Republic left Liverpool for New York on her maiden voyage on 1st February 1872. Built at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, she had accommodation for 166 in First Class and 1,000 in Third Class. Launched on 4th July 1871 she was fitted for sail as well as an engine from Forrester’s. On her first trip, Captain Murray was not impressed by the quality of construction, and on his return sent in a damning report to the company. There is no apparent record of the company’s – or Belfast’s – reaction! In October 1872 she was transferred to the new steamer service to South America.
During her career Republic was involved in a number of collisions, mainly fairly minor, and several rescues. She broke her single propeller shaft in December 1880 and continued under sail until Anchor Line’s Circassia agreed to tow her to New York. In 1882 she towed the disabled Daniel Steinman, a White Cross steamer to New York for an agreed salvage fee, which was later disputed and ended in litigation.
With new ships joining the fleet, in 1888 Republic was put up for sale. On her final voyage for White Star she ran aground off Sandy Hook but was refloated, then once she had docked part of the boiler exploded. On her return to the UK she was laid up at Birkenhead, and in June 1889 sold to Holland America as Maasdam. She was refitted and given new engines.
In August 1902 she was sold to La Veloce of Genoa and renamed Vittoria, running from Genoa to New York on the emigrant service, carrying 1,424 in steerage. Some time later she was renamed Citta di Napoli, for the same owners. She was laid up in 1908 and was scrapped at Genoa in 1910.