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THE TURMOIL OF WAR


Contents
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 The turmoil of war
  • 3 Financial Upheaval
    • 3.1 Changing of the Guard at International Mercantile Marine
    • 3.2 Harland & Wolf on the brink of financial collapse
  • 4 World War 1
    • 4.1 IMM Crisis
    • 4.2 J. P. Morgan & Co
    • 4.3 Red Star
    • 4.4 Olympic
      • 4.4.1 HMS Audacious
      • 4.4.2 Military Service
    • 4.5 The rest of the White Star fleet
  • 5 Restoring post-war service
    • 5.1 Refits
    • 5.2 HAPAG's Imperator Class
    • 5.3 The United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation
    • 5.4 Majestic
    • 5.5 Cunard Competition
    • 5.6 Homeric
    • 5.7 Other war-loss replacements
  • 6 Bibliography
  • 7 Photographs
Introduction[edit]

To the general public Titanic is possibly the most famous passenger liner ever built; largely because of the considerable loss of life that arose when she sank on her maiden voyage and the resultant media hype; then and ever since. If that tragedy had not happened, she would only have had fleeting fame and her name would be generally unknown today. Interestingly there have been other peacetime passenger ship disasters with greater loss of life that are unknown to the general public. The centenary of the tragedy has generated considerable interest in the Titanic story. Perhaps it is inevitable that there has also been a great deal of romance and fantasy surrounding the disaster. The aim of these Articles is to provide a factual account of why she was built; what she was; what happened on her maiden voyage, the aftermath of the tragedy and what happened to her two sister ships. This Part covers World War 1 and the return to peacetime operations. Part 8 continues the history through to the final collapse of White Star.

For practical and technical reasons, the Articles are presented in the following parts: -

  • Part 1. The establishment of White Star and Harland & Wolff
  • Part 2. International Mercantile Marine Company
  • Part 3. Olympic
  • Part 4. Titanic
  • Part 5. The immediate aftermath of the Titanic disaster
  • Part 6. Britannic
  • Part 7: The turmoil of war
  • Part 8. The lingering demise of White Star

Definitions

  1. In these Articles the term Gross Registered Tonnage - usually abbreviated to GRT, or merely tons - is used to define the size of a ship. This term had no connection with weight. It was a measurement based upon a survey of the total internal watertight volume of a vessel, with 1 gross registered ton being equal to 100 cubic feet. The calculation was complex and subject to manipulation, with increases sometimes being engineered for prestige reasons and (more frequently) decreases being made to reduce harbour dues, pilotage charges, etc.
  2. White Star: For the greater part of the existence of the Line, White Star was merely the trading name of Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. To avoid confusion White Star is used in all respects in this Article.

The turmoil of war[edit]

Financial Upheaval[edit]

Changing of the Guard at International Mercantile Marine[edit]

In the opening years of the 20th Century (as explained in Part 1) Clement Griscom persuaded the leading American financier, J Pierpont Morgan to back the attempted creation of a North Atlantic migrant shipping monopoly - International Mercantile Marine. William Pirrie of Harland & Wolff became the main negotiator, bringing in White Star and other smaller companies. It was always realised that the State owned French line would remain independent, but Griscom's concept was doomed by the spirited resistance of Cunard and the cautious response of the German champions, Hamburg America and North German Lloyd, obliged IMM to settle for a profit sharing agreement with the two German companies. H&W bought 51% of Holland America and subsequently sold half its shareholding to IMM and the balance to the two German lines.

IMM was one of the few failures of Morgan's spectacular financial career. The cost of establishing the conglomerate greatly exceeded Griscom's original estimates, but Morgan was unwilling to provide additional equity investment. IMM raised the necessary additional funds through a very large and very unsuccessful loan stock issue, with the bulk of the stock being left in the hands of the promoters, one of which was H&W.

Griscom was IMM's initial President, but was soon replaced by Bruce Ismay who struggled with the task of turning IMM into a profitable operation. Servicing IMM's loan commitments absorbed most of its free cash flow, with little left over for new ship construction and the group's fleet became progressively outclassed as new tonnage was introduced by rival shipowners. The Olympic class was essential to maintain White Star's pretensions as a leading transatlantic operator. To finance them Ismay was obliged to issue additional loan stock, adding to the IMM debt burden.

