White Star Line – Cunard Line RMS
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With Reuben Goossens
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Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.
R.M.S. Mauretania II
After decades of prosperous transatlantic
business, all shipping companies were suddenly faced with great financial
troubles when the great crash occurred in 1929. In fact times became so bad for
Cunard, that the two former rivals Cunard Line and White Star Line decided to
merge in 1934, forming the “Cunard White Star Line.” Due to the
merger, they were granted with greatly needed government subsidies to complete
the ship, which Cunard had commenced to build back in December 1930. To date
the ship was only known as; “
Cunard White Star did not have the money to build more new ships and therefore they were forced to rely on their old liners. It would not be until 1937 before the Company was able to order a new ship to be constructed.
Building a Grand New Liner:
Due to economics recuperating, Cunard White
Star Line ordered their first new ship to be built by Cammell Laird & Co.
Ltd, Shipyards at
RMS Mauretania 1 built in 1906
Very rapidly Cunard White Star Line commenced to promote their new Trans-Atlantic liner, as she would be the very largest ever all English built Liner due to commence sailing in 1939.
Cunard White Star Line released this promotional postcard of the RMS Mauretania prior to her launching
*In relation to her name, when the 1906 Mauretania 1 was sent to the
breakers’ yard at Rosyth in July
1935 her name removed from Lloyd’s Register, thus Cunard decided to
safeguard her famous name for their new forthcoming liner. For this reason
Cunard approached a local Southampton company “Red Funnel Steamers”
and requested their Directors if they would rename one of their excursion
paddle steamer’s “Mauretania” in order to keep the name
available for them. They were more than happy to oblige and the
The Mauretania would be when completed the
largest ship to be constructed in
Finally on July 28, 1938, the day had arrived that the very first Cunard White Star vessel was ready to be launched and workers and countless onlookers were at hand to see the great sight. As had already been announced by Sir Percy Bates, the honour of christening of the new liner was given to his wife, Lady Bates. At 12.15 pm Lady Bates officially named her the “Mauretania” being a great name that naturally brought to Mind of the legendary *RMS Mauretania of 1906 the famed Blue Riband-holder, and she pressed the button that sent the new liner into the water from No 6 slipway. Eight tugs awaited her and they towed her to her fitting out berth.
The ships great bow towered above the official party and the massive crowd watching her slowly slip into the water
From her construction yard the eight tugs
On May 14, 1939, after the ship had been
placed in a wet basin, the
Some 17 days later, on May 31, the Mauretania
departed Liverpool for her acceptance trials on the
Passengers & Interiors:
As time would pass in the future, the RMS Mauretania would always be considered as a somewhat smaller version of the RMS Queen Elizabeth as her overall design and profile was so very similar, as can be seen below.
illustration of the
a traditional cruiser stern, two tall masts and funnels as well as a similar lifeboat and deck arrangement
It had been decided no to commence with a First Class, but instead the highest grade being Cabin Class, which had 440 passengers, Tourist Class had 450 passengers, and Third Class had 470. Looking after them were a good 780 to 803 officers and crew. However, it need to be said that both Cabin and Tourist Classes were equal to First and Second Class on the larger major Trans-Atlantic liners!
Above & below: The Cabin Class Grand Hall was two decks high in the middle
and was in fact far more grandiose that these photographs reveal
Here we see a most comfortable and an elegant Cabin Class Dining Saloon, and which does look so very British!
One of the delightful Tourist Class Lounges with a bar placed along a sidewall
The Tourist Class Dining Saloon
Maiden Voyage & Early
Maiden Voyage & Early Voyages:
On Saturday June 17, 1939 with a complement of
a good 1,000 passengers aboard, the new RMS Mauretania (2) departed Liverpool
for her maiden voyage under the command of Captain A. T.
Brown, who had delivered the 1906
Mauretania seen departing Liverpool for her Maiden Voyage to
The white vessel
forward of the liner is the
Her return voyage from
Westbound: Mersey Bar Lightship to Ambrose Channel Light Vessel at
Ambrose Channel Light Vessel to
She again headed to
It was on August 6, 1939 that the Mauretania
is seen entering
On August 12, 1939 the Mauretania departed
An excellent starboard view of the RMS Mauretania
But sadly, after a mere two months of Trans-Atlantic service, Hitler’s German Armies invaded Poland and commenced what became one of the most hideous and murderous wars waged by man, for Hitler and his madmen commenced to slaughter as many Jews, those with Mental problems, Homosexuals, the disabled and Jehovah Witnesses and any he did not like, but the Holocaust saw the slaughter of six million Jews and an equal number of other poor souls, let alone soldiers who died because evil people allow a mad man take control. This was World War Two.
