Titanic Images - The Shipbuilder - 9: Olympic Sea Trials


The 31st May, 1911, will remain notable in the annals of shipbuilding and ship owning as witnessing the launch of the Titanic and the departure from Belfast of the Olympic, two vessels which may truly be said to mark an intensely interesting epoch in the history of the mercantile marine.

Together they represent an addition to the world’s merchant shipping of about 90,000 gross tons and a capital outlay of some three millions sterling, while for the White Star Line there are now waterborne the two largest steamships so far constructed.

On the 2nd May, the Olympic Trials of the underwent her basin engines being turned while the vessel was securely moored in the deep-water fitting-out basin, and this preliminary test, proved entirely satisfactory.

Prior to leaving for her trials at sea, the ship was thrown open for public inspection, and some thousands of visitors paid 5s. each during the first two hours and 2s. for the remaining three hours, the proceeds—a very considerable sum— being handed to the Belfast hospitals.


Fig. 146: The Olympic on Trial Trip.

Fig. 146: The Olympic on Trial Trip. The Shipbuilder (Midsummer 1911) p. 128. GGA Image ID # 10e523fbd3


The Olympic took on board 3,000 tons of best Welsh coal for her sea trials, and 250 runners were sent over from Liverpool to assist in the navigation of the vessel. At high water on the morning of the 28th May, the task of swinging the liner was entered upon, the Mersey tugs Wallasey, Alexandra, Hornby, and Herculaneum, as well as Messrs. Harland & Wolff’s tug Hercules, completing the operation without a hitch.

On the morning of the 29th May, she proceeded down Belfast Lough to adjust compasses and to carry out her steaming trials, the five tugs just named assisting in getting the ship under way and her departure being witnessed by an immense crowd of spectators.

The sea trials extended over two days, and the results obtained greatly exceeded the expectations of both builders and owners. Statistics with regard to the speed, power, consumption, etc., will not be made public ; but it is understood that the designed speed of 21 knots was exceeded, and speeds of 21 1/2 and 21 3/4 knots recorded during the various tests.

The new White Star tenders Nomadic and Traffic, designed for the company’s service at Cherbourg and which were completed by Messrs. Harland & Wolff within a month of their launch, were in attendance on the Olympic during her trials.

A large party of guests, who had accepted the invitation of the White Star Line to be present at the launch of the Titanic, were conveyed from Fleetwood to Belfast by the specially chartered cross-channel steamer Duke of Argyll ; and as that vessel approached Belfast in the early hours of the 31st May, these visitors had a splendid view of the first of the two great sister ships as she lay in the Lough.

The photograph which we reproduce above in Figure 146 well illustrates the beautiful lines and stately appearance of the ship. So perfect are her proportions that it is well-nigh impossible for the inexperienced to grasp her magnitude except when seen alongside another vessel.


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