Olympic arrived at Belfast on 12th January 1917 for a three months’ reﬁt, which included fitting six 6-in guns, with 40 Royal Naval ratings allocated. Two guns were mounted on the fo’castle, two in the forward well deck and two aft on the poop deck. She had a new dazzle camouflage scheme designed by the war artist Norman Wilkinson, one of several patterns she sported during the war. During the overhaul, Captain Hayes was given temporary command of Celtic.
Under Captain Hayes, Celtic sailed from Liverpool for New York on 14th February 1918, but on 15th February she hit a mine laid by U-80, off the Isle of Man. Seventeen crew were killed: survivors were taken off by the railway ferry Slieve Bawn and taken to Holyhead. Despite a 30-foot hole in her side, Celtic was towed to Liverpool and then repaired at Belfast. She was back in service by the end of April.
Following the aborted voyage on Celtic, Captain Hayes commanded Adriatic on one voyage to New York then returned to command of Olympic. On 4th April 1918 Olympic was re-commissioned. She was due to sail from Greenock for Halifax with all cabins full and over 2,000 passengers. However she was held for several days waiting for a political delegation headed by Arthur J. Balfour, British Foreign Secretary and head of the British Mission to the United States. On 2nd June Mr Balfour and his mission boarded Olympic at Halifax for the return voyage. Captain Hayes was later awarded the CMG for this duty.
Extracted from “White Star: the Company and the Ships”
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On 12th January 1894, White Star’s Cevic sailed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York. She had been launched on 23rd September 1893 at Harland & Wolff, as yard number 270. Built as a large cattle carrier, she could carry 800 head of cattle and 20 horses, as well as having a large cargo capacity. She sailed from New York on 30th January 1894, with what was claimed to be the largest cargo to leave the port at that time. On 1st February she rescued the crew of a sinking brig, W.G. Gordon. En route from Liverpool to New York, on 15th November 1895 Cevic encountered a 90mph gale which tossed the ship so violently that barrels in the hold broke loose!
Cevic encountered the disabled Cunarder Catalonia on 22nd January 1896, some 1,000 miles off Fastnet. Catalonia requested a tow, but Cevic declined, as the distance was too great, but did inform the owners. She was delayed by bad weather in 1897, arriving in New York on 30th January, five days late. On 2nd May 1899 Cevic was the first vessel to enter the Canada Graving Dock in Liverpool. In 1908 the cattle-carrying service to New York was closed down, and Cevic was used on the Australian service.
She was requisitioned by the Admiralty in October 1914, and was sent to Belfast, where she was converted into a dummy battleship, HMS Queen Mary. This was as part of a fleet of merchant ships converted to resemble various warships. After grounding twice she finally left Belfast on 13th April 1915. The disguised warships were not particularly successful, and in September 1915 Cevic was purchased by the Admiralty and converted into a Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker. Renamed Bayol, she was renamed again in 1917, becoming Bayleaf. On 18th February 1918 she was severely damaged by bad weather and repairs took over three months. In June 1920 she was purchased by British Tanker Co. then re-sold to Anglo-Saxon Petroleum and renamed Pyrula. By November 1921 she was a floating depot ship in New York harbour, and by September 1925 she was being used as a hulk at Curacoa, as a bunker ship. Finally on 25th July 1933 Pyrula was sold to Henrico Haupt and scrapped at Genoa.