1905 - 1932
the 20th century arrived, Great Britain was no longer dominant
on the seas. Germany had introduced their superliner Kaiser Wilhelm
der Grosse in 1897, and it had taken the Blue Riband from Cunard's
Lucania almost instantly. Other German ships had followed in the
Kaiser's wake, and the Blue Riband was in 1905 held by two new German
ships: Norddeutscher Lloyd's Kaiser Wilhelm II had the eastbound
record and the HAPAG-liner Deutschland possessed the westbound record.
Cunard was already planning their comeback. They had cleared a low-interest
loan with the British government in aid to build two new ships which would
be the biggest, most luxurious and above all fastest ships ever constructed
- Lusitania and Mauretania.
take the Blue Riband back, Cunard's new duo would need to maintain a service
speed of at least 24.5 knots. As these
two giants were of unprecedented
dimensions, it was not certain that the standard reciprocating engines
would be able to provide them with enough power to achieve that high speed.
Cunard was already considering the use of turbine engines in their new
duo, but as such engines had never been tested in ships of this size before,
Cunard needed to make some sort of test before reaching a final decision.
|With the beautiful lines
of the Caronia and her sister, it is not surprising that they were
dubbed 'The Pretty Sisters'.
lay in building two new ships. These would be identical, except when it
came to their engines. One would be fitted with engines of the traditional
reciprocation type turning two screws, and the other with modern turbines
turning three propellers.
ships were commissioned from the Clydebank firm of John Brown & Co.
Ltd., so that they would be as much alike as possible. The first of the
two vessels to go down the ways was the 'old-fashioned' one. Launched on
July 13th 1904, the new ship was christened Caronia by
Mrs. Choate, the wife of United States' ambassador in London. At 19,524
tons, she was the biggest Cunarder built so far. The ship's design differed
from earlier Cunarders, and so her funnels were divided into four equal
areas instead of five. The top quarter of the funnel was painted black
and the rest was red separated by two thin, black lines.
was the biggest ship so far to enter the Cunard fleet, the new Caronia
was of course put on the Liverpool-New York run. She was no record-breaker,
Cunard saved that for the Lusitania and Mauretania. Still,
the Caronia could maintain a service speed of 18 knots, making her
average crossing time quite acceptable.
25th 1905, the Caronia left her Liverpool pier for her
maiden voyage to New York. The voyage was uneventful, but still a success.
But on her third voyage, the Caronia was stranded off Sandy Hook.
Fortunately, there was no real damage to the ship, besides the unfortunate
delay. But Cunard still had reasons to rejoice, since the turbine-fitted
Carmania had been launched four days earlier, on February 21st.
However, the question of whether her turbine engines would be up to the
test or not, would not be answered until the end of the year when the Carmania
was to make her debut on the North Atlantic.
2nd 1905, the Carmania set out on her Liverpool to New
York maiden voyage. Her trials had created great expectations as she had
easily exceeded her sister's top speed with no less than two knots. The
success was immediate. The Carmania proved to be both faster and
more economical than Caronia, and the question of the Lusitania's
and Mauretania's engines had now been answered - they would both
be powered by turbines.
could of course not be fitted with turbines after this revelation; the
conversion would have been too complicated and expensive. Still, her quadruple-expansion
engines were performing nicely, and there was no reason to change her service.
She was kept on her New York route, and served it flawlessly until the
event of the First World War.
so many other liners of her time, the Caronia had been constructed
so that she might be converted into an armed merchant cruiser in the event
of war. When the first shots of World War I were fired, the Caronia
was brought to Liverpool for conversion into a cruiser. The work was finished
on August 8th 1914, and the Royal Navy requisitioned the ship.
third day of war duties, the converted Caronia intercepted and captured
the German barque Odessa. The ship was then transferred to Halifax
from where she worked the following six months patrolling the waters outside
New York harbour.
carried out this task suffering only one accident when she collided with
the six-masted schooner Edward B. Winslow. Luckily, no one was killed
in the collision and the two vessels were only slightly damaged. In May
1915, the Caronia returned to Liverpool for a complete overhaul.
She then served as a contraband ship before she was returned to Cunard
on August 7th, 1916. She
was given a refit, but only
to be requisitioned by the British government when it was completed. She
served as a troop transport between Halifax and Liverpool for the duration
of the war. When peace was finally achieved in 1918, the Caronia
was kept on to return Canadian soldiers to their home country.
|The lovely Caronia
12th 1919, the Caronia made her first post-war crossing
between London and Halifax. She was given a reconditioning in 1920 and
then continued to serve on the Canadian run in combination with her ordinary
New York route.
Caronia went through another refit in which her passenger accommodations
were reduced by 1,200. This was mainly to make her more suitable as a winter
cruise-ship, a duty often given to older ships during the late 20s.
The Caronia was sent on cruises between New York and Havana in the
winter seasons, and remained on her New York run during the summer for
the rest of her career.
the 1930s arrived, the shipping companies of the world were
suffering from the Depression set off by the Great Crash of 1929. The Caronia
and her sister Carmania were now rather old ships, and they were
both laid up at Sheerness at the end of 1931. In January 1932, the Caronia
was sold to the shipbreakers of Hughes Bocklow & Co., who for some
reason then resold her to a Japanese scrapping firm. The Caronia
was renamed Taiseiyo Maru for her last voyage to Osaka, where she
would be cut up. By the end of 1933, the Caronia was no more.
|The Caronia - Specifications:
||678 feet (207.1 m)
||72 feet (22 m)
||19,524 gross tons
reciprocating engines turning two propellers.
||Originally 2,650 people,
reduced to 1,467 people during 1926 refit.