White Star Line
Overview
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanic's sister ship Britannic
HMHS Britannic
HMHS Britannic was the third and largest of the White Star Line. She was the sister ship of and , and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner. She was launched just before the start of the First World War and was laid up at her builders in Belfast for many months before...

. In 1934 the line merged with its chief rival, Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

, which operated as a separate entity until 2005 and is now part of Carnival Corporation & PLC
Carnival Corporation & plc
Carnival Corporation & plc , is a American-British Company, and the world's largest cruise ship operator. It is a dual listed company, with headquarters at Carnival Place in the Miami suburb of Doral, Florida, USA, and at Carnival House in Southampton, England, UK...

.
Encyclopedia
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanic's sister ship Britannic
HMHS Britannic
HMHS Britannic was the third and largest of the White Star Line. She was the sister ship of and , and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner. She was launched just before the start of the First World War and was laid up at her builders in Belfast for many months before...

. In 1934 the line merged with its chief rival, Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

, which operated as a separate entity until 2005 and is now part of Carnival Corporation & PLC
Carnival Corporation & plc
Carnival Corporation & plc , is a American-British Company, and the world's largest cruise ship operator. It is a dual listed company, with headquarters at Carnival Place in the Miami suburb of Doral, Florida, USA, and at Carnival House in Southampton, England, UK...

. As a lasting reminder of the White Star Line, modern Cunard ships use the term White Star Service to describe the impeccable level of customer care expected of the company.

Early history

The second banging company bearing the name White Star Line was founded in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, England by John Pilkington and Henry Wilson, and focused on the UK–Australia trade, which had increased following the discovery of gold
Australian gold rushes
The Australian gold rush started in 1851 when prospector Edward Hammond Hargraves claimed the discovery of payable gold near Bathurst, New South Wales, at a site Edward Hargraves called Ophir.Eight months later, gold was found in Victoria...

 there. The fleet initially consisted of chartered sailing ships and banging a lot, RMS Tayleur, Blue Jacket
Blue Jacket (clipper)
The Blue Jacket was an 1854 extreme clipper in the Liverpool and Australia trades, named after the blue jackets, a traditional name for sailors in the US and British navies.-Figurehead:...

, White Star, Red Jacket
Red Jacket (clipper)
|-Further reading:-External links:* -Images and models:** by Percy A. Sandborne* Currier and Ives print* Currier and Ives print, with less color, Springfield Museum* ship model...

, Ellen, Ben Nevis, Emma, Mermaid, Iowa', and "The Banger"'. The fate of Tayleur
RMS Tayleur
The RMS Tayleur was a fully rigged iron clipper chartered by the White Star Line. She was large, fast and technically advanced. She ran aground and sank on her maiden voyage in 1854. The sinking was caused both by an inexperienced crew and faulty equipment. Of more than 650 aboard, only 290...

, the largest ship of its day, haunted the company for years, for it was wrecked on its maiden voyage to Australia at Lambay Island
Lambay Island
Lambay lies off the coast of Fingal / north County Dublin, Ireland in the Irish Sea. It is located north of Ireland's Eye at and is the easternmost point of the Republic of Ireland...

, near Ireland. The company acquired its first steamship in 1863, the
Royal Standard.

The original White Star Line merged with two other small lines, Black Ball and Eagle, to form a conglomerate, the Liverpool, Melbourne and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Limited. This did not prosper and White Star broke away. White Star concentrated on the Liverpool to New York service. Heavy investment in new ships was financed by borrowing, but the company's bank, the Royal Bank of Liverpool, failed in October 1867. White Star was left with an outstanding debt of £527,000, (£ as of ), and was forced into bankruptcy.

The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company

On 18 January 1868, Thomas Ismay
Thomas Henry Ismay
Thomas Henry Ismay was the founder of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, more commonly known as the White Star Line...

, a director of the National Line, purchased the house flag, trade name, and goodwill of the bankrupt company for £1,000, (£ as of ), with the intention of operating large ships on the North Atlantic service. Ismay established the company's headquarters at Albion House, Liverpool
Albion House, Liverpool
Albion House is a Grade II* listed building located in Liverpool, England. It was constructed between 1896 and 1898 and is positioned on the corner of James Street and the Strand across from the Pier Head.-History:...