As the situation in Europe was rapidly
deteriorating, after a seven-day turnaround in
On her return she was requisitioned by the
Government. The Mauretania was armed with two 6-inch (150 mm) guns
and some smaller weapons, whilst she was painted in battle grey, and she was
For three months the Mauretania lay idle in
The HMT Mauretania seen in Convoy and in great company!
Soldiers slept in simple bunk bed style of accommodations, but beds in this photograph
happened to be in a Cabin Class lounge as vertical mahogany panels can be seen on the walls
During the early stages of the war HMT
Mauretania transported Australian troops to
HMT Mauretania is seen in her wartime grey livery in
One of her wartime voyages, of
28,662 nautical miles (53,082 km) duration, took her right around the
world, taking 82 days to complete. During this epic voyage she established a
speed record for the crossing time from
Once the war had concluded, the HMT
Mauretania made several further voyages for the Government repatriating
troops. This mainly saw the ship heading to
The now highly regarded Trooper, the HMT
Mauretania made one last voyage to the Far East from Liverpool to
The HMT Mauretania's very last voyage as a
troopship was from Liverpool once again to
Finally after six long years, she may have been weather beaten, scarred, but a very proud ship lovingly known as the HMT Mauretania and she finally arrived home in Liverpool for the last time in that wartime grey livery, on September 2, 1946 where she disembarked 600 passengers.
HMT Mauretania is seen here berthed at the Princes Landing Stage, disembarking the last of her wartime passengers
As a troopship HMT Mauretania travelled a
grand total of 542,446 miles (870,000 km) and carried 350,178 troops.
Although the HMT Mauretania was not designed to be an exceptionally fast ship,
and during her war duty her engines had received little attention for her six
long years of service operating as a troopship. However, she achieved a turn of
speed in 1945 making the passage from
Return to Being a Luxury Liner:
Within a few hours of disembarking her 600
passengers at the Princes Landing Stage in Liverpool the
Cammell Laird had a workforce of some 1,500, many of whom had helped build the ship, for her restoration was almost like starting over again. The rusty grey wartime paint had to be sandblasted off, a great deal of weathered decking had to be replanked with new teak planks, worn machinery had to be renewed or completely replaced as well as the gun emplacements having to be removed. In addition there was furniture and fixtures that had been stored, be it close by or as far away as Sydney Australia. All had to be obtained and carefully restored. Also, the wartime ballast of 400 tons of pig iron and 700 tons of sand had to be removed. In the meantime, the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board’s floating crane Mammoth removed the 76-ton aft funnel on September 23, 1946 to allow access to the engine room. In total the ship refit cost £1 million pounds and Cunard White Star Line announced on March 2, 1947 that the RMS Mauretania would return in all her glory to service on April 26, 1947.
The, the as good as new RMS Mauretania
departed Liverpool on April 18, 1947 on a special two-night “Shakedown
Cruise” to the
The heavily booked RMS Mauretania finally
departed on what was likened to being her second maiden Trans-Atlantic voyage
from Liverpool to
Mauretania was given a huge send-off on her first post-war commercial departure
In January 1948 she commenced to operate the
first of five cruises from
A fine colour postcard of the RMS Mauretania
These so-called ‘dollar earning
cruises’ assisted the “shattered British economy.” But for
the rest of the year she continued on the Southampton to
Mauretania is seen in one of the Locks, during one of her
The RMS Mauretania soon gained her own loyal following and between 1947 and 1957 she made some 260 Atlantic crossings, transporting a good 241,286 passengers, being an average passenger loading of 82.5%. She sailed without any faults or problem and she proved to be a far steadier sea boat than the two much larger ‘Queens,’ and she certainly had none of the newer RMS Caronia’s of 1948, engine problems and handling difficulties.
