Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The Blue Ribbon’ Category

03

Illustration showing when the giant North German Lloyd liner S.S. Europa steamed past Ambrose Light in New York Harbour setting a new record for speedy trans-Atlantic crossings. The Europa cut 18 minutes from the mark of 4 days, 17 hours and 24 minutes set by her sister ship, the Bremen. Read all about SS Europa here

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »

01444_blu_rib11

City of New York was a British built passenger liner of the Inman Line that was designed to be the largest and fastest liner on the Atlantic. When she entered service in August 1888, she was the first twin screw express liner and while she did not achieve the westbound Blue Ribbon, she ultimately held the eastbound record from August 1892 to May 1893 at a speed of 20.11 knots. City of New York, and her sister City of Paris are considered especially beautiful ships and throughout their careers were rivals to the White Star Teutonic and Majestic. In February 1893, the Inman Line was merged into the American Line and by act of Congress, the renamed New York was transferred to the US flag. Beginning in the mid 1890s, New York and Paris were paired with St Louis and St Paul to form one of the premier Atlantic services. New York continued with the American Line until 1920 and was broken for scrap in 1923. She served the US Navy as Harvard during the Spanish American War and Plattsburg in World War I. She is also remembered for nearly colliding with the Titanic.

When International Navigation Company purchased the Inman Line in 1886, the fleet needed new units to revive the line’s fortunes against the Cunard Line and White Star. International Navigation’s Vice President, Clement Griscom immediately sailed to Liverpool with a commitment from the Pennsylvania Railroad to provide $2 million in capital towards the building of a new ship. Shipbuilders in Scotland were experiencing a recession at the time and offered to deliver two ships at $1,850,000 per unit. The Pennsylvania Railroad agreed to underwrite the additional capital and the contracts were signed for the City of New York and her sister, the City of Paris.

When designing the new liners, the lessons of the City of Rome fisaco were recalled. The original design called two ships of 8,500 GRT that were only slightly bigger than City of Rome, but with steel hulls and twin screws. Because powerful single screw liners were prone to shaft failure, they carried extensive rigging for sails. Twin screws rendered this extra rigging unnecessary. Starting in 1866, a few twin screw ships sailed the Atlantic, but the new Inman ships were the first twin screw express liners.

While size was increased by almost 25% to 10,500 GRT in the final design, the plan retained City of Rome’s classic clipper bow and three raked funnels. City of New York even had a figurehead of a female figure carved by sculptor James Allan. To address the vibration problems of most liners of the period, the new Inman liners were given a ratio of length to beam of 8.3 to 1 as compared to the then common ratio of 10 to 1. The hull was more extensively subdivided than previously attempted. The ships were equipped with a full double bottom and 15 transverse bulkheads that reached the saloon deck. They also received a fore-aft bulkhead over their entire length. Each ship had two triple expansion engines, of 9,000 indicated horsepower each that were placed in separate compartments. While the engines for the sisters were identical, the City of Paris produced 1,500 more horsepower than City of New York.

City of New York was designed for 540 first, 200 second and 1,000 steerage passengers. Her quarters were fitted with running hot and cold water, electric ventilation, and electric lighting. Her first class public rooms, such as library and smoking room, were fitted with walnut panels and her dining salon came with a massive dome that provided a natural light to the passengers.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

This was the last of the ships in the “Blue Ribbon Holders” series, not because I don’t know the names of the rest, but because no good pictures or no information could be found – Ted

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

01444_blu_rib10

City of Brussels was a British passenger liner that set the record for the fastest Atlantic eastbound voyage in 1869, becoming the first record breaker driven by a screw. Built by Tod and Macgregor, she served the Inman Line until 1883 when she sank with the loss of ten people after a collision while entering the Mersey.

In 1866, Inman commissioned City of Paris, which was the equal of the best steamers in the Cunard express mail fleet. The next year, responsibility for mail contracts was transferred from the Admirality to the Post Office and opened for bid. Inman was awarded one of the three weekly New York mail services and the fortnightly route to Halifax, Nova Scotia formerly held by Cunard. These contracts enabled Inman to continuing building its own fleet of express liners.

City of Brussels was designed as the partner for City of Paris, and as built carried 200 first class and 600 steerage. She had a ratio of length to beams of 9.5:1, making her almost the first "long boat". Another innovation was her steam steering gear, which was the first installed on a liner after the Great Eastern.