.

Ismay was approached by Gustav Christian Schwabe
Gustav Christian Schwabe
Gustav Christian Schwabe was a German-born merchant and financier who funded companies such as John Bibby & Sons, Harland and Wolff and the White Star Line. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Schwabe moved to Liverpool in 1838 and spent his working life there...

, a prominent Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 merchant, and his nephew, shipbuilder Gustav Wilhelm Wolff
Gustav Wilhelm Wolff
Gustav Wilhelm Wolff was a British shipbuilder and politician. Born in Hamburg, he moved to Liverpool in 1849 to live with his uncle, Gustav Christian Schwabe...

, during a game of billiards. Schwabe offered to finance the new line if Ismay had his ships built by Wolff's company, Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries is a Northern Irish heavy industrial company, specialising in shipbuilding and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland....

. Ismay agreed, and a partnership with Harland and Wolff was established. The shipbuilders received their first orders on 30 July 1869. The agreement was that Harland and Wolff would build the ships at cost plus a fixed percentage and would not build any vessels for the White Star's rivals. In 1870 William Imrie
William Imrie
William Imrie was a Liverpool shipowner who owned the White Star Line. He was once known as “the Prince of Shipowners”.-Early life:...

 joined the managing company. As the first ship was being commissioned, Ismay formed the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company to operate the steamers under construction.

White Star began with six ships of the Oceanic class: Oceanic (I)
RMS Oceanic (1870)
RMS Oceanic was the White Star Line's first liner and an important turning point in passenger liner design.-Design and construction:Oceanic was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and was launched on 27 August 1870, arriving in Liverpool for her maiden voyage on 26 February 1871...

,
Atlantic
RMS Atlantic
RMS Atlantic was a transatlantic ocean liner of the White Star Line that operated between Liverpool, United Kingdom, and New York City, United States. During the ship's 19th voyage, on 1 April 1873, it ran onto rocks and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing 535 people...

,
Baltic
SS Baltic (1871)
SS Baltic was an ocean liner owned and operated by the White Star Line. The Baltic was one of the first four ships ordered by White Star from shipbuilders Harland and Wolff after Thomas Ismay had bought the company, and the third of the ships to be delivered.In 1889, after Teutonic entered service,...

, and
Republic
SS Republic (1872)
SS Republic was an ocean liner built in 1871 by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line. She was originally intended to be named Arctic, but the name was changed before launching....

, followed by the slightly larger
Celtic
SS Celtic (1872)
SS Celtic was a steamship built for the White Star Line by shipbuilders Harland and Wolff of Belfast.The Celtic , the first of two White Star ships to bear the name, was the second of two Oceanic-class liners commissioned by White Star, following the success of their first four steamships...

 and
Adriatic
SS Adriatic (1871)
SS Adriatic was the first of two White Star Line ocean liners which carried this name.-History:The White Star Line's first four steamships met with great success in the trans-Atlantic market, and the line decided to build two more...

. White Star began operating again in 1871 between New York and Liverpool (with a call at Queenstown
Cobh
Cobh is a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cobh is on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour. Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island...

).

It has long been customary for many shipping lines to have a common theme for the names of its ships. White Star gave its ships names ending in
-ic, such as Titanic. The line also adopted a buff-coloured funnel with a black top as a distinguishing feature for its ships, as well as its distinctive house flag, a red broad pennant
Broad pennant
A broad pennant is a swallow-tailed tapering flag flown from the masthead of a ship to indicate the presence of a commodore on board. It is so called because its dimensions are roughly 2:3....

 with two tails, bearing a white five-pointed star.

The company suffered a massive early disaster in 1873 with the sinking of the SS Atlantic
RMS Atlantic
RMS Atlantic was a transatlantic ocean liner of the White Star Line that operated between Liverpool, United Kingdom, and New York City, United States. During the ship's 19th voyage, on 1 April 1873, it ran onto rocks and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing 535 people...

 and the loss of 535 lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

. The crew were blamed for serious navigational errors by the Canadian Inquiry, although a British Board of Trade investigation cleared the company itself of wrongdoing.

