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Fourth funnel of OLYMPIC-class liners

2022.02.12. 22:52 Doki

With regard to ocean liners built with many funnels, it is widely believed that in older times many funnels were needed only because the poor efficiency of early boilers required this. However, there are many examples of large numbers of funnels being used even after they were no longer absolutely necessary due to the development of boilers. In the present study, we recall these examples.


The silhouette of the ships has been defined for centuries by a plethora of high masts and sails, making it recognizable from afar. As steam propulsion gained more and more ground in ocean-going shipping, the masts and sails disappeared and were gradually replaced by ships that were emitting dense smoke and soot, or just friendly white steam. Finally the thin and tall, or even thick and squat funnels, which lined up on upper deck of the huge passenger liners, had became characteristic hallmarks, just on the same way as the most striking element of the human face is the nose.

A total of only 14 four-funnelled ocean liners have been built in the history of shipping, although the GREAT EASTERN is sometimes listed here, but it was originally a five-stacker and was only converted to a four-funnelled in cable-laying period of it's service time. However, each of them did not really need four funnels, including the White Star Line's famous OLYMPIC-class trio (OLYMPIC, TITANIC, GIGANTIC - later BRITANNIC II).


Fig. 1.: That 14 four-funnel ocean liners which served in shipping companies of different nations through the maritime history. (created by Dr. Tamás Balogh).



Fig. 2. and 3.: First four-funnelled ships were warships: the H.M.S. TERRIBLE (1845-1879) the largest steam-powered wooden paddle wheel frigate built for the Royal Navy, and the U.S.S. WAMPANOAG (1864-1885), a screw frigatedesigned to be the fastest in the world, were intended for use in hit-and-run operations against British ports and commerce in the event of war (this type of warships widely known as cruisers later). The WAMPANOAG was a speed-recorder of the age with it's18 knots. (Source: to the TERRIBLE here, to the WAMPANOAG here and here.)



Fig. 4., 5., 6., 7., 8. and 9.: First four-funnelled civilian ships were was the iron paddle-steamers of the ULSTER-class which performed at a speed of 14 knots - ULSTER (1860-1897), MUNSTER (1860-1896), LEINSTER (1860-1896), CONNAUGHT (1860-1897) - built by the Laird's ship builders of Birkenhead for the City of Dublin Steam Pocket Co., and the BEN-MY-CHREE (1875-1906) built by Barrow Shipbuilding Co. for Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.



Fig. 10., 11. and 12.: Plan and builder's model of the very first four-funnelled ocean liner from 1890. A German engineer employed by Fairfield Shipbuildingand Engineering Company, in Govan, Scotland, Robert Zimmermann, made for GUION LINE a new design for their new record breaker. Stephen Barker Guion (1820–1885) has died, and the then financial instable line, transformed into an incorporation, tried to get a new record vessel after OREGON went back to the builder, who sold it to CUNARD. The newbuild contract never materialized. Zimmermann went back to Germany and seven years later the first four-funnelled ocean liner came into service under German flag.

In the present study, we are looking for an answer to what has led designers to use such components, which are indifferent to the ship's operability, and that ships with dummy funnels, especially those in the OLYMPIC-class, were really only self-serving results of designer's or customer's arbitrary, without any rationate and practical function?


Fig. 13.: Boiler room and fuunnel-arrangement of the famous GREAT EASTERN 1858-1890 (Source: Library of Congress).


I.) On the practical and aesthetic significance of funnels:

The primary purpose of funnel(s) on steamships is to remove smoke (and smoke gases), heat and excess steam from the boiler(s) located down, in the boiler room(s). As the size of ocean liners increased, more and more boilers were used.

The boilers were connected directly to the funnels in the middle of the 19th century. It was the so-called simple smoke-exhausting system. However, as the number of boilers increased, smoke-gas exhausting required more and more differentiated technical solutions, since it was also necessary to find a way to connect the flue pipes of those boilers which were located further from the funnel uptakes (had to abandon those previous solution, according to which 1-2, or maximum 4 boilers standing under a certain funnel are connected into the same funnel uptake, since an unlimited number of funnels could not be placed on the upper deck, if passengers should have accommodated too).

The problem is well illustrated by the fact that the GREAT EASTERN (which was the largest ship in the world for 40 years, and had fundamentally influenced the mindset of designers for decades), had only 10 boilers initially with 5, then (after reducing the number of boilers) with 4 functioning funnels, but the ships of the OLYMPIC-class had 29 boilers per ship with 3 funnels! The technical task to be solved was therefore to divert the combustion products of the boilers located further away from the funnel-uptakes to the funnels as well. In doing so, the horizontal sections had to be avoided, which would have led to a stagnation of the flow of flue gases, a cessation of ventilation, and possibly a return to the combustion chamber (thus reducing the efficiency of the combustion).

The solution was the development of a complex boiler exhaust assembly system for boilers in the last decade of the 19th and the first of the 20th century. This is consisted of two basic structural elements, between the boilers in the bottom of the vessel and the funnels on the upper deck: (1) special-shaped ventillation shafts (or boiler uptakes) which connect gas exit flanges on the upper part of boilers with the lower part of the funnel uptakes, and (2) the actual vertical funnel -or smoke shafts (i.e. funnel uptakes).


Figs. 14. and 15.: GREAT EASTERN’s simple and OLYMPI’s complex boiler exhaust assembly system (blue: boiler, green: boiler uptakes, red: funnel uptakes). (Source: Science Museum and Bruce Beveridge)


By the end of the 19th century, the long rectangular, box-shaped (so-called locomotive) boilers used in steam locomotives had been replaced by cylindrical boilers for ships. According to the widespread practice, a maximum of two rows of single- or double-ended boilers (which had fireplaces at both ends, ie heated from both sides) were connected to one funnel with 3-5 boilers per row. Depending on the number of boilers and the size of the ships, this solution was first used by the Germans to build a four-funnelled ocean liner, which was named KAISER WILHELM der GROSSE (1897-1914). In Germany, it became model of an ocean liner-series (owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd, which built 3 or more ships based on it's plans, but even the great rival HAPAG - Hamburg-Amerikanische Paketafahrt Aktiengesellschaft - used the plans of this ship to build a fast steamer called DEUTSCHLAND).


Figs. 16., 17. and 18.: Boiler- and funnel-arrrangement of KAISER WILHELM der GROSSE, its sister ship, KRONPRINZ WILHELM (above) and DEUTSCHLAND (middle) and KAISER WILHELM II and its sister ship, KRONZPRINZESSIN CECILIE (below). (Source: Collection of Dr. Tamás Balogh.)


In the case of German ships, however, the number of funnels has clearly been adapted to aspects other than technical necessity. In their case, unlike the practice of the time, there were not 2-2 rows of single- or double-ended boilers connected to the funnels, but fewer!

1) In the case of KAISER WILHELM der GROSSE (and its sister ship), only 1-1 rows of double-ended boilers were connected to 3 of the 4 funnels (2 rows of boilers were connected only to the last last funnel, but into one of these rows only single-ended boilers installed).

2) In the case of DEUSCHLAND, although 2-2 rows of boilers were already connected to all 4 funnels, there was always only single-ended boilers in one row.

3) Finally, in the case of KAISER WILHELM II (and its sister ship), there was again only one row of double-ended boilers under 1 of the 4 funnels, while in one of each rows of boilers under the other funnels contained only single-ended boilers.

In other words, while it was already possible at that time to connect 2 rows of double-ended boilers to 1 funnel (with 3-5 boilers per row), only half of this amount (up to one and a half times) was connected to 1-1 funnels on German ships. That is, the flue gas extraction of the boilers - if all the possibilities provided by the technical standards of the age were used to the maximum - could have been solved with fewer funnels! In light of this, the question may arise: what justified this type of funnel-arrangement? The answer is simple: advertising!

By the first years of the 20th century, the market for transoceanic passenger taffic had changed significantly. The transport of masses of emigrants from Europe to America from the second half of the 19th century onwards, more and more small and medium-sized European shipping companies were set up. Their presence was a challenge for the large national shipping companies, regarding they ordered far more ships than ever before, while - in the supply market - ticket prices were falling consequently. In order to stay afloat, companies have been lowering their prices and relentlessly cutting tariffs to secure a place in the competition. Thus, in many cases, they did not even generate enough revenue for the maintainance costs of their ships, let alone pay dividends to their shareholders.