After Olympic had been successfully introduced into service and with Titanic approaching completion, Ismay confirmed the order for Britannic. In January 1912, thinking that the renaissance of White Star had been firmly established, Ismay announced his intention to retire in June 1913 and arranged that his close associate Harold Sanderson would succeed him at IMM and White Star.

The loss of Titanic on her maiden voyage was a financial disaster to cash-strapped White Star as well as a human disaster to those on board. Like many shipping companies, White Star only insured part of the value of its ships and carried the remainder of the risk itself.

Ismay offered to stay on and try to resolve IMM's new financial crises, but Morgan ruled that the change of leadership should continue as planned.

WST-7-01.jpg

Photo 1: John Pierpont Morgan

On 31st March 1913, John Pierpont Morgan died while staying in the Grand Hotel, Rome. At the time of his death he had an estate worth $80 million (about $1.9 billion in 2012). Compared to his peers of the time, especially Rockefeller, it was not a very large estate. In fact, it was Rockefeller's comment at the time, "And to think he wasn't even a rich man." Yet, JP Morgan's power did not lie in the millions he had; it lay in the billions he controlled. In addition to his bank, he controlled over 20 railroads, American Telephone & Telegraph, Federal Steel Co, General Electric and International Harvester. One of his very few failures was International Mercantile Marine.

WST-7-02.jpg

Photo 2: John Pierpont Morgan Jnr

Morgan's son John Pierpont Morgan took control of the bank and other Morgan interests. He had no emotional feelings towards IMM and immediately decreed that it was entirely responsible for its own survival. No financial support could be expected from Morgan's bank.

Harland & Wolf on the brink of financial collapse[edit]

As explained in Part 1, there was a contractual commitment that all White Star ships would be built by Harland & Wolff on cost plus fixed profit contracts. White Star was therefore directly concerned by H&W's affairs. The majority of H&W's construction material and equipment came from mainland Britain at additional transportation cost. H&W's Lord Pirrie successfully overcame this by persuading other shipowners to join his Commission Club and place similar cost-plus contracts with H&W.

Unfortunately cost-plus contracts do not provide any incentive for the shipyard management to save cost. Profitability is however, dependent upon uninterrupted production and H&W was usually successful in avoiding demarcation disputes between the members of the 20 trade unions representing its work force. The cost of this harmony was over manning and high labour costs in addition to the higher material costs facing H&W. As a result, by the early years of the 20th Century the company almost invariably lost money on fixed price contracts, obtained in open competition with other yards. Conversely White Star and the other Club members paid progressively more than the market price for their ships to be built by H&W.

Although the Sheffield forgemasters John Brown were brought in as 52% shareholders, Pirrie operated H&W as his personal fiefdom, surrounded by managers who would unquestioningly obey his orders. In 1907 the H&W administrative headquarters were transferred to London and the day-to-day management of the Company was devolved to a committee of managing directors whose technical skill and devotion Pirrie could rely upon. They were only given the barest minimum of financial and contractual information. The central financial records of the business were under Pirrie's personal control and the only other men allowed access to them were the chief accountant and the company secretary.

A most important new H&W customer was the rapidly expanding Royal Mail Group of Owen Cosby Philipps. The first H&W built Royal Mail ship was Amazon delivered in 1907. By 1910 Philipps and Pirrie had become very close business confidants.

WST-7-03.jpg

Photo 3: Amazon - Royal Mail's first liner to be built by Harland & Wolff

The successful delivery of Olympic in 1909 enabled H&W to temporarily pay off its overdrafts and reduce its other borrowings. White Star were delighted with their new ship and placed an order with H&W for a third sister, Britannic, with work to commence after the delivery of Titanic.

Improved world trading conditions produced more Club orders than H&W could handle and an agreement was made with the Tyneside shipbuilder Hawthorn Leslie to take some of the excess. These developments alerted other shipbuilders to H&W's need for additional capacity at a time when the second generation owners of a number of medium sized shipyards were seeking to leave the industry. Both Caird & Co of Greenock and the London & Glasgow Engineering & Iron Shipbuilding Co at Govan offered their businesses to Pirrie, who decided to take over London & Glasgow, because of its larger capacity and its highly regarded Lancefield Engine Works across the river in Finnieston. Unfortunately H&W did not have sufficient funds to support its Belfast opperations, let alone additional Clydeside facilities.

