News from 1913: Maiden voyage of Ceramic

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
[MAB Note: Ceramic began her maiden voyage on 24 July 1913. This article appeared some days earlier, after her initial arrival at Liverpool from Belfast.]

The Times, 8 July 1913


The new triple-screw White Star Australian liner Ceramic, under the command
of Captain J. Stivey, R.N.R., arrived at Liverpool early yesterday morning
from Belfast, which port she left on Saturday morning, the two intervening
days having been devoted to a cruise in the Irish Channel for the purpose
of speed and other trials and for testing the working of the two 4.7
quick-firing guns with which the ship is fitted under the new scheme of
"defensive merchantmen." A large party was on board, including
representatives from the Admiralty entrusted with carrying out the
arrangements of the new scheme, and there was also a gun's crew from the
Experimental Gunnery School at Whale Island, under the command of Commander
C. M. Forbes, R.N.

The Ceramic will be the largest vessel in the Australian trade. Her
principal dimensions are:-Length, 674ft. 9in.; breadth, 69ft, 5in.: depth,
48ft.; gross tonnage, 18,500. The vessel, which has a graceful appearance,
has neither poop nor forecastle, the upper deck running from stem to stern,
and there is only one funnel. The Ceramic is interesting as marking the
latest development of the one-class liner originated by the White Star Line
with the Medic in 1899, a class which may be described as intermediate
between the third and second. In the Ceramic the entire upper part of the
central and, therefore, the best position of the ship is devoted to
passenger accommodation. The promenade deck is some 400ft. long, and the
lounge, reading-room, gymnasium and smoking-room are well-appointed
apartments. The cabins are on the deck below, the upper deck, and the dining
saloon is on the next deck, the main deck. Seating accommodation in the
saloon is provided for over 500, which is the number it is calculated will
usually be carried, but extra cabins can be provided for 200 additional
passengers. The propelling machinery consists of two sets of reciprocating
engines and one low-pressure turbine worked by the exhaust steam from the
reciprocating engines. The aggregate indicated horse-power is put at 9,000,
and on the trial a speed of over 16 knots was reached, but this result was
obtained under favourable conditions, with picked coal, light draught, and
still water. The contract speed was 14 knots.

A good deal of interest was taken by those on board in the gun trials. Ten
rounds were fired from each gun with entirely satisfactory results as
regards the strength of the mountings.

With regard to the question of safety, great strength has been put into the
hull, and there is, of course, a cellular double bottom extending almost the
entire length of the ship and the 12 transverse bulkheads are carried right
up to the upper deck. In a steel deck-house aft is a powerful Diesel
oil-engine driving an emergency dynamo which is capable of supplying
electric current for lighting to all the principal parts of the ship and for
the wireless installation in the event of the main engines being put out of
working order. The same power can also be used for working pumps. Finally,
there is boat accommodation for every one on board. The vessel is also
equipped with submarine signalling apparatus. The refrigerating chambers are
capable of holding 120,000 carcases of mutton.

Among those on board during the trials were Rear-Admiral H. H. Campbell, who
is in charge of the arrangements for equipping merchantmen with guns,
Rear-Admiral H. W. Savory (Director of Naval Transports), Commander Buckle,
R.N., Mr. Harold Sanderson (president of the White Star Line), Mr. H.
Concanon and Mr. F. Lionel Fletcher (manager of the White Star Line)--the
Ceramic was built under the personal supervision of the latter---Mr. F. W.
May (Director, Atlantic Transport Company), Mr. H. B. Wortley (Alfred Holt
and Co.), Mr. Oscar Thompson (Aberdeen Line), Mr. G. W. Kempster (Director
of Harland and Wolff), Mr. W. W. Bradfield (Marconi Company), and Mr. Peter
McBride (Agent-General for Victoria).


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB Note: Albany was Ceramic's first call in Australia on her maiden voyage, and was a common first call there for ships on White Star's Australia service.

The West Australian, Perth, 26 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


Albany, Aug. 25---The new White Star liner Ceramic, 18,500 tons--the largest
steamer yet to cross the line---arrived from Liverpool this afternoon. As it
was anticipated that the ship would reach the harbour in the morning, a
Mayoral reception and owners' luncheon were arranged to take place during
the day. A wireless message received last night, however, held out no hope
of the vessel's arrival until 6 o'clock, and in consequence all the social
functions were postponed until to-morrow. This meant a disappointment to
many visitors from the country who had accepted the Mayor's invitation to be
present, and had to leave for their homes again by to-night's train. As it
was, the Ceramic put in her appearance much earlier than was expected, and
those who could not remain till to-morrow had the satisfaction of looking
over the ship even if they missed the attendant ceremonies.

It was 2 o'clock when the hoisting of the familiar flags announced that the
liner had been sighted. She was not sighted until close up to Breaksea, and
it was therefore but half an hour later that the Ceramic entered the Sound.
She steamed to a point within two miles of the channel, and there picked up
Captain Winzar, who was to pilot her in, and Dr. Blackburne, quarantine
officer. At 3.30 p.m. she was abreast of the end of the jetty, and by 10
minutes to 4 she was snugly berthed, the operation having been effected
without assistance. The gangway was lowered, but friends afloat and on the
jetty had to defer meeting until the doctor had passed the ship. Advantage
was then taken of the opportunity to board the leviathan by hundreds of

There was little in the appearance of the Ceramic, seen from the distance,
to distinguish her from other vessels of the line which call here regularly,
but at close quarters her immense proportions were very apparent. "A
magnificent ship indeed," was the impression gained by all interested in
maritime affairs. The Ceramic on entering the port was drawing 25ft.
forward, and 30ft. aft, and she made the jetty look very small as she ranged
the full 675ft. of her length alongside. She is said to be just about as
large a ship as the Port of London can accommodate, and as that is a
governing factor the Ceramic may be regarded as likely to be near the limit
in the matter of ship construction for some time. It is estimated that,
fully loaded, she can carry 20,000 tons of cargo. On her present trip her
manifest accounts for as much as 18,481 tons, 400 of which will be landed at

The biggest improvement shown by the Ceramic, as compared with other vessels
of the line, is in her steaming capabilities. All the way from Capetown
south-east winds and gales and head seas were experienced, yet the ship
averaged 15.22 knots an hour. On two days during the run she averaged
1[unclear digit].25 knots, but given fair conditions she is expected to make
15.75 knots. The Ceramic carries a crew of 226 men, and on her present trip
she has 450 passengers on board.

