Launched as the world's largest moving object, at the time, the RMS Olympic set the records for size and opulence. Launched after the Lusitania and Mauretania, the Olympic class ships were designed for size, comfort, and amenities instead of impressive speed. Cruising at a modest 21 knots, the RMS Olympic could sail between Europe and America on a 6 day schedule.
Surviving several crashes throughout her career, the Olympic had been nicknamed "Old Reliable" by the time she was retired.
Of the three Olympic class ships, the RMS Olympic proved to be the longest lasting and most successful ship.
A First of Three Titans
After a fresh infusion of capital by now owner JP Morgan, the White Star Line partnered with their preferred shipyard, Harland and Wolff, to design and build three impressive liners. Developed practically without a budget, the Olympic was designed with no expense spared.
New technologies were perfected and implemented, such as radio, reuse of escaped steam from the traditional expansion engines to provide power via a low pressure turbine to turn the center propellor.
During the launching of the Titanic, many spectators assembled on the newly completed Olympic to celebrate the launch, and ironically saw how the new ship would look when complete.
Collisions, Strikes, and Safety
Piloting the worlds largest ship quickly was realized to be no easy task, even with tug boats helping. The Olympic was involved in several collisions over her extended career.
The first collision happened in the fall of 1911, when the Olympic and HMS Hawke were traveling parallel. The Olympic made a starboard turn, and the way the ship turned was not expected by the captain of the Hawke, and the two ships collided. The Hawke, a ship designed to sink other ships by ramming them, did considerable damage to the Olympic, causing a significant repair to be made.
Later in the Olympic's career, the ship was cruising towards the United States, and came too close to the Nantucket Lightship, causing a collision to happen and caused the light ship to sink.
Olympic during WWI
At the beginning of the war, the Olympic along with a remaining few liners still provided transatlantic service. Mostly American's escaping Europe, these passages were tense: extra drills, blacked out portholes, mounted guns for protection.
Soon after, it was decided to use the Olympic for troop transport services. Mostly traveling between Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada to various ports in the UK, the Olympic could travel with over 6,000 troops aboard.
In the waning months of the war, the Olympic spotted a U-Boat on the surface, and in a brief encounter, rammed the submarine and caused enough damage that the crew decided to scuttle the submarine and await rescue.
Gorgeous interiors on display Today
The Olympic ended up being released from service and returned to civil service. After a refit to receive several crucial safety upgrades and engine improvements, the ship would be powered by oil, not coal moving forward.
Sailing as the flagship of the White Star Line, the Olympic sailed alongside the RMS Majestic, formerly SS Bismarck of Germany.
After another decade of service, White Star merged with Cunard, and slowly the older ships were decommissioned. At the end of the Olympic's career, both the Mauretania and Olympic were in Southhampton before scrapping one last time.
Many of the furnishings of the Olympic were auctioned off before the ship was recycled, and can be found at various establishments around Liverpool and Southhampton.