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NEDERLAND, 1914. – The unfinished giant steamer of the Red Star Line

2022.01.01. 04:39 Doki

From 1871 to 1934, the International Navigation Company (INC.), Founded in Philadelphia, USA, formed a joint venture with the Belgian government in 1872 to form the Red Star Line shipping company in Antwerp and To provide postal services between New York and Philadelphia. The first passenger ship named NEDERLAND was built for this company in 1873 and served until 1906. However, at the time of its scrapping, the contract for laying the keel of a new, state-of-the-art ocean liner at the Harland and Wolff Shipyards in Belfast had been in force for 4 years. This article presents the plans and construction history of this ship and detect some aspects of general arrangement.

 

Prologue - A new general-type ocean liner is born:

The International Navigation Company (INC), which then already had three shipping companies at the time - the American Line, the Red Star Line and the Inman line - came in 1886 into the interest of the American investment banker John Pierpoint Morgan. Between 1900 and 1902, the INC expanded with other major shipping companies. It has acquired shares in American Transport Line in the US, Leyland Line, White Star Line and Dominion Line in the UK and has entered into a market-sharing agreement with rival German companies with which it has acquired an equal stake in Holland-America Line. From October 1, 1902, the group was transformed into the International Mercantile Marine Co. (IMMC). William James Pirrie, owner of Harland & Wolff Shipyard (H&W) in Belfast, played an active role in the aquisitions. In recognition of his contribution, all new ships from IMMC companies have been built by H&W from this time, becoming the world's largest shipyard.

John Pierpoint Morgan recognized that the dynamic development of the U.S. economy, which was booming after the North American Civil War, provided prosperity by the turn of the century in which more and more people could afford not to set out only when they had to. The era of leisure travel has begun and is gradually gaining in importance. J.P. Morgan, with significant shipping interests on both sides of the Atlantic, has therefore decided to equip IMMC’s newest ships mainly for first-class passengers, who are much more solvent but require the familiar luxury of the mainland, rather than for emigrant masses, traveling on the third class. The task of design and construction was carried out by W.J. He entrusted it to W. J. Pirrie's shipyard.

Thus began the design of the OLYMPIC-class oceanliners - the OLYMPIC, TITANIC and GIGANTIC (later BRITANNIC) - in which size (more personal space) and comfort, and economical operation was in the focus not by a recordbreaking-, but by moderate speed which is higher than average. The construction of the planned ships has proved that in addition to the most lavish luxury, it is possible to build profitable ships in mass production on a large scale in a relatively short time. (The first two vessels of the type were built in 3 years, 3 months and 16 days: the OLYMPIC and the TITANIC were built essentially in parallel, three months apart between December 16, 1908/March 31.,1909 and May 31, 1911. / April 2, 1912. The construction of the GIGANTIC was also started on November 30, 1911.) The success of R.M.S. OLYMPIC, first of the three sisterships was built, proved to be groundbreaking, as it set the ideal new standard for the combination of size-luxury-speed-economy, creating a new general-type oceanliner in the competition between shipping companies, which rivaled each other until that, primarily in terms of speed.

And this success was not even overshadowed by the TITANIC disaster…

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Fig. 1.: TITANIC, a middle member of the OLYMPIC class, inspired the general layout of several ships, designed based on the class’s plans. Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

I.) Background to the design - Competing lines of the Low Countries:

