1901 - 1942
the 20th century began, the White Star Line was one of the most
prominent liner companies of the seas. On the North Atlantic run, which
was the most prestigious one, the company had among other ships their flagship
Oceanic, which had entered service in 1899.
Star Line had also opened up a new route in 1899, a route between Liverpool,
Cape Town and Sydney. Three ships had been built for this new trade. They
were the Afric, Medic and Persic. All of these three
ships were slightly below than 12,000 tons and could carry 320 passengers
each, all in third class. Because they all had been launched on the last
year of the 19th century, these three vessels were popularly
known as ‘The Jubilee Class’.
|The slender Suevic
the death of Thomas Henry Ismay on November 23rd 1899, the control
of the company was given to his son, Bruce Ismay. Before his father’s death
it had been decided that the Jubilee-trio would be expanded to a quintet,
and therefore Bruce Ismay ordered two more ships from the ever-reliable
Harland & Wolff, Belfast.
ship of this additional pair was the Runic, which was launched on
October 25th, 1900. As the fourth ship of the Jubilee-class
she was also the largest of the four, at 12,482 tons. As with
the initial Jubilee-trio, the Runic sported a single funnel and four masts,
but some design modifications had been made. The two most noticeable changes
were that the poop deck had been lengthened and the bridge had been placed
closer to the bow. This gave the Runic a more modern look than her
three older siblings.
less than two months later, on December 8th, the last of the
Jubilee-quintet took to the water. With the same design as the Runic,
she was christened Suevic and was the largest of the five, surpassing
the Runic by some 50 tons. As her four consorts, she was designed
to carry both passengers and cargo. The ship contained seven cargo holds
and could carry as much as 400 passengers, all steerage.
her fitting out was completed, the Suevic left on her maiden voyage
to Australia on March 23rd, 1901. By now the Boer War was raging
in South Africa, and the Suevic were used to carry troops to the
area of hostilities along with her four siblings. Not a very noticeable
ship, the Suevic had a service speed of 13 ½ knots, and would
surely have received very little attention if it weren’t for an event that
would occur six years later.
|With her fore part blown free, the Suevic
begins the voyage back to Southampton.
17th 1907, the Suevic was inbound for Plymouth with a
near full cargo and 382 passengers on board. Steaming along in dense fog,
her master made a critical error and miscalculated her position by more
than 16 miles. When the crew was looking for the Lizard light in the distance,
it suddenly appeared close on the ship’s port side. With a violent force,
the Suevic ran ashore at full speed. When the ship had settled on
the shore, the passengers were evacuated in the ship’s lifeboats.
was surely in a predicament. The bow was impaled on the shore, and to set
it free it had to be lightened. On March 20th, the ship’s
crew therefore began transferring cargo from the bow holds to small coastal
steamers that had by now come to the assistance. This attempt of freeing
the ship could have succeeded, had it not been for the weather.
later, on March 27th, the weather worsened and pushed the Suevic
further onto the ledge. Seeing that the stern portion of the ship was still
intact, the White Star Line decided to save the ship by severing her. By
using dynamite, the bow was blown free from the rest of the ship at
the bulkhead just aft of the bridge. The work was a battle against the
clock, as worse weather was expected.
4th, the now crippled Suevic was made seaworthy. Travelling
astern by the assistance of the tugs Blazer, Herculaneum,
Linnet and Ranger, the ship now set off on her journey towards
Southampton. At the same time, a new bow was being constructed in the yards
of Harland & Wolff. When completed, this 212 feet bow section was launched
head first, and it was jokingly said that the Suevic was the longest ship
in the world, her stern being in Southampton and her bow in Belfast.
The bow was then towed to Southampton by the Pathfinder
and Blazer on October 19th, 1907.
|The badly damaged Suevic,
cut in half just aft of the bridge.
26th, the new bow section arrived at Southampton and the work
of putting the two pieces together got underway. It was the largest rebuilding
operation ever undertaken, and the Suevic was ready for service
again 18 months after her grounding, on January 14th, 1908.
It was a remarkable achievement for this time, virtually half the ship
had been renewed.
later, in 1914, the First World War erupted. Because of their frozen meat
capacity, the Suevic and her four consorts were kept in commercial
service, carrying troops in the same time. In March 1915, the Suevic
made a single trooping voyage to Mudros in the Mediterranean, as part of
the Dardanelles campaign. For the duration of the war, the Suevic
served the British Empire under the Liner Requisition Scheme until 1919.
When she was returned to White Star, they decided that the Suevic
deserved a refit.
1920, the Suevic was returned to her regular route to Australia.
Her passenger accommodations had been modified, and she could now carry
266 people in second class. For the next four years the Suevic remained
in this service, completing her 50th voyage to Australia in
four years later, in 1928, the Suevic was showing signs of her age,
and was sold to the Norwegian company Yngvar Hvistendahl’s Finnvahl A/S
for £35,000. In their hands she was renamed Skytteren, and
was sent off to Krupp’s Germaniawerft in Kiel, where she was to be converted
into a whale factory ship. She remained with the company through the years,
and in 1939, she saw the beginning of yet another world war.
the German invasion of Norway in 1940, Skytteren was interned in
the Swedish port of Göteborg in April that same year along with several
other Norwegian ships. The now exiled Norwegian government was in London,
and claimed the ships as their property. The Quisling government objected,
but a court of law found in favour of the exiled owners.
|The former Suevic
as Skytteren. Note the yellow White Star-band still running along
1st 1942, the Norwegian ships left Göteborg to perform a dash
into Allied waters. There they were to be met and protected by British
vessels. The operation was a complete failure. The Germans had been alerted,
and were lying in wait in the open sea. Of all the ships that had been
in the convoy, only two made it past the enemies. Six were sunk by German
warships, three ships turned back to Göteborg and the Skytteren
was scuttled in the waters off Maseskär, Sweden, and her crew was
taken as prisoners of war. That was the end of the former Suevic,
and the wreck remains today where it once went down, off the coast of Sweden.
She lies on her port side with her bow pointing to the west.
|The Suevic - Specifications:
||565 feet (172.6 m)
||63.3 feet (19.3 m)
||12,531 gross tons
||2x4 cylinder quadruple
expansion engines turning two propellers.
||Originally 400 people,
changed to 266 during 1920 refit.