31st December 1949:
White Star name disappears

lowering-flagAfter 31st December 1949 the name “White Star” disappeared from use. The two surviving White Star ships, Britannic and Georgic, would con­tinue in White Star livery and fly the White Star burgee with Cunard’s house flag until the end of their careers, although the Cunard flag would now fly above the White Star burgee. Cunard-White Star, Ltd. continued for a while as a corporate identity, “largely as an investment company”.

Following the merger of the two companies, the convention had been that Cunard ships flew the Cunard flag above the White Star flag, and on White Star ships the opposite was flown. The attached photo shows the two flags being lowered for the last time on Aquitania, when she finished service.


Search for lost QM2 passenger called off

_93112363_queen_mary_2_outbound_from_southampton_2_sept_2013The US Coast Guard has officially called off the search for a 74-year-ol,d woman who went missing from Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 while on a 12-night Christmas and New Year cruise from New York to St Maarten in the Caribbean. Queen Mary 2 sailed from New York on 22nd December, but when the liner  was about 100 miles off the Coast of New Jersey, the passenger was reported as missing.

The liner immediately turned back to search for her, and the US Coast Guard launched a C-130 aircraft and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. Once darkness fell the initial search was called off, and Queen Mary 2 resumed her cruise. The captain later reported that she would soon be back on schedule. There are no details at present of how she went missing, but it is presumed she fell overboard/ The lady is reported to be a regular cruise passenger.

In the meantime it has been reported that a 22-year-old passenger jumped off an upper deck of Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. Despite a search by the ship, US Coast Guard and other nearby ships, at present there is no sign of the passenger. It is reported that since 2000, 283 passengers have been lost overboard from cruise ships worldwide.

28 December 1893: Gothic sails on maiden voyage

gothic-1893_01Built by Harland and Wolff at Belfast and launched on 28th June 1893, Gothic was jointly operated by White Star and Shaw Savill on the New Zealand service. She could carry 104 passengers in First Class and 114 in Steerage, and was intended to also carry a large cargo of refrigerated mutton and other goods to the UK. Her maiden voyage left London on 28th December 1893, under Captain Jennings.

gothland-ashoreOn 3rd June 1903 fire broke out in the cargo, and eventually she had to be beached off Plymouth and then scuttled, to extinguish the fire. She was later raised and given a thorough refit before returning to service. In 1907 she was transferred to Red Star Line and renamed Gothland. She later reverted to White Star and her old name, then in 1913 was back with Red Star as Gothland. In June 1914 she was stranded on the Scillies but was salvaged and repaired, and gave useful service in the Great War. Finally sold for scrap in 1925, she was broken up at Bo’ness in early 1926.


28 December 1914 White Star in Australian convoy

ceramic-as-hmt-a40On 28th December 1914 the convoy for the Second Detachment of Australian and New Zealand Imperial Expeditionary Forces assembled at King George’s Sound at Albany. The majority of the fleet sailed on 31st December, and included Suevic (A29), Persic (A34) and Ceramic (A40), carrying troops and horses to Egypt.

suevic-as-trooper1Persic had embarked the 5th Light Horse Regiment at Sydney on 21st December. Suevic had embarked the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment. Leaving Fremantle for Colombo on 2nd January 1915, the three White Star ships were diverted to Aden for additional coal. The convoy reassembled at Aden on 24th January and reached Suez on 24th January. The troops were disembarked at Alexandria on 1st February.

Cargo ship wrecked after grounding in Greece

mv-cabreraA general cargo ship, Cabrera, ran aground on the Greek island of Andros last Saturday, in heavy weather. The ship partially sank on the rocky coast, with very heavy surf. All nine crew members were lifted off by a Greek Navy helicopter and transferred to a local hospital.

The Cabrera was sailing from Larymna in Greece to Tornio, Finland with a cargo of ferronickel when she went aground. With the pounding of the heavy surf, she quickly sank until just portions of the superstructure are still showing above water. There are fears of pollution in the area, with an oil sheen already appearing around the wreck and along the adjacent coast. The Greek Coast Guards admitted pollution control was proving difficult in the continuing bad weather.

Port Everglades to deepen and widen access channels

port_ev-36220_adj_plus-fill-600x394Federal authorisation has been granted for the US Army Corps of Engineers to improve access to Port Everglades. The navigation channels are to be widened and deepened as part of improvements to the infrastructure of the port. Approval for the work was signed by President Obama on 16th December 2016.

Two projects are involved in this development: the Port Everglades Navigation Improvements and the Central Everglades Planning Project. Work is already in hand planning both projects and establishing the logistics. It is anticipated that 2,200 jobs will be created for the construction, and 1,500 permanent jobs once the work is completed. Already handling over 3.5 million cruise ship passengers last year and nearly $30 billion in trade, the development of the port will enable it to increase operations and modernise systems ready for growth in the future. It will be able to accommodate the larger cruise ships due in the next few years and also the larger post-Panamax containerships using the recently-widened Panama Canal.

