That Olympic Article made me sad


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Apr 27, 2001
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I just read the Article about Olympic's "Premature Death" and it saddens me. She could have done some great things with Aquatania As she could probably be just as fast as any U-boat of the time so her and Aquatania Would be like a less grand version of the Queens.

It doesn't make sense. Why scrap the most economical ship of the four? Bias? The Titanic link? We'll never know.

I hate it when any ship is scrapped.
 
I don't think it would have been the Titanic link. I would say that by 1935 the Titanic had largely been forgotten about. Don't forget the First World War and the great depression had internvened since 1912. I've noticed that in the newspaper articles I have read from 1935 about the Olympic's demise, nothing about the Titanic is even hinted at. Not much is even said about the Olympic's early years, apart from the innovatory features that were aboard her in 1911; such as she was the first passenger ship to have a swimming pool and was the largest and most luxurious ship in the World in 1911.

I remember reading in Simon Mills' book that there were several structural problems with Olympic in her later years and there was a collapse in passenger numbers in the 1930s. For example, when she rammed and sank the Nantucket Lightship in May 1934, she only had less than 200 passengers aboard when she could take 1,400. The collision with the Nantucket was the most costly of the five collisions the Olympic was involved in and would have hastened her demise.

A further contributary factor may be that Cunard was the senior partner in the merger and so they would have felt more of an attachment to the Aquitania and Olympic and the other White Star ships would not have been regarded as valuable as their own. Eaton and Haas told me at their lecture in Belfast that Cunard sent people round to the White Star Offices in Liverpool shortly after the merger in 1934 and destroyed most of the paper work kept there. If the treatment of the White Star's Offices at the hands of Cunard is anything to go by, their ships didn't fare much better.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Shane!

Thanks for reading the article and commenting. I am glad that you enjoyed it. Naturally, I share your views.
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Hi Stuart!

I remember reading in Simon Mills' book that there were several structural problems with Olympic in her later years

This is dealt with in the article; but the only really notable problems occured around 1931, and by 1935 as far as I have been able to ascertain and the Board of Trade show most were essentially overcome. The engines were performing better than ever from 1933 -- indeed, that year she easily broke her 1911 record three consecutive times -- and all welds held good. Anyway, as the article says, all ships of that age at that time were showing signs of age -- but Olympic and Aquitania were among the better in condition.

Nantucket was the most costly of the five collisions the Olympic was involved in and would have hastened her demise.

I agree it was the most costly in terms of lives lost, but the Hawke collision for example caused far more damage to Olympic. Then again, as you point out the expense was great. From memory I can't remember the cost of the Hakwe collision. I don't quite understand *how* it hastened her demise -- though there was some damage, noted in the article, Olympic's condition was still among the best. Unless you mean in terms of the management's superstition?

A further contributary factor may be that Cunard was the senior partner in the merger and so they would have felt more of an attachment to the Aquitania and Olympic and the other White Star ships would not have been regarded as valuable as their own.

I have to agree with this, sad though it is. Aquitania is a favourite of mine, along with Olympic, but in many instances I feel Cunard was biased.

By the way, I should be sending you within the next few months the text that I worked that information into -- I gratefully say here thanks again for the help, it was very useful and I thankfully acknowledge it.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Simon Mills says that White Star had $500,000 claimed against them because of the Nantucket collision which they later appealed against, though frustratingly he doesn't say what the outcome of the appeal was. He does say however there was only a small dent in the bow and damaged paintwork when they took her to the dry dock in Southampton. Is it not undeniable however, that the Olympic was running at a loss; only able to steam at 21 knots while a giant 28-knot Superliner was fitting out at Clydebank, being readied for service in early 1936? Furthermore, the Cunard/White Star merger had been a condition of Ramsay MacDonald's National Government releasing the money for this superliner's completion.

I look forward to reading the book. I wish I had your dedication. Do you say much about the dispersal auction? I'm thinking of writing a paper titled "The Olympic Dispersal Auction of 1935" Nearly all the primary research I have done relates to the auction.

Stuart
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Stuart!

Simon Mills says that White Star had $500,000 claimed against them because of the Nantucket collision which they later appealed against, though frustratingly he doesn't say what the outcome of the appeal was.

That's about the figure I have, but I don't know the result either. Perhaps its one of those lost to time.

He does say however there was only a small dent in the bow and damaged paintwork when they took her to the dry dock in Southampton.

Well, there's a slight error there: there was also a fracture in some plating on the starboard bossing. It wasn't that big, though, from what I know, or serious.

it not undeniable however, that the Olympic was running at a loss; only able to steam at 21 knots while a giant 28-knot Superliner was fitting out at Clydebank, being readied for service in early 1936?

She was steaming at well over twenty-two knots until the end; her penultimate return voyage averaged 22.25 knots with ease. But, I am not -- and have never been -- denying that this was much slower than the new 28-knot vessels; but what I am saying -- and as I do clearly in my article -- is that ALL of the four ships, Majestic, Berengaria, Aquitania and Olympic were much slower, and ALL were running at a loss, Olympic at a smaller loss than the others from the data I saw. It's all detailed in the article, although I save the info. about costs for my actual Olympic biography.

I look forward to reading the book. I wish I had your dedication. Do you say much about the dispersal auction?

Thanks. My 'Olympic' class work is finished and at the publisher, who is a snail, but the Olympic biography is rapidly progressing and I hope to have the text finished some time next year. I say little about the auction in the 'Olympic' class work, but am saying more in the actual Olympic biography.

I'm thinking of writing a paper titled "The Olympic Dispersal Auction of 1935" Nearly all the primary research I have done relates to the auction.

That would be *very* interesting, indeed. You have considerable well-researched information about this, I know. Go for it!

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Mark Baber

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the first passenger ship to have a swimming pool...

...was not Olympic, but White Star's Adriatic, which entered service in 1907. Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway, Rentell's Historic White Star Liners, Hayes' Hull Down; Maxtone-Graham's epilogue to the Shipbuilder reprint.

I'm currently plowing through 1907 newspapers, trying to find a contemporary reference to this. The closest I've gotten so far is a 3 March 1907 Sunday feature article in The New York Times entitled "New Queens of the Atlantic to be Marvels of Luxury". The subtitle is "The Adriatic and the Europa Will Have Tennis Courts, Turkish Baths, Swimming Pools, Elevators and Restaurants". The body of the article, though, contains only the following in this vein:

A notable innovation is the Turkish bath. There are the usual hot, temperate and cooling rooms, a large plunge bath, and massage couches. There is also an electric bath."

I will report back if I find anything more than this.
 
B

Brian Hawley

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Mark I had in my collection a White Star Line brochure from 1909, that had a plan for Adratic's plunge bath. Inculded were costs, a description of the baths and pool, a drawing/plan and times indicating when the pool was open. I traded this brochure several years ago for a tea set from the QM. Otherwise I would send you a scan.

Brian
 
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