SS Ionic (1903)

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Career (United Kingdom) UK Civil Ensign White Star Line Ensign
Name: S.S. Ionic
Operator: White Star Line
Builder: Harland and Wolff Shipyards
Laid down: 1902
Launched: 22 May 1903
Completed: 1903
Status: Scrapped in 1936, Osaka, Japan
General characteristics
Class and type: Corinthic class ocean liner
Tonnage: 12,352 tons
Length: 500.3 ft
Beam: 63.3 ft
Propulsion: Twin propellers (driven by quadruple expansion engines)
Speed: 14 knots
Capacity: 688 passengers

SS Ionic (II) was a steam-powered ocean liner built in 1902 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line. She was the second White Star Liner to be named Ionic and served on the United Kingdom-New Zealand route. Her sister ships were the Athenic and the Corinthic.


Ionic was originally built to transport refrigerated meat and passengers from the United Kingdom to New Zealand. She set sail on her maiden voyage from London to Wellington via Cape Town on 16 January 1903. Ionic was the first ship on the New Zealand route to be fitted with a Marconi wireless set. She was built with only one buff-coloured, black topped smokestack and four passenger decks. Ionic was also equipped with four masts to carry auxiliary sails in case her engines broke down or simply to conserve fuel, however no sails were ever raised on Ionic. She was fitted with electrical lighting, rare for passenger ships at that time and boasted a beautiful open promenade deck and the golden White Star Line stripe along her hull. In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, Ionic was requisitioned for troop transport for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and in 1915 she was narrowly missed a torpedo by less than 15 yards whilst steaming through the Mediterranean Sea. On the 31st of January, Ionic returned to her former New Zealand passenger service via the Panama Canal. In 1927 Ionic came to the aid of the crew aboard a French fishing vessel, the Daisy, which had run aground in Grand Banks. Her final refit before the Cunard-White Star merger was completed in 1929, she was converted to only accommodate cabin and third class passengers. In 1934 after the White Star Line and Cunard Line merged, Ionic was sold to the Shaw, Savill & Albion Line. Ionic kept her name but her prefix "SS" was changed to "RMS". The RMS Ionic was scrapped 2 years later in 1936 in Osaka, Japan. Her bell and a faded photograph of the vessel are located in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

See also

White Star Line

References Titanic-White Star Ships, Ionic 2nd Norwegian Heritage: Ionic (2), White Star Line

cs:SS Ionic (1902) fr:SS Ionic (1903)