News from 1960: The Demise of Britannic III

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Times, 16 August 1960


From Our Special Correspondent


The Cunard Steam-Ship Co. announced here tonight that they have decided to
withdraw the passenger liner Britannic from service at the end of the
present season in view of her age and the consequent increasing operating
costs. A statement said: "The company's decision has been accelerated by
uncertainties resulting from the present unofficial crew strike which is
involving the company in serious losses. This is on top of the already very
onerous settlement arrived at with the unions which in itself will mean the
addition of about £750,000 to the company's annual crew wages bill."

The Britannic is in Liverpool docks and is due to sail for New York on
Friday. She will make four more voyages. The final voyage will end in
Liverpool on December 2. The liner will then be sold for scrap. It had been
expected that she would be kept in service for another 12 months.

The Britannic carries a crew of 492, and has accommodation for 369
first-class passengers and 608 tourist class. The ship was built in 1930 by
Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line, and is the last ship of that line
still afloat.


There is no replacement for the Britannic in the Cunard fleet in view at the
moment. Two years ago there were plans to replace her, but the scheme was
postponed because of trading conditions. There was a complete reappraisal
of the company's replacement policy.

The Britannic is the fifth largest ship in the Cunard fleet. She is one of
the world's largest motor liners---27,778 gross tons---and the largest liner
now using the port of Liverpool. After the merger of Cunard and White Star
Line in 1934 the Britannic sailed in the transatlantic service to New York
until she was requisitioned for Government service in August, 1939.


She sailed on her first wartime voyage as a transport on September 5, 1939,
when she left Greenock for Bombay. During the war she served as a troop
transport, carrying more than 180,000 troops and sailing 362,000 miles.

Between November, 1943, and May, 1944, she played an important part in
building up American armies in Britain for D-Day. She carried more than
20,000 American troops across the Atlantic.

After the war the Britannic was extensively reconditioned and returned to
Atlantic service on the Liverpool-New York route in 1948. She made her first
cruise after the war in January, 1949, and has been a popular cruise liner
for the past 10 years, sailing from New York on a two-month cruise to the
Mediterranean every January.

[The balance of this article, relating to the strike mentioned in the first paragraph, has not been transcribed.]


painting, d.j.

[email protected]

My family went to England after the war either on the
Britannic or the Franconia (I cannot remember which liner
was going which way as we returned to India after
furlough.) I would like to know which liner this was as
the undergoing notes relate to the homeward trip from
Bombay to Liverpool.

We embarked from Bombay as a troopship with several
'key' personnel passengers who managed to get a berth
soon after the end of World War II.

Being a troopship there were no deckchairs on the decks. The few passengers were divided into male and female
cabins. Extra bunks were installed in the cabins which
made it difficult for the women to undress and so they had to take turns and stand in the passage until the other
ladies had finished.

Well remembered is the list on the ship and the
captain's orders to the troops to level the ship as
the troops crowded to obtain their first view of
England after a 3-year tour of duty. This was at
Liverpool which had been badly bombed.

There was a slight rebellion among the troops when
they were ordered to unload the luggage. This
situation was solved by asking those, who wanted to
earn a few bob, to volunteer.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user