Captain J. Stivey, R.N.R., is well known here, having formerly commanded the
Afric. He received the congratulations of many friends to-day on the arrival
of the vessel. By a happy coincidence he received advice at Albany of his
promotion to the rank of Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve.

The Ceramic's passengers for Albany were:- Mesdames Balsdon and child,
Dawson, Foot, French, Hawkens, Horne, Horsfall and 3 children, Langford,
Thomson, Throssell and 2 children, Walmsley and child, Burns and 2 children,
Kennedy, Robson, and Ross, Misses Ball, Bennett, Bullen, Hawkens (2), Horne,
Langford, Lawrence, Potts, Spavin, Wood, Trim, Grosholz, and Stone, Messrs.
Bailey, Balsdon, Dreadmore, Foot, Fremantle, French, Gunnerinwen, Hussock,
Hartshorn, Hawkens (2), Hodder, Jones (2), Kitcheng, Lawrence, McNamara,
O'Brien, Ross, Treby, Walmsley, Burns, Zeidermann, Carmichael, Glasson,
Kennedy (4), Klotz, and Wright.


The White Star twin screw liner Ceramic was built in the dockyards of
Harland and Wolff at Belfast, and was launched early last month. Intended
for the Australian trade, and carrying only one class of passengers, she is
designed and arranged on lines which, it is claimed, make her an ideal
ship for the service in which she will be engaged. Her passenger quarters
are airy and comfortable, and the system of decoration throughout is simple
in the extreme, the result being that the general rooms have a cool, restful
appearance eminently suitable for a long hot-weather voyage. There has been
no attempt whatever to imitate the expensive ornateness of the latest type
of Atlantic liners, and here the owners claim to have displayed great
wisdom. What the passenger who travels in the Ceramic is likely to want is
comfort, in the homelier sense of the word, and this he will get in the
fullest degree. The dining saloon, which is on the middle deck, extends the
full width of the ship, and has accommodation for 500 people at one sitting.
It is essentially a cheerful apartment, the walls being white, and the
lighting arrangements excellent. On the bridge deck there is a large general
room, opening into a reading and writing room, and both these retreats
possess an atmosphere of restfulness which is sure to be appreciated. The
smoke-room, at the other end of the bridge deck is thoroughly comfortable
and well ventilated, while the state rooms, many of them being two-berth
cabins, are spacious and well appointed. There is an excellently-fitted
gymnasium, and even open-air swimming baths are provided, one for each sex.
The Ceramic carries two 4.7 guns, and during the trial trip of the vessel
the guns were fired without any ill-effect. It has been suggested that the
firing of heavy guns aboard a merchantman would have serious results, as the
structure of the vessel would not be strong enough to stand the strain. The
experiment aboard the Ceramic has, however, effectually disproved this
theory. The Ceramic has the following dimensions:--Length overall, 674ft.
9in.; length, b.p., 655ft.: extreme breadth. 69ft. 5in.; depth, 48ft.: with
a gross tonnage of about 18,500 tons. She has seven steel decks, viz., lower
orlop, orlop, lower, middle, upper, bridge, and boat, and the structure of
the hull is a very strong one, the main scantlings being determined by
Harland and Wolff's long experience with large vessels. There is a
cellular double-bottom extending right out to the sides, with floors on
every frame except in the forward and aft holds where the usual form is
adopted. Water ballast is also carried in the fore and aft peaks. There are
twelve transverse water-tight bulkheads, and these are carried to the upper
deck. The water-tight doors are of massive construction, and are protected
with oil cataracts governing the closing speed. Each door is held in
position by a friction clutch, which can be instantly released by means of a
powerful electro-magnet controlled from the bridge. The refrigerating
installation embodies all the latest facilities for the efficient carriage
of large quantities of produce and for the cold storage of the ship's
provisions. There are 13 large insulated compartments for the carriage of
perishable cargo with a total capacity of over 310,000 cubic feet, and the
No. 1 hold is fitted and lined throughout specially for the carriage of
copra. The Ceramic has accommodation for about 600 passengers ordinarily,
with arrangements for a possible extension for a further 220, and she has
lifeboats sufficient to accommodate all on board. There is, of course, an
installation of wireless telegraphy, and also a submarine signalling
apparatus, and the vessel has electric light throughout. The propelling
machinery consists of two sets of reciprocating engines driving the wing
propellers, and one low pressure turbine driving the central propeller. The
reciprocating engines are balanced on the Yarrow, Schlick, and Tweedy
system, which minimises vibration, and the turbine is of the Parsons type,
designed to operate in the ahead direction only by the exhaust steam from
the other engines.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Advertiser, Adelaide, 30 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


The White Star liner Ceramic, the largest merchant vessel that has ever
visited the Commonwealth, arrived at the Outer Harbor on Friday afternoon.
The event was one of absorbing interest to shipping and commercial men. She
reached the Semaphore at 4 o'clock, was boarded by Pilot Dickson, and
berthed at the Outer Harbor an hour later. There was a large crowd to greet
her, among whom were Messrs. Richards, McKenzie, and Clements, of Messrs.
Dalgety &. Co.'s Sydney and Melbourne offices, and Mr. E. V. Day, the
sub-manager of the Adelaide branch of the firm.