In her first year of service, City of Brussels took the eastbound record with a New York – Queenstown passage of 7 days, 20 hours, 33 minutes (14.74 knots). However, in 1870 she demonstrated the problem with single screw liners of this power when she lost her propeller and returned to Queenstown by sail.

Three years after she was commissioned, City of Brussels returned to the ship yard for an extra deck and other modifications to bring her into line with the innovative ships built for the new White Star Line. She emerged with a revised tonnage of 3750. In 1876, she was re-engined with compounds that reduced her coal consumption from 110 tons per day to 65 tons. At this time she received a second funnel. However, these modifications did not resolve the problem with her shaft. On April 23, 1877 her shaft broke, and she again returned to port under sail after being posted as overdue.

On January 7, 1883, City of Brussels found herself in heavy fog entering the Mersey after dropping off passengers at Queenstown on her return from New York. Her captain ordered the ship to stop until the weather cleared. The Kirby Hall, a new cargo ship being delivered with a minimum crew, proceeded without heeding the danger, and struck City of Brussels, almost cutting her in two. City of Brussels sank within 20 minutes with a loss of ten.

In 1984, the wreck of the City of Brussels was found by Wirral Sub-Aqua Club at 24 metres of water, just off the Mersey Bar. The bell from the wreck was brought up that day, although its whereabouts are presently unknown.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

01444_blu_rib9 

SS Normandie was an ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. She entered service in 1935 as the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat; she is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built.

Her novel design and lavish interiors led many to consider her the greatest of ocean liners. Despite this, she was not a commercial success and relied partly on government subsidy to operate. During service as the flagship of the CGT, she made 139 transatlantic crossings westbound from her home port of Le Havre to New York and one fewer return. Normandie held the Blue Ribbon for the fastest transatlantic crossing at several points during her service career, during which the RMS Queen Mary was her chief rival.

During World War II, Normandie was seized by the United States authorities at New York and renamed USS Lafayette. In 1942, the liner caught fire while being converted to a troopship, capsized and sank at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal. Although salvaged at great expense, restoration was deemed too costly and she was scrapped in October 1946.

The beginnings of Normandie can be traced to the Roaring Twenties when shipping companies began looking to replace veterans such as the RMS Mauretania which had first sailed in 1907. Those earlier ships had been designed around the huge numbers of steerage-class immigrants from Europe to the United States. When the U.S. closed the door on most immigration in the early 1920s, steamship companies ordered vessels built to serve upper-class tourists instead, particularly Americans who traveled to Europe for alcohol-fueled fun during Prohibition. Companies like Cunard and the White Star Line planned to build their own superliners to rival newer ships on the scene; such vessels included the record-breaking Bremen and Europa, both German. The French Line began to plan its own superliner. Adolphe Cassandre’s famed 1935 depiction of the SS Normandie.

The French Line’s flagship was the Ile de France, which had modern Art Deco interiors but conservative hull design. The designers of the new French superliner intended to construct their new ship similar to French Line ships of the past but then they were approached by Vladimir Yourkevitch, a former ship architect for the Imperial Russian Navy, who had emigrated to France before the revolution. His ideas included a slanting clipper-like bow and a bulbous forefoot beneath the waterline, in combination with a slim hull. Yourkevitch’s concepts worked wonderfully in scale models which supported his design’s performance advantages. The French engineers were impressed and asked Yourkevitch to join their project. Reportedly, he also approached the Cunard Line with his ideas but was rejected because the bow was deemed too radical.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

01511_blu_rib8

The SS Rex was an Italian ocean liner launched in 1931. It held the westbound Blue Ribbon between 1933 and 1935. Originally built for the Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI) as the SS Guglielmo Marconi, its state-ordered merger with the Lloyd Sabaudo line meant that the ship sailed for the newly created Italia Flotta Riunite (Italian Line). On May 12, 1938, in a demonstration of U.S. air power, three YB-17 bombers of the U.S. Army Air Corps intercepted the Rex 610 miles at sea in a highly publicized event.

The Rex operated transatlantic crossings from Italy with its running mate, the Conte di Savoia. On 8 September 1944, off Koper, Rex was hit by 123 rockets launched by RAF aircraft, caught fire from stem to stern, rolled onto the port side, and sank in shallow water. The ship was broken up at the site beginning in 1947.


