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R.M.S. Oceanic: 1903

R.M.S. Oceanic: 1903

New York, 1903. "Docking a big liner -- R.M.S. Oceanic." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.


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A mere rowboat compared to today's

I sometimes go to Chelsea Piers on the west side of Manhattan where they have pictures of the ships tied up during the WWI-WWII era when the piers were used to dock boats and not just as a gym. Off in the distance in the harbor can be seen modern cruise ships, which can't fit on the old piers. Modern cruise ships are longer than 1000 ft in length - leave aside cargo ships.

Lost 11 years later

At 705 feet long and 17,274 gross tons, the Oceanic, launched in 1899, was the largest liner afloat. But not for long. In April 1901, the White Star Line launched the Celtic at 700 feet and 21,000 tons. Oceanic served on the transatlantic route until the outbreak of World War I.

Oceanic,who had made her last voyage to New York in July, was commissioned as an "Armed Merchant Cruiser." The British Admiralty, with no experience in handling such large vessels, appointed Captain W. F. Slayter, RN, to command the ship. Meanwhile, Oceanic’s own captain Henry Smith was present on the ship. On Sept. 8, Oceanic was three miles off Foula Island (west of the Shetlands); Smith told Slayter that the ship was too close to the island, and was at risk of grounding. Smith was overruled by the naval captain, who insisted on a tight schedule. As a result, Oceanic was grounded on the Hoevdi Rocks, southwest of Foula. She was a total loss, and remained on the rocks until most of her was salvaged in 1924.

Charles Lightoller, the most senior surviving officer of Titanic, was serving as a lieutenant on Oceanic when she ran aground.

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