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Royal Mail Steamer Olympic

    The first of the Olympic-class liners, the Olympic was the begining of White Star's dream of supremecy of the Atlantic. Olympic was laid down in December of 1908 and was launched in 1910. Her maiden voyage of May 31, 1911 was the begining of a long tradition of reliable service. She was dedicated to her passengers and crew and was ready to serve in time of war.

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Olympic in dazzle during the war.

    Olympic had an exciting career in her early years. She had an encounter with the HMS Hawke in which her propellers drew the Hawke towards her resulting in a collision. The Olympic was damaged but able to move under her own power. The Hawke was smashed in the bow and was out of commision. During World War I Olympic was painted in dazzle colors with geometric shapes to decieve U-Boat captains. Olympic in an encounter with a U-Boat rammed the submarine and sank it. During the war she carried American and Canadian troops to Europe. The North Americans gave her the name "Old Reliable" on acount of her reliablity in reaching Europe without danger.

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    The Olympic was the largest ship in the world until the Titanic and regained the title following her sister's sinking. Olympic was 500 miles away from Titanic on April 15, 1912. After the sinking Olympic was sent to Belfast for alterations to her double hull and watertight bulkheads. Olympic was also added with more lifeboats to accomidate all 3000 people that could sail on her. Olympic had a good tradition of service following the war.

    In the 1920's America was in the throws of prohibition and swore off American ships. British ships graciously served alcohol outside the three mile limit. Olympic's running mates in the 20's were the Majestic, a war prize from Germany and the Homeric another ex-German Liner. The three competed with the Mauritania, Aquatania, and Berengaria until Cunard's purchasing of White Star. In the early 30's with the new German liners Bremen and Europa crushed the competion with their bulbous bow. The Olympic could not compete, and in 1935 with the Queen Mary under construction, the Olympic was sold for scrap to a Scottish Business man for $500,000. The biggest mistake in the world was scrapping the Olympic, but the Great Depression got the better and jobs were needed. Today parts of the Olympic still survive in museums and private homes and businesses. Olympic was the largest British-built ship until the Queen Mary.

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Olympic dressed in her "dazzle" camoflouge during the First World War.


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    page last updated 17 May 1999