Contact the GG Archives

Anderson, SC USA

Leviathan: "The World's Greatest Ship" Volume 1

Front Cover, Leviathan: "The World's Greatest Ship" Volume 1

Braynard, Frank O., Leviathan " "The World's Greatest Ship," New York: South Street Seaport Museum (1972). LOC 72-85207. First Run 2,300. Duscover shown. Underlying hardcover Book is dark red.

In September 1911, workers in the shipyard of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg started on a new ship that would be christened VATERLAND. The world would come to know her best as the LEVIATHAN, one of the grandest and most storied ocean liners of all time.

The first volume takes us from the construction of the VATERLAND to the end of World War One, when the VATERLAND now the U.SS Leviathan was used as a troup transport. Packed with amazing photographs, reproductions of newspaper articles. the author, the late Frank O. Braynard produced this first volume literaly out of love and the generosity of a few hundred people. Only a few thousand of each volume were published making these books one of the rarest in the library of the Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives.

BY WAY OF APOLOGY for the detail in this first volume and for the whole idea of four volumes on one ship, I would like to offer as an explanation a lifelong passion for this ship.

The four pictures above are illustration of this love for the LEVIATHAN. In 1923, when I was attempting for the second time to pass first grade, my interest in the LEVIATHAN was stimulated by a kindly husband and wife team of teachers.

Although I can not specifically remember any especial mention by them of the LEVIATHAN, they must have done so as the brother of Alexander Blackburn had been her Executive Officer in World War I, a fact that I only rediscovered while this book was in prep­aration.

I do recall being asked to show the first grade how to draw the letter “L” on the blackboard when we were learning the alphabet. And I knew how to do it fiecause I could spell “LEVI­ATHAN” even though I could not spell my own name (see my first sketch). The 1926 picture is a water color of the LEVIATHAN.

The 1945 pen and ink sketch was done for my book LIVES OF THE LINERS. The 1955 sketch was for my book FAMOUS AMERICAN SHIPS. The twenty-odd fancy letter sketches used at chapter and sub-chapter openings are all new sketches or scenes of or aboard the LEVIATHAN. Completing this four volume series will take another six years, two per volume. For a sum­mary of the three remaining volumes to come see the back flap.

Frank O. Braynard

Putting this story into 4 volumes was a step that ran against the advice of all publishers except the South Street Sea­port Museum. Because only 2,000 copies of each volume will be printed (with only half of these bound) the price has had to be high.

The LEVIATHAN is big enough, in deed and in maritime history, to warrant a very substantial book. Add to her life the experiences of some thousand of those who worked on her, with her and for her or who sailed on her, and this slice of Americana becomes impressive.

Drop into the panorama references to the world of that day, to the big and to the little events of the three eras she encompassed, and there is a good reason for four large volumes. In fact it is not utterly out of the question that five volumes may be needed. Other photographs are available. The research now done fills four large filing cabinet drawers. The LEVIATHAN lived roughly 10,000 days and there are items for virtually every day of this hectic, harried and heroic life.

After Volume 1, much remains to be told. The second volume will deal with the years of un­certainty while she lay idle, with her marvelous restoration into "the world’s greatest ship” and with her first eight voyages as the flagship of United States Lines.

Volume III will cover her lush years after her grounding in December 1923, her famous passengers, outstand­ing officers and the perpetual contro­versy that made her front page news. Volume IV will detail the sale to private ownership, her last two maiden voyages, her many firsts and then her disastrous crack in 1929, ending with her long idleness and her colorful voyage to the scrap yard in Scotland-a trip worthy of a book in itself.

The South Street Seaport Museum is happy to act as the publisher of this work. Its bookstore at 25 Fulton Street, New York, N.Y., 10038, will accept mail orders. The book is on sale at this store and through the author’s home at 98 DuBois Ave., Sea Cliff, N.Y., 11579.

THE AUTHOR—Frank O. Braynard, whose passion for American ships has given him much pleasure. It was his suggestion that resulted in the naming of the world’s first nuclear merchant ship the SAVANNAH.

For several years he with hundreds of volunteers from the Army and Navy sought to find the wreck of the original SA­VANNAH, lost off Fire Island in 1821, and he has not given up this quest.

Despite his love for steam, he was one of the main cogs for the 1964 Operation Sail and is presently work­ing on the coming Operation Sail for our Bicentennial. Author of 9 books and many articles he is a past president of the Steamship Historical Society of America.

He is an honorary member of the Council of American Master Mariners and of the Veteran Wireless Operators Association. His maritime collection at his home in Sea Cliff is one of the largest in the world.

The Story of the LEVIATHAN

This book is dedicated to Albert Ballin and also to William Francis Gibbs and his brother Frederic, and to the Robert L. Hague Merchant Marine Industries Post and to two generous LEVIATHAN engineers: “Eddie” Jones and Harry Wright and to the LEVIATHAN Veterans Association with sincere gratitude.

Published by the South Street Seaport Museum, 16 Fulton St., N.Y. 10038 — 1972

Library of Congress Card Catalogue No. 72-85207

Copyright by Frank O. Braynard

  • Chapter I          BEFORE THE BEGINNING
  • Chapter II         HULL
  • Chapter III        TWO FIERY WEAPONS
  • Chapter IV        SHE SAILS
  • Chapter V         SIX MORE CROSSINGS
  • Chapter VI        HOBOKEN
  • Chapter VII       AMERICAN
  • Chapter VIII      SHE SAILS AGAIN
  • Chapter X         DANGER
  • Chapter XI        SAILING IN COMPANY
  • Chapter XII       THE WAR ENDS
  • Chapter XIII      THE RUSH TO GET HOME
  • Chapter XIV      14,416-A RECORD
  • Chapter XV       ‘BIG CHIEF’COMES HOME

Note: Even though Frank O. Braynard submitted his volumes to the Library of Congress and received back an LOC number, there isn't a Library of Congress Catalog Entry for any of the six volumes in this series.

Return to Top of Page

GG Archives Category or Section

Maritime Book Titles

BookS by Category