A further expensive investment was the result of Pirrie's enthusiasm for the diesel engine. H & W entered into an exclusive UK partnership with Burmeister & Wain to develop and manufacture marine diesel engines. During the War, Pirrie bought-out B&W's share of enterprise.

These acquisitions were merely the start of Pirrie's insatiable desire to acquire shipbuilding and engineering assets, which is explained in detail in Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Kylsant Empire Part 3. Suffice to say that Pirrie added 5 more shipyards, an additional engineering works and the giant Colville steelmaking organisation, in addition to building the largest steel foundry in the UK, establishing a shiprepair facility in the London docks, an aircraft building factory in Belfast and creating an airfield at Aldergrove! Pirrie was also constantly expanding and upgrading his empire's production capabilities.

Huge capital resources were needed to finance this expansion and H&W's bankers became extremely nervous about the company's overtrading. To placate the banks, Pirrie again sought to raise additional equity capital and astonishingly persuaded Sir Owen Philipps to invest from his Royal Mail group thereby "cementing the building agreement". This investment had the advantage of wresting voting control from John Brown and passing it to Pirrie and Philipps. John Brown did not object on the understanding that this "would not interfere with their working relationship." Pirrie's coup in persuading Philipps to bring his Royal Mail group companies as shareholders provided H&W with a post-war lifeline.

Royal Mail group was financially weak during most of the years it was controlled by Philipps. By acquiring control of H&W, Philipps greatly increased the fragility of Royal Mail. Despite this, Philipps was content to allow Pirrie to continue to operate H&W as an independent entity, even though there were to be repeated requirements for Royal Mail to increase its investment in H&W to keep it solvent.

World War 1[edit]

IMM Crisis[edit]

In September of 1914 the directors of IMM announced that because of the disruptions and uncertainties caused by the outbreak of war they were deferring the October interest payment on its 4½% bonds. The bond indenture provided that a six month postponement did not constitute default. But by the spring of 1915, with $3.3 million in interest still owed, the Combine was declared to be in technical bankruptcy and in April Philip A S Franklin, vice president of the IMM in America and a director of the Atlantic Transport Co was appointed as administrator.

WST-7-04.jpg

Photo 4: Philip Albright Small Franklin

At that time the market value of IMM shares had fallen to $26.5 million, whereas the nominal value was $172 million. Thanks to Franklin's efforts IMM's earnings began to recover because of wartime demands for shipping and a year later the market value of IMM had risen to $165 million. Franklin was appointed president of the IMM, in recognition of his achievements.

The return of IMM to near par value enabled H&W to liquidate its £1 million investment and bolster its own precarious cash position. In doing so however, it lost its leverage to secure future IMM shipbuilding orders.

J. P. Morgan & Co[edit]

Morgan Jnr. played a prominent part in financing the Allies during the war. From 1915 until sometime after the United States entered the war, his firm was the official purchasing agent for the British government, buying cotton, steel, chemicals and food, receiving a 1% commission on all purchases. Morgan organized a syndicate of banks and floated a loan of $500,000,000 for the Allies.

These activities incensed the anti-British William Randolph Hearst and created a storm of propaganda in his newspapers. As a result at the beginning of World War I the Wilson administration were very suspicious of J. P. Morgan & Co.'s enthusiastic role as British agent for purchasing and banking. When the United States entered the war however, this gave way to close collaboration.

Red Star[edit]

The rapid advance of the German Army through Belgium in August 1914 and the threat to Antwerp resulted in the immediate transfer of Red Star's activities to Liverpool. All bar two ships in the Red Star fleet were re-registered under the British Flag in the name of the International Navigation Co Ltd. Most were subsequently operated by White Star.

WST-7-05.jpg

Photo 5: Red Star's Lapland

Olympic[edit]

Following the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Olympic initially remained in commercial service under Captain Herbert James Haddock. As a wartime measure, she was painted in a grey colour scheme, portholes were blocked, and lights on deck were turned off to make the ship less visible. The schedule was altered to terminate at Liverpool rather than Southampton, and this was later altered again to Glasgow.