Since the expansion and development of the capacity of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard, executed in order to build the OLYMPIC class, enabled the series production of new types of oceanliners, everyone wanted such vessels at once. Holland-America Line (H.A.L.) was the first, for whom its relationship with the IMMC (the American-British-German market sharing) guaranteed predictable growth. Based on this, H.A.L. in March 1912, decided to build the largest passenger ocean liner in the entire Low Countries and order the ship from the builders of the OLYMPIC. Engineers at Harland & Wolff Shipyard used plans of the OLYMPIC class to make specifications for the 32,334-tonne new vessel, named STATENDAM (II), and even began building the vessel on the same slipway where OLYMPIC's sister TITANIC had built a year earlier. Of the several earlier H.A.L.-ships, the ROTTERDAM (IV), built in 1905, was the ship that selected as a model for STATENDAM. The structural features of the new giant reflected the characteristics of this vessel, however, the design also took into account the plans of the latest ship of the rival Belgian Red Star Line, the LAPLAND, built in 1908. The design and construction of the LAPLAND were therefore linked with the development of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard and the design and fate of its flagship product, the OLYMPIC class. (Moreover, the connection exsisted not only during the design period, as LAPLAND transported the TITANIC's surviving crew back to England on April 28, 1912., 13 days after that the British steamer sunk, and her crew testifying for the U.S. Senate).

STATENDAM (II) was ordered on June 11, 1912, and was launched exactly two years later, on June 11, 1914. Seemed that the H.A.L. gains a significant competitive advantage over the Red Star Line by the impending completion of the ship. However, the Belgian company reacted quickly, and  the director of Red Star Line, the german-born Carl Eduard Strasser, began negotiations in July 1912 with Harland & Wolff Shipyard (less than a month after receiving the first news of the construction of STATENDAM) in connection with the construction of a new Belgian ocean liner, which could be a worthy competitor to the Dutch STATENDAM, and which combines in itself all the advantages of the OLYMPIC. At the end of the successful negotiations, he ordered the new vessel in August, which was to be named BELGENLAND (II). Design-elements of STATENDAM were also used in the design of this vessel. Thus, since STATENDAM was the smaller version of the OLYMPIC class, optimized for the shallower Dutch waters (essentially a small TITANIC), it was also expected that the OLYMPIC class would be expanded with two “half-sisters”. The designers at Harland & Wolff confirmed these expectations: the outline of a three-funnelled ocean liner, barely smaller than STATENDAM, unfolded on the design table. Based on the similarity in size and appearance (which was also emphasized by the three funnels) and the fact that the two ships were built almost simultaneously, they are often considered to be real sister ships.

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Fig. 2.: Comparison of the main characteristics of STATENDAM (II) and BELGENLAND.

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Fig. 3: Final plans of STATENDAM II. (above), and preliminary design of BELGENLAND (below). Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

However, this assumption is wrong, as these ships were rather built after a type-design, constructed following the same basic concept. However, in order for two ships to be considered each other's sister ships, more is needed:

The term sister ship has a double meaning. Its colloquial meaning suggests that the similarity between two or more ships is as great as that between family members. From a technical point of view, however, only ships that are largely based on the same construction plans and, as a result, have all the same essential characteristics can be considered as sister ships. In this respect, therefore, vessels of the same type (class) are referred to as sister ships, which are usually, but not necessarily, built in the same shipyard and for the same customer, usually in small series, and the plans of the first ships in the series are not changed at all, or only insignificantly compared to the first. There were practical reasons for building sister ships: minimal modification of a master plan required much less effort from the designer and manufacturer than designing and manufacturing a custom ship (in the case of series production, production processes and components can be standardized), so more ships can be built in less time. Therefore, it was quite common for shipping companies to order multiple ships at once based on the same plans, as this could save huge sums of money by having engineers create only one plan. Because the sister ships were meant to be virtually the same, there was no reason for passengers to cling to one more than the other, so a series of sister ships also defined the image of a shipping company as well. However, the production of the sister ships was also justified by another circumstance: timetable planning.

At the end of the ninetieenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century, a single steamship could cross the ocean only once a month, given the speed of the ship and the time it took to prepare it for the ocean (boarding passengers, food, fuel, cargo). Thus, too much time would have elapsed between departures and hurried passengers would most likely exchange tickets for earlier departing ship of a rival company. Not even the British Cunard Line’s world-famous speed-record ocean liner, the 28-knot (52 Km / h) LUSITANIA, could turn faster than 12 days (6 days there and 6 days back). The slower OLYMPIC of the White Star Line, with it's speed of 24 knots (45 km / h), could also turned every 15 days (7.5 days there, 7.5 days back). However, Cunard had only two ships (i.e., they could not operate more frequent crossings than 6 days), but White Star’s three OLYMPIC-class ships meant that - if all were in service - one could set sail every 5 days. This is an advantage that makes it clear immediately the rationality for building sister ships. 

In view of the above STATENDAM and BELGENLAND - although they were in fact built using the designs of the OLYMPIC class and had the same propulsion system - were distinguished by a number of significant differences, much more significant than the usual minimum differences for sister ships. First, they were not the same size in terms of length, width or capacity. Then the general arrangement of their superstructure differed in several respects: STATENDAM's superstructure was largely uniform, almost undivided throughout the whole length of the upper decks (this is the so-called "full superstructure"), which gave the ship a fundamentally modern look, while the BELGENLAND (although it was commissioned later) was built with a split superstructure divided by classes ("island-superstructures"), which was typical of older oceanliners. The general arrangement of the promenade decks also showed significant differences. The STATENDAM (like the TITANIC) had a single upper promenade, glazed at the front end and open at the rear. BELGENLAND, on the other hand (like the OLYMPIC) had two promenades above each other: one entirely opened, and a glass-enclosed (opened just at the very rear end), despite first voyages of the OLYMPIC proved that passengers preferred an open promenade instead of the glass-enclosed one. This two-deck layout can also be seen on Harland & Wolff Shipyard's 1908 products - ROTTERDAM (IV) for Holland-America Line and LAPLAND for Red Star Line. It is an interesting coincidence that the promenade deck arrangement of these vessels were the same as STATENDAM and BELGENLAND in that the vessels of the Holland-America Line were more modern and the vessels of the Red Star Line had a more traditional appearance. As in case of both pair of custom-made vessels the Dutch one launched first, such differences in design cannot be explained by the evolution that has taken place in the meantime: the conservative design of the Red Star vessels is the result of a conscious decision: such plans offered for the Belgian company that were followed older design-principles, but which accepted by the Belgians despite.

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Fig. 4: First (above) and second (center) preliminary design of BELGENLAND and the final general arrangement (bottom) of the vessel with cruiser stern. The main difference between the first two design variants is the replacement of the traditional counter stern with a cruiser stern. The main difference between the last two design variants is the design of the superstructure on the poop deck: the promenade deck design of the second variant (which was the same as the first) was replaced by an split superstructure in the final designs, and traditional "goose-neck" lifeboat-davits were replaced by Welin-type. Source: National Museums of Northern Ireland, Peter Meeresman, Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

The difference between STATENDAM and BELGENLAND was further intensified by the modification of the 1912 preliminary-design, made for the Red Star Line, by the introduction of cruiser stern instread of the traditional elliptical, basket-shaped counter stern design (this was practically the only element which was radically modern in the design of BELGENLAND). However, the cruiser stern was not needed for fashionable reasons, but for very practical reasons, as the Red Star Line prepared the BELGENLAND to anchor on the high seas, in front of the estuary of the Schelde-river, leading to the city, while it waiting for the tide to sail up the river at high tide, so a stern anchor was also installed. However, space was required for the anchor, the machinery and the anchor chain, so the plans had to be modified (the addition of the cruiser stern eventually increased the maximum length of the hull by 7 m - from 205 to 212 m).

The cruiser stern, as its name suggests, appeared on warships, in the 19th century, where it served the purpose of protecting the rudder from above. On ocean liners it became widespread in the first years of the twentieth century due to its significant advantage in terms of a favorable increase in the length of the waterline, which affects stability and speed, and the extent of deck areas that can be used to accommodate passengers. It was first used on a passenger ship in 1909 (for the PRINCE RUPERT and PRINCE GEORGE passenger steamers on the Pacific coast of Canada). On a giant steamer, it was first used for the Atlantic liner ALSATIAN , launched in March 1912, and for the EMPRESS of RUSSIA, launched in August 1912. Thus, BELGENLAND was the second giant Atlantic steamer to receive a cruiser stern (according to some sources, the first, but given that ALSATIAN was designed earlier than the BELGENLAND had been ordered, this is unlikely).

In view of the above, it can be stated with certainty that BELGENLAND was not a sister ship to STATENDAM and that the two ships of the Low Countries were not sisters of the OLYMPIC-class trio. However, both were such oceanliners whose design was clearly and directly influenced by the success of the OLYMPIC. It is therefore more appropriate to consider the Dutch and Belgian vessels as 'half-sisters' of each other and of the OLYMPIC-class, since there is no doubt that, even if these vessels did not belong to the same type, they are still members of the same type-family on the basis of the common features of their designs. So, only one question left regarding the identification of the BELGENLAND's 'kinship': whether it was built as an individual ship, or whether it would have had sister ships as part of a series. Well, the answer is that one of her sisters would certainly have been, the NEDERLAND, which is slightly smaller - 26,500 tonnes (according to other sources, slightly larger, 35,000) and was built under yard number 469 after the launch of GIGANTIC, which was planned by the end of February 1914. (on Slipway No. 2, where the OLYMPIC was previously built). However, this ship could never be completed as the conversion of the safety equipment of the GIGANTIC required after the sinking of the TITANIC, this delayed the completion of the ship and the World War I broke out soon…

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Fig. 5.: The type-family evolving based on the designs of the OLYMPIC-class. The TITANIC (above), the STATENDAM (middle) and the BELGENLAND (below) with its originally planned appearance. Although the plans of both ships were later modified during construction (STATENDAM was converted into a troop-transport, and BELGENLAND's counter stern was replaced by a cruiser stern), a connection with TITAINC can still be established. Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

II.) Construction and dismantling of NEDERLAND – Hopes shattered:

The keel of the BELGANLAND was laid in October 1912, four months after the keel of the STATENDAM. Three giants were built at the same time on the three slipways in the northern part of Queens Island in Belfast: BELGENLAND on Slipway No. 1, BRITANNIC on Slipway No. 2. and STATENDAM on Slipway No. 3. However, on July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which equipped with arms the assassins of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne. The local war escalated rapidly and, not a month later, escalated into a world war. The German army marching against France raided Belgium on August 3, before Britain, which guaranteed the country's neutrality, declared war on Germany the next day. After the siege from September 28 to October 10, the Germans occupied Antwerp, the home port of the Red Star Line, and the remnants of the Belgian army retreated toward the coast, where British expeditionary forces had gathered. British forces sought to maintain a steady supply between the south of England and the mainland by organizing the Dover Patrol. Obsolete, pre-dreadnought-type battleships from the British Royal Navy were used in the patrol for coastal bombings to support the Belgian army. However, these old armored vehicles were soon replaced by newly built coastal monitors built with small draught but armed with heavy battleship guns, designed specifically for the shallow waters of the Netherlands.

The construction of the coastal monitors was made possible by the fact that due to the British naval blockade against Germany, the four American-made gun turrets for the dreadnought-type battleship SALAMIS, constructed in Hamburg, could not be delivered by the manufacturer Bethlehem Steelworks. The gun turrets only reached Britain, so the Americans offered them to the British Navy for purchase. The fleet then ordered the design of 4 coastal monitors (tonnage: 6,250 t, length: 102 m, beam: 27.5 m, draught: 3 m ) of the ABERCROMBIE class, followed shortly by two additional classes of coastal monitors, in the LORD CLIVE class (8 ships), and in the EREBUS class (2 ships).

Order book of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard was full at the outbreak of the war: the company had a valid contract to build ships, altogether with more than 400,000 tonnes displacement. Most of this tonnage was made up of mixed passenger-cargo vessels, built at the company's Belfast site and in Govan on Clyde-side, near Glasgow. At the outbreak of the war, the Govan shipyard was immediately converted to carry out naval orders, building of cruisers being planned here.

