1867 - 1902
of the corner stones in the Cunard Lineís fleet was the lineís famous conservatism.
Even though Isambard Brunelís spectacular Great Britain had entered
service in 1845 with a screw propeller, Cunard gave their Persia
of 1856 paddle wheels. This ship became a success and she was followed
in 1862 by a near-sister, named Scotia, also relying on the paddle
wheels. The same year, the propeller driven steamer China entered
service, and as she resembled the Scotia, she was perfect to compare
with. After both ships had been in service for some time, it was discovered
that the China was the superior ship, as all the comparisons favoured
attempt to convince the public and some conservative shipping companies
that the propeller actually was more efficient than paddle wheels, a test
had been carried out in 1845 between the two almost identical frigates
Rattler and Alecto, both of 880 tons. The propeller driven
Rattler was chained stern-to-stern with the paddle wheel driven
Alecto as the battle begun. Both vessels steamed on at full power
in opposite directions, and the Rattler with her propeller towed the Alecto
stern first with ease at a speed of 2.7 knots.
had to face it. If they were supposed to continue being one of the most
prestigious shipping companies in the world, they had to rely on new technique.
As a result of some new thinking, Cunard was considering their first major
propeller driven unit during the mid-1860s. The new vessel would
be named Russia, and would be almost 3,000 gross tons large, making
her somewhat smaller than the Persia and Scotia.
was constructed at J. & G. Thomson Limited in Glasgow. She was fitted
with three masts and a single funnel. Without the characteristic look of
the paddle wheels, her sides looked quite bare and naked. Just like her
many predecessors, the Russia
was equipped with the distinctive
clipper bow. This sleek and streamlined look made the Russia appear a very
she was. Even though she never captured the Blue Riband, she was known
as one of the fastest liners on the North Atlantic. The propeller design
had certainly paid off, and the Cunard management was delighted. However,
as the Russia only had one screw, she was very dependent on her sails.
If the propeller shaft snapped in the middle of the Atlantic, the ship
would still be able to continue the voyage without too much delay thanks
to the sails. True, the arrival at port might be two or three weeks late,
but at least the steamer did not have to suffer the indignity of being
towed into harbour. Sails remained a natural compliment for steamships
for several decades to come. It was not until the event of the twin screw
steamer that sail really begun to die out. But as late as 1914 on the giant
HAPAG-liner Vaterland, who sailed between Germany and America, the
crew was given specifications in which it was spelled out that the shipís
two masts were not to be rigged for sail.
was designed as a first class ship, with accommodation only for wealthy
people. Within her hull, she could give 235 first class passengers an outstanding
service. Still, many people were confused why such a large ship as the
Russia could not accommodate more passengers. No one could come
up with a specific reason why the builders had done so, and after some
time in service, the stateroom area was expanded to accommodate 430 passengers.
any mishaps, the Russia stayed within the Cunard Line until 1880,
when she was sold to the Red Star Line, who renamed her Waesland.
In connection with the Red Star Line-takeover, the former Russia
was lengthened to 132 metres and her gross tonnage was increased to 4,752.
She was also given an additional mast, compound engines were fitted and
the passenger accommodation was increased to house 120 first class passengers
and 1,500 third.
1895 the vessel was chartered by the American Line, for their Philadelphia
to Liverpool route. The liner continued to sail the oceans with distinction
into the 20th century. The last year for the Waesland
was 1902. Perhaps she would have lived on for yet another few years if
it had not been for a devastating collision on March 5, with the British
ship Harmonides. Unfortunately, the former Russia suffered heavy
damage and went down. One of the trend-setting ships in the Cunard Line
was now forever gone, but Cunard did not mourn as they had the sight aimed
for a triumphant revenge on the German liner Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse,
who had captured the Blue Riband from the Cunarder Lucania in 1897.
|The Russia/Waesland - Specifications:
||358 feet (109.4 m)
||42 feet (12.8 m)
||2,959 gross tons
||Steam engines powering a
||235 (later 430) people