Olympic Premonitions

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Cook, was it you or someone else who asked if the Olympic was regarded as a 'hoodooed' ship pre-Titanic disaster? I came across an interesting interview with the father of George Barlow, who said that when his son was serving as a steward on the Olympic he was 'frightened' of her, and said 'many times' that he was sure she would sink.

~ Ing
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
1,277
0
0
To Ing and Mark,

Yes and no, you DID hear this from me, Ing, but I got it straight out of Beesley:

"A friend told me of the voyage of the Olympic from Southampton after the wait in harbor, and said there was a sense of gloom pervading the whole ship, the stewards and stewardesses even going so far as to say it was a 'death ship'."

I had found (or it was sent to me, can't remember just now) in the April 19 issue of the Hampshire Post, Ernest Farenden's mother stating that her son, working on the Olympic, became superstitious of the ship, stating he was glad to be tranferred off. Also, in the BBC documentary "Titanic Tales", Sidney Sedunary had written to his mother about the Olympic "This is an unlucky ship, there's always something the matter." As you know both these men were transferred to the Titanic.

If you can give me more details regarding this 'Olympic Jinx' I would be most grateful.

Best regards,
Cook
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Hallo Cook and Mark -

Had a feeling it was Beesley linked and that's why I'd heard it from you, Cook! Will be happy to send you the Barlow account (am also going to pass it on with a batch of other stuff to Phil H, as there's not much material on his site bio). His father unfortunately did not mention in the interview whether George transferred his feelings of anxiety to his new position on the Titanic, and as he died in the sinking I don't suppose we'll ever know.

There were of course others like Violet Jessop who found the Olympic a happy ship. Even the nickname 'Old Reliable' implies an affection for her.

~ Ing
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
1,277
0
0
Very much appreciate it. I am, of course, looking for any accounts which date from the maiden voyage of the Olympic until April 1912, when Beesley began writing his book. And, while I have the 'superstitions' and 'gloom' accounts we have discussed I have yet to find one which calls the Olympic a 'death ship'. This may just be one of those word-of-mouth things that Beesley heard but, nonetheless, I thought it worth running down.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Jan 29, 2001
1,282
0
166
As interesting as it is ironic...it was felt a bad omen by some, the blackened face of a stoker peering wayward from TITANIC'S dummy stack (SEE: "Last Days..."), upon OLYMPIC's maiden arrival at New York, two passengers managed to scale the iron ladder lining OLYMPIC'S *dummy* and captivate, what must have been a breathtaking view. (I often wonder?...should not this area have been posted with barrier denoting..."NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT"}

I found this report to the NY TIMES covering the arrival of OLYMPIC. It is also interesting to note that, an accompanying column to the same day newspaper reported that...LUSITANIA'S master failed to acknowledge OLYMPIC's *maiden* arrival, as he sailed past a moored OLYMPIC...navigating his Cunarder greyhound eastbound.

Ironic you ask? For shortly thereafter her entry into service, OLYMPIC would have her encounter with HAWKE...

...make of it what you will...

Michael Cundiff
USA
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
1,002
0
0
As you all probably recall, the Olympic rammed and sank a lightship in (I think) 1934. That would have been just prior to her retirement. Here's a picture of a lightship, so you can see what one looks like. At least seven people died in the collision --I would say that's pretty unlucky, and befits the image of a "death ship."http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/sfgate/object.cgi?object=/chronicle/pictures/2001/03/19/mn_lightship.jpg&paper=chronicle&file=MNL157120.DTL&directory=/chronicle/archive/2001/03/19

By the way, this lightship, the "Relief," is about 50-60 years old --someone acquired it when it was being sold for scrap, and fixed it up beautifully. But now, as the article notes, it's all "dressed up with no place to go." Apparently, even though Relief is designated as a historical "landmark" (?), a nice port-type museum hasn't yet been found for her.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,584
376
283
Easley South Carolina
FWIW, I can't say as I really hold with this "death ship" thing in regards the Olympic. She had a few bad moments in her career. That collision with the HMS Hawke being one and then that ramming of the Nanrtucket lightship in 1934...but that was a good twenty two years apart. I can't count that ramming of the U-103 as a bad break (Exept for the U-103!) as this was intentional, and likely saved the ship from being torpedoed or shelled by gunfire.

When you get down to it, these thing happen. Hell I've been on a ship involved in a collision. While these are not the most common occurances going, they're not quite as rare as us sailors wish they were.

I note that the Olympic was a much loved ship by those who sailed on her, especially her passangers, and that they had good reasons for calling her "The Old Reliable"

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Paul Rogers

Member
Nov 30, 2000
1,244
2
168
56
West Sussex, UK
Hi all.

My faulty memory tells me that, whilst in drydock after WW1, fitters found dents in Olympic's hull where torpedo(es) had obviously hit her, but had failed to detonate.

If I've remembered correctly, then I have to say that she seemed pretty damn lucky to me!

Regards,
Paul.
 
Jan 29, 2001
1,282
0
166
Yes Paul in fact the torpedo penetrated the outer skin, and came to rest at division with her inner skin.

I feel that much of the reasoning for the *fear* of which these OLYMPIC class steamers bore, is due to the fact at which rate these behemoths grew! For instance the scale of her deck fittings must have been an overwhelming site to a casual observer.

It is quite the comprehension to interpret QUEEN MARY at her permanent berth in Long Beach, CA. and furthur come to realize that the frail hand of man was once in control of such an immense unified manuverable strength.

However...as man's technology so rapidly progressed, these modern day behemoths are now tamed by a mere joystick. And who could have thought in 1912, that the mechanics of an *outer space* module would play such an important role in the navigation of a modern day TITANIC?

Michael Cundiff
Carson City, NV
 

Aelvir

Member
Jun 9, 2018
29
6
3
Wilmington, DE; USA
To Ing and Mark,

Yes and no, you DID hear this from me, Ing, but I got it straight out of Beesley:

"A friend told me of the voyage of the Olympic from Southampton after the wait in harbor, and said there was a sense of gloom pervading the whole ship, the stewards and stewardesses even going so far as to say it was a 'death ship'."

I had found (or it was sent to me, can't remember just now) in the April 19 issue of the Hampshire Post, Ernest Farenden's mother stating that her son, working on the Olympic, became superstitious of the ship, stating he was glad to be tranferred off. Also, in the BBC documentary "Titanic Tales", Sidney Sedunary had written to his mother about the Olympic "This is an unlucky ship, there's always something the matter." As you know both these men were transferred to the Titanic.

If you can give me more details regarding this 'Olympic Jinx' I would be most grateful.

Best regards,
Cook
Those who felt that way may have been a select few. I firmly believe Olympic to be a sort of “happy ship”, as she was well beloved by both passengers and crew throughout her life, White Star even advertised that fact. To the point that footage of soldiers aboard her during WW1 show the exact opposite of gloomy.
The Death Ship thing was a somewhat common thought among passengers who aren’t used to sailing. My thought is, it may be the doubt that she could stay afloat due to her size. Who knows, most official accounts of her first year were nearly all positive. As for being considered “unlucky” is quite ironic as she was easily the luckiest ship ever.