A typical case of absorption was recognized by a U.S. financier, John Pierpoint Morgan, who – with the transformation of the International Navigation Co., established in 1871 to merge U.S. transatlantic shipping companies with strong financial support from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and various banks – acquired shares in the largest European shipping companies (including the English White Star Line) by 1902, and has entered into a co-operation agreement (we would now say a market-sharing agreement) with the German HAPAG and Norddeutscher Lloyd. The International Mercantile Marine Co., which was formed at this time, has since then rationalized the shipbuilding programs of its member companies, but until that the competition was almost unrestricted and ruthless.

In this situation, all that mattered was for the companies to catch passengers and persuade them to choose their ships for the transatlantic crossing rather than ships of the rival companies. As the 5-7 day voyage was still one of the most dangerous modes of travel at the time (the entry "disappeared at sea" was in too many registers), safety, speed and strength were those primary considerations for the passengers for their decisions. So the German designers set out to design ships that, with their appearance, suggest safety, speed and strength. When German ships actually won one by one the award for fastest Atlantic crossing - the famous Blue Ribbon - four funnel, which originally was just a marketing trick, became a brand and a symbol of speed and safety. Therefore, shipping companies have made every effort in order to be able to put four-funelled ocean-liners into service…

All right, but exactly what?

1) For example, they designed – or redesigned – their ships (which were still in the design phase) on that way, so that their boiler-arrangement will be as such that 4 funnels must be built in all conditions (the LUSITANIA and MAURETANIA, which originally designed as three-stacker, thus became four).

2) Or they built dummy funnels on their ships (as in the case of the OLYMPIC-class) simply just to have four funnels, in order to gave the impression of strength with them, by making their ship’ appearance more impressive.

Nevertheless the construction of the four-funnelled oceanliners used by competing shipping companies covered a very short period of time, only 25 years from the construction of the KAISER WILHELM der GROSSE in 1897 to the construction of the SS WINDSOR CATLE in 1922. In this quarter of a century, the reason for the use of a larger number of funnels, although in some cases undoubtedly necessary, remained largely symbolic.


Fig. 19.: The LUSITANIA (and its sister ship, the MAURETANIA) would have been built with three funnels according to the first plans in 1903. (Source: wikihmong.com)


However, the power and the prestige of the four funnels (which almost created style and fashion at the beginning of the 20th century) began to decline shortly after the First World War and then quickly disappeared. The flagships of the fleets of the large shipping companies, including the IMPERATOR, NORMANDIE and QUEEN MARY, had only three funnels (and often almost even that was unnecessary, since the size and performance of the boilers increased, so the same performance could be achieved with fewer boilers and funnels). The increase in the efficiency of shipbuilding, and the need to preserve (and possibly increase) the space available to passengers, has eventually led to the fact that oceanliners built in the years before the Second World War were only built with a maximum of two funnels, like in case of the BREMEN and EUROPA, the REX and CONTE di SAVOIA, and the MAURETANIA (II.) and QUEEN ELISABETH. And today's modern passenger ships carry only a single stack uniformly…

Fig. 20.: Final boiler- and funnel-arrangement of the LUSITANIA (and its sister ship, the MAURETANIA) from 1907. (Source: Illustrated London News, Courtesy of Péter Könczöl.)


II.) OLYMPIC-class dummy funnels - is a "dummy" funnel really disfunctional?

Units of the OLYMPIC class originally evoking the outline of the latest ocean liners built before them for the White Star Line (i.e. the "Big Four" - ADRIATIC, BALTIC, CEDRIC and CELTIC), as they would have been four- or three-masted ocean liners, with a superstructure split into several parts and only three (!) funnels. However, according to the first preliminary design which made after the construction of LUSITANIA and MAURETANIA in the summer of 1907, were soon replaced by the designs of a much larger and more elegant four-funnelled ship, he led the combustion products of the boilers to the open air. The R.M.S. OLYMPIC and its two sisterships thus eventually had four recognizable, elegant funnels, the first three of which led the combustion flue of the boilers to the open air.


Figs. 21., 22. and 23.: Plans of the R.M.S. BALTIC (above), first sketches of the OLYPMIC from 1907 (middle) and view of the ship (below). (Source: Wikimedia, The New York Times, March, 15.1908, Pinterest).





Figs. 24., 25., 26. and 27.: Boiler and funnel arrangement of the OLYMPIC on the final plans of the ship. (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh.)



Figs. 28., 29. and 30.: Spider-like boiler uptakes for the OLYMPIC-class that conveyed flue gases and soot to the funnel uptakes. The size of these structures that are about to be completed is a good indication of how much space they needed over the boilers (Source: Samuel HalpernParks Stephenson). 


A boiler uptakes of 29 shafts, reminiscent of a giant spider, connected to the first three funnels was available for smoke extraction. In contrast, the fourth funnel in the OLYMPIC class (often referred to briefly as a “dummy” funnel) was used for ventilation, ie the fourth funnel was part of the ventilation system, namely it had to be used for the ventilation for the engine room and had to drain the combustion products from the fireplace of the first class smoking room. 

When OLYPMIC's boilers were converted to burn oil instead of coal in the 1920s, a fan was built into the fourth funnel to extract the flammable gases formed in the oil tanks. The fittings and equipment in the funnel were accessible and maintained by means of ladders built inside the funnel, which help for mechanics in cleaning or even in maintainance.

The elliptical cross-section funnels were 24 feet, 6 inches, and 19 feet in diameter, height were 70 feet from the boat deck, 150 feet from the waterline, and had an angle of 11 degrees. Each funnel was held by six-six steel wire (wrapped with rope) from each side, which were attached to rims placed on the reinforced lower part of the black-painted funnel collars. The funnel itself was painted buff, the usual White Star Line livery, except for the top quarter, which was painted black to mask the discoloration caused by soot on the funnel collar.

018019020.jpgFigs. 31., 32. and 33.: TITANIC funnel-arrangement and fourth funnel on the ship's plans (Source: Daily Mail, The Hitory Blog).


Fig. 34.: The dummy funnel of the OLYMPIC-class did not determined by aesthetics only. The rear funnel served the following functions: 1) ventilated air to/from the ship’s medical compartment, 2) ventilated air to/from the ship’s engine room, 3) ventilated air to/from the 1st and 2nd Class kitchens, 4) and was a chimney for the 1st Class smoking room fireplace. (Source Illustrated London News)


Figs. 35., 36., 37., 38., 39., 40., and 41.: Above the first three funnels of the OLYMPIC-class liners and the fourth funnel in the middle. The bottom three images were taken from the top of the fourth funnel of the OLYMPIC in the 1920s.


III.) Were other ships built with dummy funnels?

That's right! Even not one! As mentioned in the introduction to the study, not all of the 14 four-funnelled liners would have needed four funnels! In fact of the 14 ships, only 11 actually needed four funnels to discharge the combustion products from their boilers.

At the same time, dummy funnels for the White Star Line’s three OLYMPIC-class ships has long been the subject of debate. The German website on the work of the German Shipbuilding Technical Society (Schiffsbautechnische Gesellschaft) from 1901 to 1930, for example, traces the aesthetic debate of the fourth dummy funnel of the OLYMPIC class in 1917 (!).

Why this renowned society of German civil and naval shipbuilding engineers considered this topic important in the third year of the war, and why the abandonment of the fourth funnel still met with fierce resistance after the construction of the first two ships of the three-funnelled IMPERATOR-class, is a mystery.

The translation of the description commemorating the 1917 debate is as follows:

"Prof. Lienau [professor at the Royal Prussian Technical College in Danzig, today Gdansk, Poland], gave a lecture on the fourth funnel of the Olympic / Titanic, which was only a dummy funnel, and then discussed his proposal for another three-funnelled fast steamer, which others strongly opposed it."



Fig. 42.: Otto Lienau's demonstration (Source: Otto Lienau: Schiffbau als Kunst, in.: Jahrbuch der Schiffbautechnischen Gesellschaft, 1918. 328. o., collection of Dr. Tamás Balogh).


However, out of the 11 real four-funnelled ocean-going steamers mentioned, 7 (the 4 KAISER-class ships of the German Norddeutscher Lloyd, the DEUTCHLAND of the German HAPAG Line, the ARUNDEL CASTLE and WINDSOR CASTLE of the british Union-Castle Line) only had four funnels just because their plans had been modified such a way, although two funnels would have been enough for them. Funnels that originally served for boilers that actually operate in two boiler rooms were separated per boilers, so instead of one funnel per boiler room they received two funnels (one per boiler), that is, in their case, artificially (not because of technical necessity) four funnels were created.


