SS Aquitania


Matt Smith

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Feb 24, 1998
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I know that you guys out there talk about the Aquitania a lot but I really don't know to much about it except that it was a 4 stacker and it was a luxury liner. I would be interested to here your stories.

Thanks
Matt
 
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Ian Bland

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Sep 20, 2001
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I suppose the thing for me is the length of service for this marvelous ship. I have some interesting post cards sent by soldiers being transported by her. I know about the jibes that she was an olympic class copy, but to survive both world wars and have such a long and distinguished career deserves recognition.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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The only one I can think of is the detail of what was done to the condensers in 1934 to increase the ship's speed?

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Nov 23, 1996
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Since I have been busy for the last week I haven't had time to respond to this tread.

As many know by my collection: RMS Aquitania is a personnel favorite of mine.

Correct me if the details are off slightly as I am going from my memory at the moment:

I will start of with the early history of the RMS Aquitania.

Without going into the earlier history of the Cunard Line's "Mauretania" and "Lusitania" and the liners of the White Star Line.

In late 1909 the Cunard Line pondered the idea of building building a new liner to operate on the Atlantic Liverpool to New York service alongside the Lusitania and Mauretania. The addition of this liner was to better provide a weekly service. This new ship was to be built without a government subsidy, as in the case of the Mauretania and Lusitania, which were built to be turned into armed merchant cruisers in the event of war. Cunard made the determination to place the emphasis more on luxury and larger passenger accommodations, instead of speed.

In my opinion, this was based purely on economics as the additional passenger accommodation would provide increased revenues in an already crowded North Altantic trade.

In Late 1909 / early 1910 Cunard issued the specifications of there new liner she was to be over 886 feet long and 96 feet in berth, equipped with turbines and have a service speed of 23 knots.

It must be also noted at the time that these specifications were issued the Imperator was in construction in Germany and the White Star Liners "Olympic" and "Titanic" were in construction in Belfast. It was stated in the press that Cunard wasn't going to build a liner with the speed of the Mauretania and Lusitania but wanted the new liner to be faster then the rival White Star liners "Olympic" and "Titanic"

On Sunday, December 10, 1910 it was announced that Cunard had placed the order for the new liner with the shipyard of John Brown & Co, Ltd of Clydebank.

On Monday, June 5, 1911 the name of the new Cunard Vessel Yard numnber 409 was announced as "Aquitania", at a small ceremony to mark the laying of the first keel plate.

"Aquitania" means in Gaullic "Land of Waters" and was also the wealthiest of the Roman provinces of Gaul. It also keep with the Cunard tradition of the time in naming their ships with the Suffix "IA".

An image from the "Aquitania's Launch brochure from 1913 showing the preparations of the slipway for the keel laying in 1911.

Image from the S. Anderson Collection, 2003



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Nov 23, 1996
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I won't go into the details of the construction on machinery of the RMS Aquitania other then to state some of the basic facts

Aquitania was built by John Brown & Co, Ltd at Clydebank. Her registered tonnage was 45,674 she was 901 feet by 97 feet. Her engines were Parson-Brown Turbines, turning quadruple screws at a maximum service speed of 24 knots.

The claim has been made that the Aquitania was originally determined by January, 1912 to be equipped with lifeboats for all, in the following specifications: (2) Two Motor boats, 46 open boats, and 44 collapsible boats with rigid sides for a total of 92 boats. Most of these boats were places in davits with the collapsibles being placed under the ordinary lifeboats in there davits.

Aquitania, also went through the press statements about her safety features also. As she was equipped with a double bottom of various depths of five to six feet, this double bottom was then inturn divided into forty compartments that could hold water as ballast or coal if needed. Aquitania was also fitted with sixteen watertight compartments, however unlike the "Titanic's" most of these rose to a height of nineteen feet above the water-line.

In early - 1913 over 100,000 cubic yards of the Clyde river bed were dredged and the Clyde channel was deepened and widened in preparation for the launch.

John Brown and Cunard scheduled the launching ceremony for Monday, April 21, 1913. As it turns out this was a normal day in the United Kingdom dull and drizzly. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people crammed into the shipyard for this launch with several thousand more in lining the banks of the river and in pleasure craft.

At 12:30pm the Countess of Derby christened the ship and pressed an "electric button" an thus started the process in motion, releasing a champagne bottle against the bow and sending the vessel down the ways. The vessel glided gently into the Clyde river and was soon brought to a stop by her massive drag chains. At this point she was then taken into two by five tugs. The ceremony was over and the official guests left for a formal luncheon.


Attached is a rare souvenir from the launch of the Q.S.T.S. Aquitania an envelope that originally held a series of photographic postcards of the launch.

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Image from the S. Anderson Collection, 2003
 
Nov 23, 1996
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Here is another "Very rare" photographic image of the launch of the RMS Aquitania with an insert of the Countess of Derby who preformed the launching ceremony

Image from the S. Anderson Collection, 2003
Publisher: Private / Unknown

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Nov 23, 1996
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There seemed to be a slight problem with a prior post so I have deleted it.

Attached is an image of the RMS Aquitania on the Stocks on Launch day with the launching platform in place.

This image comes from a "very rare" photographic postcard I have in my personnel collection.

Image from the S. Anderson Collection, 2003
Original Publisher: Rotary Photo E.C. c. 1913
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Nov 23, 1996
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Here is another very rare photographic postcard image showing the launch of the RMS Aquitania from the port stern side.

Image from the S. Anderson Collection, 2003
Original Publisher: Pender, Printer c. 1913

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Jan 5, 2001
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Thanks for all your posts Steve, they're interesting and well-written.

I hope to make some contribution when I'm awake. Meanwhile, let us hope this thread blossoms.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Nov 23, 1996
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Mark:

As for another prize piece of Aquitania Memoribilia.

You will have to bear with the scan as my father has the digital camera, so I just took this little piece of the wall and dropped it on the scanner so to say.

Here, is an original Wardroom plaque from the Aquitania that was presented by the Captain to a harbor master in the Virgin Islands in the late 1930's. The Aquitania called in the Virgin Islands during a couple of her cruises in the late 1930's. (This piece was obtained from an ocean liner dealer who had purchased a large collection of various wardroom plaques.)

This is the standard style of wardroom plaque for all Cunard Liners in the 1930's and 1940's as I passed on others in the same style for the Beringeria and Caronia.

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Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Steven!

May I wish you the best of luck with your website. Do let us know about it's progress, for I am sure many will be interested to see it.

Thanks again also for your excellent postings as regard to her history. I wish I had more time at the moment to contribute, although I've not got that much info.

My Aquitania article for TRMA (see link near top of thread) might make up for my lack of posts.

Interestingly, I understand in 1909-10 Cunard tried to invoke the Official Secrets Act with regard to the design. I did see some documents relating to that.

Thanks for the list of works -- I have McCart and Streater, but to be honest the Streater work was dissapointing because I expected it to go into more detail. It was, after all, published three years later. Do you know if McCart is doing any more books? They would be great.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Thanks Mike!

Out of interest, I also developed an Olympic article for TRMA. It's on the mainpage, but not near the top.

I'll be bringing some Aquitania stuff into the thread.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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Here is an extremely reduced version of a WW2 Aquitania photo I picked up with a bunch of other war-related photos. It is captioned, in pencil,
T/Sgt F.L. Tweedie 5 Reconn Squadron Photo, but contains no other information regarding date, location, etc.
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