One of Cunard's most successful liners, the RMS Mauretania provided transatlantic service for over 28 years, many of them holding the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing, the coveted Blue Riband.
Launched in 1906, the Mauretania, alongside sister ship Lusitania, were Cunard's answer to the successful German superliners of the day, the Kaiser Class ships. With White Star, the other British shipping line acquired by JP Morgan of the US, Cunard answered with two turbine powered superliners. The Mauretania and Lusitania were the largest and fastest ship of their day. Although other ships quickly surpassed the Mauretiania in size, her speed was legendary and remained the record holder until the SS Bremen overtook the Mauretania in 1929.
Unlike her older and smaller sister Lusitania, the Mauretania survived WWI and went on to sail the seas for another decade after the war, bringing pride to the UK.
A Powerful and Fast Ship
Capturing the Blue Riband several times throughout her career, the Mauretania was a powerful and fast ship. Utilizing steam turbines to power the the four propellers, the ship was fast. Although smaller than her later contemporaries, the ship could out-run anyone.
Although her speed was impressive, when full power was applied in the open ocean, the ship suffered from vibrations in the rear of the ship. Since third class was predominantly located in the rear of the ship, those passengers suffered as first class passengers enjoyed a quick journey between continents.
Unlike some pop culture depictions, security was tight on such high profile liners such as the Mauretania. Accessing the bridge or other restricted areas as a passenger was not typically allowed, however passengers were offered the opportunity to radio a telegram ahead of them.
RMS Mauretania During WWI
At the outbreak of WWI, the Mauretania sought refuge in Halifax with the other Cunard liner Aquitania. After a brief and expensive stint as an armed merchant cruiser, the Mauretania resumed civilian service, but due to limited passengers, the ship was recalled and returned to Liverpool and was laid up. After the sinking of the Lusitania, the Mauretania was about to re-enter civilian service when it was decided to become a troopship. Fitted with dazzle paint, the ship transported thousands of allied soldiers throughout the world to the front lines and back.
Service after World War I
After successfully fulfilling her wartime duties as a troopship, the Mauretania resumed service with the RMS Aquitania, and RMS Berengaria (formerly SS Imperator of Germany). After being refitted in 1920 and then again in 1922, the ship was converted to oil from coal, and many other improvements were made.
After a successful post war career, Cunard and White Star merged in the early 1930's and the Mauretania was showing her age and deemed superfluous and ended her career, first as a transatlantic liner, then as a cruise ship.
In may 1935, the ship made a final voyage past her shipyard, to the breakers in Rosyth. Many of the furnishings found on board can still be seen to this day.
RMS Mauretania Ship Facts
Number of Decks:
24 Knots (28 mph or 44 km/hr)
27+ Knots (31mph or 50km/h)
Swan Hunter, Northumberland UK
Port of Registry:
November 16, 1907
Years in Service:
Scrapped in 1935
RMS Mauretania Ship Frequently Asked Questions
When was the RMS Mauretania launched? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was launched on September 20, 1906.
Who built the RMS Mauretania? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, a shipbuilding company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
What was the RMS Mauretania's purpose? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was designed to be a transatlantic passenger liner, ferrying passengers and cargo between Southampton, England, and New York City, USA.
How big was the RMS Mauretania? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was 790 feet long, 88 feet wide, and had a gross tonnage of 31,938.
What was the RMS Mauretania's top speed? Answer: The RMS Mauretania's top speed was 25 knots, or approximately 30 miles per hour.
How many passengers could the RMS Mauretania accommodate? Answer: The RMS Mauretania could accommodate up to 2,165 passengers, including 560 first class passengers, 475 second class passengers, and 1,130 third class passengers.
What was the RMS Mauretania's most notable feature? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was known for its speed using newly developed turbine engines and was considered one of the most beautiful ships of its time. Its distinctive red funnels and long, sleek profile made it a favorite among passengers and enthusiasts.
What happened to the RMS Mauretania after World War I? Answer: After World War I, the RMS Mauretania was returned to commercial service, and continued to operate as a transatlantic liner until 1934.
Did the RMS Mauretania serve in World War II? Answer: No, the RMS Mauretania was retired from service in 1934, and was later sold for scrap in 1937.
What was the legacy of the RMS Mauretania? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was a groundbreaking and influential ship, setting new standards for speed, luxury, and elegance in transatlantic travel. Its success paved the way for other great ocean liners of the early 20th century, and its memory lives on in literature, art, and popular culture.
What was the RMS Mauretania's maiden voyage? Answer: The RMS Mauretania's maiden voyage was on November 16, 1907, from Liverpool to New York City by Captain John Pritchard.
Who was the RMS Mauretania named after? Answer: The RMS Mauretania was named after the Roman province of Mauretania, which roughly corresponds to modern-day Morocco.
What was the RMS Mauretania's interior design like? Answer: The RMS Mauretania's interior was designed by architect Harold Peto and was a mix of Edwardian and Francis I styles, featuring grand staircases, ornate plasterwork, and luxurious furnishings.
Did the RMS Mauretania win any speed records? Answer: Yes, the RMS Mauretania held the Blue Riband for the fastest transatlantic crossing from 1907 to 1929, completing the journey in just over four days.