Olympics's design did it prove to be any good in the long run


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Guest (R17)

Guest
Hello

I was just reading about some of the problems the Olympic encountered to her hull from 1926 onwards, hence being put on the Board of Trade list for watching.

This made me think did the Olympic class ship in truth turn out to be a good design in the long run or did Olympic prove otherwise developing more problems than other ships her age. I understand ships will encounter all sorts of problems once they reach a certain age but how successful was she when compared to lets say the Aqauitania !

When you think about ships today the Olympic was hardly old. Maybe old for her time, but QE2 must be 30 years old now and there are liners from the 1950’s still around.

I know great workmanship when into this class of ship, beauty inside and out etc but was it a *good* design or rather show to not hold up as well as other ships ?
 
Jan 21, 2003
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Well you have to recall the quality of the steel used to construct her and now days, advances in ways to keep hulls in better condition longer.
 
The QE2 is 35 years old this year, to be exact. She is of course Clyde-built, which in my *unbiased* opinion perhaps explains her longivity and sound hull.

Another reason for the QE2's continuing presence is that she is that she is one of the last of the great Ocean liners. She is one of very few Ocean Liners that still plough the sea today. In 1935, Olympic was one of many many ships that provided the only feasible option for crossing an Ocean then. Moreover, the Edwardian design of the Olympic was about to be supersceded by a new generation of Art Deco liners being built in Scotland and France. QE2 came at a time when Ocean Liners as a whole were being supersceded by jet aeroplanes.
 
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Guest (R17)

Guest
Yes your right there always being a newer liner just about to over take the next :)

However by the time QE2 (1969) came along jet aeroplanes had already taken over as the main source of travel for at least a decade - little longer I think.... In fact Concorde had already made it's first test flight and would be up and going by 1970. The jet airliner 707 had been around since about 1959 - and that plane was a huge success/revolution. The 50's Jet Comet was a revolution/starting point for jet travel in a lot of ways but there were faults with it having such huge windows.

Anyways I'd say QE2 came at a time when jet flight had already taken dominance quite some time before :)

So I think the *classic* era of Liner had long since died by the time QE2 came along, hence I personally don't class her the *last* but rather one of a start/new breed of cruise ships you get today - only in my opnion even QE2 has something when compared with QM2.
 
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Brian R Peterson

Guest
Hi Miles,

The era of the ocean liner began its demise in the mid 1950’s IMO when the widespread use of aircraft as a means of intercontinental travel was introduced.

Postwar ocean liners like Andrea Doria and her sister Cristiforo Columbo were built to cater the wealthy upper class who still sought to travel in the utmost level of comfort and luxury - two things aircraft of the era sorely lacked.

It is a shame that the Aquitania was scrapped, had she survived a few more years when the effort to preserve our history began, she may still be with us now if only a dry docked hotel like QE2.

She would prove to have been an invaluable link to the Edwardian era of ocean travel, an era we can now only relive through books and photographs. Had the Olympic survived as into the mid 1950’s A Night to Remember could have been filmed aboard her making it one of the most accurate Titanic films ever!
smile.gif


Best Regards,

Brian
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
Olympic's "structural problems" have been exaggerated by many. They were quite normal for a ship of her age. Aquitania, Berengaria, Leviathan, and Majestic also had similar difficulties. Some researchers have looked into Olympic’s maintenance records, but failed to check out other liners for comparison! They then labeled Olympic as having an inferior hull!
Over the long run, Olympic's design was quite sound. She was very efficient in terms of fuel use, even more so than the ships mentioned above. Her retirement was simply a result of bias by Cunard after the WS takeover and not a reflection on her efficiency. (Mark Chirnside has covered this many times)
If things had just been a little bit different, Olympic might have survived into the late 1940s and had a career similar in length to Aquitania!
Although I would like to think she would have been preserved if she had lasted longer, it is unlikely.

Brent
 

Sean Hankins

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May 15, 2004
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Every time a subject like this comes up its a little depressing for me. Like Brent said the hull problems had more to do with a copout to eliminate the White Star ships after the merger with Cunard than anything else. In reality she was in much better shape than others of the same age. Mark's article "Olympic: Another Premature Death" really adds A LOT of fuel to back this up.

Take away the fact that her fittings may have been dated when compared to the Art Deco style that was becoming popular at the time, she was not only one of the more fuel efficient ships but she was also one of the steadiest ships in service.