Figs. 43. and 44.: WINDSOR CASTLE ocean liner in its original condition and after reconstruction. There was no need for four funnels! (Source: Wikipedia)


2 ships out of 11 (the LUSITANIA and MAURETANIA of the British Cunard Line), only three funnels were originally designed in the same way as the first plans of the OLYMPIC-class, and only due to the success of the German four-stackers - so only for advertising reasons - they decided to change the plans and order four-funnelled ocean liners. All in all, therefore, only 2 of the 14 vessels actually and indisputably had four funnels from the very first stage of design: in case of AQUITANIA of the Cunard Line and FRANCE (II) of the Compaigne Générale Transatlantique ('Transat'), although the real four-funnelled nature of the latter is debatable given the boiler arrangement.


Figs. 45. and 46.: Longitudinal section of the only real four-stackers, the AQUITANIA (above) and the FRANCE (II.). (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh)


Moreover, the ships of the OLYMPIC-class were not only unique among their four-funelled contemporaries in the use of dummy funnels: the famous German Ballin Trio, the three-funnelled ships of the IMPERATOR-class, also had a dummy funnel at the rear. This was the case with the sister ships CAP POLONIO and CAP TRAFFALGAR of the Hamburg-Süd Line, or the STRATHNAVER of the Peninsular and Orient Line (P&O), the ILE de FRANCE and NORMANDIE of the CGT, the EMPRESS of BRITAIN of the Canadian Pacific Line, or BRITANNIC (III.) of the WSL and AMERICA of the US Lines, and we could continue. What's more! In case of Cunard Line's two-stacker sister ships of ANDRIA and ALSATIA in the 1950s (!), the first funnel was a dummy funnel as well. This means that then - even after the design-revolution, the constructivism, and the functionalism - it was a common feeling that to seem bigger, is better.


Fig. 47.: On ships in the IMPERATOR-class, the rear funnel (although the ships had “only” three funnels) was also a dummy. (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh)



Fig. 48.: And when there are already just two funnels, but they are also too many: AMERICA and its dummy-funnel (this time the first). (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh)



Figs. 49. and 50.: BRITANNIC (III.) above and her sister GEORGIC (below). GEORGIC originally also had two funnels, but it was converted to a single-stacker by removing the forward dummy-funnel in World War II. (Source: Wikipedia)


So, using parts (by neglect of material- and cost-saving) which were completely unnecessary for technical reasons, just for the sake of appearance (purely for design, or optical purposes), was a common thing for a long time.

Perhaps one of the most extraordinary of these items was the third funnel of the NORMANDIE, which, however, was not a completely inoperable piece: the kennel for the dogs of the passengers were placed in it. The dog kennel was a place surrounded by stainless steel bars, in the middle of which was an drinking fountain for the animals in an oval space. The kennels were steam-heated, ventilated rooms with fresh litter and straw waiting for the animals daily. Allowed daily exercise for the dogs was provided on the upper deck around the funnel base. Of course, rescue equipment was also provided for the dogs in puppy, large and medium sizes, and a special daily menu was printed in French (offering a variety of bones, soups, biscuits and vegetables). A separate veterinarian was also available on board if required.


Figs. 51.: Dog Kennels, located inside the third - dummy - funnel of NORMANDIE (Source: Popular Mechanics, August, 1939.)


IV.) Under the spell of funnels:

Designer of the GREAT EASTERN,the  French-born British engineer genius Isambard Kingdom Brunnel once responded to accusations connected to his liner-plans (according to that building a ship of such a huge size is uneconomical and unnecessary) that “the bigger is better”.

His idea hadn't been approved for nearly 40 years, but now we know that he was right. He is not wanted that his ships won the title of the largest sea-going steamers for selfish purposes. These ships had been built so big only for they could take on board the amount of coal needed to cross the ocean without refueling. They had to be large in the first place, and many passengers had to be accommodated to make their journeys profitable.

Incidentally, the large size was accompanied by stability, seaworthiness, which was of great value to passengers who wanted to cross safely (even if, as is well known, all pioneers had a hard time, so the handling of Brunnel’s vast and unprecedented ocean liners was not an easy task either, and the necessarily untrained crew certainly caused many accidents).

Still, the “mania for size” brought to life by talented or just untalented engineers trying to follow Brunnel, continues to this day. An interesting side effect of this was the attraction to multi-funnelled ocean-going vessels, as the epitome of safety, speed and power, which was initially embodied in the construction of the four-stackers, but we also know of a case where designers flirted with the idea of installing even more funnels…

The following are manifestations of this strange mania for size (presenting three unrealized oceanliner plans, which were partly intended as a joke):


Figs. 52.: Concept of Jochann Schütte for the KAISER WILHELM II. in 1902. (Source: Pinterest)


The success of the first fourstacker oceanliners (the KAISER WILHELM der GROSSE and its sistership, KRONPRINZ WILHELM, and the rival DEUTSCHLAND) prompted the shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd, to build new, larger and faster ones.

Answering the order of the company, in 1900, several designers prepared a design proposal for the new ships (later KAISER WILHELM II and its sister ship, KRONPRINZESSIN CECILIE). Jochann Schütte's project to upgrading the KAISER-class stood out from the rest by he had now installed even five (!) funnels on the upper deck, instead of the previous four.

His plans contained nothing new in other respects, only in that the German engineer gave the hull of his ship the shape of the warships, more precisely the stern of the cruisers - perhaps as a result of the universal interest in warship-building (which was booming at the time and was also of great concern to the public, and the patriotic sentiments centered around it).

This is all the more remarkable because the so-called cruiser-stern began to spread on ocean liners only about ten years later, but only gained popularity in the 1930s following the success of the largest liner built with cruiser stern, the QUEEN MARY.


Figs. 53.: Concept of William Francis Gibbs for the INDPENDENCE in 1915. (Source: The New York Times, August 3. 1919.)


The background of this situation is well highlighted by the third example is a funny mirror in front of all car-crazy people, which is nothing more than a caricature made by a German photographer in the 1920s as a prank for April 1st. Using a picture of VATERLAND (US-owned LEVIATHAN) confiscated from the Germans, he created a photomontage of a ten-funnelled limousine oceanliner – the imaginary PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT – as a reference to the contemporary enthusiasm for vast dimensions.



Figs. 54.: The German caricature-photo. (Source)











It would be great if you like the article shared. If you are interested in the works of the author, you can find more information about the author and his work on the Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners Fb-page.



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Címkék: balogh tit tit hajózástörténeti modellező és hagyományőrző egyesület tit hmhe hajózástörténeti tagozat English Ocean liners Encyclopedia of ocean liners RMS Titanic

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…


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.


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


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.


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…


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.


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



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.


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:


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). 


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.


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).




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



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.


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.



It has been a year since the previous information summarized about Red Star Line's plans for the unbuilt giant steamer NEDERLAND in an article at the beginning of 2022. Well, since then more information have been learned, so the attempt to reconstruct the plans had to be updated. The result is shown below:


Fig. 15.: The general arrangement plan of Red Star Line's SS Nederland (No. 469) by courtesy of Maasdam McAdam, Ocean Liner Deck Plans.



Fig. 16.: The improved reconstruction of the elevation and plan view of the ship (created by Dr. Tamás Balogh).



Fig. 17.: Impression about the ship based on the improved reconstruction of the revised elevation plan (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.


It would be great if you like the article and pictures shared. If you are interested in the works of the author, you can find more information about the author and his work on the Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners Fb-page.

If you would like to share the pictures, please do so by always mentioning the artist's name in a credit in your posts. Thank You!



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Címkék: tit hajózástörténeti modellező és hagyományőrző egyesület tit hmhe hajózástörténeti tagozat English balogh tamas Nederland Statendam Ocean liners Belgenland Harland and Wolff Encyclopedia of ocean liners RMS Titanic

Ocean liners comparisons - as tools of knowledge dissemination and commercial advertising

2021.08.03. 15:46 Doki

It is well known that ships are the greatest means of transport built by mankind. But how big is an ocean liner actually? After all, there are smaller and bigger ones among the ships. Well, until the advent of bulk carriers (eg tankers) and container vessels, ocean-going passenger ships were the largest vehicles on earth for almost one hundred and twenty years, and seemed almost unimaginably large for a land-based man, for whom the greatest means of transport was just a horse-drawn carriage in the past, and even these days it's just a truck at most. Nevertheless, of course, there were (sometimes considerable) differences in size between ocean liners. Comparative diagrams and comparisons (which make oceanliners conceivable by comparing them with ordinary objects also familiar to land people) informing the public about amazing dimensions of oceanliners, and small or large differences between them. They attempt to transfer information, data, or knowledge, typically without words, by means of visual representation, that is, according to our present-day concepts, they can be considered infographics. The writing of Dr. Tamás Balogh gives an introduction into their story and an overview of their types.