Following North German Lloyd’s successful capture of the Blue Riband with its Bremen and Europa duo of ocean liners, the Rex was intended to be Italy’s effort to do the same. Amid great competition from other steamship companies, the Italian Line carried out a very attractive and enthusiastic publicity campaign for its two largest liners, the Rex and the Conte di Savoia.

Both ships were dubbed "The Riviera afloat". To carry the theme even further, sand was scattered in the outdoor swimming pools, creating a beach-like effect highlighted by multicolored umbrellas. Both ships were decorated in a classical style while the norm of the time was the Art Deco or the so called "Liner Style" that had been premiered onboard the French Line’s Ile de France in 1927. The ship’s exterior design had followed the trend set by Germany’s Bremen and Europa. The Rex sported a long hull with a moderately raked bow, two working funnels, but still featured the old-type overhanging counter stern found on such liners as the Olympic and Aquitania.

The first of this pair to be completed was, appropriately, the largest and fastest. It was christened the Rex in August 1931 in the presence of King Victor Emmanuel III and Queen Elena. In its goal of a record-breaking maiden voyage, its first run was a dismal failure. It sailed from Genoa in September, 1932, after a send off from Premier Benito Mussolini, with a passenger list of international celebrities. Unfortunately, while approaching Gibraltar, serious mechanical difficulties arose. Repairs took three days. Half its passengers requested to leave, preferring to reach Germany’s coasts and take the Europa; arriving in New York they found the Rex already into the dock. Lengthy repairs were required in New York before returning to Europe.

The Atlantic crossing ceased in the spring of 1940 and she was returned to Italian ports for safekeeping, with Rex laid up in Bari. With the surrender of Italy in 1943, the German government seized the Rex and had it towed to Trieste. Ultimately however this effort proved futile as the Rex was destroyed by Royal Air Force Beaufighters on September 8, 1944, in a successful effort to prevent German forces from using the liner to blockade the harbor entrance.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »


RMS Campania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 8 September 1891.

Identical in dimensions and specifications to her sister ship RMS Lucania, Campania was the largest and fastest passenger liner afloat when she entered service in 1893. She crossed the Atlantic in less than six days; and on her second voyage in 1893, she won the prestigious Blue Ribbon, previously held by the Inman Liner SS City of Paris. The following year, Lucania won the Blue Ribbon and kept the title until 1898 – Campania being the marginally slower of the two sisters.Campania and Lucania were partly financed by the British Admiralty. The deal was that Cunard would receive money from the Government in return for constructing vessels to admiralty specifications and also on condition that the vessels go on the naval reserve list to serve as armed merchant cruisers when required by the government. The contracts were awarded to the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, which at the time was one of Britain’s biggest producers of warships. Plans were soon drawn up for a large, twin-screw steamer powered by triple expansion engines, and construction began in 1891, just 43 days after Cunards’ order. 

Campania had the largest triple expansion engines ever fitted to a Cunard ship. These engines were also the largest in the world at the time, and still rank today amongst the largest of the type ever constructed. They represent the limits of development for this kind of technology, which was superseded a few years later by turbine technology. In height, the engines reached from the double-bottom floor of the engine room to the top of the superstructure – almost three stories. Each engine had five cylinders. The two low pressure cylinders on each engine each measured 8´2″ (2.48 m) in diameter, and the engines operated with a stoke of 5′ 9″ (1.75 m). Together, the engines could generate a massive 31,000 ihp (23,000 kW), which produced an average of speed of 22 knots (41 km/h), and a record speed of 23½ knots.Each of the engines was placed in separate watertight engine compartments, in case of a hull breach in that area, for only one engine room would then be flooded, and the ship would still have power to limp home with the adjacent engine. In addition to this Campania had 16 transverse watertight compartments, which meant that she could remain afloat with any two compartments flooded.In their day, Campania and her sister offered the most luxurious first class passenger accommodation available. It was Victorian opulence at its peak – an expression of a highly confident and prosperous age that would never be quite repeated on any other ship. All the first class public rooms, and the en suite staterooms of the upper deck, were generally heavily panelled, in oak, satinwood or mahogany; and thickly carpeted. Velvet curtains hung aside the windows and portholes, while the furniture was richly upholstered in matching design. The predominant style was Art Nouveau, although other styles were also in use, such as “French Renaissance” which was applied to the forward first class entrance hall, whilst the 1st class smoking room was in “Elizabethan style”, comprising heavy oak panels surrounding the first open fireplace ever to be used aboard a passenger liner.

