RMS Victorian

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RMS Victorian was an ocean liner of the Allan Line, built for service between Great Britain and North America. Launched in 1904, the ship was the first large civilian ship propelled by steam turbines. The liner remained in service for almost a quarter-century, and was broken up in 1929.


Canadian Pacific Steamship Company purchased the Beaver Line in 1903, and entered the transatlantic trade. To compete, in October 1903 the Allan Line ordered two large new liners. Originally intended to be conventional twin-screw ships powered by reciprocating steam engines, the ships were changed to triple-shafted vessels propelled by steam turbines, in light of the great success of King Edward, a turbine-powered excursion vessel in service on the Clyde since 1901. The Allan Line ordered a power plant similar to that of King Edward from the same manufacturer, the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company. Victorian therefore became the first three-shaft ship and the first turbine liner in Atlantic service, and with sister ship RMS Virginian became the first large turbine-powered commercial vessels of any kind, at a time when others doubted the wisdom of using the new technology in large ships.[1][2]


The machinery in Victoria was a scaled-up version of that in King Edward. Coal-fired Scotch marine boilers supplied steam at 180 psi (12.66 bar) to Parsons turbines. The smoke was exhausted through a large single stack. The high-pressure steam from the boilers was fed to a turbine directly driving the centre shaft; from the centre turbine steam was reused at a lower pressure in flanking turbines, each directly turning a wing shaft. Each shaft has a single screw.[3]

This plant was housed in a hull 520' (158.49m) long, 60' (18.29m) in breadth, and 38' (11.58m) in depth. The vessel registered 10,629 gross tons.[4] There were orlop decks fore and aft of the machinery spaces, and three full decks within the hull fitted to carry 240 second-class passengers on the main and upper deck and up to 940 in third class. Atop the hull, a forecastle was followed by forward holds, a long superstructure with passenger accommodations and public spaces for 470 first-class passengers on bridge and promenade decks, an after hold, and a poop deck. A combination cargo and passenger liner, Victorian could carry 8,000 tons of cargo and had refrigerated space for fruit and dairy products of Canada.[5]


The liner was designed for a service speed of 17 knots (31.5 kph) and achieved 19.5 knots (36.1 kph) in trials, with the turbines developing some 12,000 shaft horsepower and spinning the directly-coupled screws at 260 rpm. In 1905 the ship set an eastbound record of 5 days and 5 hours from Rimouski in Quebec to Moville in Ireland, which stood for some time.[6]


Victorian's maiden voyage took place in 1905, from Liverpool to St. John's in Newfoundland. The ship was an immediate success, and after some adjustments to the machinery, settled into transatlantic service to Canada until August 1914.

In World War I the vessel was commissioned into the Royal Navy as an auxiliary cruiser, serving with the Ninth and Tenth Cruiser Squadrons. Soon assigned to escort duty, Victorian also transported troops and cargo.[7]

Following the Allan Line's absorption by the Canadian Pacific, and the end of the war, the ship resumed civilian service in 1920. At the end of the following year the direct-drive turbines were replaced by geared turbines and oil fuel supplanted coal. The liner became a single-class vessel, and was renamed Marloch. In the mid-1920s the liner was in reserve service (although often used) until sold for breaking in 1929.[8]



  1. Baker 1965, p. 114
  2. Maber 1980, p. 34
  3. Baker 1965, p. 114
  4. Baker 1965, p. 126
  5. Baker 1965, p. 114
  6. Baker 1965, p. 114
  7. Baker 1965, p. 114
  8. Baker 1965, p. 116


  • Baker, W.A.; Tryckare, Tre (1965), The Engine Powered Vessel, New York: Grosset & Dunlap 
  • Maber, John M. (1980), Channel packets and ocean liners, 1850-1970, "The Ship" Vol. 6, Edinburgh: Stationery Office, ISBN 0-11-290316-9