I.) The development of comparisons as an illustrative representation:

We don’t know exactly which was the very first comparative representation ever made for an ocean liner. In any case, the very first ocean liner, which dimensions were spectacularly surpassed any idea by, was the British GREAT EASTERN (1858-1890), designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and built by John Scott Russel at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The ship was six times the displacement of the largest vessel built until that (the GREAT BRITAIN, also designed by Brunel), and was almost unimaginably large compared to other contemporary ships.


Figure 1: Scale representation of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's three revolutionary ships is a good illustration of the development of shipbuilding in the life of a single person (the picture was taken by Dr. Tamás Balogh using a drawing by Björn Landström). At the time, all three ships held a world record. Their designer - with the support of constructors who helped make the plans come true - became the father of all modern ocean liners, and his ships became the ancestors of the ocean liners known today. (Source of the original: Landström, Björn: The Ship, Doubleday, 1983.)

The GREAT WESTERN (in front left) was still built of wood. To cross the Atlantic with steam (the sails did not serve the propulsion, only helped to hold proper direction) had to build the largest hull in the world at the time in order to accommodate the abundant coal needed for the transatlantic voyage. For the proulsion, a surface condenser had to be invented to convert the exhausted steam of the engine into feed water again, and the largest wrought-iron shaft ever made for paddle wheels was needed to traversing the width of the huge hull (so the world's largest steam hammer had to be made for machining that).

The GREAT BRITAIN (in front right) was the largest ship of its time too. This was the first ocean liner made by wrought iron and the first which driven by a propeller (the sail here was not for propulsion either). To ensure the buoyancy of the ship in the event of any havaria, compartments with watertight bulkheads were built into hull for the first time.

And GREAT EASTERN (in the background) brought together all the knowledge that engineers and shipbuilders had acquired until then. At the same time, of course, she introduced further innovations: she was the first ocean liner to be built with a hull which had double bottom and - in partially - double side, making her not only an exceptionally large, but an exceptionally safe vessel (thanks to the built-in watertight compartments and watertight decks).


GREAT EASTERN was the number one technical sensation of her age, simultaneously awakening admiration and certain concern. It is no coincidence that after the huge biblical sea monster, she was originally named LEVIATHAN, and Jules Verne also wrote a novel entitled “A Floating City” (Une Ville flottante) as a result of his experiences on board. So we are hardly mistaken, if thought that the birth of comparative representation of ocean liners (which later became so popular) are in connection with the GREAT EASTERN.



Figure 2: Probably all started like this: the huge dimensions of the ship at first made it possible to compare her with other ships of the age only in the paintings made of it. (Source: Weedon, Edwin - The Great Eastern pasing through the Downs, 1859. Science Museum, London)


The considerable difference in size between the GREAT EASTERN and the traditional sailing ships or the first steamers which seemed dwarf beside the giant, was a striking phenomenon clearly seen from all contemporary depictions of the ship, and has not escaped the attention of the contemporary press too. After all, every part of her was so incredibly large, compared to the usual sizes, that it was already a creepy thrill in itself. GREAT EASTERN's huge size and advanced technology have attracted so much interest that the optimism that followed her construction has spread to America after Europe, where the first announcements of the ship's dimensions have inspired several cartoons of her in local newspapers, during the construction (https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/OnlineLibrary/photos/sh-civil/civsh-g/gt-est-x.htm).


Figure 3: American cartoons from the time of the construction of GREAT EASTERN offered many possibilities for comparisons. 1) With the ports: predicting that when the bow of the ship arrive, the stern is not even visible on the horizon (top left). 2) With the Earth: drawing attention to the fact that the keel of such huge ships must already be curved in advance to conform to the curvature of the Earth's surface (above center). 3) With the depths of the seas: assuring readers that modern ships are now so large that some of their parts will necessarily rise above the water even if they sink, providing an excellent opportunity, among other things, to stretch the transatlantic telegraph cable between them (above right). 4) With a country cottage: indicating that if one wants a little relaxation, it is enough to ride a carriage out to the aft deck (bottom left). 5) With the icebergs: making sure that a ship of this size can even break through the ice barrikades of the Northwest Passage (bottom center). 6) With naval forts: drawing attention to the potential benefits of military use of such huge ships (bottom right). (Source: S.S. Great Eastern – Contemporary Cartoons inspired by the Ship, Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center)


These depictions are rather funny and even mocking. The huge hull had not even been launched for three months, which gave enough reason to ridicule, saying why the ship was being built with a size that could not be moved. Nevertheless, these depictions, which in their day may have really made many people smile, foretold, in a strange way, almost visionarily, all that had finally happened:

1) GREAT EASTERN led to a huge business collapse, partly because there wasn’t a port all over the world that could serve the huge ship. The spectacular expansion of port infrastructures has begun in the world just because of the developments predicted by the ship.

2) Although ocean liners have never been able to grow large enough to traversed the Earth, the network of scheduled voyages performed by steam-powered ocean liners (which operated independently from the wind) created the opportunity for predictable, safe, and regular transcontinental transportation all over the planet.

3) After the bankruptcy of her operating company, first succesfull use of GREAT EASTERN became possible at the time of the laying the transatlantic telegraph cable between Europe and America. This work would have been impossible without the high-capacity vessel, which could have taken on board at once the entire amount of cable long enought for the distance between the two continents.

4) The depiction of a palace-like summer residence on the aft deck also foreshadowed the future which baceam reality later, as the huge ocean liners were not only built large, strong, and fast, but also equipped with the amenities that passengers were accustomed to on land and demanded at sea. Verne’s “floating city” was only referring to the wast number of people who could be taken on board. However, it soon became apparent that the people in this "city" could access almost all the services which alvailable too for them in towns in their homeland. What’s more, it also turned out that the rooms used to accommodate first-class travelers rival the lavish furnishings of an aristocratic residence or a first-class hotel. The former “floating cities” then became “floating palaces” as well.

5) In retrospect, the mention of ice is also astonishing. Although there have been ice-related shipwrecks until then, no one has assumed that huge ships like the GREAT EASTERN could become victims of such accidents. Moreover, in truth, no one believed that waves of the high seas could be seriously felt by those who were on board a ship of this size (until the GREAT EASTERN’s swaying in a strong storm proved otherwise, deterring passengers for a long time). Disaster of the TITANIC, which collided with an iceberg and sunk, shaken the confidence for invulnerability of such a huge ships, and warned greater caution in design, construction, and operation.

6) Finally, a prediction related to the military use of ocean liners was confirmed too: the strong and fast ships with a huge capacity, able to keep the schedule in spite of the weather, were frequently used for carrying troops across the ocean. They have appeared in various conflicts of the British Empire from South Africa to India and China. They fought in the Spanish-American colonial war, in the First and Second World Wars, and even in the Korean War. Their significance is well illustrated by the fact that the ocean liners QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH carried a total of 2,200,000 troops between 1940 and 1945, shortening World War II by two years, according to Winston Churchill.


The fortune-telling of the cartoons is no wonder, as the GREAT EASTERN was the messenger of the future. Messenger of the Distant Future: The revolutionary innovations of its designer and builders were so ahead of their time that for 40 years, no ship was built that could even approach the dimensions of her. The first ocean liner, which was longer than her, was built in 1898 (R.M.S. OCEANIC II), the first to have a larger displacement, though only in 1901 (R.M.S. CELTIC). All this led almost naturally to the fact that in the nineteenth and in the twentieth century, almost every new ship was somehow compared to the GREAT EASTERN, as both their designers and builders measured their own performance against the results of their great predecessors. In fact, this gave birth to the graphic genre of comparisons, which has remained essentially unchanged to this day.



Figure 4: Comparing the length of the GREAT EASTERN (1858) and the OCEANIC II. (1898) from 1899. The Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, which designed and built OCEANIC II, and the owner White Star Line, were proud to announce that they firstly performed that, what could not succeed for anybody in the last forty years: for the first time, they surpassed the majestic GREAT EASTERN with a ship which could be operated economically. (Source: „Scientific American” 1900. March 31.)