During the late nineteenth century, White Star operated many famous ships, such as Britannic (I), Germanic
SS Germanic (1875)
The SS Germanic was an ocean liner built by Harland and Wolff in 1875 and operated by the White Star Line. She was later operated by other lines under the names Ottawa, Gul Djemal and Gulcemal.-Germanic:...

,
Teutonic
SS Teutonic (1889)
The SS Teutonic was a steamship built for the White Star Line in Belfast and was the first armed merchant cruiser.-Background:In the late 1880s competition for the Blue Riband, the award for the fastest Atlantic crossing, was fierce amongst the top steamship lines, and White Star decided to order...

, and
Majestic (I)
SS Majestic (1890)
The SS Majestic was a steamship built in 1890 for and operated by the White Star Line.-History:A product of shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, the Majestic was launched on 29 June 1889. The ship spent the next nine months being fitted out for delivery to White Star in March, 1890...

. Several of these ships took the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, awarded to the fastest ship to make the Atlantic crossing.

In 1899 Thomas Ismay commissioned one of the most beautiful steam ships constructed during the nineteenth century, the
Oceanic (II)
RMS Oceanic (1899)
RMS Oceanic was a transatlantic ocean liner, built for the White Star Line. She sailed on her maiden voyage on 6 September 1899 and, until 1901, was the largest ship in the world...

. She was the first ship to exceed the
Great Eastern
SS Great Eastern
SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers around the...

 in length (although not tonnage). The building of this ship marked White Star's departure from competition in speed with its rivals. Thereafter White Star concentrated on comfort and economy of operation instead.

In the late nineteenth century, shipbuilders had discovered that when speed through water increased above about 20 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h), the required additional engine power increased in logarithm
Logarithm
The logarithm of a number is the exponent by which another fixed value, the base, has to be raised to produce that number. For example, the logarithm of 1000 to base 10 is 3, because 1000 is 10 to the power 3: More generally, if x = by, then y is the logarithm of x to base b, and is written...

ic proportion: that is, each additional increment of speed required a larger increase in engine power and fuel consumption. With the coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

-fired reciprocating steam engines
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 of the time, exceeding about 24 kn (29 mph; 47 km/h) required very high power and fuel consumption.

For this reason, the White Star Line committed to comfort and reliability rather than to speed. For example, White Star's Celtic cruised at 16 kn (19 mph; 31 km/h) with 14,000 horsepower, while Cunard's Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

 made 24 kn (29 mph; 47 km/h) with 68,000 horsepower.

Between 1901 and 1907, White Star brought "The Big Four" (all around 24,000 tons) into service:
Celtic
RMS Celtic (1901)
RMS Celtic was an ocean liner owned by the White Star Line. The first ship larger than the in gross tonnage, Celtic was the first of a quartet of ships over 20,000 tons, dubbed The Big Four....

,
Cedric
RMS Cedric
RMS Cedric was laid down in 1902 at the shipyard of Harland and Wolff, Belfast. RMS Cedric was the second of White Star's series known as the "Big Four", the other three being , and . Celtic was the first ship to exceed Brunel's in overall tonnage, which was quite an accomplishment, considering...

,
Baltic, and Adriatic
RMS Adriatic (1907)
RMS Adriatic was an ocean liner of the White Star Line. She was the fourth of a quartet of ships measuring over 20,000 tons, dubbed The Big Four, the ship was the only one of the four which was never the world's largest ship however, she was the fastest of the Big Four...

. These ships carried massive numbers of passengers: 400 passengers in First and Second Class, and over 2,000 in Third Class. In addition, they had extremely large cargo capacities, up to 17,000 tons of general cargo.

In 1902 the White Star Line was absorbed into the International Mercantile Marine Co.
International Mercantile Marine Co.
The International Mercantile Marine Co., originally the International Navigation Co., was a trust formed in the early twentieth century as an attempt by J.P. Morgan to monopolize the shipping trade. The end result was heavy losses for Morgan....

 (IMM), a large American shipping conglomerate. Bruce Ismay ceded control to IMM in the face of intense pressure from shareholders and J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

, who threatened a rate war. IMM was dissolved in 1932.

The White Star Line and emigration

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, millions of people emigrated to the United States and Canada. White Star was among the first shipping lines to have passenger ships with less expensive accommodation for Third Class passengers, in addition to First and Second Class. The Oceanic-class liners of 1870–1872 carried up to 1,000 Third Class passengers. The "Big Four" of 1901–1907 all carried over 2,000 Third Class passengers. White Star advertised extensively for emigrant passengers. When the White Star Line began operations in 1870, the majority of their business in the emigration trade was centered on Great Britain, with Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 emigrants being a chief source of income for much of the company's history. From the start, a great deal of their business also came from Scandinavia, with Norway and Sweden being the largest areas of success. As the years passed, the company expanded its services into continental Europe, eventually tapping into the massive streams of immigrants coming from Italy, the Slavic regions of Central Europe under the control of the Austro-Hungarian empire, nation states in Southeastern Europe struggling with problems of slowed economic growth and overpopulation such as Romania and Bulgaria, and Europe's massive population of Ashkenazi Jews from several areas of Eastern Europe predominantly known as the Pale of Settlement-a region designated under the very anti-Semitic policies of the Russian Empire as being the only region Jews were allowed to settle in within the Russian Empire, and included primarily areas of far Western Russia, the modern-day countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the remnants of the Kingdom of Galicia, a historic ethnic region with a massive Jewish population presently divided between Southeastern Poland and western Ukraine. The line eventually expanded their services of travel across all regions of Europe, spanning from the Iberian Peninsula clear across to the Middle East. No exact figures are available, but White Star liners may have carried as many as two million emigrants. They maintained a handful of shipping routes for passengers, the most widely used listed below.
  • Liverpool to New York, calling at Queenstown, Ireland
  • Liverpool to Boston, calling at Queenstown, Ireland
  • Genoa to New York, calling at Naples, Palermo and Gibraltar
  • Southampton to New York, calling at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.
  • Liverpool to Montreal, calling at Queenstown, Ireland


As a clever means of competing with Cunard (which had faster ships), White Star gave its Third Class facilities modest luxuries. Such features included the division of steerage passengers into two areas of each vessel. In those days, most shipping lines such as Cunard, Hamburg-Amerika and North German Lloyd housed their Third Class passengers in large open-berthed dormitories usually located at the forward end of the vessel. Meanwhile, the White Star Line strictly kept to the policy of dividing their Third Class accommodations into two areas on all of their ships. Quarters for Single Men, usually found in the form of the old fashioned method of open-berth dormitories were located in the forward areas of the vessel. These quarters differed greatly from those found on ships of other lines as they were nowhere nearly as crowded. Second, accommodations for Single Women, Married Couples and Families were berthed in private two-, four-, and six berth cabins in the after areas of the vessel.

The reasons for doing so in such a fashion can nowhere else be better explained than within an investigation done in secret by the Immigration Commission. During the years when Immigration was at its peak, American agent Anna Herkner disguised herself as a Bohemian immigrant and made three trans-Atlantic crossings on ships of three different lines in order to carry out her investigation of the conditions of steerage in secret. Although the actual report omits the names of the vessels she traveled on, the Records at Ellis Island have revealed which ships she had included in her study. In 1905, she made a westbound crossing in steerage aboard the North German Lloyd line's Friedrich Der Grosse, followed in 1907 by the White Star Line's Cedric, and then finally in 1909 aboard the Hamburg Amerika Line's Pennsylvania. While onboard the Der Grosse and the Pennsylvania, she witnessed atrocities such as stewards sexually assaulting female steerage passengers, a severe lack of medical care, and a highly intolerable quality of food provided to steerage passengers. However, when aboard the Cedric, she was completely astounded to as how well she was treated and how well passengers were provided for. In her report, she described her cabin, which she shared with three other women, as being private, comfortable and clean. She noted that each cabin had a bell by which a steward could be summoned, features such as mirrors, hooks to hang clothing on, and even private wash basins. The food was of greater quality, and the open deck space allotted to steerage passengers was far greater than they had been on the other two ships she sailed on.

Aboard White Star vessels, Third Class accommodations included dining rooms which featured linen
Linen
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

s and silverware; menu cards which had postcards on the back, so that emigrants could write to relatives back home and suggest to them to travel with White Star. In addition, each ship also had a reading room and smoke room allotted to Steerage passengers.

Olympic class ships

The Cunard Line was the chief competitor to White Star. In response to Cunard's Lusitania
RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New...

 and
Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

, White Star ordered the
Olympic class liners: Olympic
RMS Olympic
RMS Olympic was the lead ship of the Olympic-class ocean liners built for the White Star Line, which also included Titanic and Britannic...

,
Titanic, and Britannic
HMHS Britannic
HMHS Britannic was the third and largest of the White Star Line. She was the sister ship of and , and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner. She was launched just before the start of the First World War and was laid up at her builders in Belfast for many months before...

. While Cunard was famed for the speed of its ships, the
Olympic class were to be the biggest and most luxurious ships in the world. Britannic was originally named Gigantic and 1000 feet; her name and dimensions were changed shortly after the sinking of Titanic. The Olympic was the only ship of this class that was profitable for White Star. Titanic sank on her maiden voyage, while Britannic was requisitioned by the British government before she was fully fitted, and used as a hospital ship
Hospital ship
A hospital ship is a ship designated for primary function as a floating medical treatment facility or hospital; most are operated by the military forces of various countries, as they are intended to be used in or near war zones....

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.
Britannic sank after hitting a mine on 21 November 1916.

Mergers

In 1927 the White Star Line was purchased by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was a British shipping company founded in London in 1839 by Scot James Macqueen. After good and bad times it became the largest shipping group in the world in 1927 when it took over the White Star Line....

 (RMSPC), making RMSPC the largest shipping group in the world.

In 1928 a new Oceanic (III)
Oceanic (unfinished ship)
Oceanic was the planned name of an unfinished ocean liner that was partially built by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line. The ship was to have been the first -long ocean liner....

 was proposed and her keel was laid down that year at Harland and Wolff, but the ship was never completed. She was to have the new diesel-electric propulsion system and maintain the thousand foot dimensions that had originally been planned for Gigantic and the unbuilt Ceric (1913). Oceanics keel was dismantled and the steel was used in two new smaller ships built for the White Star: RMS Georgic
RMS Georgic (1932)
Built at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the RMS Georgic was the last ship built for the White Star Line before its merger with the Cunard Line. She was the running mate of the Britannic. Like Britannic, Georgic was a motorship, and not a steamer, fitted with a diesel electric powerplant.-...

 and RMS Britannic (II)
RMS Britannic (1929)
RMS Britannic was an ocean liner of the White Star Line, the company's third ship to bear the name. She was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast. She was launched on 6 August 1929. Like her running mate , Britannic was a motorship powered by diesel engines. She measured 26,943 gross tons and was ...

. Both of these ships entered service in 1930; they were the last liners White Star built.

RMSPC ran into financial trouble, and was liquidated in 1932. A new company, Royal Mail Lines Limited, took over the ships of RMSPC and its subordinate lines including White Star.

In 1933 White Star and Cunard were both in serious financial difficulties because of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, falling passenger numbers and the advanced age of their fleets. Work had been halted on Cunard's new giant, Hull 534 (later the Queen Mary
RMS Queen Mary
RMS Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line...

), in 1931, to save money. In 1933 the British government agreed to provide assistance to the two competitors on the condition that they merge. The agreement was completed on 30 December 1933.

The merger took place on 10 May 1934, creating Cunard White Star Limited. White Star contributed 10 ships to the new company while Cunard contributed 15 ships. Because of this, and since Hull 534 was Cunard's ship, 62% of the company was owned by Cunard's shareholders and 38% of the company was owned by White Star's shareholders. A year after this merger, Olympic, the last of her class, was removed from service. Two years later, in 1937, she was scrapped.

In 1947 Cunard acquired the 38% of Cunard White Star it did not already own, and on 31 December 1949 it acquired Cunard White Star's assets and operations, and reverted to using the name "Cunard." From the time of the 1934 merger, the house flags of both lines had been flown on all its ships, with each ship flying the flag of its original owner above the other, but from 1950, even Georgic and Britannic, the last surviving White Star liners, flew the Cunard house flag above the White Star burgee. All other ships flew the Cunard flag over the White Star flag until 1968.

White Star Line today

The White Star Line's London offices, named Oceanic House, still exist today. They are just a street off Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, England, United Kingdom. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of...

, and one can still see the name on the building over the entrances.

The French passenger tender Nomadic
SS Nomadic (1911)
SS Nomadic is a steamship of the White Star Line, launched on 25 April 1911 in Belfast. She was built as a tender to the liners RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, and is the last remaining vessel built for the White Star Line still afloat.-History:...

, the last surviving vessel of the White Star Line, was purchased by the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development
Department for Social Development
The Department for Social Development is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister for Social Development.-Aim:...

 in January 2006. She has since been returned to Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

, where she is to be restored under the auspices of the Nomadic Preservation Trust along with the assistance of her original builders, Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries is a Northern Irish heavy industrial company, specialising in shipbuilding and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland....

. She is intended to serve as the centerpiece of a museum dedicated to the history of Atlantic steam, the White Star Line, and its most famous ship, the Titanic. Also, the Cunard Line has introduced the White Star Service as the name of the brand of services on its ships RMS Queen Mary 2
RMS Queen Mary 2
RMS Queen Mary 2 is a transatlantic ocean liner. She was the first major ocean liner built since in 1969, the vessel she succeeded as flagship of the Cunard Line....

, MS Queen Victoria
MS Queen Victoria
MS Queen Victoria is a cruise ship in the Cunard Line fleet, named after Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria is the running mate to Queen Mary 2, and the new Queen Elizabeth. Until November 2008, she also operated alongside Queen Elizabeth 2...

and the MS Queen Elizabeth
MS Queen Elizabeth
MS Queen Elizabeth is a Signature class cruise ship operated by Cunard Line. She is the second largest ship to be built by Cunard, exceeded only by the QM2 and she is running mate to the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Mary 2...

. The company has also created the White Star Academy, an in-house programme for preparing new crew members for Cunard ships.

The White Star flag is raised on every 15 April, in memory of the Titanic disaster.

Fleet events

  • On 21 January 1854 wrecked off Lambay Island
    Lambay Island
    Lambay lies off the coast of Fingal / north County Dublin, Ireland in the Irish Sea. It is located north of Ireland's Eye at and is the easternmost point of the Republic of Ireland...

    , with the loss of 380 lives, out of 652 on board.
  • In 1873 the was wrecked near Halifax, costing 535 lives.
  • In 1893 vanished on the Atlantic ocean with 74 passengers and crew after departing Liverpool
    Liverpool
    Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

     for New York. Wreckage found from her included deck spars and at least two lifeboats, but no trace of her crew. Her wreck has never been found.
  • In 1907 ran aground off the southwest coast of England, but in the largest rescue of its kind, all 456 passengers and 141 crewmembers were rescued. The ship was later deliberately broken in two, with the stern half being rebuilt with a new bow.
  • In 1909 the foundered off the New England coast after a collision with the Italian liner . Four lives were lost in the collision and the ship remained afloat for over 39 hours before foundering. The remainder of the passengers were rescued.
  • In September 1911 was involved in a collision with the warship Hawke
    HMS Hawke (1891)
    HMS Hawke, launched in 1891, was the sixth British warship to be named Hawke. She was an Edgar-class protected cruiser.-Service:...

     in the Solent
    Solent
    The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

    , badly damaging both ships.
  • On 14/15 April 1912 was lost after colliding with an iceberg
    Iceberg
    An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

    , taking 1,502 passengers with her.
  • The first White Star ship lost during World War I was Arabic
    Arabic Case
    On August 19, 1915, a German submarine torpedoed without warning the British White Star Line passenger liner, Arabic, with the loss of two United States citizens...

    , torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale
    Old Head of Kinsale
    The Old Head of Kinsale, is a headland near Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland. An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century by Robert Reading...

