Fun or Interesting Factoids About Steamships

Fun and interesting facts and factoids about steamships, their opertaions and the crew and passengers gleamed from the documents and publications found in the Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives.

Fewer Atlantic Passenger Liners in 1921

There are now [1921] only 95 passenger carriers plying on the Xorth-Atlantic, or approximately 20 per cent, less than the pre-war total of 1913. The decrease is mainly ascribable to the absence from the routes of the former German transatlantic liners, of which there were 49 in operation before the war. Although some of the ex-German vessels are again engaged in the Atlantic passenger trade under British, American, French or Italian direction, many have not been reconditioned by the governments of the respective nations by which they now are held.

In 1907, as many as 177 passenger vessels were plying between ports on opposite sides of the Atlantic. In subsequent years, the total number of vessels thus employed diminished with the introduction of larger liners.

-- The Nautical Gazette, 19 March 1921 p. 394

Safety At Sea

CONSIDER the records of the North Atlantic during the twenty years from 18!J2 to 1911. In that period some 95,000 voyages were made between Great Britain and America, about 350,000 crew and over 9,390,000 passengers having started.

Out of this large number of trips, accidents involving loses of life occurred in only 165 cases, 1,057 crew and 80 passengers having been lost. Only one out of 332 of the crew and on9 out of 117,400 passengers did not reach their destination in safety. Of the 1,137 souls which perished, 39 were lost in seven cases of foundering, 187 in ten strandings, 9 In six cases of collision, 195 in 113 cases on board due to heavy seas, fire, explosion, bursting of steam pipes, etc., while no fewer than 707 were lost In twenty-nine vessels which were posted as missing.

Shipping: Marine Transportation, Construction, Equipment and Supplies, Volume XIII, No. 3, February 10, 1921, New York: Shipping Publishing Co., Inc., P. 82

Surgery at sea

While in midocean, the steamship Cedric was stopped for two hours to permit the ship's surgeon, assisted by Dr. Halsted of Johns Hopkins, to perform an operation on one of the cabin passengers.  The condition of the patient necessitated an immediate operation, and for nearly three hours, the steamship was held until the surgeons and nurses had finished their work and the patient had rallied.

Source: August 15,1908, Medical Record: A Weekly Journal of Medicine and Surgery, Page 276, New York, Wm. Wood & Co, Publishers.

How Much Drinking Water Does A Steamship Carry?

There is seldom a scarcity of drinking water on board passenger steamships. There are large tanks of a capacity of five or six hundred tons on nearly all the large steamships, and all carry a condenser, which makes it possible to have fresh water directly from the ocean. Water is stored at the bottom of the ship and pumped up. Salt water is used only for the baths.

John Colgate Hoyt, Old Oceans Ferry (1900), P. 121

How Much Money was Made on a Steamship Voyage?

While Star Line—The steamship "Oceanic" earned $125,630 on passenger traffic on her last voyage, excluding her subsidy, which would leave her a profit for that voyage on passenger traffic alone of about $90,000, yet the dividends paid by the company are stated to be lower than twelve per cent.

International Railway Journal, Volume 9, No. 2, November 1901, Page 50.

Electricity on Board a Steam Ship

On the large transatlantic liners, the application of electricity is striking; for instance, on the Aquitania, where the generating plant consists of four 400-kilowatt, 225-volt continuous current turbo generators, there is a total of 200 motors aggregating 2,590 horseposer, in addition to nearly 10,000 lamps supplied with current at 110 volts.

Similarly on the Mauretania, independent of the power for lighting, there is a total of 2,133 horsepower of motors; all of which goes to show the rapidly incrased application of electricty on board ship.

In considering the question of lighting on board ship, where savings of space and weight are of much importance, the use of Tungsten lamps offers several distinct advantages. Tungsten filament lamps consume approximately 1.10 watts per candle-power as against 3.10 to 3.50 watts by carbon filament lamps, which, reduced to a practical basis, means that by using Tungsten lamps smaller and light generating apparatus, lighter wiring and less coal storae apace are necessary on the ship.

International Marine Engineering, Volume XX, February 1915, Page 51

Miscellaneous Fun Facts Regarding Steamships From 1889:

ELECTRICAL devices to warn ocean steamships of the approach of icebergs are said to be impracticable, all naval officers' communications to the newspapers to the contrary notwithstanding.

" ICEBERGS at sea," of which so much has lately been said and written, are most satisfactorily and safest seen represented in an oil painting, engraving or photograph. In this way, they never affect the temperature, or pause nervous folk uneasiness.

THIS season has been a financially good one for the transatlantic captains and officers who rent their rooms to passengers not content with ordinary staterooms.

DUPLICATES of every meal--i. e. first and second tables, have been necessary by reason of the crowded ocean steamships all season. Only an imaginary distinction goes with "first table," for "those who come after" are just as well served, and, too, have more time to eat. Hurried gastronomy on shipboard is not to be recommended. Indeed, it is to be avoided.

THE color-blindness of seamen is now a matter of considerable discussion in England, and is to receive the attention of the Government. It is alleged that thousands of sailors and seamen cannot distinguish colors, and that disasters at sea are often due to color-blindness and optical illusions arising therefrom.

THERE is a comical story current of a Western man anxious to get to Europe in a hurry, who waited one week in New York for the "fastest steamship."

ALLEGATIONS are heard of the indifference to the wants and requirements of cabin passengers on some ocean steamships, and to the ill-advised independence of management " below decks."

CUSTOM HOUSE INSPECTRESSES are now more on the alert than ever to detect, in the crowd of returning tourists from Europe, the "lady " who seeks to evade the payment of her just duties by resorting to smuggling.

Source: Ocean: Magazine of Travel, Vol. III, No. 2, September 1889, Page 43-44

The Cunard-Anchor Liner Calabria, sailing from New York February 24, 1920 was the first passenger vessel to sail from New York for Fiume since the first months of the war in 1914, when the Cunard Steamship Company abandoned the service owing to the First World War.

In 1911, the average duration of the passage across the Atlantic was 5-9 days. The best time for crossing is in the summer.

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