Perhaps the finest room in the vessels was the first class dining saloon measuring 20 by 30 m (66 by 98 ft) with a more than 10 m (33 ft) ceiling. Over the central part of the room was a well that rose through three decks to a skylight. It was done in a style described as “modified Italian style”, with a coffered ceiling in white and gold, supported by ionic pillars. The panelled walls were done in Spanish mahogany, in-laid with ivory and richly carved with pilasters and decorations.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

 

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

The White Star Line’s first four steamships met with great success in the trans-Atlantic market, and the line decided to build two more. The first of these was SS Adriatic, which was built by Harland and Wolff and launched on 17 October 1871; the second was the Celtic.

During the remainder of 1871 and the early part of 1872, Adriatic was fitted out. As a part of this process, a technology new to that era was tried on the ship. Up to this point, ships’ cabins were lit with oil lamps, but the builders decided to try new gas lamps on Adriatic. A machine was added to the engine room that made gas from coal, the first ship in the world to have such a system. However, problems with gas leaks could not be overcome, so the system was removed before the ship went into service.

Adriatic left on its maiden voyage on 11 April 1872, sailing from Liverpool to New York, under Captain Sir Digby Murray, who had captained the maiden voyage of the White Star’s first ship, the Oceanic the year before. Adriatic was similar in configuration to the earlier Oceanic-class ships, with a single funnel and four masts (highest of which was 150 feet), the first three of which were square-rigged. The hull was painted black in typical White Star fashion, and accommodated two classes, First and Steerage. As the largest of the six White Star Line ships, Adriatic received the designation as the Line’s flagship, a title which she held until the larger Britannic came on line in 1874.

A month later, during a subsequent Atlantic crossing to New York, Adriatic maintained an average speed of 14.52 knots and thus won the Blue Ribbon away from the Cunard Line’s Scotia, which had held it since 1866.

Adriatic was involved in several accidents. The first of these occurred in October, 1874, when Adriatic, while sailing parallel with the Cunard Line Parthia, collided with it, with little damage to either ship. In March, 1875, Adriatic rammed the American ship Columbus in New York harbor, and Columbus subsequently sunk. In December of the same year, in St. Georges Channel, Adriatic ran down and sunk the sailing vessel Harvest Queen in an accident that resulted in the loss of all life aboard Harvest Queen. Queen sunk so quickly that the crew of Adriatic could not identify what boat they had hit, and only a records search later showed who the victim had been. On 19 July 1878, Adriatic hit the brig G. A. Pike off of South Wales, killing five crew onboard Pike. Blame was fixed on Adriatic for excessive speed.

In 1884, Adriatic underwent a refit, during which accommodations for 50 Second Class passengers were added. In 1897, she was deemed too old for regular trans-Atlantic service, and was then laid up as a reserve ship for the Line, at Birkenhead. When the second Oceanic entered service in 1899, Adriatic was sold for scrap, arriving in Preston on 12 February.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

SS Britannic was the first of three ships to sail with Britannic name. All were part of the White Star Line, famous for Titanic and other ocean liners.

Britannic was a steamship equipped with sails. It was initially to be called Hellenic, but, just prior to her launch, her name was changed to Britannic. Its twin was Germanic. Britannic sailed for nearly thirty years, primarily carrying immigrant passengers on the highly trafficked Liverpool to New York route. In 1876 it received the Blue Ribbon, both westbound and eastbound, by averaging almost 16 knots (30 km/h).

On 19 May 1887, at about 5:25 in the afternoon the White Star liner, SS Celtic collided with Britannic in thick fog about 350 miles (560 km) east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Celtic, with 870 passengers, had been steaming westbound for New York City, while Britannic, carrying 450 passengers, was on the second day of her eastward journey to Liverpool. The two ships collided at almost right angles, with Celtic burying her prow 10 feet (3 m) in the aft port side of Britannic. Celtic rebounded and hit two more times, before sliding past behind Britannic.