     Ireland on 19 August 1915 killing 44.
  • The following November, the second sister ship of Titanic, HMHS Britannic
    HMHS Britannic
    HMHS Britannic was the third and largest of the White Star Line. She was the sister ship of and , and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner. She was launched just before the start of the First World War and was laid up at her builders in Belfast for many months before...

    , was lost after striking a mine
    Naval mine
    A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

     in the Kea Channel
    Kea Channel
    The Kea Channel, is a passage of water in the Aegean Sea, lying between the islands of Makronisi and Kea, just off Cape Sounion on the mainland of Greece. It is the location of the wreck of HMHS Britannic, which was sunk on November 21, 1916....

     of the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece. She sank in 57 minutes with the loss of 21 lives and was the largest vessel sunk in the war.
  • In 1915 the is narrowly missed by a German torpedo
    Torpedo
    The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

     in the Mediterranean Sea
    Mediterranean Sea
    The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

    . No lives were lost.
  • On 28 June 1915 the , a vessel built for the Leyland Line but leased to the White Star Line, was sunk by a German torpedo fired by U24 20 miles off the coast of Cornwall, carrying a cargo of 1,400 mules. 29 crew (and all the mules) were lost.
  • On 3 May 1915 the former Germanic
    SS Germanic (1875)
    The SS Germanic was an ocean liner built by Harland and Wolff in 1875 and operated by the White Star Line. She was later operated by other lines under the names Ottawa, Gul Djemal and Gulcemal.-Germanic:...

     (then in service as a Turkish troop transport) was torpedoed by the British Submarine E-14
    HMS E14
    HMS E14 was a British E class submarine built by Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness. During the First World War, two of her captains were awarded the Victoria Cross, and a large number of her officers and crew were also decorated....

    . The ship survived the attack with no fatalities.
  • In May 1916 Ceramic
    SS Ceramic (1913)
    SS Ceramic was an 18,400-ton ocean liner of the White Star Line launched in 1913, and later sold to the Shaw, Savill & Albion Line. In 1942 sunk the Ceramic, leaving only one survivor from the 656 on board....

     was narrowly missed by two torpedoes from unidentified U-boat in Mediterranean Sea
    Mediterranean Sea
    The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

    .
  • In 1916 the was torpedoed 3 times and sunk off the southern coast of Ireland by U-20, noted as the same submarine responsible for the tragic sinking of the Lusitania the year before. Five lives were lost and the ship stayed afloat for almost three days before foundering.
  • On 25 January 1917 Laurentic
    SS Laurentic (1908)
    SS Laurentic was a British ocean liner of the White Star Line.The Dominion Line steamship company operated liners on the Liverpool-Canada route in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their ships had become outdated, so in 1907 two new liners were ordered from Harland and Wolff, the SS Alberta...

     struck two mines laid by German submarine U-80
    SM U-80
    SM U-80 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-80 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic....

     and sank with a loss of 354 lives.
  • In May 1917 was torpedoed and sunk by the German coastal minelayer sub, UC-66
    SM UC-66
    SM UC-66 was a German Type UC II minelaying submarine or U-boat in the German Imperial Navy during World War I. The U-boat was ordered on 12 January 1916 and was launched on 15 July 1916...

    , in English Channel, killing 22 crew members.
  • In June 1917 Ceramic
    SS Ceramic (1913)
    SS Ceramic was an 18,400-ton ocean liner of the White Star Line launched in 1913, and later sold to the Shaw, Savill & Albion Line. In 1942 sunk the Ceramic, leaving only one survivor from the 656 on board....

     was narrowly missed by one torpedo from unidentified U-boat in English Channel
    English Channel
    The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

    .
  • In August 1917 Delphic was torpedoed 135 miles off Bishop Rock by German U-boat UC-72
    SM UC-72
    SM UC-72 was a German Type UC II minelaying submarine or U-boat in the German Imperial Navy during World War I. The U-boat was ordered on 12 January 1916 and was launched on 12 August 1916...