The first few westbound wartime voyages were packed with Americans trapped in Europe and keen to return home, but the eastbound journeys carried few passengers. By mid-October, bookings had fallen sharply as the threat from German U-boats became increasingly serious and White Star Line decided to withdraw Olympic from commercial service.

HMS Audacious[edit]

On 21 October 1914, Olympic left New York for Glasgow, on her last commercial voyage of the war, carrying only 153 passengers. On 27 October, near Lough Swilly off the north coast of Ireland, she received distress signals from the battleship HMS Audacious which had struck a mine off Tory Island and was taking on water.

WST-7-06.jpg

Photo 6: HMS Audacious

Olympic took off 250 of the crew of Audacious crew by 14:00; then the destroyer HMS Fury managed to attach a tow cable between Audacious and Olympic and they headed west for Lough Swilly. The battleship was unmanageable however and when her quarterdeck was awash it was decided to evacuate the remaining crew members to Olympic and the cruiser HMS Liverpool. At 20:55 there was an explosion aboard the Audacious and she sank.

WST-7-07.jpg

Photo 7: HMS Audacious crew evacuation

Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, Commander of the Home Fleet, was anxious to suppress the news of the sinking of Audacious, for fear of the demoralising effect it could have on the British public. Olympic was held in custody at Lough Swilly, no communications were permitted and passengers were not allowed to leave the ship. Finally, on 2 November, Olympic was given permission to go to Belfast, where the passengers disembarked.

Military Service[edit]

Olympic was laid up in Belfast until May 1815 when she was requisitioned as a troopship. She was stripped of her peacetime furniture and fittings, armed with 12-pounders and 4.7-inch guns, and converted to transport up to 6,000 troops. Olympic was used until early 1916 to transport troops to the Mediterranean for the Gallipoli campaign, before being chartered by the Canadian Government to transport troops from Halifax to Britain. At this time she was painted in dazzle camouflage scheme and 6-inch guns were added to her armament.

WST-7-8.jpg

Photo 8: Olympic in WW1 dazzle camouflage

After the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Olympic also transported thousands of U.S. troops to Britain and France. In the early hours of 12 May 1918, while en route for France with US troops, Olympic sighted a surfaced U-boat about 1,600 ft ahead. Her gunners opened fire and she turned to ram the submarine, which immediately dived and began to turn onto a parallel course. Almost immediately afterwards Olympic struck the submarine just aft of her conning tower and Olympic's port propeller sliced through U-103's pressure hull. The crew of U-103 blew her ballast tanks to surface, before scuttling and abandoned the submarine. This is the only known incident in World War I in which a merchant vessel sank an enemy warship. On arrival at Southampton Olympic was found to have several hull plates dented, but not holed and her prow was twisted to one side.

WST-7-09.jpg

Photo 9: Olympic in New York while serving as a troopship

After the Armistice Olympic, was engaged to return American and Canadian troops to their homeland. During her war service, Olympic is reported to have carried over 200,000 troops and other personnel, burning 347,000 tons of coal and travelling about 184,000 miles.

The rest of the White Star fleet[edit]

At the outbreak of war, Teutonic, Oceanic, Cedric and Celtic were immediately requisitioned by the Admiralty as Armed merchant cruisers. Oceanic was wrecked on the Shetlands on 8 September 1914 when under the command of a Royal Naval officer. Teutonic was bought by the Admiralty in August 1915, while the other two liners were decommissioned as warships in December 1915.

The remaining White Star ships continued to operate a modified commercial service, although they were from time-to-time employed as troopships. Southampton became a military port and all White Star transatlantic operations were based in Liverpool. During the war White Star was allocated the ownership or management of a number of ships, some of which were well outside its normal fleet.

The British Government initially avoided wartime involvement in merchant shipping operations. Mercantile confidence was maintained predominately by the War Risk Insurance Scheme: whereby the general tax-payer met eighty per cent of the cost of any ship and cargo lost. It was only at the end of 1916, with the dynamic David Lloyd-George now Prime Minister, that a Ministry of Shipping was formed; with a prominent ship-owner, Sir Joseph Maclay, as Controller. Within five months it took executive command of the mercantile industry. From March 1917 the British Liner Requisition Scheme came into operation, taking over the direction of all liners still in private hands

Britannic was White Star's greatest wartime loss (See Part 6). Other fleet losses were as follows: -

