News from 1895: The end of Oceanic I

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB note: As it turned out, Oceanic never returned to San Francisco after
her 12 February departure for Hong Kong. Once she reached Belfast, it was
decided that the cost of overhauling her again was prohibitive, and she was

The San Francisco Call, 3 February 1895
Retrieved from the California Digital Newspaper Collection web site,

She Will Sail for Belfast to Repair
The Pioneer Ship of the White Star Company
English Officers Look Forward With Pleasure to the Prospective Visit Home

The big China-line steamer Oceanic has entered the port of San Francisco for
the last time this year, and perhaps forever. She sails February 12 for
China and Japan, and then goes back to the place of her birth in Ireland for

For nineteen years the tall masts of the Oceanic with their burdens of
canvas have been recognized at sea by every navigator on the Pacific. Her
white star, always floating at the peak, would recall to mariners who passed
her the history of her inception and the subsequent revolution in the
building of ocean speeders.

In January, 1871, the Oceanic first dipped her bow into the water of the
world at Belfast, Ireland, with the insignia of her owners waving over her
decks. She was the first vessel built for the White Star line on the new
plan of deck arrangement, iron hull and improved machinery. Her tonnage was
to be almost 4000, with five holds to receive the cargoes. The
accommodations for 100 cabin passengers were superior to anything crossing
the Atlantic at that time, while the steerage-room was considered too large
by the average shipping-man who knew nothing regarding the rush of emigrants
about to take place. In the early part of 1871 she made her maiden trip from
Liverpool to New York, and became the pride of the White Star Company.

When the Southern Pacific Railroad Company formed the plans for the
Occidental and Oriental steamship line, the Oceanic attracted the eye of the
management, and a lease was forthwith entered into at a stipulated price per
month. It was agreed that the white star of her owners should always be
carried at the masthead, and that English officers should be in command.
Both of these provisions have been carried out.

In 1880 a trip was made to Ireland for repairs, but she was immediately
returned to her run on the Pacific. This trip may prove different, as more
time will be required to do the work, and by the time it is completed other
arrangements may be made.

Her assistants in the burden-bearing line are the Gaelic and Belgic, also
owned by the White Star line. Another "ic" will take her place on March 19,
when the Coptic will sail from Hongkong for here with the White Star flying.

The officers look forward with pleasure to the return "home," as they term
it. Most of them have been on board a number of years and have made hosts of
friends both here and in the Oriental ports. They will say good-by to many
with regrets, but have hopes of again being assigned to Pacific runs.

The ship itself can go back home with but one stain upon its record, and
that is the sinking of the City of Chester about five years ago.



[From a sketch made for "The Call" by W. A. Coulter]