27th December 1930 –
Queen Mary’s keel is laid

qm-centre-keelBy the late 1920s the directors of Cunard realised that their current fleet was becoming dated, and that marine engineering and technology was moving forward. It was time to have a fresh look at the needs of the modern trans-Atlantic passenger. After an extended design and research period, in early 1929 they put out a tender call to various UK shipyards. The successful bid was from John Brown’s on the Clyde, and on 1st December 1930 the contract was signed. At that time the hull was known simply as 534.

qm-double-bottomThe slip used for Aquitania was lengthened and reinforced ready for the massive new liner. The first keel plate was officially laid on 27th December 1930. Work was underway on what was to become one of the world’s best-known liners – RMS Queen Mary. Work was halted by the Great Depression and Cunard’s faltering finances, but following the UK government’s intervention with a massive loan, she was eventually launched on 26th September 1934. Once fitting out was completed and the trials passed successfully, she left on her maiden voyage on 27th May 1936, to begin a hugely successful career, both as a trans-Atlantic passenger ship and as vitally-important troopship.

She gained the Blue Riband, and fought France’s Normandie several times before World War II, finally retaining it. Her war service saw her entering many areas of the world for which she had not been designed, and the lack of air conditioning aboard made many troops suffer when she was in the tropics. Refurbished after the war, she went on to forge a successful partnership alongside Queen Elizabeth, until the advent of jet aircraft and declining passenger numbers forced her withdrawal  in 1967. Subsequently sold to Long Beach, California, she is permanently moored there as a memorial to the glory days of trans-Atlantic liners.

White Star’s Oceanic I sets new Pacific record

Processed by: Helicon Filter;On 26th December 1876, White Star’s Oceanic I, under Captain Parsell, arrived at San Francisco. She had sailed from Yokohama in 14 days 15 hours 20 minutes, a new record. This beat the previous record set by Pacific Mail’s City of Peking.

Oceanic I was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast, and had been launched on 27th August 1870. She was the first ship with the hull built up to form the sides of passenger accommodation. She was handed over to White Star on 24th February 1871, and was placed on the Liverpool to New York service. On her maiden voyage there were engine problems and the trip was aborted. Following repairs, she quickly proved popular. She met a severe storm in mid-Atlantic on 24th December 1871, and lost 3 of her 4 propeller blades. The engines were stopped and she raised sails to continue. In spite of this Captain Thompson was able rescue the crew of a sinking American schooner.

oceanic-1870_san-franAt her first refit extra boilers were fitted and bunker capacity increased to giver her more power. A turtleback was fitted and the masts were shortened.

On 17th April 1875 Oceanic I sailed for Hong Kong, to inaugurate a joint service from Hong Kong and Yokohama to San Francisco. She returned to Belfast in late 1879 for another refit before returning to the Pacific. Finally on 17th May 1895 Oceanic I was back at Belfast for another refit, but after a survey she was deemed not worth it. Sold for £8,000 for scrap, she sailed from Belfast on 10th February 1896 on the Thames.

Fathom’s Adonia adds six more Cuba cruises

la-1462247448-snap-photoDespite recent reports that Fathom, a subsidiary of Carnival, was to drop Cuba from its itineraries, the company has just announced that it will be running another six 7-day cruises to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, from February through May 2017. The Cuban authorities have given permission for Fathom’s Adonia to include stops at Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city.

With so many cruise ships now suddenly being allowed into the once-restricted waters, it will be interesting to see how the island and its facilities cope with sudden influxes of tourists and travellers hungry to see how the island has survived. Will it manage to retain its historical integrity or will it all become cheapened and commercialised? Only time will tell……..

Calgaric arrives at scrappers 25 December 1934

calgaric-at-liverpoolOriginally laid down in 1914 at Harland & Wolff as Orca, for Pacific Steam, she was eventually launched in April 1917 after delays due to war work. Completed as a very basic cargo vessel, once released from war duties she was returned to Belfast and completed as originally planned. Transferred to the Royal Mail group on 1st January 1923, she initially ran on the Hamburg to New York route. Sold to White Star in 1927 for an amazing £1 million, she was renamed Calgaric. Her first voyage for her new owners was on 4th May 1927, from Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal. She was later moved to the Southampton to Canada service, before the effects of the Great Depression meant that she was no longer viable.

calgaric02-bon-voyageCalgaric was laid up at Milford Haven from late 1930, apart from an occasional cruise and a brief summer service to Canada in 1931. No longer wanted following the merger of Cunard and White Star in 1934, Calgaric was sold for £31,000 for scrap. She finally sailed to Rosyth, arriving on 25th December 1934, where she was scrapped soon after.