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Fig. 6.: Monitor of EREBUS-class equipped with battleship guns, built for coastal bombardments. Source: Warthunder Forum.

 

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Fig. 7.: Modification the production schedule of Harland & Wolff Shipyard due to the construction of coastal monitors (in red letters the planned or started ocean liner constructions, which had to be canceled due to the outbreak of war).

 

The Queen's Yard in Belfast wanted to undertake the construction of 8 of the 14 coastal monitors, but it was not an easy task to find a suitable construction site for so many new, wide warships at a time when most large shipyards were almost fully occupied. But as most shipping companies postponed their orders to build new ocean liners until the end of the war, Harland & Wolff Shipyard did bid to build five coastal monitors. W.J. Pirrie decided that two of these would be built on Slipway 1, then still occupied by BELGENLAND. The next slipway was originally designed to build the Union Castle Line’s AMROTH CASTLE, which was never completed finally (ARUNDEL CASTLE was built in its place in 1921). The keel of two more monitors was laid on Slipway No. 3, where building materials for the 33,000-tonne HOMERIC of the White Star Line began to accumulate after the launch of the STATENDAM.

The construction of the HOMERIC was originally started under the name GERMANIC on July 9, 1914 - its name was changed due to the outbreak of the war - with serial number 470 (which was given to the LAURENTIC II after the war due to the demolition of the semi-finished hull). The vessel would have been 228.3 m long, 33 m wide, with a capacity of 33,600 tonnes and a speed of 19 knots, 35.2 km / h, and according to the only surviving short description would have been an “ADRIATIC-type” ocean liner with three propellers. However, in order to build the monitors, the finished bottom of HOMERIC was demolished and construction was never resumed.

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Fig. 8.: Hangars at Altergrove Airport in Belfast, made from building materials of the NEDERLAND. Source: UK Airfield Guide.

 

Construction of BELGENLAND (yard number 391) began in October 1912, and the keel of NEDERLAND (yard number 469) was laid on 2 March 1914. Construction of the two ships progressed rapidly until August 1914, but since then, due to naval orders, work has slowed down, and in case of the NEDERLAND it stopped in November 1914. (The progress made so far, according to the IMMC's claim for compensation after the war, was as follows: "No. 469 the keel and tank centre plating had been erected and hydraulically riveted; the vessel had been framed to the height of the double bottom; the tank sides had been plated and almost entirely riveted; and the tank top had been half plated; the stern posts and boss arms castings has been erected - £80,000 had been paid" and all the building materials needed to build the entire ship were bought in advance and paid to Harland & Wolff. (The lawsuit was successful: the IMMC received damages in 1920.) The frames and beams were eventually dismantled (this work also cost £ 8,000) and the parts were used to build hangars at Altergrove Airport in Belfast.

 

III.) General arrangement of the NEDERLAND:

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Fig. 9.: Longitudinal section of general arrangement plan of the BELGENLAND (above) and the NEDERLAND (below).

 

Exactly what the ship would have looked like, if it did not dimantled but launched and fitted out instead? It is not possible to give an exact answer to this question because whole set of its final plans have not survived. Only a single longitudinal section of the general arrangement is known, but it is not clarified whether this drawing belongs to the final plans or is part of a preliminary phase (so-called pre-design). After all, before the order was placed, a decision had to be made on the ship's main technical characteristics and general-arrangement plan, showing the spaces for cargo, fuel, ballast, crew and passengers. This plan was intended to give a complete, comprehensive picture of the future ship and was therefore supplemented with detailed specifications for the hull and machinery. This general arrangement drawing and specifications formed the basis of the contract between the shipping line and the shipyard and could be revised several times as the customer's needs changed before the order. From NEDERLAND's remaining incomplete plans, it is certain only that the vessel would have been 720 feet (220 m) long, 83 feet (25 m) wide, had 10 decks, 2 masts, a cruiser stern and was a combined propulsion system consisting of a pair of reciprocating steam engines and a steam turbine connected with them. Every other detail is a mystery.

