News from 1904: Maiden Voyage of Baltic II

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
Baltic II made her maiden New York arrival on 8 July 1904
and this article was published the next day, which was a Saturday.

The New York Times, 9 July 1904

White Star Liner Baltic Completes Maiden Voyage
Made Trip from Liverpool in 7 Days 13 Hours and 37 Minutes---Brought 906
Amid the tooting of hundreds of whistles and the dipping of flags, the
new White Star Line steamship Baltic, the largest ever built, made her
way up the bay yesterday, completing her maiden voyage from Liverpool to
this port. Thousands of eyes along the shore watched the big vessel as
she steamed slowly up the harbor on the breast of the tide, and every
floating craft to be seen dwindled into insignificance beside the big
liner. When the Baltic appeared in the upper bay ferryboats,
steamboats, tugs, and sailing craft went out of their course to give
those aboard better views of the steamship, and those vessels which were
coming down the channel as the Baltic came up made way for her.

The lines on which the Baltic is built give her the characteristic look
of the Cedric and Celtic, the two other largest ships of the White Star
Line, but she exceeds both these by about 3,000 tons. To those who went
alongside her the Baltic's freeboard appeared tremendously high, the
longest ladders on the revenue cutters, which were long enough for all
other vessels, hardly reaching the main deck. Her sides are painted
black, and her two big smokestacks are light brown, except where they
are circled near the top by broad black bands. She has four pole masts.
The great size of the Baltic, however, is minimized by the gracefulness
of her lines. The steam yacht Corsair was waiting down the bay for J.
Pierpont Morgan, her owner, who was aboard the steamship, and as the
Baltic came up the bay the black yacht ran for a time alongside of her,
the yacht looking like a little toy beside the big liner.

The length of the Baltic is 726 feet. In this respect she exceeds the
length of the Kaiser Wilhelm II, of the North German Lloyd Line, which
formerly was the longest ship by 18.2 feet. Her width is 75 feet. In
all she has eight decks, four of them being above the main deck. She is
of 24,000 tons gross register, while her capacity for cargo is 28,000
tons, and her lead draught about 40,000 tons. The new steamship has
accommodations for about 3,000 passengers besides her crew of 350.

The first-class smoking room and library are on the upper promenade
deck. The staterooms in the first-class cabin are so arranged that the
passengers occupying them will feel very little of the ship's motion.
Just abaft the first-class compartment is that for the second-class
passengers, consisting of a large dining room, a smoking room, and a
library, besides the staterooms. With the exception of a limited space
forward, the third-class passengers are provided for abaft the

The Baltic is fitted with engines of Harlan [sic] & Wolff's quadruple
expansion type, arranged on the balanced principle, which practically
does away with vibration. The liner can attain a speed of about 17
miles an hour. The steamship was built at the yards of Harlan [sic] &
Wolff at Belfast, and she sailed from Liverpool for this side on June
29, stopping on the next day at Queenstown to pick up mails and
passengers. She is in command of Lieut. E. J. Smith, R. N. R., who has
become well known to seagoers as Captain of the steamship Majestic, from
which he was transferred to take command of the new vessel. The Baltic
is the tenth command which Lieut. Smith has held in the service of the
White Star Line.

The first trip of the big liner was made in 7 days 13 hours and 37
minutes, and both Chief Engineer H. Crawford Boyle, formerly of the
Celtic, and Consulting Engineer Andrews of Harlan [sic] & Wolff, who
made the trip for the purpose of watching the Baltic's behavior,
declares [sic] that there was not the slightest trouble with her
machinery, and that she has come up to all expectations. Her best day's
run was 417 knots, made on July 4.

She brought a total of 906 passengers, 209 in the first-class cabin, 142
in the second-class, and 555 in the steerage. Every one of the
passengers united in saying that the voyage could not have been more
pleasant. Capt. Smith was delighted with his ship. "I tried to see how
she would work coming around the tail of the Southwest Spit," he said,
"and as the channel was clear, I sent her around at full speed. She
behaved admirably. Pilot Johnson, who has brought up almost every one
of the big vessels that come into this port, piloted us up."

The officers of the Baltic are Thomas Kidwell, formerly of the Celtic,
chief officer; W. E. Graham, surgeon; H. McElroy, purser, and H.
Wovenden, chief steward. The ship will be open for public inspection on
Monday and an admission fee of 25 cents will be asked from each visitor,
the proceeds to go to the seamen's charities.

Sep 12, 2000
Yet another question for you Mark. Baltic had capacity for 3000 passenger and only had 350 crew? Why were there so many more crew on the Titanic? Could Titanic have sailed with only 350 crew?