WHITE STAR WAR LOSSES
YearNameBuiltGRTSpeedEventCasualties
1914Oceanic189917,27419.5Wrecked off Foula Is as AMC0
1915Arabic190315,81016Torpedoed off Old Head of Kinsale4
1916Cymric189813,09814.5Torpedoed off Fastnet44
1916Britannic191548,15821Mined in Zea Channel30
1917Afric189911,98413.5Torpedoed off Eddystone34
1917Delphic18978,27312Torpedoed 135 miles off Bishops Rock16
1917Laurentic190914,89217Mined off Lough Swilley354
1917Southland190011,89915Torpedoed 140 miles NW of Tory Is4
1918Justicia191732,23418Torpedoed off Lough Swilley16
WST-7-10.jpg Photo 10: Justicia. This ship was launched in July 1914 as Statendam for Holland America Line. She was requisitioned and then purchased by the UK Government and eventually completed as a troopship in April 1917. It had been intended to place the ship under Cunard management (hence the Cunard style name) but they had a crew shortage. White Star however had the crew of Britannic available. Justicia was sunk while leaving the North Channel bound for New York on 20 July 1918 after 18 hours of attacks during which she was torpedoed 6 times and one of the attacking U-Boats was sunk.

At the end of the war White Star owned the following passenger ships: -

WHITE STAR ATLANTIC PASSENGER FLEET - 11 NOVEMBER 1918
NameBuiltGRTSpeed
Olympic191146,43921
Adriatic190724,54116
Baltic190423,97616
Cedric190321,03516
Celtic190121,03516
Megantic190914,87516
Cretic190213,50715
Canopic190012,09716
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND PASSENGER FLEET - 11 NOVEMBER 1918
NameBuiltGRTSpeed
Ceramic191318,49515.5
Zealandic19118,09016
Baltic190423,97613
Ionic190312,35214
Corinthic190212,36714
Suevic190112,53113.5
Runic190012,48213.5
Canopic190012,09713.5
Persic189911,97313.5
Medic189911,98513.5

In addition a number of White Star cargo ships survived the war. The most unusual of these was the Belgic, which had been under construction as Red Star's flagship Belgenland, but was hurriedly completed as a cargo ship. In 1918 she was converted to carry 3,000 troops.

WST-7-11.jpg Photo 11: Belgic was intended to be Red Star's flagship Belgenland. She was completed in 1917 as a giant cargo ship and then converted into a troopship. She was returned to Red Star after the war.

In 1919 White Star acquired two wartime Standard Type G cargo liners; Gallic and Bardic. In 1925 Bardic was transferred to Aberdeen Line and was replaced by a third Type G ship, Delphic, which was transferred from Atlantic Transport Line.

WST-7-12.jpg Photo 12: Wartime standard cargo ship Bardic; 8,010 tons, twin screw expansion steam engines, 5,500 ihp, 12.5 knots Restoring post-war service[edit] Refits[edit]

With the end of hostilities, there was a need to transport large numbers of troops back to their homelands. Gradually however the liners were released from military duties. All needed extensive refits before they could resume civilian services, but because of its contractual obligations, White Star often had to join a queue until H&W could carry out the work. In August 1919 Olympic returned to Belfast. Her interior was modernised and her boilers were converted to burn oil rather than coal. Oil was cheaper than coal; it lowered the refuelling time from days to hours and allowed the engine room personnel to be reduced from 350 to 60 people.

Olympic emerged from her refit in with an increased tonnage of 46,439. Olympic's passenger accommodation was now 2,400, made up of 750 First; 500 Second and 1,150 Third Class passengers.

WST-7-13.jpg Photo 13: Olympic returns to New York after her post-war refit and conversion to oil fuel

On 21 July 1920 she returned to White Star's Southampton - Cherbourg - New York passenger service in partnership with Adriatic. The shortage of tonnage led to high passenger loadings and on one voyage that year Olympic carried 2,249 passengers. During 1921 Olympic transported a record 38,000 transatlantic passengers, but that proved to be the peak year of her career. White Star desperately needed new tonnage, but IMM's parlous financial condition drove it to acquire former German liners which had been ceded to Britain as war reparations.

