What if the Olympic wasn't scrapped in 1935?

Logan Horning

Dec 4, 2018
I know that scrapping the Olympic was one of the only choices for the Cunard-White Star merge line after the Great Depression hit. I often think about what kind of future the Olympic would have had if she was preserved and kept in service instead of the Aquitania. So, I made an alternate timeline of the R.M.S. Olympic if she hadn't been retired and scrapped in 1935. ((This is all in MY imaginary universe. Fell free to tell me your alternate timeline of the Olympic had it not been scrapped.))
1934: The Olympic crashes into the LV-117, and Aquitania is retired from the Great Depression.
1935: The Olympic is decommissioned due to the Great Depression, and is moved to Belfast for refits.
1936: The Queen Mary enters service, and the Aquitania gets scrapped, parts of the Aquitania become added onto the Olympic.
1938: The Olympic recommissioned into service after repairs, and enjoys a year of service before WWII.
1939: World War II begins. The Olympic is put out of service to be repainted as a troopship and to have guns aboard.
1940: The Olympic enters service as a troopship to fight against the Germans in WWII.
1942: The Olympic receives a distress call from the Laconia, which sinks after being torpedoed by German submarine U-156.
1945: World War II ends. The Olympic is put back into passenger service and is once again refitted to become updated.
1958: The Olympic is used for interior sets in the film "A Night to Remember".
1967: The Olympic and the Queen Mary both retire, and become museum ships in the United States. The Queen Mary is docked in the West Coast in Long Beach, California, and the Olympic is docked in the East Coast in New York, also at the same dock where the Titanic was supposed to be after it's maiden voyage.
1985: The Olympic gains popularity after the discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic.
1995-1997: James Cameron uses the Olympic for the production of his blockbuster film, "Titanic".
1997-present: The Olympic becomes the ultimate Titanic museum experience, and is probably one of the most iconic maritime museums in history.
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Mar 25, 2019
Glasgow, Scotland
Money, money money.

Preserving the Olympic was never an option. Scrapping her was ultimately the right thing to do.

To keep going after 1934, Olympic would have needed numerous big refits and brought up to ever changing safety standards perhaps every ten years or so. None of that would be cheap.

On the Olympic serving in the Second World War and potentially saving survivors from the Laconia, that's really not something that is likely to have occurred. If she had still been around then a big, relatively fast ship like the Olympic would most likely that she have served on the Clyde and/or Mersey runs to New York and Halifax. There is no reason why the Olympic should have been near the coast of West Africa where Laconia was sunk.

The Aquitania was in a really sorry state after the Second World War. In 1949 she was in an embarrassing state and was far too expensive to operate any longer. Cunard of course could have completely re-fitted the ship but it would have cost a staggering, ridiculous amount of money to do so especially in a financial crippled post-war "austerity" Britain. Olympic would very likely have been in exactly the same circumstances had she still been afloat after the war.

As the owners of the Queen Mary have been finding out in the last few years, keeping these monsters afloat and in good condition after so many decades is an uphill task. Costs escalate year after year. Questions begin to be asked about how long the flow of money will continue to flow.

They ultimately did the right thing scrapping both the Olympic (and the Mauritania and the Berengaria).

Scrapping the Olympic and the Berengaria's superstructure actually was a good thing for the town of Jarrow in County Durham, England.

For a while it provided much needed employment for several hundred men of the town, located in one of the worst hit areas by the Great Depression. In her death, by providing work to these men, the Olympic was actually helping to put food in the bellies of starving young kids and ensuring that they had a roof over their heads.

I really cannot stress hard enough just what the people of Tyneside and Wearside in England suffered during the Great Depression. The coal mines and the shipyards were mostly derelict. Tens of thousands of proud, hardy, working class "Geordie" men were unemployed and desperate for work to feed their families, put clothes on their backs and pay the rent or the doctors bill. In their "death" Olympic and Berengaria at the very least went a little way to alleviate this.

Her bare hulk was then towed to Inverkeithing in Fife, Scotland, again another coal mining area just like Tyneside and Wearside that was hit right between the eyes by the Great Depression with thousands of men unemployed and with wolves at the door. The Olympic again provided more much needed local employment as the work began to complete the scrapping.

Olympic was a truly great, beautiful ship but every story must have an ending.
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