Six steerage passengers were killed outright on board Britannic, and another six were later found to be missing, having been washed overboard. There were no deaths on board Celtic. Both ships were badly damaged, but Britannic more so, having a large hole below her waterline. Fearing that she would founder, the passengers on board began to panic and rushed the lifeboats. Britannic’s captain, pistol in hand, was able to restore some semblance of order, and the boats were filled with women and children, although a few men forced their way on board. After the lifeboats had launched, it was realized that Britannic would be able to stay afloat, and the lifeboats within hailing distance were recalled. The rest made their way over to Celtic. The two ships remained together through the night, and the next morning were joined by the Wilson Line’s Marengo and British Queen of the Inman Line, and the four slowly made their way into New York Harbor.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

The SS Bremen of 1929 was one of a pair of ocean liners built for the Norddeutscher Lloyd line (NDL) for the transatlantic passenger service. The Bremen was notable for her low streamlined profile, and modern approach to her design. Her sister ship was the Europa, later renamed Liberté. The German pair sparked the building of the large and very expensive express liners of the 1930s. She was the fourth ship of NDL to carry the name Bremen.Also known as TS Bremen – for Turbine Ship – the Bremen and her sister were designed to have a cruising speed of 27.5 knots, allowing a crossing time of 5 days. This speed enabled Norddeutsche Lloyd to run regular weekly crossings with two ships, a feat that normally required three. It was claimed that Bremen briefly reached speeds of 32 knots (59 km/h) during her sea trials.Bremen was to have made her maiden transatlantic crossing in the company of her sister Europa, but Europa suffered a serious fire during fitting-out, so Bremen crossed solo, departing Bremerhaven for New York City under the command of Commodore Leopold Ziegenbein on 16 July 1929. She arrived four days, 17 hours, and 42 minutes later, capturing the westbound Blue Ribbon from the Mauretania with an average speed of 27.83 knots (51.54 km/h). This voyage also marked the first time mail was carried by a ship-launched plane for delivery before the ship’s arrival. A Heinkel HE 12, piloted by Jobst von Studnitz, was launched a few hours before arrival in New York with a number of mailbags. On her next voyage Bremen took the eastbound Blue Ribbon with a time of 4 day 14 hours and 30 minutes and an average speed of 27.91 knots (51.69 km/h). This was the first time a liner had broken two records on her first two voyages. The Bremen lost the westbound Blue Ribbon to her sister Europa in 1930, and the eastbound Blue Ribbon to SS Normandie in 1935.

As Nazism gained power in Germany, Bremen and her pier in New York were often the site of Anti-Nazi demonstrations. On 26 July 1935 a group of demonstrators boarded Bremen just before she sailed and tore the Nazi party flag from the jackstaff and tossed it into the Hudson River. On 15 September 1935 Hitler declared the Nazi Flag to be the exclusive national flag of Germany in response to this incident, removing the status of the original flag of the Weimar Republic as co-national flag. The Bremen started her South America cruise on 11 February 1939, and was the first ship of this size to traverse the Panama Canal. On 22 August 1939, she began her last voyage to New York. After ten years of service, she had almost 190 transatlantic voyages completed.

 

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

RMS Umbria and her sister ship RMS Etruria were the last two Cunarders that were fitted with auxiliary sails. RMS Umbria was built by John Elder & Co at Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. The “Umbria” and her sister “Etruria” were record breakers. They were the largest liners then in service and they plied the Liverpool to New York Service. RMS Umbria was launched by the Honourable Mrs Hope on Wednesday 25 June 1884 with wide coverage by the press, the reason being that she was the largest ship afloat, apart from the Great Eastern, but by this time that ship was redundant.The “Umbria” had many distinguishing features that included two enormous funnels which gave the outward impression of huge power. She also had three large steel masts which when fully rigged had an extensive spread of canvas. Another innovation on “Umbria” was that she was equipped with refrigeration machinery, but it was the single screw propulsion that would bring the most publicity later in her career. The ship epitomized the luxuries of Victorian style. The public rooms in the 1st class were full of ornately carved furniture, heavy velvet curtains hung in all the rooms, and they were decorated with the bric-a-brac that period fashion dictated. These rooms and the 1st class cabins were situated on the promenade, upper, saloon and main decks. There was also a music room, a smoking room for gentleman, separate dining rooms for 1st and 2nd class passengers. By the standard of the day 2nd class accommodation was moderate but spacious and comfortable. By early October 1884 “Umbria” had completed her sea trials and on 1 November 1884 she set off to New York on her maiden voyage. She was commanded by Captain Theodore Cook. He was Cunard’s senior captain, having served his apprenticeship in the days of square-rigged sailing ships.

