Official designation of "Olympic-class"


Aug 30, 2015
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Hello to all,

In the all the literature I have read pertaining to Olympic's design and construction and service, I have never seen a contemporary listing or note of the vessel being designated as an "Olympic-class" ship. Had Harland & Wolff ever described their liners as such? I mean to say, did they ever, on any official forms or documents, list Olympic as "Olympic-class"? Is this not more of a Naval, not Merchant Navy/ Merchant Marine custom? Interestingly, I have read in correspondence of the time of " Olympic-type".

Many thanks to those who speculate on this matter.
 

B-rad

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Jul 1, 2015
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First off, Good question! It's like an Easter Egg hunt. The earliest reference I have found so far is this one.

Wednesday, July 24, 1920

Yes, the edict has gone forth. There will be no more monster ocean liners of the “Leviathan” and “Olympic” class built this generation, if ever. They have ceased to be paying commercial propositions, an all-sufficient reason in this day for relinquishing anything from a peanut concession to a mandate over a kingdom. Future “ocean greyhounds” will not be over 30,000 tons, and the average will probably not exceed 20,000 tons.

At any rate, such, or something to that effect, was the announcement made by Harold Sanderson, chairman of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, at a recent dinner in London on board the “Olympic,” which had just been reconditioned and converted into an oil-burner.

Seamen's Journal: A Journal of Seamen, by Seamen, for Seamen Vol. 33, Sept. 10, 1919 – Sept. 1, 1920
 
Mar 18, 2008
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The only problem with the 1920 report is, that Olympic was the only one left (Titanic and Britannic had sunk) and the class was called by the 1st ship. With the German Trio it was called the Imperator Class. The Imperator became the Berengaria.

Before that there is only mention about "Olympic" & "Titanic". Haven't find anything mentioning it as "Olympic-Class".
 

B-rad

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Jul 1, 2015
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Of course as soon as I post the above I find these...

Montauk Ship Terminal Site. - J. Bruce Ismay, President od rthe International Mercantile Company, which controls five big steamships Olympic and Titanic, has been inspecting the Montauk water front, with a view to building piers there to accommodate giant vessels of Olympic lass.

America Vol. 5 April 15 to Oct. 7th, 1911

Dock Commissioner (New York), Calvin Tomkins:

“There are now nearing completion and under construction a number of ships of the “Olympic” class, and even larger. Everyone one of these ships is built for the New York trade, and application has been made to berth them in lower Manhattan...”

Greater New York: Bulletin of Merchants' Association of New York, Vol. 1 Monday March 4th, 1912
 
Aug 30, 2015
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B-Rad,

Thank you for the research! It is very fascinating, but it seems to only reinforce my suspicion that "Olympic-class" is a modern invention.
 

IMM

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Nov 28, 2015
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I wish I had raised this issue myself because my response to Olympic Class always has been negative. I suspect this is how Colin Montgomery feels though he did not say so.

I have been interested in the Titanic ever since I saw the movie of the same name in 1962 at … age 11. I will take this opportunity to say this still is my favorite movie about the Titanic. By virtue of its cultivation the excesses notwithstanding. I visited Walter Lord once in Manhattan who himself averred it as presenting “an interesting story …”.

In any event I never heard the term Olympic Class prior say to 1990. I don’t for example remember Walter Lord saying anything about Olympic Class in 1970.

Oh here is another high point. In 1964 we went on a European trip and I bought Roy Anderson’s then-new White Star in a London bookstore. One can appreciate what an exciting resource this was at the time for a kid like me. I do not believe though the book uses the term Olympic Class. My advice to parents: Take your kids on an overseas trip. Travel on an ocean liner.

But I want to go on about my aversion to Olympic Class just for the intellectual fun of it.

In the first place what number constitutes a class? Certainly not one. Two is an exaggeration. Does one want to say the Queen Elizabeth was a Queen Mary Class liner? Give me a break. Even three is stretching it. More reasonable as a class is something like Liberty Ships.

In the second place what does Olympic Class intend to comprise? One assumes the three White Star Line sisters. This thread however reveals possible ambiguities. Does the German trio belong to the Olympic Class? Maybe the Aquitania? The France of 1912?

Most of all I do not like the term Olympic Class because it suggests a pretense of erudition. Empty erudition. Revealingly self-styled authority. Maybe a bit like me. To appreciate the Olympic Titanic and Britannic however as variations on a theme is no great cerebral achievement. Indulgence in classification does however come at a certain expense. There is something here to do with the nobility of the individual. Of two identical twins Ward the first born and Wade the second does one really want to say Wade is a Ward Class individual? I object strenuously. Reducing famous liners to generic entities in disregard of their considerable and engaging identities and histories likewise leaves much to be desired.

All factors considered I find it much better to speak of the Olympic or Titanic or Britannic mentioning when indicated that each had two illustrious sisters.

James
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Mark Chirnside asked me to post this one as he had troubles to log in.

"I don't think use of the term "'Olympic' class" is a modern invention. It was used by Captain Bartlett in 1913, for example."

In the second place what does Olympic Class intend to comprise? One assumes the three White Star Line sisters. This thread however reveals possible ambiguities. Does the German trio belong to the Olympic Class? Maybe the Aquitania? The France of 1912?
Definitely no! What you have are ships of different type and class. Olympic Class were the 3 sister ships named after the 1st one. (How did France or Aquitania fit to them? Aside from 2 masts and 4 funnels they have nearly nothing together.
The 3 big German ones were the so called Imperator Class Imperator (later Berengaria) Bismarck (later Majestic) and Vaterland (later Leviathan).
 
J

Jack Dawson

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Hi gentlemen, if I may butt in to ask a question. Classification of a ship would group the most alike together, so Titanic and Britannic being derivatives of the Olympic would be Olympic class. Besides we know (thanks to Mr. Chirnside) that it was in use at the time by some anyway.

Now my question; IMM asked about other ships belonging to the same Olympic class. So what would a four funned steamship properly be classed? In naval parlance of the era there were general classes of dreadnaughts, torpedoboats, protected cruisers, etc. There might be a dozen different designs of cruiser, but they are all still considered cruisers, they just don't share the same design derivatives as each other. Get my drift?
 

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