Also the detail of whether the ship really would have had only 3 funnels, as the plan shows. Also the detail of whether the ship really would have had only 3 funnels, as the plan shows. After all it is striking how unbalanced the ship's profile is: the funnels are standing unusually fore, which is not typical of the contemporary constructions of Harland & Wolff Shipyard, nor does it characterize the plans of the those Belgian, Dutch and British ships on which the design was based (the BELGENLAND, the STATENDAM, and the OLYMPIC-class trio). 

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Fig. 10.: Proportions of the OLYMPIC class (black) and the NEDERLAND (red). Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

Moreover, the OLYMPIC class ships are the ocean liners with a most balanced profile in the history of industrial design. The main distinguishing feature of the class from other transatlantic vessels was the proportionate and symmetrical nature of the design, provided that the masts of the vessels were equidistant from the bow and stern and the distance between the masts and the funnels was the same along the entire ship, as was the length of the raised forecastle and poop decks and the distance of them from the midship superstructure. All this gave to the ship an exceptionally smooth rhythm of low and high sections, which made unified by the elegant appearance and holistic design of the open and closed decks of the midship superstructure.

There is no trace of this rhythmic and elegant proportionality in NEDERLAND's plans: the rear funnel standing just right on the bisector line of the ship's length! The length of the ship's parts in front of the fore funnel is exceeded one and a half times by the length of the parts behind of the rear funnel. This gives the impression the entire stern is only a kind of tow, or an affix connected to the ship. In addition, it is clear from the longitudinal section that the space between the funnels have been 'compressed', ie the distance between them has been deliberately reduced in order to be able to erect more funnels than would be technically necessary. (The distance between the funnels is so small that, for example, there is no space between the first and second funnels other than the first-class staircase and elevator shaft, even in BELGENLAND the space between the funnels is almost twice as large). It is clear from the plans (Fig. 9) that in every boiler rooms only one row of double-ended boilers was connected to the smoke stacks of each funnels, while in case of the OLYMPIC class, two per funnels. The difference in size between the OLYMPIC-class oceanliners and the NEDERLAND does not justify this, as 2-2 boiler rows have been connected to the funnels of the BELGENLAND too, although that ship was also much smaller than the OLYMPIC-class ships.

This arrangement only makes sense if the goal is to set up 4 funnels instead of 3. If a 4th funnel also had been constructed, the profile of the NEDERLAND would have been just as balanced as that of all the other oceanliners which were used as a model for its plans. This is highlited by the fact that, according to the general arrangement plan, the NEDERLAND has been given a so-called full superstructure that runned through the entire length of the upper decks, all the way to the main mast. If the NEDERLAND had been given split superstructure divided by classes, similarly to its sister ship BELGENLAND, maybe it would have been able to trigger an optial effect reducing the disproportionality of the length behind the third funnel to some extent. However this did not happen. Based on all this - and given the contemporary design practice of Harland & Wolff Shipyard - it is not entirely unfounded to assume that the surviving longitudinal section plan of the NEDERLAND is not part of the set of final plans. Truth be told, it is precisely the funnel-arrangement is that detail of the plans, what suggests that perhaps we are seeing a pleriminary design, which had only one task: convince the shipping line to order a construction of a fourth funnel as well.

Regarding question of the arrangement of the promenade decks, there are not even such support  too. As far as the number and arrangement of promenade decks is concerned, conclusions can only be drawn from, that Harland & Wolff has made a conscious effort to ensure that each class has its own promenade deck on board, in order to balance the service-portfolio, that available to the passengers. However length, and closed (glazed) or even fully open design of promenades were decided only in the last phase of the planning, so it cannot be reasonably inferred to that from the remaining plans. At most, the designs of the other contemporary ships possibly considered in the design - the BELGENLAND, the STATENDAM (II) and the OLYMPIC-class ships - can serve as a model, but the conclusion drawn from them, would be nothing more too, than mere speculation. The ideas for the possible different arrangement of promenade decks are therefore the product of fantasy - artistic impressions, if you like -, which can be confirmed only to the slightest extent by the surviving single longitudinal section (in terms of the approximate location of the promenades).

