1901 - 1928
the death of Thomas Henry Ismay in 1899, White Star Lines planned sister
vessel to the Oceanic; the Olympic had been suspended. Instead,
all strength was placed in the company’s new project; to build the grandest
fleet of ships that had ever sailed the seas.
in 1899, had the White Star Line shown its supremacy by exceeding the Great
Eastern in length with the 705 feet long Oceanic. But Isambard
Brunel’s colossus had not yet been surpassed in tonnage. The Oceanic
‘only’ had a gross tonnage of 17,000 tons compared to the Great Eastern’s 19,000.
|The Celtic - the first ship
in White Star's 'Big Four' quartet.
new fleet that the White Star Line was about to produce would consist of
four vessels: The Big Four. All of these would each have a gross tonnage of over
20,000 tons. The first of the sisters, actually ordered by Thomas Ismay
himself before his death, would be named Celtic. She would be followed
by the Cedric, and later by the Baltic and Adriatic.
The two first sisters would be much the same in appearance, just as the
two later ones would be. As everyone already has figured, the name ‘Celtic’
refers to the ancient Celts. But strangely the name
of the ship was pronounced differently; [Keltik] would be normal, but instead
[Seltik] was used.
would be slightly shorter than the Oceanic in length, but still
longer than the Great Eastern, at 700 feet she would be the second
longest ship in the world. But as her tonnage was over 21,000 tons, the
Celtic was claimed to be the largest ship ever constructed.
in the late 1880s and early 1890s, the White Star
Line had operated the fastest ships in the world; the Teutonic and
Majestic, but at the time of the arrival of the Celtic, the
company aimed at comfort, size and steadiness rather than speed. The Oceanic,
who wore a certain resemblance to the Big Four had had a service speed
of 19.5 knots, but to conserve fuel, the Celtic and her sisters
would only steam along in 16 knots. The Blue Riband was deliberately handed
over to Cunard and the German shipping companies. Even though this pedestrian
speed, the Celtic became highly popular on the Liverpool-New York
4, 1901 the new Celtic was launched without any mishaps. On July
4, she was handed over to the White Star Line and begun her maiden voyage
to New York on the 26th. The approach to New York Harbour had
to be deepened in order to take the new 21,000-tonner.
her greatness, the largest vessel in the world made a Mediterranean cruise
for five weeks, starting in February 1902, carrying 800 passengers. After
this joyful voyage she was returned to her North Atlantic service.
the Celtic was joined by her sister, the Cedric, who was
at the same size as the first sister, except that the Cedric had
a net tonnage 71 tons more
than the Celtic. That placed Celtic one step down on the
list concerning the largest ships in the world. However, popularity did
not decrease, and on one westbound voyage in 1904, the Celtic carried
2,957 souls on board, including crew, the highest so far for the company.
The same year another ship was added to the Celtic and Cedric;
the 23,000-tonner Baltic. That vessel had now replaced Cedric
as the world’s largest.
the Celtic sailed for the American Line for a brief time. Even though
she was not directly under White Star’s command, she remained in her original
colours. That same year the last of the Big Four was added to the White
Star fleet. She was the Adriatic, but at 24,000 tons she did not
became the largest in the world. The 31,000-tonner Lusitania had
been launched months before. Thus had all but one of the Big Four for some
time been the largest vessel ever constructed.
|A stern view of the magnificent
Celtic at sea.
the great war came in 1914, the Celtic was withdrawn from her peacetime
service and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser with 8 x 6 inch guns.
On the fourth of December she was added to the 10th Cruiser
Squadron. But, as it would show, large ships were not suited for war cruising
because of their enormous consumption of coal. In a matter of months all
of Britain’s coal supplies were gone. So, in January 1916, the Celtic
was instead converted as a troop ship assigned to carry soldiers to Egypt.
In March she was back on her Liverpool-New York run, but still able to
quickly be converted back. Her voyages continued without any major mishaps,
but in 1917, the Celtic struck a mine outside Isle of Man laid by
the German U-boat U-80, and 17 people on board the steamer were
killed by the explosion. The London & N. Western Rly Co. ship Slieve
Bawn picked up the passengers and brought them to Holyhead in north-western
Wales. Fortunately, the Celtic was not mortally wounded, and she
was towed into Peel Bay. The vessel was taken to Belfast where she was
repaired. Shortly afterwards the Celtic was again on the Liverpool-New
York route. In May the same year the Germans were at it again. This time
they failed to hit the ship, though, and the ship went on, unscathed. But
the never-ending self-confidence of the Germans continued, and in March
1918, the Celtic was torpedoed in the Irish Sea by the UB-77.
Six people on the Celtic
were killed when the torpedo hit its target. The Celtic’s luck continued
and she was not sunk. Instead she was towed to Liverpool where Harland
and Wolff repaired her. The vessel was soon back in service, and at the
war’s end in 1918, she was still intact. Her war time duties lasted until
1919, when she was returned to the White Star Line. She immediately sailed
for Belfast where she was refitted for peacetime service. In 1920, the
Celtic made her first crossing over the Atlantic.
25, 1925 the ship collided with the Coast Line’s Hampshire Coast
in the Irish Sea. The Celtic seemed unharmed whilst the Hampshire
Coast had suffered badly from the collision. She was afloat but that
was the only thing she was. Luckily, the smaller ship made off to port
safely. Another minor collision between the Celtic and the American
steamer Anaconda occurred in 1927, but none of the ships were especially
damaged. The same year, the old three-class system on board the Celtic
was left behind and the ship was turned into a Cabin Class ship with place
for 2,500 passengers.
|The Celtic grounded on the rocks
unfortunate voyage in 1928 just outside Cobh (Queenstown) the Celtic
was grounded on Roches Point. The engines were ordered full astern, and
she came off, but only to be grounded again on Calf Rocks. The ship did
not want to move, and after some failed salvage attempts, the Celtic
was declared a total loss. In order to take off all her passengers and
cargo, a bridge was constructed between the ship and the land. On this
bridge all of the ship’s rats left the ship when they felt that something
was wrong with their enormous home. The Celtic’s two funnels were
immediately cut down, because they hindered the Roches Point Lighthouse
beam. The wreck was sold to Petersen and Albeck, a Danish company. They
broke the Celtic up where she lay. After the White Star Line had
accepted the Celtic as a loss, they replaced her with the smaller
ex-German Albertic (laid down as the München). In 1933
the last remains of the great Celtic was taken away.
|The Celtic - Specifications:
||700 feet (213.8 m)
||75.3 feet (23 m)
||21,035 gross tons
||Two quadruple expansion
engines powering two propellers.
||2,857 people (in