RMS Lucania

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RMS Lucania
Owner: Cunard Line
Port of registry: Liverpool, United Kingdom
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company yard in Govan, Scotland
Yard number: 365
Launched: Thursday, 2 February 1893
Christened: Sir William Pearce, MP
Maiden voyage: 2 September 1893
Fate: Scrapped after being damaged by a fire at Liverpool on 14 August 1909
General characteristics
Class and type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 12,950 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 622ft (189.6 m)
Beam: 65 ft 3 in (21.5m)
Depth: 41 ft 10 in (13.7m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: Two triple blade propellers.
  • Service speed 22 knots (40.5 km/h / 25.3 mph)
  • Top speed 23.5 knots (43.3 km/h / 27 mph)
  • 2000 passengers total
  • 600 first class
  • 400 second class
  • 1000 third class
  • Crew: 424
    Notes: 2 masts

    RMS Lucania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 2 February 1893.

    Identical in dimensions and specifications to her sister ship RMS Campania, RMS Lucania was the joint largest passenger liner afloat when she entered service in 1893. On her second voyage, she won the prestigious Blue Riband from her sister to become the fastest passenger liner afloat, a title she kept until 1898.

    Power Plant and Construction

    File:Lucania Log Book.jpg
    Handbook issued to passengers on RMS Lucania and her sister ship RMS Campania

    RMS Campania and Lucania were partly financed by the British Admiralty. An agreement was reached was that the Cunard would receive funding from the Government in return for constructing vessels to admiralty specifications. Also, Cunard would have to agree to the condition that the vessels go on the naval reserve list to serve as armed merchant cruisers when required by the government. The construction contracts were awarded to the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, which at the time was one of Britain’s biggest producers of warships. Plans were soon drawn up for a large, twin-screw steamer powered by triple expansion engines, and construction began in 1891, just 43 days after Cunards' order.

    The sisters had the largest triple expansion engines ever fitted to a Cunard ship. These engines were also the largest in the world at the time, and still rank today amongst the largest of the type ever constructed. They represent the limits of development for this kind of technology, which was superseded a few years later by turbine technology. In height, the engines reached from the double-bottom floor of the engine room to the top of the superstructure - almost three stories. Each engine had five cylinders. There were two low pressure cylinders on each engine, each measuring 8´2" (2.48 m) in diameter, and they operated with a stoke of 5' 9" (1.75 m). Together, the engines could generate 31,000 ihp (23,000 kW), which produced an average speed of 22 knots (41 km/h), and a record speed of 23½ knots. Normal operating speed for the engines was about 79 rpm. (Note: a modern automobile engine idles at approximately 10 times that speed)

    The two engines were each placed in a separate watertight engine compartment; in case of a hull breach in that area, only one engine room would then be flooded, and the ship would still have power to return to port with the adjacent engine. In addition to this Lucania had 16 transverse watertight compartments, which meant that she could remain afloat with any two compartments flooded.

    Passenger accommodations

    In their day, Lucania and her sister offered the most luxurious first-class passenger accommodations available. It was Victorian opulence at its peak—an expression of a highly confident and prosperous age that would never be quite repeated on any other ship. All the first-class public rooms, and the en-suite staterooms of the upper deck, were generally heavily panelled, in oak, satinwood or mahogany; and thickly carpeted. Velvet curtains hung aside the windows and portholes, while the furniture was richly upholstered in matching design. The predominant style was Art Nouveau, although other styles were also in use, such as "French Renaissance" which was applied to the forward first-class entrance hall, whilst the 1st class smoking room was in "Elizabethan style", comprising heavy oak panels surrounding the first open fireplace ever to be used aboard a passenger liner.

    Perhaps the finest room in the vessels was the first class dining saloon, over 10' (3.05 m) high and measuring 98' (30 m) long by 63' (19.2 m) wide. Over the central part of this room was a well that rose through three decks to a skylight. It was done in a style described as "modified Italian style", with the a coffered ceiling in white and gold, supported by ionic pillars. The panelled walls were done in Spanish mahogany, inlaid with ivory and richly carved with pilasters and decorations.

    Maritime historian Basil Greenhill, in his book Merchant Steamships felt that the interiors of Lucania and Campania represented the ultimate expression of the Victorian age, and remarked that later vessels' interiors degenerated into "grandiose vulgarity, the classical syntax debased to mere jargon".

    Wireless history

    File:Cunard Daily Bulletin.jpg
    The Cunard Daily Bulletin published on board the RMS Lucania based on news received by wireless while at sea.

    In 1901 Lucania became the first Cunard liner to be fitted with a Marconi wireless system, followed a few months later by Campania. Shortly after these installations, the two ships made history by exchanging the first wireless transmitted ice bulletin; and two years after that, Lucania made history again, this time by publishing an on-board newspaper based on information received by wireless telegraphy whilst at sea. The newspaper was called Cunard Daily Bulletin and quickly became a success.

    Final days

    Lucania and Campania served as Cunard's major passenger liners for 14 years, during which time both liners were superseded in speed and size by a succession of four-funnelled German liners, starting with the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse in 1897. The German competition necessitated the construction of replacements for the two Cunarders, which came to fruition in 1907 with the appearance of the RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania. It was soon decided that Lucania was no longer needed, and her last voyage was on July 7th 1909, after which she was laid up at the Huskisson Dock in Liverpool. Then, at around 7.00pm on August 14th, 1909, she was badly damaged by a fire, and partially sank at her berth. Five days later she was sold for scrap, and the contents of her interior auctioned.

    See also


    • Warren, Mark D. (1991). The Cunard Royal Mail Twin-Screw Steamers Campania and Lucania. Patrick Stephens Limited.
    • Cunard Steam-ship Co Ltd. (1894) The Cunard Passenger Log Book (Campania & Lucania)
    • Denis Griffiths (1990). Power of the Great Liners. Patrick Stephens Limited.
    Preceded by
    Blue Riband Atlantic Eastbound Record
    1894 – 1897
    Succeeded by
    Kaiser Wilhelm der Große
    Blue Riband Atlantic Westbound Record
    1894 – 1898

    de:RMS Lucania (1893) pl:RMS Lucania