Figure 5: Engines and power of the OCEANIC II. The caption for the images is, "Sixteen locomotives would present horsepower developed by OCEANIC steamship steamed at 22 miles per hour." "Eight locomotives would haul OCEANIC on the level at 22 miles per hour." "Weight of OCEANIC represented by two trains, each of 433 cars and 3 miles in length." (Source: „Scientific American” 1900. March 31.)


II.) Comparisons as a means of advertising - the spread and main types of representation: 

After esurpassing the GREAT EASTERN (greatest technical achievement that seems unsurpassed for four decades) the potential for advertising in comparisons has already become a "weapon" in the arsenal of commercial “war”, in the competition between the creators of new and even newer shiping wonders. Due to this, the useage of comparative information graphics which used to make the extraordinary capacity of ocean-going vessels widely known, was already a common advertising ploy in the second half of the 19thcentury. They no longer primarily compared the ocean liners to GREAT EASTERN, but rather to each other. It was also common practice to compare the size of the new ocean liners with the known large-scale structures and monuments of the age - Egyptian pyramids, American skyscrapers, possibly different parts of the city - or with famous ships of previous eras instead of contemporary liners, thus illustrating the change, technical progress and engineering excellence. The pictures, which were meant to be impressive, were expected not only to awaken general enthusiasm, but also to gain the very specific interest and trust of those preparing to travel overseas in the purchase of tickets.



Figure 6: OCEANIC II (in the top row). KAISER WILHELM der GROßE, KAISER WILHELM II and IMPERATOR (in the second row). LUSITANIA, OLYMPIC and TITANIC (in the third row). QUEEN MARY, QUEEN MARY II, and DISNEY (in the bottom row). (Source: Private Collection of Dr. Tamás Balogh, Library of Congress, Mariner's Museum, New York Tribnune November 27., 1910., and other sources and collections).


II.1. Comparison of liners to each other: While the English often compared their ships to each other (makte the continuous improvement perceptible by this way), the German companies — emphasizing sheer size primarily — compared their oceanliners to buildings (perhaps because the German is traditionally a land-based rather than a seafaring nation).


Figure 7: Representation of the size of British ocean liners compared to other vessels (Source).



Figure 8: German ocean liners in the urban skyline: 1) the s.s. AMERIKA (1905-1957) with Hamburg City Hall. 2) The s.s. KAISERIN AUGUSTE VICTOIRIA (1905-1930) with Park Row Building in New York. 3) The s.s. KIASER WILHELM der GROßE (1897-1914) next to the Trinity Church in Manhattan, the Saint Paul Building in New York (1895-1958), and the obelisk of the Washington Monument  and the dome of the Capitol in Washington DC. 4) Finally, the s.s. IMPREATOR (1912-1946) next to the Woolworth Building in New York. (Source)



Figure 9: British ocean liners in the urban skyline - TITANIC and MAURETANIA: In addition to the TITANIC: 1) the Bunker Hill Memorial in Boston, 2) the Public Building in Philadelphia, 3) the Washington Monument, and 4) the Metropolitan Tower in New York, 5) and the Woolworth Building, 6) the Cologne Cathedral, 7) the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, 8) the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The iconography of the image is also eloquent: the sights of the Old and New Worlds are connected by the oceanliner. This well-known poster was designed by Jay Henry Mowbray, originally for the R.M.S. OLYMPIC. It was later used for the advertising of the R.M.S. TITANIC as well, but not for the H.M.H.S. BRITANNIC (ex-R.M.S. GIGANTIC). The picture about the lenght of the R.M.S. MAURETANIA compared with the heights of New York Skyscrapers, the Eiffel Tower and other famous structures appeared in the journal "Scientific American" in the 1920s. (Source)



Figure 10: The ocean liner QUEEN MARY and the wonders of the Old and New Worlds. The picture clearly shows the effect of TITANIC's similar advertising (Source).


With the development of marketing, the way of representation has also changed. Poster-like representations (possibly reproduced on postcards) highlighting the characteristic features of ocean liners were replaced in the years immediately prior to the First World War by thematic brochures sold in gift shops of ships and companies, which offered the possibility of comparison in various respects.



Figure 11: The legacy of QUEEN MARY. In this comparison, which depicts the lenght of the ocean liner QUEEN MARY II., the influence of the TITANIC advertising previously seen is clearly identifyable (although this image, like the MAURETANIA advertising, shows buildings from different parts of the world). (Source)


II.2. Comparison of liners to buildings and monuments: A typical example of German practice comparing ships to buildings is the comparison of the s.s. KAISER WILHELM II. (1902-1940), the latest ocenliner (together with her sister) equipped with reciprocating steam-engines. Using the series of comparison drawings made for domestic “consumption” (also reproduced on postcards), every German person could easily have an idea of the dimensions of the ship by comparing her with the well-known cities of their hometown.



Figure 12: German comparisons - the s.s. KAISER WILHELM II. in various German and other European cities (Sources: 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7. 8.).



Interestingly, this mode of representation survived until the outbreak of World War II and in case of several German ocean liners it was also used for  - e.g. in case of ALBERT BALLIN (1922-1945) and COLUMBUS (1922-1939).



Figure 13: The German pre-World War I. comparing practice, also applied in case of the s.s. ALBERT BALLIN of the famous HAPAG shipping company (that was the first German ocean liner which built after the war) . This picture depicts the ship on the Jungferstieg, famous riverside promenade of Hamburg, situated in the a historic core of the city from the Hanseatic periode. (Source)



Figure 14: A comparative figure showing the dimensions of the COLUMBUS, the largest German ocean liner in 1924, depicting the ship in the traditional way, placed on the Kornhaus bridge in Bern, showing its length. (Source) 


II.3. Comparison of liners to famous historic vessels, like SANTA MARIA, etc.: A common example of a comparison to famous historic ships is a comparative representation between a certain ocean liner and the SANTA MARIA, world-famous ship of Columbus. In these cases, when it was enough to highlight only one aspect in the comparison, there was an opportunity to make the representation more demanding, sometimes artistic. This is the case for the british-built Spanish ocean liner ALFONSO XIII (1888-1915), which was commissioned by its proud owner, Compagñia Transatlantica Española, in which the liner was painted together with the sailing vessel of the 15th century.

The theme also returned when the s.s. COLUMBUS departed to her first voyage in 1924. The sameness of digits in the number-sequence representing the years of 1492 and 1924, and the spectacular difference in size between the ships of the two voyages of that years was used in order to celebrate the commissioning of the greatest German ocean liner built until that after World War I. SANTA MARIA also appears in a brochure published on the occasion of the 1936 inaugural voyage of the British ocean liner QUEEN MARY, in which a whole range of technical characteristics of the ship have already been illustrated with the help of spectacular comparative figures.



Figure 15: A 1888 painting depicting a comparison of the Spanish ocean liner ALFONSO XIII and the caravela SANTA MARIA (painter: unknown). (Source)



Figure 16: A 1924 painting depicting a comparison between the German ocean liner COLUMBUS and the caravela SANTA MARIA (artist: Hans Bohrdt). (Source)



Figure 17: Ships of Columbus also appears alongside the R.M.S. QUEEN MARY (latest Cunard liner) which escorted by R.M.S. BRITANNIA (the first ship of the Cunard Line) in the comparison-booklet made for the inauguration voyage of the Cunard Queen (Source).


A fine example of a comparison with historic ships is the 1920 billboard reviewing the three-hundred-year development of trans-oceanic passenger transportation, which compares the ocean liner R.M.S. AQUITANIA (1913-1950) with the galeon MAYFLOWER (1620) and the steamer BRITANNIA (1840). The billboard shows the depicted ships as an exploded view, giving a glimpse into the interiors, emphasizing that technological advances have not only reduced the time required for the ocean crossing, but also significantly increased the comfort and the number of passengers that can be carried.



Figure 18: Three hundred years of development of trans-oceanic passenger transport, 1620-1920 (Source: Cecil J Allen, John R Hind: My Book of Ships, 1920.).


The period between the two world wars has other interesting things, as British shipping companies increased their advertising activities in the Central European region, where after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and its shipping it was possible to travel only on ships of foreign companies. As the region was previously dominated by German cultural influence, the British White Star Line also illustrated the dimensions of its ocean liners for those living in the successor states of the Monarchy with German-patterned comparisons comparing ships to well-known buildings.



