1875 - 1950
the beginning of the 1870s, the White Star Line felt it was time to update
their fleet. At this time, speed was still one of the most important things
for the company. It was not until about twenty years later that White Star
decided against extremely fast vessels. The new tonnage would be a pair
beginning with the 5,000-tonner Britannic in 1874. With an average
Atlantic crossing time of over 15 knots, she took both the west- and the
eastbound speed record, thus acquiring the prestigious Blue Riband. The
Britannic became an immediate success on the North Atlantic, and
regular passengers could not wait for her future sister to enter service.
on July 15, 1874 the brand new Germanic was launched into the River
Lagan from her Harland and Wolff slip. Just like the Britannic,
the Germanic had cost the White Star Line £200,000 to build.
That is to compare with Cunard Line’s ‘Project Queen Mary’ of today, which
will cost approximately £3,000,000,000. Also, like the Britannic,
the Germanic had had a drop-propeller system installed, but during
the time it was noticed on the Britannic that it was not very useful,
the system was removed on the still-not-completed Germanic.
1875, the Germanic was completed, but she was kept in Belfast until
May because White Star did not want to receive her until the start of the
Atlantic summer season. Then, on May 30, when furnished and painted, she
set out on her maiden voyage. She replaced the White Star Line's first
steam vessel - the Oceanic. In July, the Germanic managed
to take the Blue Riband in
possession on the eastbound
run. She had crossed the Atlantic in a mere seven days, eleven hours and
seventeen minutes, resulting in an average crossing speed of 15.76 knots.
In February the next year she bettered her eastbound record somewhat and
by this time the sisters Britannic and Germanic was recognised
as the best liners in service.
|A nice drawing depicting
the Germanic in port.
major problem that occurred with the Germanic took place when the
ship was south east of Ireland. The propeller shaft snapped, and Germanic
had to use her sails in order to make it to the Irish port of Waterford.
White Star ordered the Germanic to go through a major refit to modernise
the ship. The old engine had to give way for one of the new breed - a triple
expansion one. Added to this, her funnels were heightened and the distinguished
rigging on the masts were removed.
the most dangerous events for the ship itself in the Germanic’s
long career occurred on February 13, 1899. When at New York harbour, during
a bad blizzard, the ship was being coaled when she suddenly healed over
to the port, allowing water to enter through the open coaling doors. The
Germanic sunk to the bottom of the harbour and the ship’s side rested
against the dockside. The reason for the ship’s unaccounted healing over
was that during the blizzard, large amounts of snow and ice had gathered
on her upper decks, thus making her top heavy. When the ship was sounded
shortly afterwards it was discovered that her passenger accommodation areas
had not been damaged at all. Probably, this saved the 24-year-old vessel
from scrapping, and ten days later she was righted so pumping of the water
and patching could commence in order to get the ship to Belfast for reparations.
The ship was altogether out of service for another four months before she
was put back on her ordinary Liverpool-New York service.
1903, the IMM decided to move the Germanic within the company to
the smaller American Line. The final voyage she made under White Star authority
was on September 23, and the rest of the winter she spent laid up. When
the American Line officially acquired the vessel, they decided to keep
the name Germanic instead of renaming her. The new route was between
Southampton and New York. However, Germanic did not stay long in
the American Line. After only six voyages she was transferred again to
the Dominion Line. From now on she would only carry emigrants. In 1905,
the Germanic was finally renamed and her new name became Ottawa
on January 5. She was now transferred to Canadian waters only during the
summers when she sailed regularly between Québec and Montreal. She
stayed on this service for another four years. In October 1909 she was
laid up, awaiting an uncertain future.
of the Ottawa proved to be from Turkey. In 1910, the Turkish Government
bought the vessel for transport use. She was to become part of a fleet
consisting of five other ships. She left Liverpool on March 15, 1911 and
sailed for her new home country. By this time she had been renamed Gul
Djemal. She would be operated by the Administration de Nav. A Vapeur
Ottomane in Istanbul. Later the same year the ex-Germanic carried
Turkish troops to the war in Yemen.
World War I, the Gul Djemal was still in Turkish ownership, thus serving
on the German side of the conflict. In April 1915,
the vessel was used as
a transport to rush Turkish troops to the Gallipoli Peninsula. They were
certainly needed from the German point of view, since the British and
the French had landed a giant army there together as an attempt to gain control of
the strategic area. But one
of the most terrible sea disasters in history occurred the same year on
May 3, when the Gul Djemal was torpedoed and sunk down to the superstructure.
At the moment she was carrying more than 4,000 troops of which the majority
was lost in the waves. The Allied U-boat responsible – the E 14 – could
claim an enormous bounty of £5 per Turk, plus assessed value. But
the end of the former Germanic had not come yet. Because the ship
had not sunk, and due to the need of transport ships, she was raised and
sent to be repaired. The wartime history continued, and in 1918 the ship
carried 1,500 German soldiers to the Allied control-point at Dover. Much
confusion arose, with the result that all military personnel was disarmed
and sent home to Germany.
|The sleek Germanic
while still under British ownership.
the war, the Gul Djemal was transferred to the Ottoman American
Line for emigrant service between Istanbul and New York. In this guise
she made her first voyage on October 10, 1921. Some years later she had
been transferred to the Turkish Black Sea coast. In 1928, she was again
transferred, this time to Turkiye Seyrisefain Idaresi, and she was renamed
of the Gulcemal’s career was not short, but not very eventful either.
Some occurrences worth noting though, was that she grounded in the Sea
of Marmora in 1931, and that she was degraded to a store ship in Istanbul
as late as 1949. In 1950 she had become a floating hotel, but on October
29 the ex-Germanic’s fate had come very close. She was towed to
Messina for breaking up after a 75-year-old record career. She had entered
service under British authority when the state of Germany was very young.
Two world wars later she had been on the other side, fighting together
with Britain’s enemies. The former White Star liner had never lost her
dignity, and when she was towed away to the scrap yard in Messina the old
Germanic still sported the distinguished golden stripe along her
Djemal/Gulcemal - Specifications:
||455 feet (139 m)
||45.2 feet (13.8 m)
||5,008 gross tons
||2 x 2 cylinder tandem
comp powering a single screw.