In 1887 RMS Umbria gained the prestigious “Blue Ribbon” when on 29 May she beat her sister ship’s record of the year before. She set off from Queenstown (Cobh) to cross the North Atlantic, westbound. She got across to Sandy Hook on 4 April, in 6 days 4 hours and 12 minutes, averaging a speed of 19.22 knots (35.60 km/h) and covering a distance of 2,848 nautical miles (5,274 km). Her sister RMS Etruria regained the blue ribbon the following year. On 10 November 1888 RMS Umbria was outward bound from New York when she collided with and sank the trading steamer SS “Iberia” of the Fabre Line, near Sandy Hook. The stern part of the “Iberia” was completely cut off. The blame for this accident was placed upon the RMS Umbria, which it was said was travelling at a dangerous speed, said to be 17 knots (31 km/h).

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

The RMS Britannia was an ocean liner of the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, later known as Cunard Steamship Company. She was launched on 5 February 1840, at the yard of Robert Duncan & Company in Greenock, Scotland. The ship and her sisters, Acadia, Caledonia, and Columbia, were the first ocean liners built by the company.

The Britannia was a large ship for the period, 207 feet (63 m) long and 34 feet (10.3 m) across the beam, with three masts. She had paddle wheels and her two-cylinder side-lever engine (from Robert Napier) had a power output of about 740 indicated horsepower. She was relatively fast for the time: her usual speed was about 8.5 knots (16 km/h), but she could do better if the winds and currents were favourable. She had a tonnage, or carrying capacity, of 1,154 tons (by the Builder’s Old Measurement). She was capable of carrying 115 passengers with a crew of 82..

On her maiden voyage, starting on 4 July 1840, she made Halifax, Nova Scotia from Liverpool, England in 12 days and 10 hours, continuing on to Boston, Massachusetts. Her first homeward run from Halifax to Liverpool was made in just under 10 days at an average speed of about 11 knots (20 km/h), setting a new eastbound record which lasted until 1842.

She was joined by her sister ship Acadia in August 1840, by Caledonia in October 1840 and by Columbia in January 1841. All four ships could carry 115 passengers and 225 tons of cargo. The dining saloon was a long deck-house placed on the upper deck and there was also a ‘ladies only’ saloon. The fare to Halifax was 35 guineas, which included wines and spirits as well as food.

In January 1842 Charles Dickens travelled to the United States on Britannia. He was seasick for most of the voyage and returned home on a sailing ship.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

SS Baltic was a wooden-hulled sidewheel steamer built in 1850 for transatlantic service with the American Collins Line. Designed to outclass their chief rivals from the British-owned Cunard Line.Less than a year after entering service, Baltic captured the coveted Blue Ribbon in 1851 for fastest transatlantic crossing by a steamship. She set a new record again in 1854, and was to remain the fastest steamship on the Atlantic for almost five years. In spite of these record-breaking achievements however, her Collins Line owners continued to lose money, and were eventually bankrupted in 1858.

Baltic subsequently operated as a coastal steamer along the East Coast of the United States, and later served as a transport for the Union cause during the American Civil War before briefly returning to transatlantic service. In her final years she was converted into a sailing ship. Baltic was scrapped in 1880Two record running ships have been named Baltic. This is the oldest of them. The Baltic was the first of four 3000 ton large ships build for the Collins Line, the others were Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic and they were the largest, fastest and most luxurious transatlantic steamships of their day. They received heavy support from the American government so they could beat the British in the Battle of the Blue Ribbon. They succeeded for short while, but the Arctic went down carrying 322 people and the Pacific was lost without a trace.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.


Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

Persia was a British passenger liner operated by the Cunard Line that won the Blue Ribbon in 1856 for the fastest westbound transatlantic voyage. She was the first Atlantic record breaker constructed of iron and was the largest ship in the world at the time of her launch. However, the inefficiencies of paddle wheel propulsion rendered Persia obsolete and she was taken out of service in 1868 after only twelve years. Attempts to convert Persia to sail were unsuccessful and the former pride of the British merchant marine was scrapped in 1872.