The enterprise of the White Star Company, in building such a fine vessel, is
at once a recognition of the importance of the Australian trade with the
mother country and an evidence of their faith in the future of the
Commonwealth. She is equipped with every kind of apparatus for the
prevention of accident, and the provision of safety at sea. She has wireless
telegraphy, submarine signalling, and boats sufficient to accommodate the
whole of the passengers and crew. Passengers who travelled by her from
Liverpool were unanimous in praise of her seagoing qualities. The ship left
Liverpool on July 24, and did the run to Cape Town in 17 days, at a speed of
15 knots. Leaving South Africa on August 12, the voyage to Albany was
accomplished in 13 days 39 minutes, the average speed working out at 15½
knots. Across the Bight 16 knots was maintained.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 2 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


An epoch-making event in connection with Australian shipping will occur this
evening, when the new 18,500-ton White Star liner Ceramic, the greatest
merchantman that has ever visited the Commonwealth, will arrive at Port
Melbourne on her maiden voyage from Liverpool. For many months the advent of
the Ceramic has been a subject of considerable discussion, and she will no
doubt prove an object of considerable attraction. Quite recently all eyes
were directed towards the new 14,500-ton "Blue Funnel" liner Nestor, which
for a few short months only enjoyed the distinction of being the biggest
liner that had ever come to Australia. In regard to size she was a great
advance on the next largest vessel in the trade, the difference in her
favour bring roughly 2,000 tons. The Nestor, however, has been
comparatively "dwarfed" by the new White Star liner. As the Persic, one of
the 12,000-ton representatives of the "White Star" line, will be in port
here with the Ceramic for several days, visitors will have an opportunity of
contrasting these two vessels, as illustrating the old order and the new. A
noble-looking liner with one funnel and four towering masts, the Ceramic is
driven by triple screws, the most modern system in marine propulsion. The
Ceramic is 674ft. long over all, with a beam of 69ft. 5in. Her nominal speed
is 15½ knots, but she can improve upon this if required. Like all vessels of
her line, the Ceramic carries only "one-class" passengers, her accommodation
being equal to 800. Some discussion has taken place as to whether the
vessel's draught would be too great to admit of her navigating Port Phillip
Heads. On this score, however, no apprehension need be felt, as the liner's
draught on arrival will, it is reported, be only 28ft. Vessels having a
greater draught by 2ft. frequently pass through the Heads in safety.

The accommodation of the liner is said to leave nothing to be desired in
regard to spaciousness, light, and ventilation. The state-rooms are situated
on the upper and middle decks, being mostly arranged in two and four berth
cabins. In addition to the dining saloon---an immense apartment--- general,
reading, writing, and smoking rooms are provided, whilst there is a
gymnasium on the upper deck. The furnishings throughout are attractive, and
generally the appointments have been designed to secure the comfort of all.
The vessel is equipped with every apparatus for the prevention of accident
and saving life, wireless apparatus and submarine sound-receivers being of
course among them, whilst her boats could accommodate all the passengers and
crew. Experts who have seen the Ceramic, say that owing to her symmetrical
proportions, she does not appear as big as she really is, an absence of
"top-hamper" assisting to convey this impression.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 3 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


A fitting reception for the largest merchant vessel that has ever come to
Australia was accorded at Port Melbourne last evening to the new 18,500-ton
White Star liner Ceramic, which bears this proud distinction. A large
number of visitors, many having friends on the liner, assembled on the
Railway Pier, and closely watched her movements up the harbour from the
moment when she appeared as a cloud of smoke on the horizon until she slowly
and majestically drew into her berth. Though the weather was somewhat
overcast it was fine, and an absence of wind enabled the task of bringing
the vessel alongside the pier to be completed with despatch. She was made
fast at about a quarter to 5 o'clock amid a perfect salvo of greetings
between passengers on board and friends on shore. The respective crews of
the Persic and the Royal Mail liner Orsova, which lay at the pier, were
interested observers of the event, and generally the scene well repaid those
who had journeyed down from the city to view it. Soon after the liner was
berthed her gangway was lowered, and passengers began to disembark or
awaited on deck the arrival of friends who came trooping up the steps from
the pier.

An excellent illustration of the size of the Ceramic was afforded by
comparing her with the Persic, another White Star liner, which lay on the
opposite side of the pier. From the decks of the Ceramic passengers "looked
down" upon the once-formidable "12,000-ton" liner of the fleet, and
naturally comparisons between the vessels were freely drawn.

It may be safely claimed that no nobler nor stronger-looking liner than the
Ceramic has ever been seen in these parts, and her success in the Australian
trade would appear to be assured.

Demonstrating her fine turn of speed, the Ceramic covered the distance from
Adelaide to Hobson's Bay in 33 hours, reeling off 16 knots an hour at
various stages of the passage without undue effort. This compares favourably
with the performances of the Royal mail liners and shows that also in
respect of speed the new vessel is a great advance on other White Star
liners trading to the Commonwealth. It has been claimed for the Ceramic by
her owners that she represents a higher level of attainment than has
hitherto been reached in ships of her type, and that she is, in fact, in a
class by herself.