Figures 19.-20., 21.-22., and 23.-24.: Representations and modern counterparts of the period between the two world wars: To the left above: the MAJESTIC (1914-1943) and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, the OLYMPIC (1910-1935) and the Royal Palace in Buda, HOMERIC (1913-1938) and Schönbrunn in Vienna. To the right above is the modern comparisons of the R.M.S. TITANIC with the Royal Palace of Buda (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh). In the center row there is a comparisonof the R.M.S. AQUITANIA with the Tower Bridge, London (left) and with the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. (right). In the bottom row there are some modern counterparts: the comparison of the R.M.S: LUSITANIA with the Chain Bridge (left) and the Parliament House (right) of Budapest (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh).


III. Special comparisons:

Outstanding types of comparative drawings are those that illustrate the amount of resources required to operate ocean liners in such spectacular grouping that enchantes the readers. These representations are also exceptional because after the proliferation of thematic brochures, it was no longer necessary to carry out the task of representation in a single image, as each comparisons-booklet contained a separate illustration for each characteristic. Therefore, that graphic representations made in the earlier period are so important, since they sought to display as many features as possible in a single picture. These includes American infographics of the ocean liners s.s. DEUTSCHLAND (1900-1925), and R.M.S. TITANIC (1911-1912).

The comparison of DEUTSCHLAND shows the huge amount of provisions needed to suplly the ship. This revealed that the supply of 1 100 passengers on board during the five-day Atlantic crossing required 6,000 lbs (2,800 kg) of poultry-games, 1,200 lbs (550 kg) of lamb, 2,200 lbs (1,000 kg) of mutton, 13,000 lbs (6,000 kg) of beef, 1,200 lbs (550 kg) of veal, 900 lbs (400 kg) of pork (+ 600 lbs - 300 kg - ham). In addition, 400 tons of drinking water and 40 tons of ice, 3,000 bottles and 375 barrels of beer, 2,200 gallons (9,900 liters) of milk, 300 gallons (1,350 liters) of cream, 1,200 pounds (550 kg) of butter, 1,700 boxes of eggs , 350 pounds (160 kg) of yeast, 175 barrels of potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables, 8,500 lbs (3,900 kg) of fresh fruit, 14 barrels of oysters and mussels, 1,700 lbs (770 kg) of fish and 1,000 bricks (1,400 liters ) ice cream and brought 5,000 tonnes of coal to supply the ship.

In contrast, the comparison drawing of the TITANIC is one of the few similar depictions of the ship made before its sinking. Its main theme is the presentation of the extraordinary dimensions of the ocean liner that need to be redesigned all harbour infrastructure in New York. From pre-disaster times, we know only a few depiction that was born overseas specifically to promote the TITANIC, along with symbols tailored to the tastes of American public (including famous American ships). This comparison drawing proudly proclaimed that the hull of the TITANIC would fit across by the HALF MOON of 1609 (famous ship of Henry Hudson, who discovered the mouth of the Hudson River in Dutch service), or that 28 copies of the s.s. CLERMONT of 1807 (the very first steamer, constructed by Robert Fulton), would be needed to cover the full length of the boat deck, which is so long that it could comfortably would fit together with an average locomotive with coal carriage and eight Pullmann type railcars. And the ship — from the keel to the top of the four giant funnels — is ten times as tall as the New York Post and Telegraph Office building.


Figures 25, 26: Provisions for s.s. DEUTSCHLAND (left), and dimensions of the R.M.S. TITANIC (right). (Sorces: Scientific American, 1901. June 29.New York Tribune, 1910. November 27.)


IV.) Today's application of ocean liner comparisons:

When the ocean liner QUEEN MARY II. was launched in 2003, Cunard Line ordered a representative comparisons booklet which contained the same or very similar graphics as those were in the brochure which published when Queen Mary was launched in 1936. The new ship was inserted in place of the old in the 2003 brochure, so the new Queen could be the successor of her famous predecessor in those iconic depictions as well (see Figure 11). With that, ocean liner comparisons returned. After all, following the success of the publication, shipping companies operating liners and cruise ships have once again begun to see a fantasy in the sale of comparison booklets advertising the size of their ships, just as they did in the early 1900s.



Figures 27, 28 and 29, 30: Above is a comparative diagram of QUEEN MARY and Hercules H-4 (1947), Howard Hughes' giant seaplane called “Spruce Goose” (Source), and modern equivalent in which QUEEN MARY II can be seen in the background of an Airbus A-380 (2005) aircraft, the world’s current largest passenger aircraft (Source). Below is a comparison of QUEEN MARY, QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 and QUEEN MARY II (left), and TITANIC and QUEEN MARY II (right). The latter figure also appears in the company of the A-380, a bus, a car and a pedestrian.


It is striking in the new representations that TITANIC has now taken over the role previously held by GREAT EASTERN: a well-known and interesting icon in the history of shipping and technology that almost all ships are now compared to it. 


Figure 31: The development of shipbuilding over a hundred years is convincingly shown in the figure above: today’s largest ship has a displacement which almost five times bigger than a hundred years ago (OASIS weighed 220,000 tonnes and TITANIC’s 46,328 tonnes). (Source)


Figure 32: Spectacular comparison of TITANIC with the USS RONALD REAGAN (2001) nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the US Navy. (Source)


In addition to the commercial use of the comparisons commissioned by shipping companies, other uses can be observed, namely in the communities of fans of ocean liners. Graphic artists sometimes make a modern copy or develpo further of a famous original comparison drawing to entertain themselves and other, which - thanks to modern digital graphic tools - enhances the visual experience of representation. 



Figures 33 and 34: The sinking of TITANIC has been reported worldwide by the press. The illustrated magazines shown the magnitude of the disaster with spectacular drawings, comparing the dimensions of the ship to buildings familiar to their readers. A comparison drawing published in the April 19, 1912 issue of the French "Excelsior" magazine was then reproduced in the form of a postcard as well (top left). This was redrawn by Frenchman Cyril Codus and presented at the 2013 Paris premiere of TITANIC, Artifacts - The Exhibition. (Source)


Similarly, a comparison was made in 2016 comparing the dimensions of the ocean liner TITANIC and airship HINDENBURG, inspired by an eralier comparison drawing published in the August 1936 issue of the American “Popular Mechanics” magazine in which the airship was compared to the ocean liner QUEEN MARY.



Figures 35 and 36: Comparing the QEEN MARY and the TITANIC to the HINDENBURG (Source: Popular Mechanics, 1936. August). The airship drawn by Max Pinucci and the ocean liner by Michael Brady on the latter image (Source).



Figure 37: A fine example of modern digital comparative representations made by Michael Brady (Source)



Figure 38: Profile drawings comparing different size of ocean liner ALFONSO XIII of 1888 and caravela SANTA MARIA of 1492, made after the original which made in 1888 (see Figure 15) and preserved in the Maritime Museum of Barcelona made by Dr. Tamás Balogh (Source).


Figure 39: Appreciation. Comparing the dimensions of the s.s. GREAT WESTERN and the s.s. GREAT EASTERN -  first and last ocean liners of Isambard Kingdom Brunel - and the R.M.S. TITANIC made by Dr. Tamás Balogh (Source).


Ocean liner comparison-drawings - surviving this way - can continue to fulfill their educational function and contribute to a better understanding of ocean liners by offering an interesting visual experience too at the same time.

It would be great if you like the article and pictures shared. If you are interested in the works of the author, you can find more information about the author and his work on the Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners Fb-page.

If you would like to share the pictures, please do so by always mentioning the artist's name in a credit in your posts. Thank You!


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Címkék: tit hajózástörténeti modellező és hagyományőrző egyesület tit hmhe hajózástörténeti tagozat English comparisons balogh tamas TIT Statendam Ocean liners Encyclopedia of ocean liners RMS Titanic

Chronology of the H.M.T. JUSTICIA (ex-STATENDAM II.)

