A penultimate ‘floating palace’, she was the first of the three famous sisters ships of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company - the formal name of the White Star Line. Only OLYMPIC served their intended purpose as a Trans-Atlantic passenger ship of the highest order. Built in 1911 on custom ways next to her sister, TITANTIC, OLYMPIC launched from the yard of Harland & Wolff in Belfast and promptly sailed for the company’s new home port of Southampton. From there the line competed not only with its chief rival Cunard, but with the continental European liners for passengers to America.
At 45,234 gross tons, she was then the largest ship in the world. Capable of 21 knots, she was styled for comfort rather than as a challenger to the 26-knot Blue Ribbaund record of Cunard’s MAURETANIA. Her mammoth scale held true to traditionally sharp British design. Inovations amongst her ten decks included one of the first swimming pools onboard any ship, as well as turkish baths, gymnasiums and an opulent smoking room which was larger than most dining halls. Her first-class dining hall was designed for spacious privacy while affording all a view of the captain’s table in the room’s center.
TITANTIC’s misfortune is well documented. The third ship, BRITANNIC, was launched in the winter of 1915 amid World War I to serve as a hospital ship, and was lost in the Aegean Sea. In contrast, OLYMPIC, which did service as a troop transport, crossed the Atlantic Ocean for 25 years as a successful and desirable passenger liner. The artist Jacobsen has captured her on her maiden voyage to New York in 1911. Without the date, this would be apparent from the pre-disaster configuration of limited lifeboats for her 2,400 passenger accommodations. Many people are shown, dressed in dark traveling clothes, viewing the magnificent of the Atlantic, the approaching American northeast, and the grand ship.
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