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Randy!

>"The Unchastened Woman"

Hey, with a title like that the film is bound to be worth a look (Leviathan or no Leviathan.) :)

Ouch! Ouch! (I didn't hear Pat come up behind me!) :)

All my best,

George
 
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Thanks very much Randy for letting us know. George is right when he says the film would be worth a look anyway.
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I am surprised that Frank Braynard's Leviathan series does not mention it (at least it doesn't in the volumes that I have, 3 and 5). I wish someone had filmed Olympic overtaking Leviathan in that massive storm in 1923 -- wouldn't that have been something!

(BTW, I've been meaning to ask -- how's your work on Edy going? Best wishes with that.)

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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Wasn't the Leviathan not as well-received as the Cunard or White Star liners (Even the Majestic II or the Berengaria)? I heard that she often sailed with more crew than passengers. (Guess that the United States Line wasn't the most popular line then!)
 
Dec 2, 2000
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It didn't help that when the Laviathan was in U.S.Lines service that it was during Prohibition. People like their beer and wine, and when traveling at sea, appriciated a good 'blast' for other reasons.

("You don't think I'm going near that thing sober, do you???")
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Brent Holt

Guest
Much of the information that goes around about the Levi is taken out of context. Here are some examples:

1. She regularly sailed at less than half her capacity.
Of course she did! So did most of the big liners of her day that had huge numbers of steerage berths that dried up after the cap on immigration.
2. She regularly carried more crew than passengers.
The Levi's passenger loads could compete with the best of the liners in the 1920s. In 1927 she was the most popular liner on the Atlantic.
3. The Levi was unprofitable.
By most standards, when counted as a separate unit of the fleet, the Leviathan operated in the black in the 1920s.
Much of the negative press given to the Levi came during the 1930s when all the big ships were having major problems attracting customers. The Levi's passenger numbers were very similar to the Olympic, Majestic, Aquitania, and Berengaria.
4. Prohibition hurt the Levi.
Perhaps, but she was still one of the most popular liners of the 1920s.

A majority of the liner books out there right now, unfortunately, continue to spread info on the Leviathan based on sloppy research. She deserves better.

Brent