Intended Giants of
In this section I am going
to concentrate on those intended ocean liners that never were to sail the
oceans of the world. Some of the liners were deleted before they were even
constructed wholly, while others were destroyed by the rages of war before
they had a chance of entering service. Some of the liners were altered
into completely different ships before construction commenced. Most of
the liners I am going to write about would have been stunning showpieces
of their age but as they were never to be, they would only be remembered
as the Intended Giants of the Seas.
White Star Company has commissioned the great Belfast shipbuilders Harland
& Wolff to build an Atlantic steamer that will beat the record in size
and speed. She has already been named Gigantic, and will be 700
feet long, 65 feet 7½ inches beam and 4,500 horsepower. It is calculated
that she will steam 22 knots an hour, with a maximum speed of 27 knots.
She will have three screws, two fitted like the
Majestic’s, and the third in the centre. She is to be ready for
sea in March 1894.’
article was published in the New York Times on September 17, 1892. With
these, for the time, very impressive figures, it is clear that White Star
had its aim on recapturing the Blue Riband of the Atlantic, which recently
had been taken from their Teutonic by the Inman & International
Line’s City of Paris. However, this liner was never realised and
the next major liner for White Star came in 1899 and was called Oceanic.
As she proved an immense success as the largest ship in the world – not
counting the Great Eastern from 1860 – the shipping line felt that
a sister to the Oceanic would be required. She would be of the same
dimensions and appearance as the first sister and be called Olympic.
But when White Star Line’s director Thomas Henry Ismay died in 1899, the
order of the Olympic was cancelled and all effort was put in constructing
the Big Four-class consisting of Celtic (1901), Cedric (1903),
Baltic (1904) and Adriatic (1907).
|The White Star giant
that never was - the third Oceanic.
the terrible loss of the Titanic in 1912, White Star naturally planned
replacements for her. A replacement liner called Ceric, Germanic
or Homeric – depending on when in the planning stage they were –
of approximately 30,000 gross tons was supposed to team with the Olympic
and the future Britannic. Also, more or less serious plans of a
ship that would be the first to exceed a thousand feet in length were proposed.
None of these liners ever came very far in the planning stage due to the
outbreak of World War I. After the war White Star received the two German
liners Columbus and Bismarck – who they renamed Homeric
and Majestic – and thereby the pre-war Titanic-replacements
were deleted once and for all.
the world had recovered from World War I, shipping companies all over the
world started to build new ships. The Cunard Line began construction of
the Queen Mary and the French Line commenced work on their giant
Normandie. Naturally, the White Star Line also had wanted a large
post war liner and gave Harland & Wolff the order to build a liner
with an estimated gross tonnage of 60,000 and a length of 1,010 feet. With this length,
it is highly plausable that the actual gross tonnage would have ended up somewhere
near the 80,000-ton mark. The ship, who was intended to be named Oceanic,
would have a service speed above that of Germany’s Bremen and thereby
putting White Star in the race for the Blue Riband once again. In appearance,
she would resemble the two later 27,000 gross ton motor liners Britannic
and Georgic but she would sport three squat funnels instead of two.
The keel was laid at Harland & Wolff on June 28, 1928. But when the
Depression struck the next year, work on the giant ship was abandoned.
Almost the entire keel of the Oceanic had been laid, but it was
demolished and reused on the earlier mentioned Britannic in 1930.
Later, White Star merged with Cunard and had their share when they could
take part of the Queen Mary.
|A striking view of the
Oceanic at sea. (Drawing courtesy of Michael Cook)
the Second World War erupted and once again plunged the world into global
carnage, a running mate to the French Line's famous Normandie called
Bretagne was actually being planned for. This liner would be similar
to the Normandie, but only have two funnels. Her massive power plant
would secure that the Queen Mary never regained the Blue Riband
from France. The ship was to be a staggering 100,000 gross tons
large. But with the event of war, the Bretagne-project was abandoned
before it even had been seriously thought of.
since the take-over of the Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck
by the United States and Britain after World War I, the Hamburg Amerika
Linie had been standing in the shadow of Norddeutscher Lloyd who commissioned
great liners such as Bremen and Europa between the two wars,
while Hamburg Amerika only aimed at intermediate sized liners. But in the
late 1930s, they commissioned their first large liner since
the Bismarck from the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg. She
was to be named Vaterland and have a gross tonnage of 41,000. Her
length would be an astonishing 824 feet and her turboelectric engines would
drive her at a service speed of 23.5 knots. She would be very streamlined
and actually have some of the Normandie’s lean grace. The Vaterland
was launched in 1940 but laid up because of the war. Before fitting out
could commence, the great liner was bombed during Allied raids in Hamburg
on July 25, 1943. The wreckage of the liner had been entirely scrapped
|A model of HAPAG's second
Vaterland, a liner that was destroyed before completion.
the dominance of the Atlantic was fought for by for example Cunard, Norddeutscher
Lloyd and the French Line, smaller shipping companies also wanted to show
themselves a worthy alternative on the North Atlantic. The Swedish American
Line had started business back in 1915 and slowly progressed into one of
the most respected shipping companies on the North Atlantic. After the
war, they built two large liners called Gripsholm and Kungsholm.
As the 1940 approached these two vessels were showing signs of age and
SAL began planning of a giant replacement. The replacement would consist
of only one ship and that ship would be the largest in SAL’s history. They
ordered a 30,000 gross ton liner that was to be called Stockholm
from the Cantieri Riuniti dell’Adriatico shipyard in Molfalcone, Italy.
The liner would be 675 feet long, Diesel driven and have a service speed
of 19 knots. When nearly complete in December 1938, the hull of the Stockholm
was accidentally burnt out and had to be scrapped. However, the Swedish
American Line did not throw in the towel – they ordered Cantieri to build
an exact replica of the burnt out vessel and soon they were back in the
game again. But as construction of the new Stockholm continued into
World War II, neutral Sweden saw no use in acquiring the Stockholm when
she was finished in 1941. However, she had the time to complete a trial
run for the Swedish American Line in their colours
before she was sold to the Italian Government. They renamed her Sabaudia
and used her as a troop ship. Between 1943 and 1944 the Germans used her
for the same purpose. During an Allied air raid on July 6, 1944 the former
Stockholm was sunk outside Trieste. In 1949, the wreckage was raised
|Swedish American Line's
30,000-ton Stockholm, who was scuttled during World War II.
the giant France of 1962 was commissioned by the French Line, many
thoughts of how they would uphold the trans-Atlantic route after the Liberté’s
and Île de France’s withdrawal. Of course it eventually ended
up with the two funnel France, but the French Line had had trouble
deciding on whether they would have one large ship or two smaller ones.
Some thought that two small 30,000 gross tons liners would be quite enough
instead of one large and expensive ship. In the end, before serious plans
of the smaller liners came, a 65,000-ton France was decided upon.
had equal problems when they had to replace the two Queens in the
late Sixties. At first, one large liner similar to the Queen Elizabeth
was proposed. She would have two funnels like her predecessor and inside
the three-class system would be upheld. The project of this liner was code-named
‘Q3’ – the third Queen. But before the conservative part of Cunard
got their will through, other plans of a more modern looking liner came
to the surface. Cunard wanted to compete with the gaudy France and
then a look from the 1930s would certainly not be very tactic.
The modern passenger wanted the best of the best and the newest of the
new. Instead, another project – ‘Q4’ – was launched, in the end resulting
in the world famous Queen Elizabeth 2 of today.