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.