There is such a reconstruction too which is based on the known funnel-arrangement, assuming that new davits, designed by Harland & Wolff (capable of handling multiple lifeboats at once), installed on the open deck-space behind the rear funnel, around the main mast. When the U.S. and British Inquiry into the circumstances of the TITANIC sinking, and White Star Line's own internal investigation confirmed too that the ship's lifeboat system was inadequate (roughly half of the passengers had enough space in the lifeboats), Harland & Wolff responded quickly and filed a joint patent application on November 22, 1912, together with the Armstrong Shipbuilders, which was accepted by the authorities on August 14, 1913. The so-called “gantry davits” (as they are widely known) could handle up to 6 lifeboats per boat stations at a time. Lifeboats were held between arms of the davits, in several rows. Harland & Wolff also used this lifeboat system for BRITANNIC in the redesign of the ship after the sinking of the TITANIC, as lessons learned from the tragedy. This also marked the direction of development: the main emphasis was placed on safety, with all other aspects diminished in importance, including the aesthetic expectations connected to the famous, proportionate and balanced profile of the ships designed at Harland & Wolff.

Authors of that reconstruction, considered that the new lifeboat-davit system designed for the BRITANNIC were also intended to use in case of the NEDERLAND, which is confirmed - according to them - by the proximity of the development of the davit-system and the NEDERLAND, and the fact that the system was later used on other ships built at Harland & Wolff too. However, that it was also used on the NEDERLAND is not substantiated by the surviving plan, as it does not show lifeboats at all. The use of 'gantry davits' is therefore only a presumption, the validity of which is also precluded by the fact that neither STATENDAM nor BELGENLAND were equipped with that among those Harland & Wolff vessels, that built at the same time as the BRITANNIC.

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Fig. 11.: 3 funnelled version of the NEDERLAND with promenade deck-arrangement of the BELGENLAND, and with gantry davits. Based on Liam Sharp's 2021 reconstruction. Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.012_5.jpg

Fig. 12.: 3 and 4 funnelled versions of the NEDERLAND with the promenade deck arrangement of the OLYMPIC (above), the TITANIC / STATENDAM II (middle) and the BELGENLAND (below). Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

Regarding to this, the profile drawings, based on the surviving plan of the NEDERLAND, can be seen above in 3 and 4 funnelled versions and with the arrangement of the promenade decks of the BELGENLAND, the STATENDAm and the OLYMPIC (above). A comparison of the silhouette of the OLYMPIC-class and the four-funnelled version, as well as the concept design based on the characteristics of the latter, supplemented by gantry davits from the Liam Sharp-reconstruction, can be seen as well (below).

 

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Fig. 13.: NEDERLAND with 4 funnels, gantry davits and promenade deck arrangement of the BELGENLAND. Created by: Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

Epilogue:

Although NEDERLAND could never be completed, its older sister, the BELGENLAND, survived the critical period of the war. The construction of the hull was so advanced at the outbreak of the war that it was not worth dismantling, its fitting out proved much more profitable instead. Although the Red Star Line could hardly benefit after the German occupation of Belgium… As soon as the rapidly advancing German army occupied Antwerp in World War I, the company’s management decided not to leave anything to the enemy and handed over the company’s ships to the U.S. parent company. The International Mercantile Marine Company then decided to order all IMMC ships anchored in the city to sail and direct the other ships en route to Antwerp to foreign ports. As a precaution, all Red Star ships sailed under the American flag, except SAMLAND and GOTHLAND, which were used by the U.S. Commission for Relief in Belgim to deliver hmanitarian food shipments to the starving populations of occupied Belgium and northern France via Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The Red Star Line thus formally survived, but its offices were relocated to Liverpool during the German occupation.