As a result of competition from the Collins Line, Cunard ordered the Arabia in 1852 to retake the Atlantic records. Arabia crammed more powerful engines into a smaller ship than the Collins speedsters, and touched 15 knots on trials. However, she proved too powerful for her wooden construction and was unable to win the records. Cunard realized that in the future, new construction must include an iron hull

For Persia, Robert Napier and Sons of Glasgow designed an iron ship that was 16% larger than the wooden Collins liners and 50% larger than Cunard’s Arabia. Her two-cylinder side-lever engine produced 3,600 horsepower (2,700 kW) and consumed 145 long tons (147 t) of coal per day. Persia’s launch in July 1855 was a national event and she touched 17 knots (31 km/h) on her trials, although her normal service speed was limited to 13 knots (24 km/h) because of her high fuel consumption. She carried 250 first class and 50 second class passengers. She was one of the last paddle steamers to proud herself with the Blue Ribbon.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.


Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »


RMS Etruria and her sister ship RMS Umbria were the last two Cunarders that were fitted with auxiliary sails. RMS Etruria was built by John Elder & Co of Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. The Etruria and her sister Umbria, by the standards of the time, were record breakers. They were the largest liners then in service, and they plied the Liverpool to New York Service. RMS Etruria was completed and launched in March 1885, twelve weeks later than her sister Umbria.

The Etruria had many distinguishing features that included two enormous funnels which gave the outward impression of huge power. She also had three large steel masts which when fully rigged had an extensive spread of canvas. Another innovation on Etruria was that she was equipped with refrigeration machinery, but it was the single screw propulsion that would bring the most publicity later in her career.

RMS Etruria was to start her regular service to New York from Liverpool, but the clouds of crises were looming, and by the New Year of 1885 a crises involving Russia’s threat to invade Afghanistan was coming to a head. This was to bring Etruria’s North Atlantic service to a halt temporarily, before she had even made her maiden voyage. On the 26 March, Etruria, and her sister RMS Umbria, found themselves chartered to the Admiralty. With the dispute reaching a settlement, Etruria was released from Admiralty service within a few days, although her sister was retained for six months.

On the 25 April 1885, Etruria finally made her maiden voyage under the command of Captain McMicken. She made the Atlantic crossing calling at Queenstown (Cobh). On her very next crossing, westbound (Liverpool to New York), she won the prestigious Blue Ribbon  and proudly flew the pennant for Cunard.

Later in the year the Etruria was involved in a collision. On 20 September 1885, she was outward bound from New York and in Lower New York Bay, at anchor due to dense fog. The 4,276 ton cargo ship Canada, owned by the National Steamship Company of Limerick collided with the Etruria, on her starboard side. The Canada scraped alongside Etruria, ripping away a portion of her rigging, but fortunately there were no casualties. Both ships continued on their voyages.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.


Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »


Launched in 1900, she won the Blue Riband from the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse of the North German Lloyd line, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in just a little over five days. She was the first and only four-stacker built for Hamburg-Amerika. She was 684 feet long, 67 feet wide and measured 16,502 gross tons. Her service speed was 22 knots and she carried 2,050 passengers in first, second and third class.

The Deutschland was indeed a fast ship, but this came at the expense of passenger comfort – her engines were so powerful that they caused severe vibrations in her passenger accommodations (thus the sobriquet The Cocktail Shaker). This made her unpopular with passengers.

In March 1902 she played a role in the Deutschland incident. When she was carrying Prince Henry, the brother of the Kaiser back to Europe from a highly publicized visit to the United States, she was prevented from using her Slaby-d’Arco system of wireless telegraphy as the Marconi radio stations refused its radio traffic through their nets and blocked the rival system. Prince Henry, who tried to send wireless messages to both the US and Germany, was outraged. During a later conference, the Marconi company was forced to give access to their stations to other companies. This incident turned out to be one of the important moments in the early history of wireless transmission.One of Germany’s strongest cards in the Battle of the Blue Ribbon before WWI . On one sensational voyage in 1901 she brought the record up 1 knot to 23,51.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.


Share/Bookmark

Read Full Post »

0107_blue_01 Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route. The tables you’ll find if you follow the link below will show you which lines held the records, with which ship, the time their ships spend and their average speed.