HAPAG's Imperator Class[edit]

As explained in Part 5 Hamburg America initiated a project to build three liners to totally eclipse White Star's Olympic Class. All three HAPAG giants were taken as war reparations, with Imperator and the incomplete Bismarck being awarded to Britain and Vaterland to the United States. Cunard and White Star agreed to jointly buy both ships allocated to Britain, with Imperator operated by Cunard as Berengaria and Bismarck completed for White Star as Majestic.

Vaterland had been seized by the US Government and became the troopship USS Leviathan when America entered the war. She was managed by IMM's American Line. It was provisionally agreed that Leviathan would be sold to America Line, but this logical plan was halted when William Randolph Hearst again launched a totally spurious press campaign, alleging this time that the US Government was selling its birthright to Britain and he obtained a blocking injunction. Leviathan was eventually released to the newly formed United States Line.

The United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation[edit]

The US Government had established the Corporation to revitalise the US maritime industry, which was utilised to implement an emergency merchant shipbuilding programme following the USA's entry into World War 1. New shipyards were commissioned as part of the programme. This became very controversial as the armistice took effect before the yards, including Hog Island which was by far the largest and most publicised, reached full production. Gearing up for wartime production produced a glut of ships and a market problem with the arrival of peace.

WST-7-14.jpg Photo 14: The utilitarian "Hog Island" liner American Banker

USA developed a brief nationalistic passion for shipping, but the Woodrow Wilson Administration failed to provide a rational basis to support these ambitions. Morgan wisely decided to dispose of all of IMM's non US shipping companies and there was British interest in buying White Star, but Wilson vetoed this "in the National interest." As a result White Star was condemned to run on a shoe string and was obliged to depend upon German war reparation vessels and transfers within the IMM companies to replace its war losses.

Majestic[edit]

Construction of Bismarck resumed after she was ceded to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. On 5 October 1920, the as-yet uncompleted ship was gutted by fire and badly damaged. At the time of the fire substantial progress had been made on the vessel and sabotage by shipyard workers was suspected. A number of other German liners that were due to be handed over were also damaged by fire.

Work resumed under the supervision of H&W, which resulted in a certain amount of friction with the German workers. To avoid further problems the name change to Majestic only took place after final trials and acceptance in Liverpool on 12 April 1922.

WST-7-15.jpg Photo 15: Bismarck preparing for sea

Majestic was by far the largest and fastest liner ever owned by White Star; making some of her best crossings at an average speed in excess of 24 knots. She was not without her structural problems however, for in the winter of 1924 a 100 foot crack developed along one side, amidships. After permanent repairs and strengthening along B-deck she returned to service in April 1925, but her hull remained suspect thereafter.

WST-7-16.jpg Photo 16: Majestic in New York Cunard Competition[edit]

Two of Cunard's pre-war Mail ships, Mauretania and Aquitania, were refitted, and returned to the North Atlantic service in 1921. Imperator, refitted as Berengaria followed a year later, enabling Cunard to offer a weekly transatlantic service in fast, luxurious, giant, oil burning ships. In a further blow to White Star, Cunard moved its British terminal from Liverpool to Southampton, placing it in direct competition with White Star's skeleton service.

WST-7-17.jpg Photo 17: Cunard's Aquitania (1914) 45,647 GRT; quadruple screw, steam turbines, 62,000 shp, 23 knots service speed; 618 First, 604 Second and 1,998 Third Class Passengers

White Star could only offer the refitted Olympic and the entirely outclassed Adriatic.

WST-7-18.jpg Photo 18: White Star's Adriatic was barely half the size of the Cunard Mail Ships and only capable of two thirds their service speed. Built 1907; twin screw, quadruple expansion steam engines,15,000 ihp, 16 knots service speed; 425 First, 450 Second and 2,000 Third Class Passenger

White Star was patiently awaiting the completion of Bismarck, but it urgently required a third Atlantic Mail ship. In 1919 it publicised it was building a 33,600 ton liner at H&W, but this order had already been cancelled during the war and White Star did not have the funds to restart this project. The company's only option was to buy the incomplete Norddeutscher Lloyd intermediate liner Columbus, which had been ceded to Britain

Homeric[edit] WST-7-19.jpg Photo 19: Columbus

Columbus was launched on 17 December 1913, but work on the new liner was halted entirely in August 1914 and the ship was moved from her fitting out berth and laid up in Danzig. In 1920 construction was resumed on the by now, rusting and neglected liner. H&W supervised completion, but work was slow, plagued by material shortages and a workforce that had no ambition to finish the ship. The time needed to complete the conversion was simply too great during a time when White Star was short of ships.

