From Wednesday morning until that of Saturday of last week a party of visitors, which included Sir William White (late Director of Naval Construction), Messrs Moorhouse and Maxwell (General Manager and a director of the Cunard Company), were carried from the Tyne round Scotland to the Mersey in ideal weather on the trial trip of the Steamship Carpathia.
The vessel, which has been built by Messrs Swan and Hunter, of Wallsend, for the Cunard Company, and would have been ready to take to the sea some months earlier but for one of the usual and senseless strikes of joiners on the Tyne, marks a new departure on the part of the Cunard Company. This departure may be summed up as a bold bid for the custom of second and third class passengers across the Atlantic, the inducement offered being cheap fares and accommodation far superior to any that has been offered before now to the same class of passengers.
The Carpathia is described technically as “a saloon and third-class passenger and cargo steamer”, and is, of course, a twin-screw vessel. Her dimensions are:- Length overall, 560 ft; extreme breadth, 64 ft 3 in, depth moulded to upper deck, 40 ft 6 in. Her gross tonnage is 13,555 tons, and her dead weight carrying capacity is above 12,500 tons cargo, her gross register tonnage being 13,500. She has accommodation for 204 saloon passengers and from 1,500 to 1,700 third class passengers.
Her quadruple expansion engines, manufactured by the Wallsend Shipping and Engineering Company (Limited), and worked by seven single-ended boilers, have an indicated horse-power of 9,000. The shafting throughout is the work of Sir William Armstrong, Whitworth, and Co (Manchester and Newcastle), and the internal arrangements for ventilation, cooking, preservation of perishable stores, and the like leave nothing to be desired. Also it is said that the engines are so balanced as to reduce vibration to a minimum, and that the vessel is so designed that she will be exceptionally steady in any kind of sea In the latter respect, she could hardly have been put to a less severe trial at this period of the year, for a gentle swell on the first day out was the worst difficulty to be encountered. As to vibration it is too soon to speak, for although in the course of the pleasant trip from the Tyne to the Mersey she certainly vibrated not a little at various speeds, the explanation is no doubt to be found in the fact that the relation in her between the number of revolutions and the vibration has not yet been ascertained. It is, of course, well known to seafaring men that you may have a vessel which vibrates sharply at, let us say, 60 revolutions, is steady at 70, vibrates again at a higher number, and so on. These things have to be found out by experience in each particular case, and it must be added that, although there were some periods of harsh vibration, there were also others of remarkable and delightful steadiness.
The really striking feature about the vessel is the excellence of the accommodation, especially for the third class passengers, at about £5 10s for the passage, including food. For the saloon passengers there are airy and well-fitted cabins, a spacious dining saloon capable of accommodating them all at once, which is none the worse for being free from gaudy decoration, a good smoking-room, and a small library and writing-room combined. Also their bathrooms and sanitary accommodation generally are good. But the real features of the ship are the four, three, and two berth cabins for third class passengers, their large dining and smoking rooms, their covered promenade, and their ladies’ room. These, which are plainly and sensibly fitted in polished wood, are on a scale of comfort to which third class passengers are strangers, and it is by no means surprising to learn that the applications for space for the Carpathia’s first voyage, which will begin early in May, are already in excess of the accommodation.
The Carpathia is built to steam from 14 to 15 knots, and, although she is not a very fast vessel, she is decidedly comfortable and cheap. As for the events of the trial trip, they may be summed up by saying that some five or six hours of Wednesday were spent in passing out of the Tyne and in trial manoeuvres outside the mouth of the river, that the coast line, the Orkneys, and the Hebrides were seen quite at their best, since there was brilliant sun and the higher mountains were covered with snow, and that all the guests of Messrs Swan and Hunter were sorry when they rose on Saturday morning to find the Carpathia at anchor in the Mersey, with the flood tide rushing past her, and to look upon a scene overshadowed by a pall of haze and smoke which the sun was long in penetrating. In a word, the Cunard Company are to be congratulated warmly on a departure which is full of promise.