Oceanic III


Richard Edwards

Hi everyone, here's a little treat for you, as I'm sure very few of you have seen this.

These are some photos of my scratch built 1/350 scale model of White Star's proposed Oceanic III of 1928.

I built her from the general arrangement plans and the rigging diagrams of Britannic III supplied by H&W. She was built from sheet styrene and the boats and masts were spares bought from Toyway.

Now here's the juicy stuff! From the G.A. I can reveal that Oceanic was 935 feet long, 100 feet wide and 105 feet high and probably weighed around 52,000 tons. That makes her the same size as her contemporaries Bremen and Europa.

To put it simply Oceanic was the enlarged and modernised fourth Olympic class liner with the upper deck houses and gym and swimming pool of Majestic.

She was NOT going to be the 1010 feet long 60,000 monster that we have always been led to believe, that drawing that we have seen time and time again, was - according to H&W - the initial design proposal White Star gave to Harlands, that is why the drawing looks so much like Majestic.

If you would like to know any more, let me know.

Love Rich x
Oh cobblers! Having trouble uploading the photos. Watch this space...

Rich x
Hi Rich,

Looking forward to seeing these! The plans you refer to - are these the ones that were actually used to start building the Oceanic III whose keel was laid in the mid-to-late 20s?


Hi Paul, yes those are the plans in question. As the project was cancelled most of the plans were chucked out ten years later and only the very basic GA was retained for future reference.

Richard, unfortunately, all I got when I clicked on your link was "You must be a registered user to view images!
To register click on the REGISTER button in the menu above."

Do your perhaps have something with Photobucket. Short of that, you may want to try the Upload Oversize Image function below and follow the prompts. What it will do is put the image on a seperate page and provide a link.
Try try again...

Oceanic iii 1 copy1

Oceanic iii 2 copy1

Oceanic iii 3 copy1

Oceanic iii 4 copy1

Oceanic iii 5 copy1

Oceanic iii 6 copy1

Oceanic iii 7 copy1

Oceanic iii 8 copy1

Oceanic iii 9 copy1

Oceanic iii 2 copy1

Oceanic iii 3 copy1

Oceanic iii 4 copy1

Oceanic iii 5 copy1

Oceanic iii 6 copy1

Oceanic iii 7 copy1

Oceanic iii 8 copy1

Oceanic iii 9 copy1
"...Now here's the juicy stuff! From the G.A. I can reveal that Oceanic was 935 feet long, 100 feet wide and 105 feet high..."


That's great that you were able to obtain a copy of the G/A for the Oceanic III! Back in 1998, I ordered her midship section from H&W-TS, but I instead received the midship section for No. 317, Oceanic II of 1899. Unfortunately, they never did get that one straightened out before the plug was pulled on the entire organization.

Regarding the length, if this was the length recorded on the G/A, are you certain that this is the LOA? It's been my experience that when recording the dimensions of their ships in the title on the G/A, H&W had the habit of routinely recording the length between perpendiculars rather than the LOA, and the molded breadth, and then not labeling them as such.

If 935' is in fact the LBP, because of the cruiser stern and the rake at the bow, the LOA will be quite a bit more than the LBP. At that time, with merchant vessel having this stern and rudder configuration, the after perpendicular was determined from the after end of the stern post just ahead of the rudder, while the forward perpendicular was determined by the intersection of the "upper deck" (the bulkhead deck) with the molded line of the stem. However, even if that figure is the LBP, purely on a gut level, neither end seems to have sufficient overhang to account for stretching a LBP of 935' the additional 65' necessary to hit the 1000' mark. The Normandie, for instance, had a LBP of 962' and a LOA of 1029', a difference of 67', but then she had a strongly raked and cut away stem which threw her forward perpendicular well aft of the peak of her stem. The form of the Queen Mary would be a better indicator in this case; from memory, I believe her LBP is about 975' while her LOA is something like 1019', a difference of 44'.

Scott Andrews
Hi Scott.

Oceanic's LOA is 935 feet and LBP is 875 feet as per the GA. Thanks for explaining how they calculated the LBP, I never could work it out for myself. Her length was the first thing I confirmed once I received the plans - just by looking at her lines I could tell she was no 1000 footer, 935 feet was just the first of the revelations concerning O3.

Hi would it be possible to scan in, or take photos of the GA plans for me? Thanks Tom
Hi Tom.

The GA is made up of two x 1 meter square sheets of paper and I'm afraid I don't have a scanner that size. Plus Harland and Wolff own the copyright and I don't really want them breathing down my neck, especially as I'm a professional model maker!

Great model! I am envious!

(Now here's the juicy stuff! From the G.A. I can reveal that Oceanic was 935 feet long, 100 feet wide and 105 feet high and probably weighed around 52,000 tons....She was NOT going to be the 1010 feet long 60,000 monster that we have always been led to believe.)

Not to nitpick too much, but Oceanic would not have weighed 52,00 tons. Gross Registered Tonnage represents the internal space of a ship, not weight. Each ton equals 100 cubic feet of enclosed space. (Perhaps you refer to displacement?)

I assume from the M.V. that she would have been a motor vessel? What about her service speed? I have seen 25 knots and 30 knots mentioned. I still wonder if the timing was too soon to use diesels in such a large vessel. A turbo-electric plant would have had its advantages without the technical risk.

The family resemblance to the latter Britannic is obvious. It's a shame she was not built.