Leaving Liverpool with 440 passengers, the Ceramic had still 385 on board
upon arrival here. Expressions of satisfaction as to the ship and the way in
which their well-being had been studied were heard among passengers, and
generally the maiden voyage of the liner seems to have passed over with

Captain J. Stivey, R.N.R., who has command of the Ceramic, is well-known in
the Australian trade, his former charge having been the Afric. Associated
with him are the following officers:--Chief, Lieutenant F. F. Summers,
R.N.R., formerly of the Arabic; first officer, Lieutenant S. E. Stubbs,
R.N.R., late of the Suevic; second officer, Lieutenant G. Davey, R.N.R.,
late of the Celtic; third officer, Mr. G. Spencer, late of the training ship
Mersey; doctor, R. W. Atkins, late of the Arabic; purser, Mr. J. T. Dean;
chief engineer, Mr. H. P. Owen, formerly of the Afric; second engineer, Mr.
A. Wharton, late of the Cevic; third engineer, Mr. L. P. Bradshaw, late of
the Laurentic; chief steward, Mr. H. Kidd.

The Ceramic will remain here until Saturday next, when she sails for Sydney.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 4 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


Clad in yellow overalls, which will be of a nondescript colour in the course
of a day or two, the whole of the engineering staff of the Ceramic spent
yesterday, as they will spend to-morrow and the next day, in examining the
main engines and the numerous auxiliaries of the great liner, for with new
mechanism put to the test of a 12,000 mile voyage some defects are sure to
develop. In this case, however, they have proved to be of a minor character.
Like Kipling's ship, the Ceramic has already "found herself."

Three propellers drive the liner, so that she is practically safe from total
disablement. The central propeller is driven by a steam turbine, while the
outside, or "wing," propellers receive their motion from reciprocating
engines of the ordinary type. The three develop about 9,000 horse power
between them. It is interesting to learn that the turbine (which does its
full share of the work), practically adds nothing to the coal bill. If it
were taken away, there would have to be the same number of boilers as there
are at present---that is, six each 15ft. in diameter and 19ft. long. Steam
enters the cylinders of the reciprocating engines at 215lb. to the square
inch; it leaves them at only 10lb. pressure. Supposing there was no turbine,
these engines, as one of the staff explained, could not extract more than
4lb. more, and the steam, now at nearly its last gasp, would have to be
turned into the condensers and pumped back to the boilers so much hot water.
But a pressure that the old-fashioned engine can make little or no use of a
turbine will accept with thanks, and so with this dwindling source of
energy, which otherwise would be nearly all wasted, the Parsons turbine gets
a full 3,000 horse power.

There is one point about the Ceramic's motive power equipment that should be
noted. Compared with the mail steamers, and not a few of the coastal
steamers, she is low-powered, for, whilst they have one-horse power or more
for each registered ton, the Ceramic, with a registered tonnage of 18,600,
has only 9,000-horse power, or less than half a horse-power a ton. Yet she
can steam at 16 or even 17 knots an hour---or as well as the best of them.
That is one advantage of the large hull; for it does not take anything like
the power to drive it at a given speed as it would to drive two hulls of
half the size.

One interesting detail of the engine room is a stokehold indicator, which is
attached to the frames of one of the main engines, so as to be always under
the eye of the engineers on watch. By moving an index hand they can let the
stokehold know exactly how they are to fire. According as this indicator is
set a gong will ring in the stokeholds at intervals of five, ten, fifteen,
or twenty minutes. Every time the gong rings the firemen will charge the 30
furnaces. This not only makes the work lighter, but it saves fuel.

The refrigerating installation is the largest of any steamer in the
Australian trade. And the advent of the Ceramic will be welcomed by all
those interested in the export of meat, fruit, and dairy produce. A notable
part of this equipment is the cold storage provided for the ship's
provisions, for with the full complement of 800 passengers and the crew
there will be over 1,000 people to provide for. The cold storage rooms are
kept at about 20 degrees below freezing point; and yesterday, with ice
glittering under the electric light, they were chilly chambers, which one
would have been prepared to take for granted. But this the cicerone
appointed by the purser would by no means allow. There was Australian mutton
(bought in London) to be seen and examined. There were Australian and
British trussed fowls (which rang with a hollow, metallic sound when struck
on their frozen breasts), whose merits had to be compared and pronounced
upon. And it must be remembered that the British bird was the better trussed
and the better grown. A solitary leek, the last of tons, was exhibited as
something that would be an unknown vegetable to the Australian
native. Yet it had a familiar look, too.

After twenty minutes or so in cold storage it was pleasant to got to the
genial warmth of the bakery, where Mr. Carroll, baker-in-chief, dwelt with
gusto on the perfection of the plant under his control. His pride is a
wonderful oven, where he can bake 1,000 hot rolls for each meal, besides
bread, biscuits, tarts and what not. "And how much coke would it take to
bake that lot?" Mr. Carroll asks. But seeing that you are about to estimate
in bags, and so blunder frightfully, he saves the situation by whispering
"eightpence halfpenny." The visitor feels on safer ground in the matter of
fuel consumption when he visits the saloon galley, and sees the 20ft. stove
all aglow with its four fire-boxes; surely it cannot burn much less than a
ton between daylight and dark? Mr. Griffiths, the chief cook, cuts this
estimate down by 50 per cent.

The Ceramic is easily the largest vessel that has entered Australian waters.
Her gross registered tonnage is 18,600. Her displacement on a full load
would be about 25,000 tons. The next largest vessels were the Blue Funnel
liner Nestor and the battlecruiser New Zealand.
Further convincing proof of the extraordinary interest aroused by the
arrival of the new leviathan "White Star" liner Ceramic was afforded
yesterday afternoon, when a large crowd of sightseers went down to Port
Melbourne to view the vessel. The number of people attracted solely by the
Ceramic was greatly increased by others whose chief mission was to see
friends off by the Royal mail Orient liner Orsova, but who subsequently
availed themselves of the opportunity to inspect the Ceramic.