In 1950 the
In October 1957, the now middle-aged liner
Mauretania returned to
one of those amazing
Coming in is RMS Queen Elizabeth heading for Pier 90, the smaller white ship is the Greek Line TSS Olympia, next to her
is the United States Lines SS Unites States and the SS America, finally the American Export Lines SS Independence
However, as with all shipping on the Atlantic
and world-wide passengers were difficult to find for liner services, as air
travel was becoming more and more popular, for it was both faster and fares
were coming down rapidly! Thus,
In 1962 the HMT Mauretania made no profits for
her owners, and so it was decided that she would be used almost only for
cruising. She was painted in light green, like the Caronia, giving her a more
leisure look. Her passenger capacity was reduced a little to make her more
suitable as a cruise ship. The following year, on March 28th 1963,
she started her new Mediterranean service between
The Cruising Green
In October 1962 the Mauretania it was decided
to Drydock her at
released this postcard of the new look
The all-new looking RMS Mauretania emerged
two-and-a-half months later, yet what was somehow that “Caronia’s
image” detracted from the beautiful classic lines of the
look Green Mauretania seen in
Then, in August 1962 Cunard Line decided to
commence a new cruise operation from
is seen in
She resumed her summer Trans-Atlantic services but now she was sailing from Southampton to New York, but loadings proved to be very poor, thus for the 1964 cruise season she was again employed on the popular New York to the West Indies cruise again, which had generally good loadings. However that was only for a short period of the year
Mauretania is seen here in the
Photograph by & Copyright © Helmut-Groening
The RMS Mauretania was sailing with the other
Cunard Passenger Liners and were doing so as Cunard was
losing a good £1 million in the first six months of 1965. Therefore, finally on
February 10 1965 Cunard sadly announced that due to “excessive costs to
keep the Liner up to Company standards,” the
RMS Mauretania departed
Thus, it was on September 15, 1965 that Cunard
announced that she was to be decommissioned and sold to the highest bidder. In
fact, even before RMS Mauretania returned to Southampton on November 10, a
highest bidder had already been accepted at 360,000 made by “Thomas W.
Ward” at Inverkeithing on the Firth of Forth,
RMS Mauretania departed
Although it being an already melancholy
cruise, it was made sadder with the announcement on October 4, that the
But as the RMS Mauretania returned home for the very last time and sailed up Southampton Water on November 10, the weather was suitably dismal as the Mauretania was flying her paying-off pennant from her aft Mainmast!
Destoring commenced, and a few items were
removed whilst Mauretania was in
The great RMS Mauretania, which had served both; Cunard White Star Line and then Cunard Line, as well as her country during WW2, and now she had finally come to the end of her days after 27 wonderful years of service.
This Great Lines and Cruise Ship departed Southampton at 12 noon on November 20, 1965 under the commanded by Captain John Treasure Jones (also was the captain of the RMS Queen Mary on her final voyage), who navigated the mud straits of the Forth without tugs, and she arrived alongside The Ward's wharf at Inverkeithing on November 23. Captain Treasure Jones rang “Finished with Engines” on the telegraph and the life then ebbed from the once great Liner!
R.M.S. Mauretania Specifications and
R.M.S. Mauretania Specifications and Details:….
Operators:………………………………Cunard White Star Line - 1938 to 1950.
……………………………………………….Cunard Line:1950 to 1965
Owned by::………………………….…Cunard Steamship Co. Ltd.
Launched:……………………………….July 28, 1938.
Maiden Voyage:………………………June 17, 1939
Gross Tonnage:………………………35,738 GRT, 19,654 Net.
Length:……………………………………772ft - 235m.
Beam:……………………………………..89.6ft - 27m.
Draught:………………….………………30.10ft - 9.39m.
Propulsion:………………………………6 Parson Single Reduction Steam Turbines.
Screws:…………………………………..Twin, 42,000 SHP.
Speed:…………………………………….23 knots, maximum of 25.34 knots.
Passengers:…………………………….440 Cabin Class, 450 Tourist Class, and 470 Third Class - as built.
……………………………………………….406 First Class, 364 Cabin Class, and 357 Tourist Class - after 1962 refit.
Crew:………………………………………780 to 802.
Fate:……………………………………….Sold to be broken up November 1965.
Broken up at:………………………… Thomas W.
Ward shipbreaking Yard in Inverkeithing,
Remembering the Grand Dame
Also Remembering her as the World War Two Hero that Came Home!
An excellent stern view of HMT Mauretania as she returns home having travelled a
grand total of 542,446 miles (870,000 km) and carried 350,178 troops
“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
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