To the Battle of The Blue Ribbon

Share with anyone you like

googel_bookmarks google_buzz digg stumbled_upon delicious tecnocrati facebook twitter  

Read Full Post »


SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, named after the first emperor of the new (post-1871) German Empire, Kaiser Wilhelm I, was a German ocean liner of the Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) shipping line. She is notable for a number of things, including being the first German ship to win the Blue Ribbon and the first passenger ship (although acting as an armed merchant cruiser at the time) sunk in World War I.She was built by Vulcan shipyards in Stettin and launched on 4 May 1897. She made her maiden voyage on 19 September of that year, from Bremerhaven to New York. In November 1897, she set an eastbound North Atlantic crossing record from Sandy Hook to the Needles, and four months later she captured the westbound Blue Ribbon, taking it from Cunard’s Lucania. She held these records until the rival Hamburg-Amerika Line’s Deutschland took the eastbound record in July 1900 and the westbound one in September 1903. The fact that German ships took over this famed prize eventually led the British to build their Mauretania and Lusitania duo.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share with anyone you like

googel_bookmarks google_buzz digg stumbled_upon delicious tecnocrati facebook twitter

Read Full Post »


RMS Mauretania (also known as the “Maury”) was an ocean liner built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among her passengers.

The ship’s name was taken from Mauretania, an ancient Roman province on the northwest African coast, not related to the modern Mauritania. Similar nomenclature was also employed by Mauretania’s sister ship, the Lusitania, which was named after the Roman province directly north of Mauretania, across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Also known as “The Old Lady of the Atlantic” Mauretania was really the Queen of speed. She held the Ribbon on both the westbound and the eastbound route for 22 years. No other ship has come even close to this. Her sister ship the Lusitania was fast as well and held the Ribbon in 1907, but she had to live in the shadow of her faster sister.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share with anyone you like

googel_bookmarks google_buzz digg stumbled_upon delicious tecnocrati facebook twitter

Read Full Post »


RMS Queen Mary is now a retired ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line (then Cunard-White Star when the vessel entered service). Built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland, she was designed to be the first of Cunard’s planned two-ship weekly express service from Southampton to Cherbourg to New York, in answer to the mainland European superliners of the late 1920s and early 1930s.After their release from World War II troop transport duties, Queen Mary and her running mate RMS Queen Elizabeth commenced this two-ship service and continued it for two decades until Queen Mary’s retirement in 1967.

The ship is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is permanently berthed in Long Beach, California serving as a museum ship and hotel. Queen Mary celebrated the 70th anniversary of her launch in both Clydebank and Long Beach during 2004, and the 70th anniversary of her maiden voyage in 2006.

Queen Mary and her even better known sister ship the Queen Elizabeth were the fastest ships on the transatlantic route in the late forties early fifties. Both ships had done war service and were at one point about to be rebuild as air carriers. Queen Mary proved to be the fastest of the two, Queen Elizabeth never held any records and made her final Atlantic crossing on November 5, 1968.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share with anyone you like

googel_bookmarks google_buzz digg stumbled_upon delicious tecnocrati facebook twitter

Read Full Post »


City of Paris was a British passenger liner operated by the Inman Line that established that a ship driven by a screw could match the speed of the paddlers on the Atlantic crossing. Built by Tod and Macgregor, she served the Inman Line until 1884 when she was converted to a cargo ship. City of Paris held the Blue Ribbon in 1867.After four years of service, City of Paris was lengthened to 397 feet and re-engined with compounds in response to innovative ships built for the White Star Line. This raised her tonnage to 3100 and her capacity to 150 cabin and 400 steerage. In 1879, she grounded outside of Smithstown while trooping to South Africa. After her return, she was re-engined again. City of Paris was relieved in the express service by City of Chicago in 1883 and sold the next year to French owners who converted her to the cargo ship Tonquin. In March 1885, she sank off of Malaga after a collision.

The battle of the Blue Ribbon was a reality for more than a hundred years, but the ribbon was not. It may seem strange that the world’s leading ship owners and seafaring nations should fight over a ribbon, even though it was blue. When one knows that this ribbon didn’t even exist the effort put down to win it seems overwhelming. The cup didn’t turn up until 1935. But the ship owners were so caught up in the battle by then, that when Cunard White Star Line who were one of the first to receive the cup were asked where they kept it, they didn’t know. Records were set both on the westbound and the eastbound route.

Share with anyone you like

googel_bookmarks google_buzz digg stumbled_upon delicious tecnocrati facebook twitter

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »