Tag Archives: White Star Line

Titanic’s Sister Ship HMHS Britannic Was Launched 100 Years Ago Today

HMHS Britannic seen during World War I. Image:public domain
HMHS Britannic seen during World War I.
Image:public domain

HMHS Britannic was the third ship in the Olympic class ocean liner built by White Star Line, and the sister ship of RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic. Due to World War I, she was never used as a transatlantic passenger liner and ended being used as a hospital ship in 1915. On 21 Nov 1916, the ship was sunk likely by an underwater mine off the Greek island of Kea. Of the 1.066 people aboard, 30 lost their lives. Since it sank in shallow waters, the wreck is easily accessible to divers and numerous expeditions have taken place. Although the wreck is in Greek waters, the British have designated it as a war grave and both governments must approve expeditions to the wreck. In 1996 the wreck itself was sold to author Simon Mills whose desire is to leave it as is.

1. HMHS Britannic(Wikipedia)
2. Nova Online: Titanic’s Lost Sister

Albion House Update:Construction Begins On Rooftop Bar Named For Titanic Rescue Ship

Photo:public domain
Photo:public domain

The Liverpool Echo reports that construction has begun on the rooftop champagne bar on top of the former Liverpool home of White Star Line. The bar will be called Carpathia Champagne Bar & Restaurant. According to the Echo “guests will have breath-taking views along The Strand, overlooking Albert Dock , Canning Dock and the Pier Head’s Three Graces.” Albion House is undergoing a major transformation of the structure that had been derelict for a decade. This transformation includes turning it into a apartment-hotel but the crown jewel will be the Carpathia bar.

Aimed at the weddings market, the first two floors will have a specific Titanic theme including the First Class Lounge. Other floors will be decorated with White Star Line motifs and names. The lower ground floor rooms will be styled as cabins. A swimming pool is being inserted into the basement and the building’s original water tank will be converted into a whirlpool bath. The boardroom in which many White Star ships were conceived, including Titanic, will become a suite’s sitting room.

Sounds great but better bring a credit card with a large credit line. I doubt this place will come cheap for weddings-or for eating at the restaurant.

Source: Liverpool’s First Rooftop Champagne Bar Set To Offer Breathtaking Views Over City(10 Jan 2014,Liverpool Echo)

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Update On Albion House/Titanic Hotel Plans

Albion House,Liverpool
Photo: public domain

According to Liverpool Echo, the city planning committee has given its okay for the former home of the White Star Line to be developed into a apart-hotel with 35 apartments, wedding facilities, fine-dining restaurant and rooftop bar. Built between 1895-1896, the building housed White Star Line offices until the line was merged with Cunard. It has been used as private offices but remained mostly empty.The bar, the Great Hall for weddings, three accommodation floors, and the rooftop bar hopefully will be open by April 2014.

Source: Liverpool Titanic Hotel Gets Go-Ahead From Planners (30 Oct 2013, Liverpool Echo)

Sunday Titanic Newswrap

1. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff has secured funding from Heritage Lottery Fund. The former drawing offices will made open for public use while the majority of the structure will become a Titanic-themed hotel. According to Telegraph: “In the old Harland and Wolff building the most historically important rooms such as the drawing offices, board room, telephony room and entrance lobby will be developed as spaces for public use, telling the story of Belfast’s industrial heritage. Nicky Dunn, chairwoman of Titanic Foundation Limited, which is behind the project, welcomed the investment in what she described as a national icon.”
Source: Titanic Offices To Be Re-Opened(11 Oct 2013,Belfast Telegraph)

2. CBC News reports that Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia is going to refurbish the monuments and headstones and pathway of the historic cemetery where many Titanic victims were laid to rest. Work is scheduled to begin in Spring 2014.
Source: Titanic Graves To Get Needed Facelift In Halifax Cemetery(11 Oct 2013,CBC News)

3. Possible Titanic Lifeboat? Turley McShane recently acquired an old lifeboat that had been resting in a hedgerow for years and thinks it might be from Titanic. “When he travelled across the Irish Sea to have a look at it, he found the boat had been languishing in a hedgerow. It had been bought in Liverpool where effects off all the White Star Line ships were disposed of” reports Belfast Telegraph. [Editors note-If I recall correctly, the lifeboats were all repainted with new names so and no one knows the final disposition of them. It will be easier to prove it was a White Star lifeboat but harder to prove it was aboard Titanic.]
Source: White Star Lifeboat Rescued From Hedge(11 Oct 2013,Belfast Telegraph)

Former White Star Building To Become Titanic-Themed Hotel

Albion House,Liverpool

Albion House in Liverpool, once the headquarters of White Star Line, is now going to become a Titanic themed hotel. According to the Liverpool Echo: “They hope to turn 350,000 sq ft of floorspace, which has been largely unused for three decades, into a 350- bedroom aparthotel with a gym, bar and restaurant named Signature Living Hotel – The Home of the Titanic, in honour of its history.

Albion House–constructed between 1896 and 1898 and known for its distinctive appearance due to Portland stone and red brick– is a Grade II historical building (which means it is a more than just a building of special interest). Hotel developers Now Signature Living recently acquired the building and have put the paperwork in. They hope to have part of the hotel open by next April.

1. White Star Building To Become Titanic-Themed Hotel(26 Aug 2013,Liverpool Echo)
2. Albion House, Liverpool (Wikipedia)

Sunday Titanic News

Nomadic 1911
Nomadic (1911)
Nomadic 2000
Nomadic (2000)

1. After substantial refurbishment, SS Nomadic–the last remaining ship of White Star Line–is ready for visitors after seven years work and £7 million spent on the effort. The tender was built in 1911 at Harland & Wolff to ferry passengers to and from ships like Titanic, and served in that capacity until 1968. During World War I it served as a mine sweeper and troop carrier. In World War II it helped in the evacuation of Cherbourg. For many years it served as a floating restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. It ended up rusting away after that facing being sold for scrap before it was bought up at auction in France in 2006.

Nomadic will officially open in June. To purchase tickets and more information, go to nomadicbelfast.com.

Source: Titanic’s Little Sister Open Again(26 May 2013, Belfast Telegraph)

2. Crime reports are not often reported here but this one has a Titanic connection. The Yorkshire Evening Post reports that a recent theft at Moorthorpe Recreation Club involved some rare Titanic collectibles. The club had been closed for rennovations when thieves broke through the roof and entered the club. Among the many things taken was the last SOS telegram sent by Titanic to Carpathia along with a picture of the ship. They also stole many autographed pictures of sports legends. A reward of £1,000 (about $1,512) is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.

Source: Titanic SOS Stolen In Club Raid(24 May 2013, Yorkshire Evening Post)

New Book Claims Titanic Was Ultimately Sunk By Business Decisions Gone Wrong

As we approach the 101st anniversary of Titanic sinking, a new book argues bad decisions were ultimately to blame for Titanic’s demise. Joseph Mortati, according to the press release, examines the whole Titanic story in a new way–from a business perspective.Titanic

Starting with the hours before the crash and working back through time, the author takes the reader into the planning and implementation stages of a decade of decisions that ultimately and unknowingly rendered Titanic vulnerable. These sound but fatal business choices were made by stakeholders from the international holding company that owned Titanic down to the engineers, marketers, and ship’s officers.

I have no idea whether his arguments are good or not, that will have to be determined later. I suspect other books have taken a look at the business practices but from a historical rather than a business perspective. So why the book? From the book website, titaniccollisioncourse.com, he states the following:

However, these views largely miss the fact Titanic is fundamentally a business venture. By looking at the ship through this lens, it will become abundantly clear that far from being the classic case study of reckless decision-making, the people involved actually make smart business choices. After presenting this view to thousands of businesspeople and business students over the past few years in the Washington, DC area, every audience collectively says, “We would have made the same decisions they did.” If so many people today would have done the same things, that tells us Titanic is actually a story of good decisions that result in bad outcomes.

Mortati raises a valid point here. We think of Titanic in a particular way but forget easily forget it was a business. Sure we know of J.P. Morgan, Bruce Ismay, Harland & Wolff. And we know that Titanic and other steamships of that era made money moving passengers and cargo. That was how they paid for the officers, ship crews, all the administrative and support staff, and of course the salaries for those running the shipping line. Mortati is focusing on how good decisions led to a bad outcome and there is a lesson to be learned.

So his book is not a history book in the traditional sense, but an examination of the Titanic business. Presumably that means looking into the thinking behind ships like Titanic, how they were marketed, and how successful they were and whether the really understood the risks involved. We know the final outcome: Titanic sank. It’s sister ship Britannic also sank (due to a mine most likely), and only Olympic survived until old age and was eventually sold off for scrap. White Star Line was eventually folded into Cunard during the Great Depression and the age of steamships has since faded into history. Perhaps there really is a business lesson to be learned here. Unfortunately the problem of assessing risk is still a big one. No one considered a small O-ring a major risk until after Richard Feynman demonstrated it but putting one in ice water during the Rogers Commission hearings on the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

Collision Course: How Good Business Decisions Sank the Titanic
Joseph Martati
ISBN 978-0-9854291-1-9, 141 pages
Available as eBook at Amazon (exclusive)


1. New Book Describes How Good Business Decisions Sank the Titanic(27 Mar 2013, Reuters via PRNewswire)

2. Wikipedia:Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

2. Richard Feynman site (Feynman Online)

Collision Course – How Good Business Decisions Sank the Titanic and Why

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman


Friday Titanic News

1. The Times & Star (UK) is reporting of a plan to erect a Titanic memorial to inform visitors of Maryport’s Titanic link. The idea came from a resident discussing ways to spend a £10,000 grant given to boost town centres. The plaque will be erected next to the Factory Shop in Senhouse Street. Bruce Ismay, White Star Line owner, was from Maryport.

Source: Times & Star, Titanic Memorial Planned For Maryport, 7 Dec 2012

2. Pendletoday (U.K.) is reporting on a call to support Colne’s The Titanic in Lancashire Museum which recently put binoculars presented to Carpathia Captain (and Titanic survivor rescuer) Aruther Rostron up for sale on eBay. The museum is under severe financial stress and is forced to sell to cover costs. Museum curator Nigel Hampson is hoping for donations and possibly a sponsor to held meet their needs. Further information how to donate at Titanic in Lancashire Museum.

Source: pendletoday.co.uk, Titanic Museum In Colne Needs Support, 7 Dec 2012


1. Anna Marie D’angelo writes approvingly in The Vancouver Sun (Canada) of Titanic Belfast. She visited in August and found it worth seeing. She also has tips on making reservations for Titanic Belfast. Also remember to pack rain gear even in summer!

Source: Vancouver Sun, Titanic Belfast Is An Immense Hit, 7 Dec 2012


The Clarke Papers-More Grist For Conspiracy Theories

Ever so often there is a new Titanic controversy to stir things up. There have been a lot of them over the years from brittle steel to allegations the salvagers damaged Titanic. One fact about Titanic has never been in doubt–there were not enough lifeboats. The reason was (then) regulations that determined the number not on passenger capacity but on ship size. Government set those rules for the shipbuilders to follow and the British enquiry absolved it of responsibility. Titanic met all the legal requirements (and a bit more). And it was still inadequate for the catastrophe that occurred that cold night in April 1912.

Recent documents up for auction add more fuel to the lifeboat controversy.  Captain Maurice Clarke, a trade safety and emigration official with British Board of Trade, was assigned the task of inspecting Titanic as Safety Officer. He inspected the ship prior to its maiden voyage. He wrote Titanic did not have enough lifeboats but noted “….it was not possible to double the number of lifeboats from 20 to 40 to cover ‘all hands’ due to cost and extra manning.” He did think increasing the lifeboat number by fifty percent was advisable. His notes cover inspections on Thursday 4th, Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th April. And they detail lifeboat drills, tests and inventory checks along with the sad fact Titanic only had six life buoys. His advice for more lifeboats was ignored by White Star (they did the same, it ought to be noted, when Harland & Wolfe also suggested more lifeboats). White Star, he believes, put pressure on Board of Trade to prevent anything done on this matter.

Clarke testified at the British enquiry on 17 June 1912 and said nothing about this on the official record. Henry Aldrige, who is auctioning off these notes and no doubt wants to increase their value states:

“These documents effectively rewrite an important element of the Titanic story proving that even after 100 years, new facts are coming to light about the sinking.”

It does raise certain questions as to why the issue was never brought up. However the simplest answer is circle the wagons mentality at play. No doubt the Board of Trade, under fire for poor lifeboat regulations, wanted nothing of this to come out. Government lawyers probably looked at it carefully concluding saying nothing was the better posture. Putting it on the record that Clarke had recommended more lifeboats means more questions asked of Board of Trade and possibly of White Star itself. Clarke was likely told to keep quiet unless specifically asked. And he was likely told he would be fired if he said anything or anything got out to the press about his recommendation. Also the lawyers pointed out Titanic met all regulations when it launched. If White Star did not want more lifeboats, that was their problem and not the Board of Trade’s.

The Clarke notes add some interesting information but Aldridge is off. It does not rewrite the story. The fact that White Star did not want more lifeboats is already well known. We also know Board of Trade regulations were inadequate and many ship owners also concurred with not putting more lifeboats on ships. Of course after Titanic they quickly did so. Did White Star pressure Board of Trade? The real question is whether they needed to. Was anyone other than Clarke raising concerns within this regulatory body? I rather doubt it but one would have to look at the internal records to see what was going on (assuming such records exist). It would be easy to run off and wave the notes as proof White Star controlled the Board of Trade. More likely a very cozy relationship at times between government and private sector. Which is why White Star did not have to lift a finger to stop Clarke. And no one from the Board of Trade was held accountable for those inadequate regulations.

I can guess, with great certainty, that in due course opinions and books will be written proving this or that conspiracy theory about Titanic’s sinking. Most of it will be gibberish based upon shreds of some truth to sell their point of view. Heck it might even generate a miniseries. However there is less here than it seems, so be very careful in hanging your hat on proving a White Star-Titanic-Board of Trade corruption case unless you plan to write fiction.

1. The Independent, Man Responsible For Making Titanic Seaworthy Had Request For 50% More Lifeboats Knocked Back, New Documents Reveal, 2 Nov 2012

2. The Telegraph, Titanic Safety Officer Warned Ship Needed ’50 Per Cent More Lifeboats’, 31 Oct 2012

Historic Cobh Pier in Peril

Titanic pier CobhMuch is being done to make ready for the Titanic remembrance ceremonies in April. Just about everything is being scrubbed, built, or shined up for the event. Except it seemsa pier in Cobh (formerly Queenstown) where 123 passengers boarded tenders for Titanic. The old pier is a serious state of decay reports Irish Times and in danger of collapsing. The Times reports that there is some uncertainty as to who owns the pier, which has led to no money funding its renovation. The nearby former White Star Line office has been renovated and a visitor attraction.

The city has no funding available and the pier is not on any protected structures list. Some effort is underway to seek funding. Otherwise visitors will see a decaying pier where only seagulls perch looking at the tourists for possible snacks to feed on.

Source: Irish Times, Titanic’ Pier In Cobh Could Collapse If Funding Not Found For Preservation, 21 Feb 2012

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