Imagine if she had lasted through WWII and they were able to film A Night To Remember Onboard her. Cameron's movie couldn't have come close to matching :) Now lets go one more and imagine that she survived and became and dockside hotel like the Queen Mary. Not to take anything away from the Queen Mary but Olympic would have meant so much more to a lot of us in the same capacity. How amazing would it be to be able to tour, stay and dine aboard Olympic!!! I get chills just imagining the experience!
 
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Guest (R17)

Guest
Thanks for giving us a link to the 'Premature Death' article. It was a nice read. I agree with everyone else it's a shame Olympic did not last just a little longer and make it to WW2. Would have been nice to see a picture of Olympic and Queen Mary together, as was the the case with Majestic and the Aquitania ! I like the ariel photo of the Olympic in the article - talk about the perfect looking ship - best looking of the lot :)

I'm looking forwards to this new book about all 3 Olympic class ships. I hope there is plenty on the Olympic & new pictures etc :)
 
Dec 2, 2000
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It's unfortunate that the Olympic is all but forgotten today, and all the more so as she was immensely popular in her day. While the design was anything but perfect and had some embarrassing flaws, overall, it held up very well in service. While they certainly had their little quirks, they were among the better seaboats on the North Atlantic run. A fact which I'm sure was appriciated by anyone who was prone to seasickness.

It's a shame that depression era economics reared it's ugly head as I'm confident that the Olympic could have held up at least as well as the Aquatania and probably better.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Beware of comparing Olympic's lifespan to the longevity of QE2. The latter ship floats on a completely new bottom thanks to that "minor" grounding incident off New England a few years back.

The reasons for a company's keeping or scrapping a ship can be complex. I rather doubt Cunard decided to scrap Olympic because of its White Star heritage. Making a buck in passenger service is so difficult that the decisions have to be based on bean counting and not sentimentality. It may be better to think about tax incentives and government operating subsidies than hull cracks and loose rivets. Perhaps Olympic was debt-free and there were mortgages against the other ships in the fleet. Or, there may have been more pounds of good scrap in Olympic than the other potential candidates for the breakers.

My point is that good ships get scrapped for economic reasons--the survival of the company--and not for sentimentality. In fact it would be a breech of their fiduciary responsibility for the officers of a public company to operate otherwise.

And, it should be obvious that Cunard won the competitive war with White Star. That is a good indicator of which company had better fiscal management.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
Companies do not always make good economic decisions. Some info I have seen
indicates that Olympic was losing the least amount of money of the big
Cunard and WS ships of the time.
Example: Cunard announced the retirement of Berengaria before Majestic. And
yet Majestic was more expensive to operate than Berengaria. They then
changed their minds and withdrew Majestic. Cunard got a great deal in the WS
takeover, they were allowed to absorb and eliminate their greatest
competitor. This had a profound effect on the competitive position of Cunard
in the long term.
Cunard retired 70% of the WS fleet in the two years after the merger. All of these ships were inferior to their Cunard counterparts? I doubt it.
Brent
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Brent-- Cunard had to raise cash in the 1930s. Every company did. It was the mother-of-all-Hard Times. After the merger/acquisition, it made perfect business sense to turn the excess WSL bottoms into cash. And, in the 1930s that pretty much meant sending them to the breakers. Companies do the same thing today when they acquire ownership of existing businesses. Excess capacity of the acquired company is divested first.

I do not know the tax laws of the period. Today, there are many tax reasons for selling some assets and maintaining others. I suspect a study of the total economic climate surrounding Cunard might yield a few compelling reasons for scrapping out acquired bottoms instead of company ships.

A couple of years ago I had to sell the best vessel in my small fleet. It was also my first acquisition and one with some sentimental attachement. The numbers said it had to go, and so it is now working for another owner. Money from that boat allowed me to refurbish what had been a less profitable boat to the point the company started growing in a down economy. That allowed me to purchase a new boat and I'm now back where I started with a two-boat fleet. The difference is that I no longer have significant debt load. Had I sold the least profitable boat back then, I would be out of business today. In business it always boils down to the money.

Other than money, what purpose would be served by scrapping a better ship for an inferior ship? Cunard had already won the battle. WSL was the loser any way you count score. Except for business considerations, scrapping WSL ships makes as much sense as buying a dead man's car just so you can smash it out of spite because you didn't like him when he was alive. You can't hurt a dead man any more than Cunard could further embarass the dead company once called White Star Lines.