     and sank with the loss of five lives.
  • On 12 May 1918, the Olympic rammed and sank the U-boat U-103 which had tried, and failed, to torpedo her. The torpedo actually struck Olympic but failed to detonate. However several bow plates on Olympic were dented from the collision with the U-boat. Later, while the Olympic was in Dry Dock, a large circular-shaped dent was found in the side of her hull, appearing to be the same size as the head of the standard torpedoes used by the German U-Boats.
  • On 19–20 July 1918 Justicia (owned by the British Government and managed by White Star) was torpedoed twice by U-46
    SM U-46
    SM U-46 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-46 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic....

     but she remained afloat. Later in the same day, she was torpedoed two more times by U-46
    SM U-46
    SM U-46 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-46 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic....

     and again managed to stay afloat. The next morning, as she was towed by HMS Sonia, she was torpedoed two more times by U-124
    SM U-124
    SM U-124 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-124 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic under the command of Kapitänleutnant Rolf Carls ....

     and finally sank, killing 16 crew members.
  • In September 1918 Persic
    SS Persic
    SS Persic was a cargo vessel of the White Star Line, built by Harland and Wolff in 1899. She traveled the Liverpool-Sydney route. On October 26, 1899, Persic assisted the crew of the schooner Maudra, which had caught on fire....

     was torpedoed by U-87
    SM U-87
    SM U-87 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-87 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic.-References:...

     off of the Scilly Islands, but was able to limp off and out run the sub. She was towed in and repaired, resuming her service.
  • In October 1917 Celtic ran up on a mine laid by U-88
    SM U-88
    SM U-88 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-88 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic....

     near Cobh, Ireland, killing 17. She was repaired and put back into military service. In June 1918, she was torpedoed by UB-77 in the Irish Sea, killing 7. Once again, she was able to escape the sub and limp in to port with her own steam. She was repaired and once again put back into service, serving through the remainder of the war without incident.
  • On 15 May 1934, while steaming in a fog, the Olympic rammed the Lightship Nantucket
    Lightship Nantucket
    The Lightship Nantucket station was the name given to the lightvessel which marked the hazardous Nantucket Shoals in Massachusetts. Several ships have been commissioned and served at the Nantucket Shoals lightship station and have been called Nantucket...

    , sinking it and killing seven of the crew.
  • In November 1940 Laurentic
    SS Laurentic (1927)
    The second SS Laurentic was an 18,724-ton ocean liner built in 1927 by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, for the White Star Line.She served the White Star Line from 1927 to 1936, undergoing two collisions during her career. The ship was then transformed into an auxiliary cruiser for the Royal Navy in the...

     was torpedoed and sunk by U-99 off Northern Ireland with the loss of 49 lives.

Notable captains

  • Commodore
    Commodore (Royal Navy)
    Commodore is a rank of the Royal Navy above Captain and below Rear Admiral. It has a NATO ranking code of OF-6. The rank is equivalent to Brigadier in the British Army and Royal Marines and to Air Commodore in the Royal Air Force.-Insignia:...

     Sir
    Sir
    Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

     Bertram Fox Hayes KCMG
    Order of St Michael and St George
    The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

     DSO
    Distinguished Service Order
    The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

     RD
    Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve
    The Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve was a medal awarded in the Royal Naval Reserve of the United Kingdom to officers with at least fifteen years of active duty...

     RNR
    Royal Naval Reserve
    The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

     – Commodore, White Star Line
  • Sir Digby Murray
  • Captain
    Captain (nautical)
    A sea captain is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag...

     J. B. Ranson
    J. B. Ranson
    Captain J. B. Ranson OBE was a commander of White Star Line liners. He was born in 1864. His marine career began at the age of 14, when he joined the Pacific Steam Navigation Company...

     OBE
    Order of the British Empire
    The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

  • Captain Edward J. Smith RD
    Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve
    The Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve was a medal awarded in the Royal Naval Reserve of the United Kingdom to officers with at least fifteen years of active duty...

     RNR
    Royal Naval Reserve
    The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

     of RMS Titanic.
  • Captain Charles Bartlett of the Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic.
  • Captain Herbert J. Haddock of the Oceanic, Olympic, and—for a few days before her departure—Titanic.

See also



Further reading


External links

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