Hello Brent,

This very topic was being discussed a few days ago in the following thread: https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/6937/94300.html?1150081767. Oceanic III was to intended to have diesel-electric propulsion along the lines of the current propulsion plant of the QE2. However, due to the state of the art circa 1925-1930, the power would have been split over four shafts and four propulsion motors rather than two, and the power would have been generated by 47 six cylinder diesel alternator sets rather than the nine considerably larger diesel alternator sets which provide the power aboard the QE2. A turbo-electric plant was being evaluated as the back-up plan. In either case, the SHP figures I've seen estimated for the D/E plant indicate that the 28.5 knot service speed typical for ships of this class by the early 30's should have been no trouble to maintain, and a top speed of 30 knots may not have been a struggle.

Scott Andrews
It is fascinating to think about what would have happened if Oceanic III had been built. What if WS could have gotten her at least to the launching stage as Cunard nearly did with the QM before construction stopped? This would changed the bargaining position of WS in regards to the "merger" with Cunard. I suspect WS would have gotten more shares in the combined company and that the QE would not have been built. It also would have accelerated the end of the Olympic, Majestic, Berengaria, & Aquitania since both of the new ships would have been ready around the same time.
A very interesting what if? I feel like we have been cheated by history in not seeing the M.V. Oceanic built. She would have been quite a site.
I have read with some interest the claims that the Oceanic III was not planned to have been built at 1000+ feet long. Long a student of this ship, I this evening pulled out my source notes and research material and gave it a read through. (I’ve not conducted any active research on this ship for a good decade.)

The inescapable conclusion that I continually arrived at is that the Oceanic III was intended to be or to surpass 1000 feet in length. Every source agrees with this conclusion.

For starters, two respected Harland & Wolff employees are to be consulted. Cuthbert Coulson Pounder, Director and Chief Technical Engineer of H&W after WWII, released details of the Oceanic that must be accepted as fact due to his position and the fact that H&W nor its employees would have had any reason to lie about a ship that was 20 years distant and never built.

Pounder said that the ship “would have had 47 six-cylinder, exhaust turbo-charged, four-stroke single-acting diesel engines producing a total of 275,000 i.h.p. and coupled in pairs to electric generators. The total weight of the installation would have been some 17,000 tons, equal to the displacement tonnage of a smaller liner of the day!” Additionally the ship “was to measure 60,000 gross tons with an overall length of 1,010 feet, a beam of 120 feet and a draught of 38 feet.” (Damned by Destiny, David Williams and Richard P. De Kerbrech, 1982)

Dr. Denis Rebbeck, a director at Harland & Wolff, delivered a paper read before Section G of the British Association on Friday, September 5, 1952. This paper gave great detail the history of the shipyard, and contained additional facts about the Oceanic III that cannot be ignored. He wrote that “The Musgrave Shipyard will also be long remembered by the people of Belfast as the yard where the keel of a 1000-ft. Diesel-electric passenger liner was laid down for the White Star Line in the late 1920’s …” and “the total power of the ship was designed to be 200,000 shaft horse-power on four screws, and there were to be 47 six-cylinder super-charged four-stroke Diesel engines, coupled in pairs.”

This same paper shows the profile and engine arrangement of the Oceanic III in a plan which must be accepted as Gospel. Indeed, this outline profile is still used today as the basis for all renditions of the ship, as well it should be. It was produced during the design phase for the ship, and was reproduced in print a mere 24 years after the laying of the keel. I hold in great suspicion any plans purporting to show the ship at a shorter length than 1000 feet.

To explore this facet of the ship further, Roy Anderson did much important early research regarding the Oceanic III, and he and I shared correspondence in the years before he died about the ship and its plans. Most of this revolved around the actual existence of the liner (including a letter from a man who made a special trip to H&W to see the keel plates of the ship). What Anderson did caution me at the time is that “there are several dangerous assertions which you would do well to avoid” — thoughts that the steel from the Oceanic III was incorporated into the Britannic III or that the Oceanic III became the Georgic II, among others.

But again, Anderson — a man who spent much time talking to people who actually worked on this project or knew first-hand of it — never made the claim nor thought that the ship would be anything other than a 1,000 foot liner. Again, Captain J.H. Isherwood’s famous profile of the ship is his usual scale of 1 inch=100 feet and works out to 1,006 feet overall.

C.J. Slater, a former employee of H&W, was just beginning his career in 1928 as an architect and civil engineer in the office of his father who was H&W’s Consulting Civil Engineer, wrote that he was the “innocent junior” who wound up with the job of “compassing” every single concrete pile used in the extension of Slipway 14. This extension alone involved over 1000 15 inch square, 40 to 60 feet long piles! His recollections are more based on the fact that the ship was started, abandoned and an attempt to restart it (the keel had in the meantime been coated with oil), but he also states “that the outline of the ship on the slipway drawings was always 1001 feet. This was to make quite sure that no rival could argue that she was a half an inch short of 1000 feet.”

Other H&W employees who worked in the yard at the time also have written of a 1000 foot ship — not one has asserted that the ship was to be built one inch shorter than the magical figure of 1000 feet.

Nations Business in July 1929 mentions the ship at 60,000 gross tons, designed to make 27 knots. John Malcolm Brinnin, N.R.P. Bonsor and John Maxtone-Graham all refer to the ship as 1000 feet. Several articles in the Titanic Commutator of the THS do the same as does Steamboat Bill of the SSHSA. Again, the New York Times and The Times of London, both contemporary publications, also reference the ship at that length.

The problem with any objective look at the Oceanic III is that the builders model is lost (although one of my correspondents had actually seen it) as are the vast majority of plans for the ship. Perhaps more may be uncovered as the mass of plans and photographs from H&W are properly catalogued and organized, but I do not think that any new information about the ship will show that it was anything other than the first 1000 foot liner actually started by any shipbuilding concern.

I’d be glad to respond to questions about my research, but with the caveat that I’m incredibly busy at the print shop and may not be able to respond for some days.