All I am really saying is, "don't turn Cundard into a bunch of Green Meanies." Business is business. The WSL ships were excess capacity and represented a source of cash in a down economy. Perhaps there was some sentimentality involved, but you can bet only after the hard money decisions were made.

--David G. Brown
 
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Guest (R17)

Guest
Hello

I'm sure you will turn out to be right ! But I thought the Olympic was one of the better ships ?

>>Other than money, what purpose would be served by scrapping a better ship for an inferior ship?<<

From what I read the Olympic was the most cost saving out of all the 5/6 big ships, so why get rid of her first when she was saving the most amount of money !

>>WSL was the loser any way you count score. Except for business considerations, scrapping WSL ships makes as much sense as buying a dead man's car just so you can smash it out of spite because you didn't like him when he was alive. You can't hurt a dead man any more than Cunard could further embarrass the dead company once called White Star Lines.<<

Also I don't understand if WSL was the loser or her ships were like owning a *dead mans car*, why did they bother calling it Cunard White Star ? Why not just buy the company out and call it Cunard ? I don't understand the merger but I suspect it was a way for both company’s to stay a live hence WSL was not dead, although I would imagine WSL had less power once the two companies had joined. Was it not later that Cunard bought WSL shares in the company and became just Cunard again.

Having said that I don’t really know. :)

p.s with all the interest in the Titanic and White Star ships these days it would be quite a cool marketing gimmick to stick the *White Star* back on the end of the Cunard name ! Just an idea
happy.gif
 

Nigel Bryant

Member
Aug 1, 2010
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Just following this neat disscusion.

Miles,

It's interesting to know that Cunard did at one time reintroduce the "White Star" brand on one of their brochures. Cunard labled some of their cruises as a Cunard White Star service. It's in the Cunard 1999 "Art of Cruising" brouchure. Sadly though I haven't seen WS on any of the recent brochures.

Nigel
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
The CWS merger agreement was very complex, but CWS was a subsidiary of Cunard. They probably just added WS to the name since it seemed appropriate at the time and WS had 38% of the shares.
I still cannot see the reason for retiring 70% of the WS fleet after the takeover. The data I have seen shows that Olympic was probably the most efficient vessel of her class. And wouldn't it have made good business sense to keep one WS ship in the express service until the arrival of the QE? (WS was usually a strong second to Cunard.)
I seem to remember reading once that Cunard defended their WS retirements by saying they were old and in poor condition. Sounds defensive to me.
This debate could go on forever.....
 
Dec 4, 2000
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I would modify Brent's last statment to saying that the debate will go on forever.

However, the responses to my arguments still miss the point. A ship's performance is not the deciding factor in its ultimate fate. The problem revolves around the overall good of the company. If you do not start with your first priority as the economic health of the company, then you ultimately condemn the whole fleet to the breakers when the corporation founders in red ink. It's that simple. Olympic may have been the best ship ever built and better than any since...but if Cunard ws less able to survive economically by keeping it afloat, Olympic was done for.

As far as combining names when one company buys another, that's still common practice. For instance, the car company is "Daimler Chrysler," but does anyone really believe that keeping the Chrysler part in the name is anything by a public relations gesture to U.S. car buyers?

This debate must also face the economic realities of the time. The U.S. frontier had officially closed in 1919, ending the massive immigrant trade which had been a major source of passenger ship income for a century. On top of that was the world-wide Great Depression which reduced travel in general. Keep in mind that if there were enough ticket buyers to keep both WSL and Cunard busy, there would have been no "merger." The fact was there were too many berths on too many bottoms. Ships had to be scrapped and companies disbanded. Harsh realities, indeed, but realities. Olympic found itself in the same situation as the passenger behind the last passenger to get into one of Titanic's lifeboats. Life isn't fair, even to ships.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
Interesting take on this.
So you are saying that Cunard retired Olympic, and most of the WS fleet, for tax and debt reasons?

Brent
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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Was it not later that Cunard bought WSL shares in the company and became just Cunard again.

That was actually a two-step process. First, in July 1947, Cunard bought the 38% of CWS that belonged to White Star's creditors, principally IMM and the UK and Northern Ireland governments. They continued to use the name CWS, though, until 1 January 1950, when Cunard took over all of CWS's assets and operations, leaving Cunard White Star, Ltd., as a shell. Sources: The New York Times, 30 July 1947 and 26 January 1950; Anderson's White Star.
 

Sean Hankins

Member
May 15, 2004
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Please correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Cunard go back to "Cunard White Star" for a brief time after Cameron's movie hit big at the box office?
 

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