On December 31, 1914, Harland & Wolff announced that BELGENLAND was ready for launch. We do not know if anyone represented Red Star Line or IMMC at the event. The Belfast local newspaper alone reported on the incident itself: "Belfast's Shipbuilding output for the year now ending show that Messrs. Harland and Wolff, for their Belfast yard alone, will have, when a few days hence they launch the Belgian Red Star liner BELGENLAND, an output of 156,000 tons to their credit, the six vessels launched during the year aggregating that enormous tonnage. The White Star liner BRITANNIC, the Holland-America steamship STATENDAM, and the BELGENLAND are the three largest vessels built in the United Kingdo, and represent 110,000 tons."

So the first of the two ships designed by Harland & Wolff Shipyard for the Red Star Line on the basis of OLYMPIC-class ships was finally born, but it was undoubtedly a difficult birth. The semi-finished ship, used in the war to transport troops and supplies, was not returned at Harland & Wolff until March 1921 to build its missing parts, and was not handed over to its Belgian owners until April 1923. Thus, BELGENLAND was essentially the last outfitted ocean liner which demonstrably designed under the influence of plans of the OLYMPIC-class. In light of this, it is understandable why the OLYMPIC-class may have become so unique (and it was not just the sinking of the TITANIC that played a role in this): The elemental impact of the fundamentally new giant ships, in addition to its own sisters, TITANIC and BRITANNIC (ex-GIGANTIC), was embodied in the plans of only three ships until the outbreak of the Word War I; in the STATENDAM, the BELGENLAND and - indirectly - in the AQUITANIA (in order to gain impressions for design the latter, the Cunard Line even paid designer Leonard Peshkett for a trip on board of the OLYMPIC...).

Though the BELGENLAND would have had a sister, the NEDERLAND, and White Star Line would have built another ship under the name GERMANIC after BRITANNIC to replace the sunken TITANIC, on a smaller scale, with "only" 33,600 tonnes (which is exactly the size category of the STATENDAM and the BELGENLAND), but these were swept away by the war. Thus, although it has had a fundamental impact on the thinking of designers and shipowners, the OLYMPIC-class had no time to run out as an international series production model. The time in when this could have happened was spent with war and the ensuing recovery, and by the time the world recovered from successive crises, the sea was already dominated by a fundamentally new technology that resulted in super-ocean liners such as BREMEN, REX, NORMANDIE, or QUEEN MARY.

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Fig. 14.: The last units of the type-family following the model of the OLYMPIC-class: the BELGENLAND, in its state as fitted out in 1923 (above), the ARUNDEL CASTLE (in the middle) handed over in 1921, and first preliminary design of the OCEANIC III from January 1926 (below). These were the last ships to be fully impacted by the design of the OLYMPIC-class. Created by Dr. Tamás Balogh.

 

Sources:

Dr. Tamás Balogh: State aid for the construction and operation of ocean liners and the Morgan trust at the turn of the century, Budapest, 2017.

Dr. Tamás Balogh: Design of the OLYMPIC-class, manuscript, Budapest, 2021. 

Dr. Tamás Balogh: The Belgian OLYMPIC – history of the s.s. BELGENLAND, manuscript, Budapest, 2018.

Dr. Tamás Balogh: The Dutch TITANIC - history of the s.s. STATENDAM, Budapest, 2018.

Dr. Tamás Balogh: The TITANIC-catastrophy and development of lifeboat-systems, Budapest, 2014.

Buxton, Ian: Big gun monitors, Pen and Sword Books Ltd. 2008, Barnsley, UK, p. 17., p. 47.

Chirnside, Marc: Whatever happened to Germanic/Homeric?

C., Robert: NEDERLAND, http://www.theyard.info/ships/ships.asp?entryid=469

David L. Williams, Richard P. de Kerbrecht: Great Passenger Ships That Never Were: Damned by Destiny Revised, History Press, 2019.

Hume, John R, Moss, Michael S.: Shipbuilders to the World: 125 Years of Harland and Wolff, Belfast, 1861-1986, Blackstaff Press Ltd, 1986., p. 177.

 

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