WST-7-20.jpg Photo 20: Homeric

Columbus was eventually delivered in 1922 and renamed Homeric. She proved to be a comfortable ship and very steady in rough seas, but too slow for the mail service. In the winter of 1923 she was sent to H&W for a refit during which her engines were improved and her boilers converted to oil firing. Homeric's service speed was increased to 19.5 knots, which was still below Atlantic Mail levels and continued to present White Star with considerable scheduling difficulties

WST-7-21.jpg Photo 21: Homeric Other war-loss replacements[edit] WST-7-22.jpg Photo 22: Vedic being greeted by a Salvation Army band. For much of her life she was chartered by the Salvation Army to carry emigrants to Australia.

Vedic was planned in 1913 by IMM as an emigrant carrier. She was the first H&W ship to be fitted with double-reduction geared steam turbines. Vedic entered service with White Star as a troopship in 1918 before being converted to her intended role in 1920. Placed on White Star's Canadian emigrant service; firstly from Liverpool, then in 1922 from Bremen. She was refitted in 1925 and transferred to the Australian emigrant service.

WST-7-23.jpg Photo 23: Arabic

Arabic was built as Berlin for Norddeutscher Lloyd and delivered in 1909. She was bought from the Shipping Controller in 1920 and converted for White Star use by Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. In September 1921 Arabic made one crossing from Southampton to New York before replacing Canopic on the New York - Mediterranean service.

WST-7-24.jpg Photo 24: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh was an IMM ship chartered by White Star for their Liverpool - Philadelphia - Boston service before being switched to their new service from Germany to New York. She was transferred to Red Star in 1925.

WST-7-25.jpg Photo 25: Doric

Doric was the only new liner in the IMM post-war rebuilding programme that was allocated to White Star. She was a sister of Pittsburgh and Dominion's Regina. Doric became the White Star Liverpool - Canada service workhorse.

WST-7-26.jpg Photo 26: Haverford

Haverford (1901) was chartered from American Line from March 1921 until May 1922. She was employed on the Liverpool - Philadelphia service then on the new Hamburg - New York route.

WST-7-27.jpg Photo 27: Manitou

Poland (ex Manitou). The Red Star liner Poland (1898) undertook three round voyages on the White Star Bremen - Canada service in 1922 before being laid up and being sold for scrap in 1925

White Star regarded many of the ships as emergency stop gap replacements to eneable it to resume its pre-war schedules. Part 8 relates why the old order was forced to change.

Bibliography[edit]

A complete Bibliography for this Article is given at the end of Part 8 .

Photographs[edit]

Some of the photographs used to illustrate this article are from the Ships Nostalgia Galleries, which are available for use in the Directory. Many others are from Wikimedia Commons and the Danish website liners.dk and are in the public domain. The individual photographs used in Part 7 have been provided as follows: -

Frontispiece: liners.dk

  1. Wikimedia Commons
  2. Wikimedia Commons
  3. Ships Nostalgia - linerrich
  4. Vanishedamericana.com
  5. Ships Nostalgia - linerrich
  6. Wikimedia Commons
  7. Wikimedia Commons - Amateur photograph by Olympic passengers Mabel and Edith Smith of Derby
  8. Wikimedia Commons
  9. Ships Nostalgia - cunard61
  10. Maritime Quest
  11. 21stbattalion.ca
  12. Ships Nostalgia - threebs
  13. Ships Nostalgia - cunard61
  14. Ships Nostalgia - linerrich
  15. liners.dk
  16. Ships Nostalgia - threebs
  17. Ships Nostalgia - cunard61
  18. Ships Nostalgia - stein
  19. Wikimedia Commons
  20. liners.dk
  21. Ships Nostalgia - linerrich
  22. Australian Southern Territory Heritage Centre
  23. Ships Nostalgia - threebs
  24. Ships Nostalgia - linerrich
  25. Ships Nostalgia - awatean
  26. Ships Nostalgia - linerrich
  27. titanicinquiry.org

Article written and compiled by Fred Henderson

 
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