Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 21 October 1910

The Olympic Takes the Water at Belfast Amid Scenes of Much Enthusiasm
One Hundred and Eighty-two Feet Longer Than Metropolitan Tower Is High---To be Here Next Summer
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Oct. 20---The White Star liner Olympic was successfully launched from Harland & Wolff's shipyard at Belfast to-day. There was no naming ceremony.

The vessel was held on the ways by hydraulic triggers, which were released by the opening of a valve, thus allowing the vast structure to glide gracefully into the water amid a roar of cheering.

The Olympic's sister-ship, the Titanic, will probably be launched next January.
BELFAST, Oct. 20---The first of the two mammoth triple-screw White Star liners, the Olympic, was launched successfully amid scenes of much enthusiasm to-day.

The new vessel is of 45,000 tons. She has been building for twenty-two months, and it will be some eight months more before she is ready for her trial trip. She exceeds by nearly 100 feet in length and by 13,000 tons any other ship afloat.

The principal dimensions of the Olympic are:

Length over all.................................... 882 1/2
Breadth over all.................................... 92 1/2
Breadth over boat deck......................... 94
Height from bottom of keel to boat deck.. 97
Height from bottom of keel to top of
Captain's house ................................. 105 1/2
Height of funnels above casing............... 72
Height at funnels above boat deck.......... 81 1/2
Distance from top of funnel to keel........ 175

The number of steel decks is eleven and the number of water-tight bulkheads fifteen.

The vessel, laid on end, would overtop the Metropolitan Tower in New York by 182 feet. It is twice as long as the height of St. Peter's at Rome.

It is stated that the luxury of the appointments of these vessels will exceed that of anything at present afloat. Each will have room for 2,500 passengers, as well as for a crew of 860. There will be Turkish and electric baths, tennis courts, swimming pools, sun parlors, decks for sports, palm courts, besides the usual restaurants, smoking rooms, lounges, &c. One of the decks on each ship can be used as a theatre.

The vessels will be driven by a combination of reciprocating engines and low-pressure turbines, by which system, it is asserted, vibration is avoided and the danger of seasickness reduced to a minimum. The speed is to be twenty-two knots an hour.

It is expected that the Olympic will be in service between Plymouth, Cherbourg, Southampton, and New York next Summer, and that the Titanic will join the same service early in the Autumn. The Titanic is well advanced, and is to be launched soon.


John Knight

Thanks Mark. I take note of the paragraph that states each ship will have a deck which 'can be used as a theatre'. If I knew that before I had forgotten it and it is an interesting point considering the many posts regarding 'a cinema' on board.

Mark Baber

Staff member
The Times, 20 October 1910

A new stage in the history of the growth of steamships is marked by the
White Star liner Olympic, which is to be launched this morning from the
yard of Messrs. Harland and Wolff at Belfast.

For over 40 years, until 1901, the pride of place in regard to size, as
measured by gross tonnage, was held by Brunel's Great Eastern, a vessel
which in many ways still remains unsurpassed as a masterpiece of
engineering skill; but the Celtic, launched in that year by the same
builders and for the same owners as the Olympic, excelled her by 1,400
tons, and thus was the first ship to exceed 20,000 tons gross register.
Five years later the Cunard Line, with the Lusitania and Mauretania,
added 10,000 tons to the limit, and now it is brought well over 40,000
tons by the Olympic and her sister the Titanic, which stands, in a
somewhat less advanced state of construction, on an adjoining slip at
Belfast. But whether these two vessels will long be able to claim the
honour of being the largest vessels in the world is somewhat doubtful;
for, apart from rumours as to the intentions of other companies, it is
understood that the Hamburg America Line recently ordered a vessel which
is to be longer and broader than they are and which is to have a rather
larger tonnage.

However that may be, the dimensions of the Olympic are sufficiently
imposing. She will be 882 1/2ft. in length over all---nearly 100ft.
longer than the Lusitania and Mauretania---and 92 1/2ft. in beam; and
the vertical height from the bottom of her keel to the top of the
captain's house on the boat deck will be 105 1/2ft., the four funnels
rising some 70ft. higher still. Her gross tonnage is given in round
numbers as 45,000, and her displacement as 60,000 tons; the latter
figure, however, depends on the draught to which she is loaded, and that
again is governed by the depth of water available at Southampton and New
York, the two ports between which she is to ply. In all she has 11 steel
decks, and she is divided into watertight compartments by 15 bulkheads.
The double bottom which extends her whole length is 5ft. 3in. deep,
except under the reciprocating engine room, where it is 6ft. 3in., and
it contains half a million rivets, weighing 270 tons, the largest being
1 1/4in. in diameter. In the whole ship there will be 3,000,000 rivets,
weighing about 1,200 tons, and all of them in the shell plating and many
in other parts of the structure have been closed by powerful 7-ton
hydraulic riveting machines. The largest shell plates used in the hull
weigh 4 1/4 tons each and measure 36ft. in length; the largest beam is
92ft. long; the stern frame weighs 70 tons; .the after boss arms 73 1/2
tons and the forward ones 45 tons; the rudder,.100 tons; the engine
crank shafts each 118 tons; the bedplate 195 tons; the heaviest
cylinder, with liner, 50 tons; and the wing propellers each 38 tons.

