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since May 24th 1999.
|Last updated on June 24th
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he Ocean Liners. Once they were, in the words of maritime historian John Maxtone-Graham,'the only way to cross'. In the age before the jet aeroplane, the world had since the mid-19th century witnessed an explosion in shipbuilding technology. One of the main reasons to this was, of course, the steam engine. Although sceptical and reluctant to change their age-old profession in the beginning, sailors soon began to favour the steam engine instead of sails. The first steamship to cross the North Atlantic was the paddle steamer Savannah. In 1819, she made the trip from the Savannah River to Liverpool in 27 days. Although her steam engine was used for only 85 hours during the whole voyage, this marked the beginning of a new era.
At first, these revolutionary vesselsí prime objective was to carry mail between the continents. But passengers, up until then referring to sailing vessels as 'Coffin Ships' because they seldom meant a safe crossing, soon discovered the improved safety and reliability of the new steam ships. Therefore, a group that so far had been a side income for the shipping lines soon became the most important aspect of the trade - The Passenger.
During the rest of the century, ships developed at a rapid pace. Soon, sails disappeared all together, and the paddle wheels were replaced by the far more efficient propeller. And with the amount of immigrants to America increasing, the market called for bigger and faster ships. Ironically, the once so dominant sailing vessels were now used to ship and store coal for the new rulers of the sea.
By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the ocean liner had definitely established its place in the world. Now, they were not only means of transportation, but also great symbols for their nations. With nationalism blooming in every corner of Europe, each nation wanted to boast with the best liners in the world being theirs. This struggle stood mainly between Great Britain and Germany. During this time, many beautiful ships were born, but sadly the circumstances leading to their creation would result in the destruction of some of the greatest. World War I saw the end of both the Britannic and the Lusitania as well as numerous other ships.
After the war, the fleet of the Allies was rebuilt with German warprizes, and the transatlantic trade experienced yet another boom in the 1920s. Although the depression struck the shipping lines as well as the shipbuilders hard, the 1930s was the decade in which ships like the Normandie and the two Queens came to life. And other fantastic ships were to be built in the decades to come.
These pages will try to tell these stories as vividly and accurately as possible. If you have any comments, please contact us or join our Facebook page.
Enjoy your stay!
Othfors & Henrik Ljungström