2021.07.14. 04:14 Doki

President of our Association published his book in 2018 on the the ocean liner s.s. STATENDAM (II), which designed following the TITANIC, ordered by the Netherlands, served under the British flag as H.M.T. JUSTICIA and sank in 1918, just four months before the end of the war. Readers of the copies sold since the publication of the book provide ongoing feedback to help the author learn about the impact of modern interpretation of the hundred-year-old story. These feedbacks can be read by anyone in the “Reader's Corner” section of the author’s Facebook-page. The latest feedback was sent by Myles Chantler, who lives in Kent, England: “Just wanted to quickly message to say your book on the Statendam / Justicia is first class. What a stunning book and so much information about the ship! I've just finished reading it, and I am starting again from the beginning incase I have missed anything! Could I ask a couple of questions if I may? Have you a chronological list of her war voyages. It would be lovely to know how many voyages were sailed, and to / from which ports. [...] Once again, thanks for a great book.” Well, the chronology of the JUSTICIA's life did not compiled yet. However, following the question, Tamás Balogh has now prepared it, as it is an exceptional pleasure for the Author to be able to continue the story following the positive feedback of the Reader.

01.03.1912: Johann Georg Reuchlin, CEO of Rotterdam-based Holland-America Line, orders the ship from Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast. The ship's plans are based on the plans of the OLYMPIC-class ocean liners, which proved to be very successful one year earlier (becaming the first units of the new general-type of ocean liners, giving a pattern for a set of more similar vessels), but the propeller-arrangement differs from that introduced on the OLYMPIC, regarding the central propeller was only three-bladed instead of four (as in case of the TITANIC), as can be observed on the builder's model of the ship.


Figure 1: Elevation plans, top view and lines plan of the ship (Source: Dr. Tamás Balogh).

21.03.1912: Joseph Bruce Ismay, CEO of International Mercantile Marine, invites Johann Georg Reuchlin among the leaders of the member companies of the group, to the inaugural voyage of White Star Line's newest ocean liner, TITANIC.

15.04.1912: The sinking of the TITANIC, and the death of Johann Georg Reuchlin. The ship is so similar to TITANIC that the artist William Henry Pearson uses STATENDAM as a model to demonstrate the sinking ocean liner, as it could be clearly identified from the forward end of the ship’s superstructure depicted in the painting.


Figure 2.: Black and white reproduction of the Pearson's painting and it's characteristic detail which is based on the general arrangement of the STATENDAM rather than TITANIC (Source: Royal Museums of Greenwich).

31.05.1912: Complete redesign of the ship security system, including raising of bulkheads.


Figure 3.: The ship’s redrawn watertight bulkheads. Modifications made as a result of the inquiry on TITANIC's sinking can be clearly seen with red ink on the drawing (Source: Lloyd's Register Foundation Heritage and Education Center).

11.07.1912: Laying of the ship's keel (yard no. 436.).

09.07.1914: Launch of the ship.

28.07.1914: The outbreak of the First World War.

04.08.1914: Great Britain enters World War I.

01.10.1914: The British Admiralty interested in the high-capacity and fast but semi-finished ship and offers £ 1,000,000 for the hull to Holland-America Line. However, the company wants to keep the ship, so it offers to rent it out for a more moderate fee if the Admiralty give it back after the war, or will provide a similar one if the ship gets lost in enemy action. No agreement will be reached, but negotiations will continue.

02.03.1915 -04.12.1915. a part of the furnishing decorating the ship’s bright interiors was presented at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The exhibition was basically meant to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, which was handed over in August 1914, but in fact San Francisco wanted to demonstrate it' own recovery from the effects of the devastating earthquake of 1906.
Further information:

01.09.1915: Negotiations on the ship's future are concluded. The British Admiralty accepts the Dutch conditions.

08.12.1915: Contract signed and the ship handed over to the British Royal Navy. The International Merchant Marine Co. receives a 10% brokerage commission.

07.04.1917: The day after the United States enters the war, the vessel is completed and put into service as a war transport ship. Originally she was offered to the government-subsidized Cunard Line as a replacement of the LUSITANIA sunk by a German U-boot in 1915, so the ship's name was changed from STATENDAM to JUSTICIA (names of all Cunard ships ended with “ia”) as the war propaganda suggests the ‘truth’ restored by this. But Cunard could not display enough hands, sailors, mechanics, and officers (under the conditions established by the Admiralty, all crew had to be provided by the operator). As the Government insisted on bringing the ship into service as soon as possible, they did not wait for Cunard to find a solution, but also offered the ship to the White Star Line, which accept the offer and redirected the surviving crew of the sunken Britannic lost in 1916 (all of them were happy to continue their employment). The ship, with its crew recruited in Piraeus, went to the island of Lemnos, Greece, from where she returned to Britain with British soldiers evacuated from the Gallipoli campaign. The ship's commander was Alexander Elvin Sherwin Hambelton. Further information: https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/community/threads/news-from-1922-1929-retirement-and-death-of-capt-hambelton.25501/; https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/GQC6-FCQ/alexander-es-hambelton-1863-1929).


Figure 4.: Alexander Elvin Sherwin Hambelton (1863-1929), commander of the JUSTICIA (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

25.04.1917: JUSTICIA arrives in New York on her first Atlantic crossing together with ADRIATIC, another ocean liner of the White Star Line. From then on, she commuted regularly between Liverpool and Halifax, Canada, and New York, USA. She carries an average of 5,000 soldiers and 15,000 tons of equipment on its voyages.


Figure 5.: The ship in New York harbour. To the left in the background are the buildings of Ellis Island. The ship itself  bears her original colors except the funnels (Source: courtesy of a Dutch collector, exact reference required).

14.06.1917: The British Admiralty, after a year of preparation and several practical trials, introduces a convoy system for merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean (and on 22.02.1917. in the Mediterranean). In 1917, 189 convoys bound for Great Britain (with 2,825 ships) and 164 departing from Great Britain (with 2,365 ships), and in 1918, 417-373 convoys (with 6,866-5,126 ships) crossed the Atlantic.

23.10.1917: The ship arrives in Liverpool with a convoy from Halifax. This time, a total of 1,494 people were on board - 1,391 soldiers (1,075 US, 101 Canadian and 213 Serbian reservists) and 105 foreign passengers. The passenger list also included the names of 7 British subject (all women), 6 the wives of officers in the army carried on board (one of whom was the spouse of major-general Sir Charles McGrigor) and 1 the wife of the CEO of the Bank of Montreal.

06.12.1917: The ship departs for Liverpool with a convoy departing from Halifax. On this voyage, she breaks the record for World War I naval shipments: it carries on board 30,000 tons of war supply (the largest quantity ever transported by ship in the war) and 12,000 Chinese workers, recruited to work behind the front. The ship's departure almost coincided with a massive ammunition explosion in the city when the Norwegian cargo ship, IMO (ex-RUNIC of the White Star Line) collided with the freighter MONT BLANC, which loaded with 2,300 tonnes of picric acid, 200 tonnes of TNT, 35 tonnes of high-octane petrol and 10 tonnes of gunpowder. The MONT BLANC caught fire 10 minutes after the collision and exploded 25 minutes later. Within a 2 square-kilometer area of the ship, all buildings were destroyed, 1,950 people died and more than 9,000 were injured. The 3-kiloton explosion - the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion - caused a tsunami in the port, a pressure wave felled the trees and columns, destroyed buildings and damaged ships. Pieces of the MONT BLANC were scattered over a radius of 6 km (later one of the ship’s several-ton anchors was found 4 km, and the remains of a 90-mm cannon 6 km away). For two days, it was rumored that JUSTICIA was also among the damaged ships (in fact, due to the enormous power of the explosion, many thought 30,000 tons of munitions carried aboard JUSTICIA had exploded), until it was discovered that she left port a few hours before the MONT BLANC collided…

... 01.1918.: The ship's hull, which was uniform gray until that, was provided with a geometric dazzle-camouflage, tested in October of the previous year.


Figure 6.: The ship with dazzle camouflage (Source: Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 101616).

24.01.1918: The ship arrives in Liverpool by the convoy from New York, via Halifax. A day earlier, the first - then unsuccessful - torpedo attack against the ship had taken place in the St. George Canal.

19.04.1918: The ship arrives in Liverpool with a convoy departing from New York.

31.05.1918: The ship arrives in Liverpool with a convoy departing from New York.

27.06.1918: JUSTICIA sailed from New York to Liverpool with 5,000 soldiers on board. This was the last time when the ship had visited New York and Captain Hambelton had also disembarked in Europe. This crossing of the ship was also commemorated in the history of the 301th Engineers carried on board (pages 52-58 of the volume). The ship's command was taken over by Hugh F. David.

19.07.1918: At 1:10 a.m., JUSTICIA depart from Liverpool to New York again (barely four months before the armistice). The OLX 39 fast convoy consists of JUSTICIA and six other merchant vessels, including the MELITA, MATEGAMA and LAPLAND ocean liners, as well as six destroyers.

At 2:30 p.m., under the command of Lieutenant General Otto Schrader, the U64 coastal submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship, just 23 miles (42.6 km) from Skerryvore Rock. Schrader confused by the similar silhouette of the USS LEVIATHAN (ex-VATERLAND), an American ocean liner seized from the Germans (which was a high-capacity troop transporter for the war, and every German submarine wanted to sink it). One of the torpedoes missed the target, but the other exploded in the JUSTICIA's engine room, on the port side. The engine room soon filled with water and the ship became immobile, although her condition was stabilized by the damage-control crew. Commander David was prepared to tow by a Navy tug called SONIA to an emergency naval repair base in Buncrana, a 16-hour navigation away.

At 16:30, however, during the preparation for the towing operation, Schrader fired two more torpedoes. One of them was missed the target and the other was destroyed by JUSTICIA's onboard guns.

At 20:00, the U64 will launch another torpedo, which neutralized again by gunners of the JUSTICIA.

At 21:00, JUSTICIA crew will be evacuated 20 minutes before sunset (as the chances of a successful rescue during a night torpedo attack are much lower), leaving only 16 volunteer crew on the damaged ship for the most necessary tasks at the time of towing. Using the radio, other German submarines in the nearby were alarmed by the commandant of U64, which was damaged by destroyers that escorted JUSTICIA. His call was answered by submarines U54 (Hellmuth von Rückteschell) and U124 (Hans Oscar Wutsdorff).

20.07.1918: At 4:30 a.m., the damaged ship were just 28 miles (45 km) from the shore (this means more than half of the distance to Buncrana was done, together with the distance completed during the 11-hour struggle of the previous day) only a 6-hour navigation away. The U124 fires a torpedo at the ship, which, however, misses the target.

Around 6 a.m., further British reinforcements arrive: 12 destroyers and 14 other patrol ships are already securing the wounded giant.

At 9:15 a.m., the U124 launches two more torpedoes (the seventh and eighth torpedoes fired at the ship): the first blasted into the empty cargo hold No. 3 in front of the boiler rooms, while the second into the empty cargo hold No. 5., under the main mast. Along with the results of Friday's attacks, 4 of the ship's 11 watertight compartments were irreparably flooded.


Figure 7.: Artistic representation of the 24-hour struggle of the JUSTICIA by William Lionel Wyllie (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

At 10:30 the 16-man crew leaves the ship, which SONIA is still towing at a speed of about 6 knots, ready to let go if things get worse.

At 11:32 a.m., the newly arrived U54 submarine launches two torpedoes in the direction of JUSTICIA. Both torpedoes explode before reaching the target, without the submarine crew becoming aware of it (they only hear the detonation, but have no visual connection), so they think their torpedoes hit the ship.

At 12:30 the ship, sinking deeper into the water, and barely ten minutes later the whole ship plunged. Position is 55 ° 38 'N, 07 ° 39' W.

At 19:00, the U124 sunk by JUSTICIA’s escorting destroyers, HMS Milbrooke and HMS Pigeon.

There were 10 victims of the sinking of JUSTICIA. The explosion of the first torpedo immediately killed 9 people and injured the death of a third engineer officer, James Thomas, who died of his injuries the next morning. Among the dead were Christopher Foran storekeeper, Percy Grant fireman, James O’Neil, Thomas Russel and John W. Sutton greaser, Maurice Johnston, Samuel J. Turner, David Watt and William J. Jones trimmer. The loss of life of the U124 crew is deck engineer Karl Engstfeld and Lieutenant Paul Seevers.

The loss of the JUSTICIA - as the second largest merchant ship which lost in the war after the BRITANNIC (1916) and before the LUSITANIA (1915) - was reported in the press on both sides of the ocean, highlighting that (for the first time during the war) a whole pack of submarines attack on the target ship.

The case was followed by an official investigation that felt the weaknesses of the warship escorts of the transatlantic convoys.

The unequal struggle between the liner and a submarines had an artistic representation as well made by the famous English naval painter of the age, William Lionel Wyllie.

29.01.1919: The British government provides the Dutch with 60,000 tons of steel for reconstruction of the ocean liner, in accordance with the agreement of 08.12.1915, signed for the charter of the vessel. Holland-America Line orders the new ocean liner from Harland & Wolff Shipyard. As the United States drastically reduced immigration opportunities between 1922 and 1924, transoceanic passenger traffic also changed, and consequently the STATENDAM III. became slightly smaller than its predecessor. Although based on her builder's model it can be seen that the ship is still clearly in close connection with STATENDAM II. as definite continuator of her aesthetic, despite of minor changes in design (e.g. cruiser stern). (Construction of the ship was paused between 1924 and 1927 due to a series of strikes, and was finally towed to the Netherlands in an unfinished state, where its fitting out was completed by 1929. The most popular Dutch ocean liner of the interwar period was destroyed on 11.05.1940, in German attacks on Rotterdam. Today, her memory is preserved only by the numerous contemporary photographs of her).


Figure 8.: Builder's models of the STATENDAM II (above) and III (below) from the Harland & Wolff Shipyard (Source: Het Maritiem Museum, Rotterdam)

1993: Divers Norman and Simon Bamford find and identify the wreck of JUSTICIA while performs the first diving to her wrecks.

1995: Leight Bishop, a well-known underwater photographer and wreck diver, takes impressive underwater photos of the wreckage, which attract hundreds of divers and make a significant contribution to making the wreck known.

2005: The first SONAR image of the wreck is completed as part of the Irish National Seabed Survey.

2014: Diver Norman Woods is the first to make an underwater film footage showing larger areas of a wrecksite by attaching his GoPro camera to his scooter, so he was able to swim back and forth along the longitudinal axis of the huge ship in 13 minutes.

2018: Tamás Balogh prepares the first monographic elaboration (synopsis and sample pages) of the history and wreck of JUSTICIA, which was presented to the public exactly on the centenary of the ship's sinking at the ship's birthplace, Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast as a symbolic returning to home of her. A centenary diving expedition commemorates the sinking of the ship, led by diver and underwater photographer Darragh Norton.

2019: Diver Barry McGill identifies the wreckage of the U124. The first documentary about the history and wreck of JUSTICIA has been made, directed by Matt Bone, with the help of experts from Barry McGill and Tamás Balogh.

2020: Gerard Dooly, a researcher at the University of Limerick in Ireland and a fellow at the University's Mobile and Marine Robotics Research Center, initiated the latest generation of tools (underwater scanners and augmented reality) to support the research of the shipwreck.

2021: Based on the plans of Tamas Balogh, Bennett Gyurik created the first virtual reconstruction of the ship, which was inserted into a 20-second animation by the staff of the KGB Studio.


Figure 9.: Modern 3D visualization of the ship (Source: courtesy of Dr. Tamás Balogh).


It would be great if you like the article and pictures shared. If you are interested in the works of the author, you can find more information about the author and his work on the Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners Fb-page.

If you would like to share the pictures, please do so by always mentioning the artist's name in a credit in your posts. Thank You!



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Címkék: English Statendam HMT JUSTICIA Ocean liners Encyclopedia of ocean liners RMS Titanic

The new year welcoming by new books

2018.01.15. 09:45 Doki


For those looking for a special book:

The book by the president of our association, Dr. Tamás Balogh, about the history of the ocean liner STATENDAM (II), which operated between 1914-1918, the "Dutch TITANIC", will be published in July, illustrated with many pictures of the biggest collectors, which have not been published anywhere before. The volume contains detailed and important information, contemporary accounts and the results of diving expeditions to the wrecks. The synopsis of the volume Dutch TITANIC can be downloaded by clicking to here. Sample pages are available here. The story of the famous ocean liner has never been fully explored in the 100 years since its sinking. The 160-page volume, illustrated with 210 pictures, is not available in bookstores.

Those who are interested in the volume, with their purchase, also support the publication of the large Liner book entitled "Ocean liners - the encyclopedia of ocean-going passenger ships", presenting the characteristics of ocean liners. The synopsis of the encyclopedia can be downloaded by clicking to here. Sample pages are available here.

More information about the Author, the publication, the launch and public reception of the book.

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Címkék: English balogh tamas Statendam HMT JUSTICIA Ocean liners Encyclopedia of ocean liners RMS Titanic

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