1932 - 1956
the late twenties, the Depression hit hard on the world’s ship-owners.
One of the companies that was most affected by this was the White Star
Line. Before the crash occurred in 1929, the Cunard Line, the White Star
Line and the French Line had one ship each well ahead in plans. The Cunard
ship was the Queen Mary, the White Star ship was the Oceanic
and the French ship was the Normandie. All of these ships should
be able to maintain a service speed of 30 knots, and exceed a thousand
feet in length. When the crash came, only the Oceanic was under
construction at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard. The White Star, who had the
most precarious economic situation, cancelled the order on the Oceanic
soon after the crash. The Queen Mary, whose construction began in
1930, was not cancelled but put on hold. The only ship of these three that
continued its construction was the French Line’s Normandie.
|The Georgic during
fitting out at Harland & Wolff.
keel had already been laid, though, and the White Star Line did not want
to waste good steel. Realising that they had not a strong enough economic
situation, they instead of the thousand-feet Oceanic ordered a new
smaller vessel from Harland and Wolff. They took the cancelled Oceanic’s
keel and recycled it into what was going to be the 27,000-tonner Britannic.
That ship had her maiden voyage in June 1930, and became somewhat of a
success, despite the facts that she only had a service speed of 18 knots
and was something totally new in the conservative public’s eyes. Even though
ordered to have an ‘Olympic-class resemblance’, she had a blunt
stern and two squat funnels. (The forward funnel was a dummy, which contained
the radio room and the engineering officer’s smoking room.) But, the popularity
continued and soon the White Star Line decided that they would add a sister
to the Britannic.
was launched on November 12, 1931, and was christened Georgic. Now
the White Star Line could once again claim to operate a new duo of ships
on the North Atlantic, and that was something rather rare. Since the ships
was not in the class of Majestic and Olympic none of them
was given the rank of flagship. The Southampton-New York route was maintained
by the Majestic and the Olympic, whilst the Liverpool-New
York route was mainly taken over by Britannic and Georgic.
the Georgic looked somewhat different from the Britannic.
She had a more rounded bridge-front and some of her windows on the superstructure
differed from her sister’s.
4, 1932, the Georgic went though her sea trials. During these she
carried guests which had been ferried out to her on the Belfast S.S. Co.’s
Ulster Monarch, which had been chartered for the occasion. Six days
later she was handed over to the White Star Line. On June 25, the Georgic
set out on her maiden voyage between Liverpool and New York. She managed
superbly, and arrived at New York twelve hours early. In September the
same year a charity banquet was held on the Georgic while she lay
in the Gladstone Dock. Later during the off-season of the year, just as
her sister Britannic, the Georgic was used cruising from
|The ship's Main Restaurant.
the Olympic was considered old enough to be replaced by the Georgic.
Thus was her new home port Southampton and her route therefore Southampton-New
York. In spite of this she continued some of her Liverpool service, and
at one occasion in October the Georgic landed
a 3,000 ton record cargo of fruit at Liverpool.
the White Star Line could not resist the economic pressure any longer.
They were forced by the government to merger with Cunard; in order to have
the government finance the Queen Mary-project, which had been on
hold for years. In the new company there would be ten directors of which
four were from the White Star Line. Obviously, Cunard had the upper hand
in the Cunard-White Star Line, but all of White Star’s ships continued
to wear their old colours, including Georgic.
new company, the Georgic, together with the Britannic started
to sail on the London-Southampton-New York service, and in May 1935, she
made her first sailing on this route. Because she was slightly larger that
the Britannic, the Georgic became the largest ship to operate
in the River Thames. Cunard’s new Mauretania at 35,000 tons used
the port once, but did not thereafter use it anymore, so the honour belongs
World War began in 1939, and the Georgic was requisitioned for British
trooping duties. Earlier the same year the Georgic had been transferred
back to the Liverpool-New York service and made five voyages back and forth.
The actual converting into a trooping-vessel did not occur until April
1940, on the Clyde. The Georgic was now able to carry 3,000 soldiers.
The first use that was made of the Georgic was to have British troops
evacuated from Andesfjord and Narvik in Norway and landing them at the
Clyde. The next assignment was to evacuate British soldiers from Brest
and S:t Nazarie. She also carried Canadian troops across the Atlantic to
the Middle East via the way around Africa.
the Georgic was sailing in a convoy that had left the Clyde on May
22. This convoy was the very convoy, which hunted and sank the famous German
battleship Bismarck. After having been left almost unprotected by
the attacking British war-ships, the Georgic anyway managed to reach
her destination: Port Tewfik in the Gulf of Suez on July 7. When she was
at anchor here, German aircraft spotted the British trooper and bombed
her. The Georgic was hit twice, and the stern of the ship was set
afire by the bombs. The fire reached the ship’s fuel, and the ammunition
carried on board exploded, thus wrecking the entire stern area. The ship
was beached by her captain, and when evacuated the half-submerged Georgic
was left to be burned out.
|The scuttled Georgic after having been
bombed by the Germans at Port Tewfik.
though the vessel was almost totally destroyed, it was decided that she
should be salvaged on September 14. In October the Georgic was raised,
and two months later the plugging of the hull was completed. She was towed,
stern first, to Port Sudan where she was made seaworthy. A year later she
had arrived at Bombay and finished hull cleaning and further reparations.
In January 1943, she left Bombay at 16
knots for Liverpool where she arrived on March 1. Her next port of call
was Belfast. There she would undergo a complete refit, which took 17 months.
When completed in December 1944, her exterior was much different from what
she had once looked like. The main changes was that her fore funnel and
aft mast had been removed and the forward mast been shortened. Now every
possible difficulty in separating Georgic from her sister Britannic
had been reduced. On December 16, she was returned to her managers. During
the last year of the war, the Georgic made some trooping to Italy,
the Middle East and India. The last war duties continued until 1948.
year, the Georgic was refitted for civil use by Palmers’ and Co.
Hebburn. She was intended to sail on the Australian and New Zealand immigrant
service. The Georgic’s passengers were now only able to travel in
one class; since the German bombing the ship could not retain first class
service. In January 1949, the Georgic made her first sailing on
the new route with Liverpool as her starting point. During this very first
voyage, she had a rope wrapped around a propeller, and she had to re-dock.
|The refitted Georgic,
sporting a lone funnel and a single mast.
the name White Star forever disappeared from the scene. However, the surviving
White Star ships in Cunard service, namely the Britannic and Georgic,
continued to sail in White Star livery, and still hoisted the White Star
flag. Between 1951 and 1954, the Georgic sailed Southampton-New
York during the summers. Her final voyage was on October 19.
was offered for sale in 1955, and in May she was chartered by the Australian
Government. The last voyage ever completed in service for the Georgic
was on November 19, when she carried 800 troops between Hong Kong and Liverpool.
In December she was laid up at Kames Bay at Isle of Bute, and in January
1956 she was sold to the Shipbreaking Industries Ltd. at Faslane where
she arrived one month later. The last of the ships built for the White
Star Line had finally come to rest.
|The Georgic - Specifications:
||712 feet (217.5 m)
||82.5 feet (25.2 m)
||27,759 gross tons
||Burmeister & Wain
diesels powering two propellers.