Those people whose only opportunity to inspect the liner is on Saturday
afternoon will be pleased to learn that the departure of the Ceramic has
been deferred until daybreak on Sunday. Admittance to view the vessel will
be by ticket obtainable through Dalgety and Co., Ltd., agents.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


The largest steamer that has ever visited Australia will make her appearance
in Port Jackson to-day, when the White Star liner Ceramic will arrive on her
maiden voyage.

The new liner's principal dimensions are: Length overall, 674ft 9in; breadth
extreme, 69ft 5in; depth to upper deck, 48ft; indicated horse-power, 9000;
gross tonnage, 18,481.

The Ceramic has been built on the latest and most improved principles, with
a double bottom extending right fore and aft, and with 12 transverse
watertight bulkheads, carried to the upper deck. The vessel has the largest
capacity for the carriage of meat, fruit, and dairy produce in the
Australian trade. The insulated compartments have a total capacity of over
310,000 cubic feet. In addition to the refrigerating space one of the holds
is also fitted and lined throughout for the carriage of copra.

The Ceramic is a triple-screw steamer, driven by reciprocating engines with
a low pressure turbine. The emergency dynamo (driven by a Diesel oil engine)
is situated in a steel house on the upper deck aft. The oil-driven dynamo is
connected with lights throughout the vessel, so that in the event of the
main dynamo being put out of action, the lighting of the ship will still be
maintained. In addition to this the emergency dynamo is also directly
connected with the wireless telegraphy apparatus, electrically operated
water-tight doors, signal lights, whistle control, and two
electrically-driven bilge pumps, one placed forward and one aft, each having
connections, which will enable the water to be pumped out of any hold, even
though all the steam pumps and main electric plant should be out of action.

The passenger accommodation is in keeping with the general character of the
ship. The dining saloon on the middle deck will seat nearly 500 people. It
is panelled and framed in pine, and finished enamel white. Large side-lights
are arranged in pairs, and the huge room contains sideboards and pianos.
The reading and writing room on the bridge deck is panelled and framed in
oak, with Harland and Wolff's large, brass-framed, opening windows, arranged
in pairs.

The vessel is armed with two 4.7in guns, under the Admiralty's scheme for
arming merchantmen, and she was the first liner on which firing practice was
actually carried out.

The Ceramic will berth at Dalgety's wharf, Miller's Point, on arrival, and
it is proposed to throw her open for inspection on a given date, when a
small charge will be made for admission, the proceeds of which will be
donated to local charities. Captain Stivey is in charge of the liner.

The vessel is due to commence her homeward voyage on September 24, and a
large number of passengers have already booked. She will visit Adelaide,
as well as Melbourne and Albany, on the homeward trip.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


The huge White Star liner Ceramic, by far the largest vessel to enter Port
Jackson, steamed up the harbour early yesterday morning, amidst the noisy
greetings of the small harbour craft, and berthed alongside Dalgety's Wharf,
Miller's Point.

The Ceramic is a vessel of 18,481 tons gross, and she looked every ounce of
it, as she loomed above the wharf and sheds at Miller's Point yesterday.

Prior to the arrival of the Ceramic the Blue Funnel liner Nestor held the
record for big tonnage, being 14,500 tons gross. This she wrested from the
Niagara recently, the latter steamer being 13,415 tons. In one year,
therefore, the honour of being the largest vessel to visit Australia has
rested with no fewer than three separate steamers, a fact which goes to
prove that our oversea trade is in a most healthy and prosperous condition.
Before the Niagara arrived the Grosser [sic; should be "Grosse"] Kurfurst,
of the N.D.L. line, had held the record for a considerable time.

The latest mammoth liner was visited by a large number of people yesterday,
but only those with permits were allowed on board to inspect the vessel. An
inspection showed that the Ceramic, though of tremendous size, cannot be
described as a floating palace. This is due to the fact that she carries
only third-class passengers. Her cabins are neat, but plain, and no
unnecessary fittings are installed. In the dining saloon the visitor is
again impressed more with the vastness of the vessel than with her
decorations. Rows of long narrow tables hemmed in between further rows of
swinging chairs stretch away on either side. No fewer than 500 seats are
provided in this room, and there is still a good deal of space left for
passageways for the stewards.

A walk along though vessel's deck quite convinces one of the truth of the
statement that she is 674ft 9in, or over an eighth of a mile, long. Her
decks are wide and roomy, the saloon decks giving a free run of 500ft, and
for the athlete, who is not satisfied with pacing them, there are provided a
well-equipped gymnasium and a couple of large swimming baths.

The big vessel is manoeuvred from the bridge by an extensive and up-to-date
system of automatic machinery. This enabled the huge vessel to be brought
alongside the wharf yesterday morning with less fuss and trouble than are
sometimes experienced by a ferry steamer.

Captain Stivey, R.N.R., spoke highly of his vessel and her behaviour on the
voyage out. The vessel averaged about 15½ knots as far as Albany, and about
16 knots across the Bight. The passengers were also highly pleased with the
trip. The vessel will be thrown open to the public on a date to be
announced, and a small fee for admission will be charged, the proceeds of
which will be devoted to charity.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,


The decks and social rooms of the huge White Star liner Ceramic were the
scene of a very enjoyable "at home" given yesterday afternoon by Commander
Stivey, R.N.R., and Messrs. Dalgety and Co., Ltd., agents for the line.

The numerous guests were received at the head of the gangway by Commander
Stivey, Mr. H. Y. Braddon, and Mr. H. W. Richards. After a general
inspection of the vessel had been made by the guests refreshments were
provided in the dining saloon.

During the afternoon a number of prominent citizens, met in the
smoking-room, where, after the loyal toast had been honoured, the Lord Mayor
(Alderman A. A. C. Cocks) proposed the toast of "Success to the White Star
Line." The Lord Mayor referred to the great size of the Ceramic, and said
that he had been informed that on the voyage out via the Cape the vessel had
averaged 16 knots per hour from port to port. This, he thought, was a very
satisfactory average. Travellers by mail steamers 25 years ago would have
been very pleased to have averaged anything like it.

"The Ceramic," continued the Lord Mayor, "is a vessel of 18,471 tons, or
4000 tons in excess of the largest ship which has previously entered this
harbour. Whilst I think she will bear comparison in every way, she is fitted
up not for £80 and £100 passengers, but for passenger accommodation from £18
to £20 odd from port to port on a voyage of 49 days. The whole of her decks
are free to passengers." He thought they should add a word of compliment to
the members of the Harbour Trust, who had made it possible to berth such a
ship as the Ceramic right alongside the city. It spoke well for the work
they had done, and showed that they were ready to seize every opportunity
for the betterment of the trade of the port. He trusted that the White Star
line would be amply rewarded for its enterprise in being the pioneer of such
magnificent tonnage in steamers. The vessel was not built on philanthropic
lines, but on the lines of supply and demand, and it was satisfactory to
know that such a ship could be built and sent out here with reasonable and
sound grounds for her success.

Commander Stivey replied briefly, expressing thanks for the toast which had
been moved by "the first citizen of the finest city in Australia."

The guests then inspected the two guns fitted at the stern of the vessel by
the Admiralty, after which they wandered about the spacious decks for the
remainder of the afternoon, while a band on board played a number of


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB note: This concludes the reporting of Ceramic's maiden voyage.

The Times, London, 13 November 1913


The new White Star triple-screw steamer Ceramic of 18,431 tons, the largest
vessel in the Australian trade, which left Liverpool for the Antipodes on
July 24 arrived at Plymouth yesterday morning, and may be expected to
complete her maiden voyage by arriving in the Thames to-day. She will be the
largest merchantman ever seen in the Port of London.

On the outward voyage the liner had a cordial reception at various ports of
call. A mayoral reception was given to the commander and officers at Albany;
the ship was thrown open to the public at Melbourne, and was visited by the
Hon. W. A. Watt, Premier of Victoria. At Sydney, an opportunity was also
afforded to the public to become acquainted with the passenger
accommodation. The two 4.7 guns which were placed on the ship under the new
Admiralty scheme attracted inspection not only from the ordinary visitors
but from Admiral Sir George King-Hall, who went on board.

The White Star Line, it may be pointed out, not only possesses in the
Ceramic the largest steamer in the Australian trade, but the Laurentic is
the largest dispatched to Canada; the Athenic has the greatest tonnage of
any vessel trading to New Zealand; whilst the Olympic is the largest British
steamer afloat. The average tonnage per steamer of the White Star fleet,
exceeds that of any other shipping company---British or foreign.

The Ceramic is expected to remain in Tilbury Dock for a few days, and is
expected to discharge between 5,000 and 6,000 tons of general cargo,
consisting of wool, tallow, skins, and other Colonial produce, and also
about 1,300 tons of frozen meat and a considerable quantity of butter.
Subsequently the vessel will proceed to Liverpool to discharge the rest of
her cargo.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Daily News, Perth, 14 February 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The White Star Line have encircled the globe with British-built ships, and
their connection with the Australian trade has been a long and honorable
one; commencing somewhere back in the sixties, it has, within recent years,
been developed by vessels of the largest type in the trade. Within the last
twelve years the development has been phenomenal, through the introduction
of such magnificent vessels as the "Afric," "Medic," and ''Persic"' (12,000
tons), ''Runic" and "Suevic" (12,500 tons); and to merchants and the
travelling public it will not be surprising to hear that a line so noted for
its enterprise in the most important ocean trade routes of the Empire, is
building a steamer---the CERAMIC---far surpassing in size anything hitherto
placed on the Australian berth---a vessel representing the highest
excellence in marine architecture and engineering, and combining those
qualities so indispensable to modern requirements, viz., large cargo
capacity and extensive passenger accommodation designed on the most approved
and popular principles.

The Ceramic, which was successfully launched at Belfast by Harland and
Wolff, Ltd., on December 11, is a triple-screw passenger steamer, having the
arrangement of machinery, i.e., twin-screw reciprocating engines combined
with low-pressure turbine, already so successfully adopted in White Star
vessels. The new vessel is 675ft. long by 69ft. 3in. beam, and will have a
gross tonnage of about 18,000 tons; and, besides enormous capacity for
cargo, as already indicated, will have accommodation for 600 passengers
ordinarily, with arrangements for possible extension for a further 220, or,
a total complement of 820 if required. It is anticipated, in view of the
remarkable development in Australian emigration from the mother country and
the popularity of White Star vessels, that even this extensive accommodation
will be taxed to its utmost capacity.

The Ceramic is of very strong construction, built under survey of the Board
of Trade for Passenger Certificate, and having twelve watertight bulkheads
dividing the vessel into thirteen, water-tight compartments. Eleven of the
bulkheads are carried to the upper deck, and the aftermost bulkhead to the
middle deck. The double bottom extends right fore and aft, and is built on
the cellular principle, specially strengthened in way of the engines by
additional intercostals, etc. There are eight steel decks, and, needless to
say, all the facilities for working ship and. cargo embody the latest
improvements. The vessel will, of course, be lighted throughout by
electricity, and will have a complete installation of wireless telegraphy
and sufficient lifeboats to accommodate every soul on board, the boats being
manipulated by patent davits.

The passenger accommodation will leave nothing to be desired. Full advantage
has been taken of the vessel's size in designing the public rooms, and the
staterooms, as usual in White Star ships, are large, comfortable and well
ventilated. The dining saloon is on the middle deck. It will be finished
enamel white, and, with large sidelights arranged in pairs, will be a most
attractive room. The reading and writing room on the bridge deck, in oak,
with suitable furniture and Harland and Wolff's brass-framed opening windows
arranged in pairs, will be another fine apartment, as also the general room,
on the same deck, just forward of the reading and writing room, and the
smokeroom amidships. These two latter rooms are also panelled and framed in
oak, with large sidelights in pairs and suitable furniture. The main
entrance and staircase is both spacious and attractive. A feature in this
vessel will be the well-equipped gymnasium on the bridge deck, just forward
of the smokeroom. The staterooms are arranged mostly as two and four-berthed
rooms, but there are also a few single-berth rooms.

After the launch, the vessel was placed at the fitting-out wharf, the
builders' large floating crane brought alongside, and the shipping of the
propelling machinery proceeded with, so that no time will be lost in getting
the vessel ready for service.

It is anticipated the Ceramic will be in commission about next midsummer.

Messrs. Dalgety and Co., Ltd., are the Australian agents for the White Star


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Port Pirie Recorder, Port Pirie, South Australia, 6 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

Royal Review of Mercantile Fleet

On July 11, on the occasion of the visit of the King to Liverpool to open
the new Gladstone Dock, the latest addition to the facilities there. His
Majesty held a review of the mercantile fleet in the River Mersey. Two
imposing lines of merchant vessels, representing every phase of the enormous
trade of the port, were headed by H.M. ships Liverpool and Lancaster.
Following the men-of-war as "number one" ship came the triple screw Ceramic,
the mammoth Australian liner of 18,000 tons, built for the White Star Line
for their ever increasing trade. This fine vessel, the largest liner to
enter the Australian trade, was fitted prior to leaving Messrs. Harland &
Wolff's building yards at Belfast, with two 4.7 guns supplied by the
Admiralty, and will, therefore, be one of the first of the armed merchant
vessels to visit the Commonwealth. The Ceramic is timed to leave Liverpool
on July 24 for Australian ports, and is due at Adelaide on August 26. The
fact that she is armed will doubtless attract considerable attention, and
prove interesting to Australians as an evidence of the determination of the
authorities in the old country to take every precaution for the safe
transport of food, ships, etc., from the Southern Hemisphere. The whole of
the passenger accommodation in the midship section and every advantage has
been taken of the great size of the vessel in this connection. The cabins
are large and well ventilated, and there is ample deck space, while the
general rooms leave nothing to be desired. Amongst other things which should
prove a great attraction to the travelling public is a splendidly equipped
gymnasium which is available for the use of passengers. The Ceramic is
scheduled to commence her maiden voyage froth Sydney on September 24, and
indications point to her being well patronised notwithstanding the out
of-season sailing.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


Messrs. Dalgety and Co., Ltd., have received cable advice to the effect that
the new White Star liner Ceramic, which is now on her maiden voyage to
Australia, crossed the equator on Sunday last. As a speed of just under 15
knots has been maintained since passing Teneriffe, it is evident that the
steamer is making a very satisfactory run, and proving herself creditable of
all that has been maintained in her favour. Several accounts of the Ceramic
have already appeared, and no doubt her advent in Australian waters will
attract no small amount of attention, as she is considerably larger than any
vessel which has yet visited these waters.

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Mercury, Hobart, 9 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The "Shipping Index," Melbourne, of the 6th inst. has the following: "The
rumour that has been current in shipping circles during the last week, to
the effect that the White Star liner Ceramic (18,481 tons), now approaching
Australia, will not visit Melbourne, but go to Hobart first on her way to
Sydney, has not been officially confirmed, nor, it might be said,
contradicted. Should the vessel follow this procedure, we shall not be
surprised though. In fact, we have all along anticipated that, should the
vessel receive a full cargo at Liverpool to bring to Melbourne, drawing
the water she would, it would practically be inviting disaster for her to
enter a port which, after all the experience which the White Star line has
had with vessels of considerably lesser draught, could not be expected. Of
course, lightly laden, the Ceramic would, no doubt, be able to enter Port
Phillip with the same degree of safety as the Blue Funnel Liner, Nestor, and
many other vessels over 12,000 tons register have done. But the White Star
Co., like all its contemporaries, is certainly not in the Australian or in
any other trade for that matter, for purely philanthropic reasons, and will,
therefore, accept all the cargo that the vessel can carry, providing, of
course, that it is offering. And there is another aspect, too, in
consideration, namely, that unless we are most grievously mistaken, the
Ceramic will have a rival for the position of the largest vessel in the
Australian trade ere long. This makes the situation, as regards Port
Phillip, the more complex. Should it be as is stated likely to be the case,
that the Ceramic will visit Hobart first, the shipper and importer of goods
will certainly be the sufferer. Not only through possible transhipment
charges, if he desires to receive his goods early, but the unnecessary delay
which in these times cannot well be afforded. But as all this has been gone
into before in detail, we leave the matter to await the developments that
the actual presence in Australia that this mammoth steamer will bring

On inquiry of the Hobart agents of the White Star line (Messrs. W. Crosby
and Co.) yesterday, it was ascertained that nothing was known concerning the
rumour that the Ceramic would tranship Melbourne cargo at Hobart. If she did
so it would not occasion any surprise here. It would only be reversing the
position so far as a large portion of the Tasmanian trade is concerned which
filters through Melbourne, both imports and exports. It is interesting to
note that under the regulations of the Hobart Marine Board cargo for
transhipment may be in the sheds on the wharves for a whole month free of