The propelling machinery consists of a turbine combined with
reciprocating engines, an arrangement which the White Star Line has
already proved in the case of the Laurentic. The two outer screws will
be driven by two sets of reciprocating engines, and the energy remaining
in the steam after it has passed through them will be expended in a
low-pressure turbine which will drive a third screw placed centrally.
The speed for which the vessel is designed is 21 knots, and thus in
spite of her immense size the power required will be much less than in
the case of the Lusitania and Mauretania with their higher speed.


Mark Baber

Staff member
The Times, 21 October 1910

The launch of the White Star liner Olympic was successfully carried out
this morning in ideal weather, for bright sunshine succeeded a night of
rain and what wind there was was from a quarter which favoured the
canting of the ship to the desired position. The time appointed was 11
o'clock, and an hour or so before this the guests who had been invited
began to arrive. They included the Lord Lieutenant and Lady Aberdeen,
Miss Asquith, Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Powerscourt, Lord Dartrey, the Lord
Mayor of Belfast, Lord Annesloy, Lord Trimlestown, Lord Cole, Sir James
Henderson, Sir Charles Cameron, Sir Lambert Ormsby, and the Rev. Albert
A. Harland, besides many connected with the firms of Messrs. Harland and
Wolff and Messrs. Ismay, Imrie, and Co., including Lord Pirrie, Mr. J.
Bruce Ismay, Mr. Harold A. Sanderson, Mr. E. C. Grenfell, Mr. J. W.
Scott, Mr. T E. Curry, Captain D. Murray, Mr. W. J. Willett Bruce, and
Major Maitland Kersey.

In the hours preceding the launch the shores which had supported the
vessel during construction had been removed until she was restrained
from moving simply by a pair of hydraulic triggers. About a quarter to
11 a warning rocket was fired, and ten minutes later a second rocket
gave the signal for releasing the water pressure on the triggers by
which the ship was held in place. At this moment a curious hush fell
upon the whole shipyard, and almost immediately the huge mass, weighing
some 27,000 tons, began to move.. Gathering speed as she went, until she
was finally travelling at the rate of 12 1/2 knots, she slid
majestically down the ways and was afloat in just over a minute, the
time that elapsed until her stem dropped into the water being 62sec. For
checking the momentum she had acquired six anchors were provided, three
on each side, and each of these was connected by a 7in. steel hawser to
eye plates riveted to her shell plating. In addition there were placed
in the bed of the river two piles of cable drags, each weighing over 80
tons, which were similarly connected to her by an 8in. steel hawser. The
consequence was that her movement was arrested in less than her own
length, and thereafter four Liverpool tugs conducted her to a temporary
berth preparatory to her transfer to a permanent fitting-out berth,
where her machinery will be placed on board by the aid of a 200-ton
floating crane.

The success of the launch was due to details which had been carefully
anticipated from the time that her construction began and to the
organization of the staff engaged in the actual operation. The berth had
been specially constructed, piling being driven under the keel blocks
and under the positions to be occupied by the ways. But at the same time
heavy castings were put in to take the thrust of the shores for keeping
the ways in place. Provision was also made by fitting hydraulic jacks
with tie rods enclosed in special foundation blocks, so that if the
vessel had failed to move sufficient impetus would be given to start
her. These, however, were not found necessary, as she began to move as
soon as the hydraulic triggers released her. The sliding ways, which
were 722ft. long and 63in. wide, were coated to a thickness of 1in. with
lubricant, 22 tons of tallow and soap being utilized for this purpose,
and thus, notwithstanding the pressure on the ways, which slightly
exceeded three tons per square foot, the vessel moved easily into the
water. Needless to say, the satisfaction of the shipping community of
Belfast was vigorously expressed by the tooting of horns and whistles
and all manner of noise.
A full description of the Olympic, the largest vessel in the world yet
launched, was given in The Times of yesterday.


Sean Hankins

Today is one hundred years to the day of the launch of the R.M.S. Olympic :)

[Moderator's note: This message, originally a separate thread, has been moved to this pre-existing thread about Olympic's launch. MAB]