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
Crew numbers are not really my domain, but:

1. Didn't the Olympics' corps of firemen, stokers and trimmers alone number 300 or so---almost as large as Baltic's entire crew---in the coal burning days? I don't know what the comparable number for the Big Four was, but I would imagine it was significantly smaller.

2. A far larger number of 1st/2d accommodations (1,400) on the Olympics as compared to the Big Four (500) would require larger victualling staffs and miscellaneous-type folks. So would additional amenities like a swimming pool, etc.

3. Ships of 45,000 tons would, I assume, require larger contingents of engineers, AB's and the like, than ships of 20,000 tons.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Times, 29 June 1904

By the invitation of Messrs. Ismay, Imrie, and Co., a large party
yesterday inspected the Baltic, the latest and largest vessel of the
White Star Line, as she was lying in the Mersey, before her maiden trip
to New York to-day. The Baltic is the largest ship at present afloat,
her length being 726ft. overall (17ft. or 18ft. less between
perpendiculars), her breadth 75ft., and her depth 49ft. She differs from
her predecessors, the Celtic and the Cedric, which till her advent were
the biggest in the world, in being longer to the extent of one plate
(about 30ft.); in consequence her gross tonnage is increased by
something under 3,000 tons to nearly 24,000. It may be noted that in
dimensions the Celtic and Cedric are practically identical, but slight
variations in deck structures and crew spaces give the latter a somewhat
greater tonnage. Those, however, who look upon big ships as recent
developments in naval architecture may be surprised to learn that the
Baltic is the first ship to surpass Brunel's wonder, the Great Eastern,
designed more than 60 years ago, in length between perpendiculars as
well as in displacement and tonnage, while in breadth and depth moulded
she is still inferior. The Great Eastern's beam was 83ft. (or if her
paddle-boxes be included 120ft.) and her depth 53ft. That her gross
tonnage, nearly 19,000 tons, was less than that of the Baltic is mainly
attributable to two reasons. First, her form was much less square; if
she had been built with the full lines of the newer vessel she would
easily have been ahead in gross tonnage as in breadth and depth.
Secondly, she lacked the huge superstructures which are a characteristic
of the Baltic, as of recent passenger ships in general. Her deck
structures were insignificant, amounting to less then 100 tons
measurement; in the Baltic the accommodation on the four decks that rise
above the structural deck, at which the Great Eastern may be said to
have ended, account for at least 4,000 tons, probably more, of the total
measurement tonnage. In fact, these deck superstructures are one of the
dominant features of modem passenger ships; in the Baltic the highest
deck to which passengers have access is no less than 60ft. above the
water-line when the vessel is drawing 28ft., whereas in Brunel's boat
nothing except the masts and funnels attained one-half that elevation.
In displacement the Baltic has the advantage, though not to a very great
extent. Loaded to a draught of 32ft. the Great Eastern displaced about
30,000 tons; at the same draught the Baltic displaces about 34,000 tons,
though if she were loaded to 37ft. or 38ft. draught, as she well might
be if depth of water permitted, her weight would be equivalent to over
40,000 tons.

But, if in regard to certain dimensions the Baltic does not equal the
Great Eastern, in other respects she is far ahead. While the engines of
the two vessels are not very different in weight, those of the Baltic,
which are quadruple expansion using steam at over 200lb. pressure per
square inch, instead of the 25lb. of the Great Eastern, develop
something like twice the power, can drive the ship at 17 instead of 13
knots, and yet only consume 250 tons of coal a day instead of nearly
400. In the quality of the accommodation provided for passengers---and
the Baltic is far from being a pure passenger boat, but has space for
cargo of over a million cubic feet---the differences are still greater.
Steerage passengers have the run of a large part of the upper deck; many
of them sleep in rooms containing only two, three, or four persons each,
in place of the old open berths, and have their meals seated at tables
on revolving chairs, and waited on by stewards like the other classes.
Second-class passengers also have a share of the upper deck, together
with ample accommodation in the way of dining saloon, smoke room, &c.
First-class passengers enjoy quarters of which spaciousness is perhaps
the most prominent feature. For promenading they have no fewer then four
big decks---sun, boat, promenade and upper; their dining saloon, though
it gives the impression of being a little deficient in height, is a huge
apartment which stretches across the whole width of the middle deck
amidships; and on the boat deck they have a large smoking-room and a
library; while the size of the state rooms, bath-rooms, passages, &c.,
is quite exceptional. The Baltic, like nearly all the other vessels of
the White Star fleet, has twin screws, and her builders, Messrs. Harland
and Wolff, of Belfast, have provided her with a double bottom, numerous
water-tight compartments, and every appliance necessary for the safety
and comfort of her passengers and the speedy and economical handling of
her cargo.

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