Sunday, February 25, 2007

The three White Star sisters.....The shipping dream of J. Bruce Ismay..That showed such promise..and left disaster in it's wake.

RMS Titanic

RMS Olympic

RMS Britannic ...As she was to look. Note the massive lifeboat davits

Hospital ship Britannic

The ship we usually hear of so often is the Titanic. In the movie Titanic it was made to look like she was the only thing like her. That is not at all true. The Titanic was the second of a trio of Ocean going greyhounds that were designed to corner the market on luxury, comfort, and safety. Amazingly of the three ships only one ever made it to New York Harbor.

They were basically all pretty much identical. There were a few differences, but not major ones. The ship that was the most different of the three was the Britannic. Her looks were altered due to design changes resulting from the Titanic disaster. But she was quite similar to her older and slightly smaller sisters.

The idea of this trio was to have a ship always available in New York, England, and at sea..Establishing a weekly express train like service that would compete with the Cunard sisters Mauritania and Lusitania.

It was the dream of J. Bruce Ismay. Head of the White Star Line...

It sadly became a nightmare. The Olympic made it to New York in 1911...She stole the show....She was known as the "Ship beautiful"....Everyone was talking about the Olympic.

J. Bruce Ismay was on board for her "maiden voyage"...He wrote that the Olympic was dream..He also added ideas on improving the next ship, Titanic. The Titanic was to be the "perfected Olympic".

The next year the Titanic sailed...No one really cared too much...The Titanic was just another Olympic...The press coverage is sparse...The Titanic sank...Now everyone talked about her.

Also they talked about J. Bruce Ismay...Who was saved when so many died. He became a hated symbol of the whole disaster. People referred to him as J. Brute Ismay...

He was planning to retire from his position at the White Star Line...After the disaster it seems the company tries to keep a good distance from Ismay. He retires into seclusion.....

The Olympic was rebuilt and lifeboats were added. In fact it seems that many of the lifeboats added were from the Titanic.

In 1915 the redesigned and rebuilt Britannic was ready to set sail...Her name had been changed. It was to be called Gigantic. But after the Titanic disaster it did not seem to be a good idea. So a much more mainstream name was used.

All of these ships were the largest in the world when they were built. All of their names expressed their great size..Olympic, Titanic and Gigantic. Sadly the legacy of these ships is not one of safety and luxury...It was one of disaster, horror, arrogance.

The Britannic was fitting out when World War One started...She was never finished on the inside with all the luxury that the previous two ships had been. For the Britannic was slated to serve as a hospital ship for the Allies. She sailed for a year and then struck a mine and sank.

By the end of 1918, the White Star Line has only one of the 3 sisters. By this time the Olympic was a dirty, messy vessel. Having served as troop ship for 2 plus years.
She had to be totally renovated. During this time she was refitted to use oil as a fuel, rather than the dirty coal used before.

By 1921 the Olympic was a new ship practically. But was already 10 years old. She had no suitable running mates as both her sisters were rusting under the water...

She survived till 1935...Somewhat of a mismatch for all the other ships of her line. She was finally scraped by 1937....Just as J. Bruce Ismay, devastated, destroyed and dishonored died.....