Monday, June 4, 2007

Titanic's Sister Ship 'Olympic'

Well we all know the fate of the Titanic, but what became of her sister ships, the Olympic, and Britannic?
We often zone out the Titanic like she was the only glorious ship of the day, but she had two rival sisters. The Titanic was out of a class of liners called the Olympic class, there were three ships in this class. So we'll go down the line in the order that they were built, the purpose that they served, and the fate that they suffered.

1. Though the Titanic and Olympic were built close to the same time, the Olympic was started a few months earlier.
Her keel was laid down December 1907, in shipyard No. 400. Her gross tonnage was 45,342 tons of riveted steel. She was driven by three propellers, and could make 21 knots. H&W built this ship, and she was launched October 20, 1910. She could carry 735 in first class, 674 in second, and 1,026 in third class.
She was the first of the three to cross the Atlantic Ocean, she made the first four trips uneventful, but alas on the fifth crossing she was rammed by the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke. The Olympic stayed afloat and no one was injured, and it seemed to prove the fact that these new class of ships were unsinkable. It took workers two weeks to just patch her so she could return to Belfast to have repairs done, and after that it took six weeks to get her on the seas again.
In February of 1912 she had to return to H&W for repairs, after dropping a propeller blade!
Disasters have a way of getting men's attention to make them see the errors of previous ways. Thus was the case with the Titanic, after the disaster the Olympic again returned to the place of her berth to be 'updated.' The most notable thing was, she had more lifeboats added, as was the law now, but she also had her bulkheads extend all the way up to boat-deck, and she was given another layer of steel all the way around.
World War 1 broke out and the Olympic sailed on as normal, but as the war progressed less and less passengers began crossing the Atlantic fearing that the Olympic would be easy game. But on her return journey she ran across a British Battleship mortally wounded after hitting a mine, the Olympic took off all the crew and attempted to tow the warship into safe waters, but the magazine of the Battleship exploded, and she went to her watery grave.
After this transaction she was intended to be laid up until the war ended, but the Government required her services, as a fast troop transport. She was stripped of all her luxurious fittings, and had the famous 'dazzle paint' job.
She could carry up to 7,000 troops at one time.
The Olympic served proudly through the whole war, rescuing ships crews in distress, and she topped it all by being the attacker, instead of being on the run. During her 22nd troop carrying run the crew spotted a German submarine, the Captain ordered the ship to be turned around in order to ram the submarine, by the time the German crew knew what was happening it was to late, the Olympic tore a whole through the hull of the sub, some of the crew were rescued by a destroyer that was at hand.
The hard earned nick-name "old reliable" was soon put in place by the Captain, crew, and all who sailed on her.
In 1918 she again returned to Belfast too be fitted out to carry passengers again. she was converted to run on oil instead of coal, and this meant that she would need 300 less crew, she would be more efficient this way too. After 2.5 million to the White Star Line she returned to passenger traffic, and was loved, admired, and adored by all.
By 1933 sea travel diminished tremendously, due to several different reasons. The White Star Line, and the Cunard merged together in the early 1930's and began to sell off some of their ships, the Olympic's future seemed doubtful, after all she was 25 years old at this time.
By 1935 her time was up. They tried to sell her, but nobody wanted her, so she was stripped of her fittings, and superstructure, and the rest was sold for scrap.
I guess that's what happens to everything sooner or later, it is just kind of sad to me. She was built at the height of shipping engineering, she was a loved ship by everyone, she served well, and worked hard, and then was sold for scrap! She was built first out of the class, and survived the longest out of the Olympic class. There is just something eerie about that picture above to me.
Since we all know what happened to the Titanic, I'll be posting something on the sister ship Britannic. She as well had an interesting, and short life.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the picture of the Olympic in camouflage makes me think of a weird dream I had once about a striped sky.

Poor Olympic. Society seems to do that to its honored senior citizens. They get old and the younger generation just tosses them aside as useless. :-(

Daniel said...

Oh how I wish that they would have kept the Olympic, as at least a museum!
Seems like that would have been better than scraping her.

Just Theresa said...

That was a cool post, I never knew that the titanic had sister ships. That was a fun read. Thanks

Aunt T

Daniel said...

Well I'm glad I could share something with you that you never knew! I'll be talking about the other sister ship as well sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the Titanic had not sunk she would probably have become a war ship as well and been dressed up in all that dazzle camouflage. But then if the Titanic hadn't sunk, we wouldn't be thinking about it in 2007. So I'm not sure what to think.


Mobunny said...

you're right, we wouldn't be thinking anything about it...........those ships would be lost in history and not thought about........what a terrible reason to be remembered .......because you sank. :(

Anonymous said...

Yeah... Like with my fascination with Father Thomas Byles. But the truth is, he was merely another rural priest who had not done anything particularly outstanding. He lived an interesting life, but nothing that would cause him to become famous. His fame came because he died, and on THAT ship. Writer Joseph Maddalena described Byles as an "obscure person who, due to circumstance, is vaulted into immortality." (Autograph Insights, September 1999)

The same can be said for so many of the other passengers, obviously, whose only real fame is either being rescued from, or dying on the Titanic.

Finally, the same could also be said for the ship, the Titanic herself. She was magnificent, yes, but she was the second ship. The Olympic had gotten most of the glory the year before. The Titanic was simply the next ship. A big deal, yes, but not THAT big a deal. If she had made it to New York on Wednesday, she would only barely been remembered by us today, and certainly not with the kind of fascination we have for her.

But instead, well, she did sink, with over 1500 people with her. And 95 years later, they live on, in a different way, but in a way they never would have if the Titanic had completed her maiden voyage intact.

gmburns said...

And what about the scrapping, where certain things wrere found, not least the decomposed body of a young man.

The supposition is that during the refit and the addition of the double skin, a shipyard apprentice fell (or was knocked unconscious) and somehow became sealed between the original hull and the new hull. His corpse was discovered whilst the Olympic was being scrapped. No-one ever identified the poor youth.

This is probably the saddest part of the whole Olympic tale.


Anonymous said...

Olympic was the only ship in the trilogy that survived! the Brittanic sank after hitting a mine when she was a hospital ship!

Anonymous said...

the titanic and britanic are speashal
but the olempic was a hero ship.they sold it for scrap!!!! that would be a
cool musium but they had to sell it.

Cherie said...

Next month will be the 100th annaversary of the sinking of Titanic, I bought a dvd that showed a Hotel with the Olympic's first class dining room called The White Swan, the walls 12'3'' ceilings, wood carved, quite unbelievable. Very Cool, quite a tribute!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! My husband insisted and was silly enough to place a bet that the Titanic did not have a sister ship especially not one that was launched before her. Proven wrong! Actually I thought that the Germans sank her during one of the world wars, near Ireland, the holds having (suspiciously) having blown outwards in the impact... were the Enlish using a passenger liner to transport munitions? Or am I thinking of the Britannic?

Anonymous said...

Have we ever located Britanic and photographed it in the ocean floor? May not be as romantic as the Titanic, but may be interesting to see it too!

Anonymous said...

The Britannic was found just off the coast in the, I think Adreadic Sea. Sorry about my spelling. You can actually find all kinds of documentaries on youtube. They found the teathers that the mine(s) were attached to, that she hit. A lot of info on youtube, just be carefull not all is factual. Look for real people that were involved with the ships, not just someone who loves her a lot.