Ocean Liners of the 20th Century


Front Cover and Spine, Ocean Liners of the 20th Century by Gordon Newell, 1963.

Front Cover and Spine, Ocean Liners of the 20th Century by Gordon Newell, 1963. GGA Image ID # 2020b21efd



This fifth in the Superior series of maritime picture books is the first to sail "deep water" beyond the regional confines of the coastal and inland waters of the Pacific Coast.

As in previous books of the series, there are several things this volume does not attempt to do. It does not pretend to cover all the hundreds of passengers carrying steam and motor ships that have sailed the world's considerably more than seven seas since the turn of the century.

Being designed for the general reader, it does not contain the mass of facts, figures, and statistical material dear to the heart of the dedicated maritime enthusiast. And finally, it does not claim to be infallible.

The writer has been taken to task on previous occasions by scholarly nautical publications whose reviewers are not in agreement with my theory that books entirely without errors take so long to get written that they seldom get printed.

While a reasonable effort toward accuracy has been made, I will not beat my head against the wall in anguish if somebody confronts me with the awful fact that the S. S. Tokumoto Maru was really launched in 1910 rather than 1911 and carried 659 passengers rather than 650.

There are several reference books in print about ocean liners of comprehensiveness and accuracy, almost superhuman. If they say the Tokumoto Maru was launched in 1910 rather than 1911, we'll concede in advance that they are doubtlessly right and we are wrong; 1910 it was.

This book imparts a bit of the glamor, majesty, and color of the most exciting things ever built by man: the Ocean Liners.

Representative ships of the world's major liner routes are covered in picture and text, along with reproductions of what antique book fanciers call "ephemera" . . . menus from the salons, posters, sailing schedules, deck plans, and souvenir programs.

Brief histories of most of the major shipping companies presently operating passenger liners are included. And a salting of assorted sea yarns is thrown in because I like them and hope my readers will.

If this book leaves the reader with a memory of a lean, rakish Schnelldampfer of the old German Lloyd rolling down the North Atlantic road with the coal- smoke pouring from her four tall stacks or of the great Queen Mary flinging her majestic challenge to all the air and sea forces of her country's enemies, or the poignant notes of a sailors' hymn as the requiem at the extraordinary death of Titanic off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, then it has served its purpose.

This book's background material was provided over the years by Ralph E. Cropley, whose lifetime of deep devotion to ships and the sea ended in 1960. With a friend named Franklin Roosevelt, he was known to skip classes at Harvard to watch the ships come in at East Boston.

Later, he abandoned a banking career to ship out as purser on the old President Arthur in 1920. Retired as chief purser on Atlantic liners, he came to the West Coast to do his bit in the Korean emergency, his last service at sea being aboard the Marine Phoenix. He was then well past sixty-five.

His many memorials include the Cropley Maritime Historical Collection at the Smithsonian Institute and the International Model Collection at the Seamen's Church Institute, New York, where he was assistant curator and historian during the last five years of his life.

His last wish that his ashes be scattered at sea in the Gulf Stream was carried out by the master of the Peninsula & Occidental Liner Florida, one of "Doc" Cropley's favorite ships.

A bit of his sea lore lives on in this book, as it does, from Coast to Coast, wherever memories of ships and sailormen are cherished.

Finally, let it be said for every great and gallant ship whose story has been told here, there are a hundred that have been left out. I plan to write about some of them in another book of this series.

If you find that your favorite ocean liner needs to be addressed, please let me hear from you. We'll find mooring space for her in the next book of ships.

Gordon Newell
Seattle, Washington
June, 1963


From the Inside Dustcover Flaps

I am not recording affection for the Mauretania as President of the United States, but as civilian Franklin D. Roosevelt who loves the sea, its ships and the men who sail them, writes F.D.R. in his story "Queen with a Fighting Heart" printed here for the first time in the United States.

Author Gordon Newell shares these sentiments. "The Kronprinz Wilhelm," he writes, "was not a ship to give up easily. The night was falling. The darkness would give her a fighting chance. The last of the fuel was shoveled into the furnaces. The worn-out engines were breaking their hearts for the ship. Out of the night she came, the sky glowing red above the crowns of her belching funnels. The white glow of acres of foam at her bow. The guns of the British cruisers swung around."