Disquieting information respecting the approaches to the port of Melbourne
was received at the meeting of the Melbourne Harbour Trust recently. A
communication from the Orient line stated that the commanders of the Orama
and the Orontes had called attention to the shallow approaches to Port
Melbourne Railway Pier. Although the chart gave 30ft. at low water,
soundings taken on April 16 and 30 by the commanders revealed a depth of
only 27ft. and 28ft. in several places. The Ceramic fully laden draws 34ft.
6in., but, of course, after her long voyage from Liverpool she would not be
drawing that much by some feet. The company's Cufic, 8,349 tons, some two or
three years ago damaged herself in the Rip when drawing only 28ft. 7in.


Adam Went

Apr 28, 2003
Got to love the article from The Mercury.....I live in Tasmania and The Mercury is still going strong down in Hobart!


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home


The White Star liner Ceramic, 18,500 tons, at present on her maiden voyage
to Australia, was visited by a number of guests at Belfast shortly before
the mail left. Many interests were represented, including the Admiralty, who
chose the vessel for the first experimental firing practice in connection
with the new scheme for arming merchantmen.

The mammoth liner's guns are placed right astern, and a keen interest was
exhibited in the tests by all on board. Rear-Admiral H. H. Campbell, C.V.O.,
and Captain J. D. Dick, R.N., Assistant Director of Naval Ordnance, were
present, and the experiment was carried out by a squad of men from H.M.S.
Excellent, under Commander Forbes, R.N. Each gun fired ten rounds at a
target from ranges varying from 1300 to 5500 yards. At the latter range the
target had to be picked up by telescope. The aim was accurate as to
direction, but accuracy as regards elevation was varied. The effective range
of the guns is 6000 yards, and they throw a shell of 45lb weight. In the
tests the specially-built platforms resisted the shock, and the big liner
did not feel any bad effects. Some shots were also fired by the Ceramic's
own crew with marked success. Naval men on board regarded the tests as
highly successful, and it was stated that the White Star Line intends to
mount similar guns on all vessels regularly engaged in the Australian trade.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
Adam, the National Library of Australia web site has a remarkable archive of Australian newspapers, including (obviously) The Mercury and a number of others from Tasmania. A terrific resource.

Adam Went

Apr 28, 2003
Hi Mark,

Is that the Trove website you're referring to? It is a brilliant resource. For the most part it's free as well and they are constantly expanding their records.
These days there's just the three mainstream newspapers in Tasmania, of which The Mercury is one. Several others have disappeared since the days of the Ceramic.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
Yep, that's it, Adam. There are similar free archives maintained by the Library of Congress and the National Library of New Zealand, both of which are invaluable in my researching of White Star's History.

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB note: Of particular interest here is the discussion of the pronunciation
of the ship's name.

The Argus, Melbourne, 13 August 1913
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
Newspaper Home

The S.S. Ceramic, which is due to arrive at Melbourne from Liverpool on
September 3

The Ceramic, the latest and greatest of the new steamers built in recent
years for the Australian trade, left Liverpool for Australian ports on July
24. She will here establish for the White Star Line a new record. A steamer
of nearly 18,500 tons, she will be the largest merchant steamer by more than
3,000 tons that has ever entered an Australian harbour.

At the reception, given on board the steamer at Liverpool by the managers of
the While Star Line, a large number of guests were entertained. It was soon
observed that though the correct pronunciation of the vessel's name is
"Keramic," the multitude favour the use of the softer initial. As the
Ceramic is a one-class steamer, and, therefore, essentially a democratic
vessel, the acceptance of the popular pronunciation is gratitying.

The Ceramic has a length over all of 674ft. 9in., and an extreme breadth of
69ft. 5in. When fully laden it may be assumed that she will draw some 35ft.
of water, which is suggestive of the claims which the future may make upon
Australian ports. She has seven decks, the usual cellular double bottom, and
12 transverse watertight bulkheads which are carried right up to the upper
deck. There are of course lifeboats for all, a complete wireless equipment,
and apparatus for submarine signalling. As regards propelling machinery, the
liner follows the example set long ago in the Laurentic by the White Star
Line, and drives her two-wing propellers by reciprocating engines, and her
centre propeller by a low-pressure turbine. The machinery was put to a
series of tests during the week-end running, and worked with great
efficiency and smoothness. The vessel is intended to have a service speed of
about 13 1/2 knots. In her light condition she is understood to have done
over 16 knots.

As a cargo carrier the Ceramic will make a name in the Australian trade. She
possesses, as her tonnage suggests, a lager capacity for the conveyance of
meat, fruit, and dairy produce than any ship in the business, and her
facilities for its preservation are notable. There ne no fewer than 13 large
insulated compartments for the carriage of perishable goods, namely, three
holds and ten 'tween deck spaces. Their capacity is no less than 310,000
cubic feet. Capacious holds call for ample appliances for the handling of
cargo. In this respect the Ceramic is exceptionally well equipped. Captain
Stivey, formerly of the Afric, who commands the Ceramic, has a ship which
will ordinarily carry about 600 passengers. At a push she might take another
couple of hundred. All the passengers are carried in cabins, mostly in two
berth and four-berth rooms, finished in white, and all on the upper and
middle decks. Most of the public rooms are on the bridge deck, the width of
the ship allowing them to be of the most ample proportions. The dining
saloon, panelled and framed in pine and finished in enamel, seats nearly 500
people. It is on the middle deck.

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