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Imperator's Eagle

Imperator's Eagle

Bow shot showing Imperator's figurehead Eagle before it was damaged and removed. It was by this figurehead that she was the largest ship when she was constructed.

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I've read that Hamburg America added the Eagle as a means of insuring that Imperator's length would be greater than the forthcoming Aquitania. But the new German ship already exceeded Aquitanias' length and I think they knew that to be the case all along. I've always believed this figurehead was added as a means to insure that White Star's still building Britannic, would not take the record for overall length away from Germany. Either way, I guess it wouldn't have really mattered, the Eagle ended up having a very short life.

Clyde (cunard61)
 

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In terms of tonnage, RMS Olympic: 46,358 (1913 onward), SS Aquitania: 45,647 (as built), and SS Imperator at 52,117. In terms of length RMS Olympic 882ft, SS Aquitania 901ft, SS Imperator 906ft. Whether or not Imperator's official length includes her eagle I'm not sure, but these are the tonnages and lengths as built (except Olympic for post Titanic rebuild). Its interesting, yes Imperator was the largest in tonnage, but when her Eagle was removed, how long was she then. Was she shorter than Aquitania's 901ft? And I found it interesting the Olympic's tonnage was larger then Aquitania's.

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Kolby Hurt
 

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Interesting Kolby, I knew about the tonnage differences between Aquitania and Olympic. I've always believed that difference was Olympics' use of reciprocating steam engines. They were in fact the largest steam engines of that design ever built, and their weight differences were considerable when compared to steam turbine engines. So even with Aquitania's additional propeller, shaft and additional hull length, the Olympic still outweighed the Cunarder by several hundred tons. Clearly, turbines allowed for considerable weight savings.

From what I've read, Imperator, as built had a length of 918 ft 8 inches with the bird. These are the figures given by Hamburg America at the time of her Maiden Voyage, and the eagle added 10 ft to the overall length, which would mean that Imperator, as built, was 908.8 ft long. My source on Imperator is Les Streater, from his book "Berengaria, Cunard's Happy Ship." Hope this helps. It does still leave you wondering if the eagle really was added to ensure an edge over the forthcoming Britannic. Streater doesn't say anything about this possibility, but I've always wondered about it myself.

Clyde (cunard61)
 

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The tonnage figures that are quoted above are in Gross Registered Tons (GRT), which was the normal method of measuring passenger ships. It was a measurement of the volume of the hull below the main deck plus the enclosed spaces above that deck. One GRT was equal to 100 cubic feet. There is no connection between GRT and weight.

Titanic was one foot longer than Olympic but their dimensions were otherwise identical. The main reason Olympic originally had a lower GRT was because of her open promenade deck. After this area was enclosed her tonnage increased beyond that of Titanic. Britannic was the same length but was built 2 feet wider than her sisters to incorporate a double hull and as a result had the greatest internal volume of the three and therefore the greatest tonnage.

Aquitania was 18 feet longer than the Olympic sisters and 2 feet longer than Berengaria, but the latter had an appreciably larger GRT than the British built ships of the time. Each of the three Imperator class was progressively larger, so that the final ship, which became White Star’s Majestic was 56,551 GRT, over 10,000 GRT greater than Olympic.
 

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It's also interesting that the photographer has angled his camera to make it look as though Imperator was on an even keel (which I don't believe she ever was during that first season). I have read that her problems with stability were extreme during that first year; earning her the nickname 'Limperator'. I don't believe that her stability issues were fully corrected until she became Berengaria for Cunard after the war.
 

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