With his vast collection of photographs and memorabilia and his writing skill, Newell makes the ships and memories of them become living personalities. How Jack London, Count von Luckner, Sir Ernest Shackleton, and all other brave sea adventurers would have gloried in this book, and present-day sea rovers, you, how you will delight in it!

Here are the glamour, majesty, and color of the most exciting things ever built—the mammoths of the sea. Gordon Newell's salty stories and fine photos bring these monarchs and superliners to life so ultimately that you hear once more the deep-throated whistle blasts as the ships knife their way out of the fog, one after another.

Remember? Remember the rakish treasure ship Kronprinzessin Cecile, the Lusitania, the Titanic, Bremen, Europa, Liberte, Gripsholm, Normandy, the galloping ghost of the Pacific, the H. F. Alexander? and the modern ships too, they are all here in the greatest armada ever assembled.


Color Plate, SS America, Foreground, and SS United States, United States Lines, Passing in New York Harbor.

Color Plate, SS America, Foreground, and SS United States, United States Lines, Passing in New York Harbor. Photo Courtesy United States Lines. Ocean Liners of the 20th Century, 1963. GGA Image ID # 2020b68fea



Dedication and acknowledgements


Chapter One: Blue Riband.

Germany's Bid: the Imperial Family—Greatest Liner of Them All: Mauretania—Queen With a Fighting Heart, by Franklin D. Roosevelt—The Unsinkable Ocean Liner: Titanic—New Queens of the North Atlantic

Chapter Two: Pacific Liners.

Development of ocean passenger shipping in the Pacific— The American President Lines in World War II, by Eugene F. Hoffman

Chapter Three: Down Under.

Passenger Liners to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand

Chapter Four: The Lines.

The Cunard—P & O-Orient—French Line—Shaw Savill Line —Italian Line—American President Lines—Union Castle Line— Matson Navigation Co.—Swedish American Line—Canadian Pacific Steamships—United States Lines—Holland American Line—Zim Israel Navigation Co.—Moore-McCormack Lines— Home Lines—American Export Lines—White Star Line— Scandinavian-American Line

Chapter Five: Ocean Liner Tales.

Ballin's Big Three—White Star Line's Big Two—The Old Ohio in Distant Seas—Old Vic—Wreck of the Valencia—City of Paris—The Kaiser's Treasure Ship—Collision at Sea—Death of Andrea Doria—Strangest Sea Story Ever Told—Farcial Finish of a Famous Ship—Normandie's Extra Whistle—The Liners at War: Rawalpindi and Jervis Bay—S.S. Liberte: Finest Food Afloat—Galloping Ghost of the Pacific Coast—Mature Mexican Glamour Girl

Chapter Six: The Motor Liners

The Quadruple-Screw Motor Liner Aorangi—Noordam, a trim Holland-America Cargo-Passenger Motor Liner—Augustus I of the Italian Line—Statendam IV of Holland-America—Swedish-Amercan Line's First Motor Liner Kungsholm—MS Gripsholm was One of the First Large Transatlantic Motor Liners—Flandre, a French Line Intermediate Liner—Capetown Castle, Union-Castle's Largest Motor Liner—Cunard-White Star Liner Britanic


About the Author

The author, Gordon Newell, has received a certificate of merit from the Seattle Historical Society and several Port of Seattle Anchor Awards for his outstanding maritime writing. He is the author of nearly a dozen books and numerous magazine articles on historical and marine subjects.

Recently, he resigned from his position as Commissioner of the Port of Seattle to accept the H. W. McCurdy grant to the Seattle Historical Society to research, write, and bring up-to-date the marine history of the Northwest to be published when ready by Superior as a continuation of the famed, and now rare, Lewis and Dryden book which terminates with the year 1895.


Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • Title: Ocean liners of the 20th century
  • Personal name: Newell, Gordon R.
  • Main title: Ocean liners of the 20th century.
  • Edition: [1st ed.]
  • Published/Created: Seattle, Superior Pub. Co. [c1963]
  • Description: 192 p. illus., ports., plans. 28 cm.
  • LC Classification: VM381 .N4
  • LC Subjects: Ocean liners. Steamboat lines.
  • LCCN: 63018494
  • Dewey class no.: 387.243
  • Type of material: Book


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