The Blue Riband

The Blue Riband was awarded to the ship that made the fastest transatlantic crossing. Actually, the award consisted of two prizes – one for eastbound crossings and one for westbound ones. In 1933, a trophy was commisioned and donated by Geoffrey Hales. The first ship to carry the Hales Trophy was the Italian liner Rex, although her record had already been broken by the Normandie when the trophy was finished. However, to honour the Rex and her record, it was decided that she would keep the trophy for three months. When the Queen Mary once and for all bested the Normandie’s record in 1938, Cunard refused to carry the trophy on board the new champion, because they wanted to keep a reputation of safety – not speed. Thus the trophy was kept by the Hales International Committee until the United States set a new record in 1952.

In this section, we have made a complete list of all the ships that have ever possessed the Blue Riband of the Atlantic. We have chosen to start the list with the first ship that crossed the North Atlantic powered by steam; the Sirius.


Westbound Crossings

Year

Ship

Company

Average speed on best record crossing

1838 Sirius British and American Steam
Navigation Company
8.03 knots
1838-1841 Great Western Great Western Steamship
Company
9.52 knots
1841-1843 Colombia Cunard Line 9.78 knots
1843-1845 Great Western Great Western Steamship
Company
10.03 knots
1845-1848 Cambria Cunard Line 10.71 knots
1848 America Cunard Line 11.71 knots
1848-1850 Europa Cunard Line 11.79 knots
1850 Asia Cunard Line 12.25 knots
1850-1851 Pacific Collins Line 12.46 knots
1851-1856 Baltic Collins Line 13.04 knots
1856-1863 Persia Cunard Line 13.11 knots
1863-1872 Scotia Cunard Line 14.46 knots
1872 Adriatic White Star Line 14.53 knots
1872-1875 Germanic White Star Line 14.65 knots
1875-1876 City of Berlin Inman Line 15.21 knots
1876-1877 Britannic White Star Line 15.43 knots
1877-1882 Germanic White Star Line 15.76 knots
1882-1884 Alaska Guion Line 17.05 knots
1884-1885 Oregon Guion Line 18.56 knots
1885-1887 Etruria Cunard Line 18.73 knots
1887-1888 Umbria Cunard Line 19.22 knots
1888-1889 Etruria Cunard Line 19.56 knots
1889-1891 City of Paris Inman & International
Line
20.01 knots
1891 Majestic White Star Line 20.10 knots
1891-1892 Teutonic White Star Line 20.35 knots
1892-1893 City of Paris Inman & International
Line
20.70 knots
1893-1894 Campania Cunard Line 21.44 knots
1894-1898 Lucania Cunard Line 21.81 knots
1898-1900 Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse Norddeutscher Lloyd 22.29 knots
1900-1902 Deutschland Hamburg Amerika Line 23.06 knots
1902-1903 Kronprinz Wilhelm Norddeutscher Lloyd 23.09 knots
1903-1907 Deutschland Hamburg Amerika Line 23.15 knots
1907-1909 Lusitania Cunard Line 25.65 knots
1909-1929 Mauretania Cunard Line 26.06 knots
1929-1930 Bremen Norddeutscher Lloyd 27.91 knots
1930-1933 Europa Norddeutscher Lloyd 27.92 knots
1933-1935 Rex Italia Line 28.92 knots
1935-1936 Normandie Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique
29.98 knots
1936-1937 Queen Mary Cunard White Star Line 30.14 knots
1937-1938 Normandie Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique
30.58 knots
1938-1952 Queen Mary Cunard White Star Line 30.99 knots
1952- United States United States Lines 34.51 knots

Eastbound Crossings

Year

Ship

Company

Average speed on best record crossing

1838 Sirius British and American Steam
Navigation Company
7.31 knots
1838-1840 Great Western Great Western Steamship
Company
10.17 knots
1840-1842 Britannia Cunard Line 10.98 knots
1842-1843 Great Western Great Western Steamship
Company
10.99 knots
1843 Columbia Cunard Line 11.11 knots
1843-1849 Hibernia Cunard Line 11.80 knots
1849-1851 Canada Cunard Line 12.38 knots
1851-1852 Pacific Collins Line 13.03 knots
1852-1856 Arctic Collins Line 13.06 knots
1856-1863 Persia Cunard Line 14.15 knots
1863-1869 Scotia Cunard Line 14.16 knots
1869-1873 City of Brussels Inman Line 14.74 knots
1873-1875 Baltic White Star Line 15.09 knots
1875-1876 City of Berlin Inman Line 15.37 knots
1876 Germanic White Star Line 15.79 knots
1876-1879 Britannic White Star Line 15.94 knots
1879-1882 Arizona Guion Line 15.96 knots
1882-1884 Alaska Guion Line 17.10 knots
1884-1885 Oregon Guion Line 18.39 knots
1885-1889 Etruria Cunard Line 19.36 knots
1889-1892 City of Paris Inman & International
Line
20.03 knots
1892-1893 City of New York Inman & International
Line
20.11 knots
1893-1894 Campania Cunard Line 21.30 knots
1894-1897 Lucania Cunard Line 22.00 knots
1897-1900 Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse Norddeutscher Lloyd 22.33 knots
1900-1904 Deutschland Hamburg-Amerika Line 23.51 knots
1904-1907 Kaiser Wilhelm II Norddeutscher Lloyd 23.58 knots
1907 Lusitania Cunard Line 23.61 knots
1907-1929 Mauretania Cunard Line 26.25 knots
1929-1935 Bremen Norddeutscher Lloyd 28.51 knots
1935-1936 Normandie Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique
30.31 knots
1936-1937 Queen Mary Cunard White Star Line 30.63 knots
1937-1938 Normandie Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique
31.20 knots
1938-1952 Queen Mary Cunard White Star Line 31.69 knots
1952- United States United States Lines 35.59 knots

Information courtesy of Hans Deketele, webmaster of the now-defunct website ‘Masters of the Blue Riband’, and Needham and Grant Consultants.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *