RMS OLYMPIC SPECIFICATION FILE

Olympic 1926

Above: Olympic appears on a sailing list issued by the White Star Line in March 1926. (Author’s Collection.)

Olympic entered service in 1911 as the world’s largest ship. Although she was surpassed in spring 1912 by Titanic, she regained the title after her sister’s loss only to lose it to Imperator in 1913. From 1913, she was the largest British ship in service. Although Aquitania could claim the title after 1914, based on her length and breadth, Olympic’s gross tonnage (which rose after the 1913 refit) was greater than her rival’s and remained so until her withdrawal from service in 1935. Gross tonnage is a better measure of size, given that it is a measure of enclosed space. Britannic claimed the title of the largest British ship when she was in service from December 1915 to November 1916. In the 1920s, as White Star’s ‘Ship Magnificent,’ Olympic was advertised as the largest triple-screw steamer in the world.

The specifications given here relate to Olympic as she was in the mid 1920s, prior to the 1927-28 refit when her net tonnage figure changed and tourist third class was introduced. However, the vast majority of these measurements and figures remained the same in subsequent years. A notable exception is the passenger numbers, as tourist third class was introduced alongside second class (before second class was abolished entirely by the end of 1931), first class staterooms became tourist class, and third class shrank as Olympic’s service continued in the early 1930s. As always, different documents give multiple different figures for passenger and crew capacities, and those here should be seen in that context. Even here, the alternate first and second class accommodation information is contradictory.

Some dimensions are given in feet as decimals: for instance, the ship’s length of 882 feet 9 inches was given as 882.75 feet, which has been rounded to 882.7 feet (and is sometimes seen as 882.8 feet in other sources). However, to remain faithful to the original source material the imperial measurements have been given in both decimals and feet and inches, throughout the file; for instance the length of the single ended boilers is given as 11 feet 9 inches, or 11'9" in short. In regard to the watertight subdivision, there were originally fifteen main transverse watertight bulkheads, and clearly the figure here of sixteen was a product of changes during the 1912-13 refit rather than her original construction.

The horsepower figures, given for both the reciprocating engines and the turbine, are not a maximum that the engines could develop. However, they do seem higher than the average power developed in normal service to enable Olympic to maintain her service speed. While 46,000 horsepower was required for a speed of 21 knots, the figures given here total 55,000 horsepower. In 1911, it was stated that Olympic’s engines developed 59,000 horsepower, so that was apparently the maximum figure developed up to that time.

BUILDER

Builder
Regd. Date
Class
Board of Trade Passenger Certificate
Load Line Certificate
No. of Propellers
Normal Weather. Average Speed (knots)
Harland & Wolff, Ltd.
1911
Not classed
Yes
Yes
3
21

DIMENSIONS

Length
Breadth
Depth
Overall, feet
Between perpendiculars, feet
Moulded, feet
Extreme, feet
Moulded, Side feet
Moulded, Centre, feet
882.7
850
92
92.5
64.67
65.67

TONNAGE

Gross
Deductions for Erections, Propelling Space, etc.
Net
Nationality
Official Number
Builder’s Number
46,439.48
24,616.7
21,822.84
British
131,346
400

CREW

Maximum Deck
Maximum Engine
Maximum Vic’g
Grand Total
99
164
570
833

DRAFT, DISPLACEMENT AND FREEBOARD

Light
Summer
Draft, feet
Dispt. Tons
Tons per Inch Immers’n
Block Co-eff.
Draft, feet
Dispt. Tons
Freeboard, feet
Tons Per Inch Im-mers’n
Block Co-eff.
Deadweight Tons
27 10½
40,850
138.8
.66
34 7
52,310
30 9
143.8
.68
11,460

TANKS

Double Bottom Tanks
Peak Tanks
Domestic Tanks
Fresh Water only Tons
Salt Water only, Tons
 
Fresh or Salt Water Tons
Salt Water Tons
Total Fresh Water Tons
Total Salt Water Tons
Total [Fuel] Oil Tons
Fresh Water Tons
Gallons
1,284
3,340
 

796 F.

or

820 S.

353
2,080
4,513
7,655
792
177,408

WATERTIGHT SUBDIVISION, CARGO AND APPLIANCES

No. of Trans. W. T. Bulkheads
Cargo Holds
Size of largest Hatch on Weather Deck
No. of Winches available for Cargo
Special Appliances
16
5
16 x 20
3 Steam, 4 Electric, 6 Electric Cranes

Wireless

and Sub. Sig.

Pass. Elev.

 

Dynamos
Emergency Dynamos
No.
Makers
Voltage
Total Output in K’watts
Makers
Total Output in K’watts
4
W.H. Allen & Son
100
1,600
2-Lawrence Scott
120

PASSENGERS

1ST CLASS

Permanent
Alternative 1st or 2nd Class
Rooms.
Berths
Rooms
Berths
Max No. of Berths
Saloon Seats
301
710
86
237
947

B-deck 168

D-deck 544

722 Total

2ND CLASS

Permanent
Alternative 1st or 2nd Class
Alternative 2nd or 3rd Class
Rooms.
Berths
Rooms
Berths
Rooms
Berths
Max No. of Berths
Saloon Seats
105
342
88
274
52
154
770
350

3RD CLASS

Berths
Alternative 2nd or 3rd Class
Rooms
In Berths
Open
Max No. of Berths
Saloon Seats
272
1,100
-
52
154
1,234

467

CARGO

 
Refrigerated Cargo

Capacity of all Cargo Spaces, excluding 3rd Cl. Spaces, Bridge Spaces and Refrig’d Spaces, Cubic Feet

3rd Cl. Spaces available for Cargo, Cubic Feet

Refrigd. Spaces available for Cargo, Cubic Feet
Grand Total of Cargo Space, Cubic Feet
No. of Comp’ts
No. of Cubic Feet
No. of Quarters
System
68,280
Nil
15,600
83,800
1
15,600
2,155
CO2 & Brine

FUEL

Consumption
Class of Fuel
Double Bottom. Oil Taken at 38 c. feet per Ton. Coal taken at 44 c. feet per Ton
Reserve Bunkers. Oil Taken at 38 c. feet per Ton
Total Fuel Tons
Per Day
Per 100 Knots
Oil
Cub. Feet
Tons
Cub. Feet
Tons
600
119
American
196,384
5,168
94,506
Nos 1 & 3 2,487
7,655

BOILERS

Number
Dimensions
Maker
Date
Pressure Ibs. per Sq. Inch
Type
Double Ended
Single Ended
Length
Dia. or Width
Scotch
24
5

S. E. 11' 9"

D.E. 20'0"

28 @ 15'9"

1 D.E. @ 13'6"

Harland & Wolff, Ltd.
1911
215

FURNACES

       
Grate
Number and Type
Length over Tube Plates

Dia.

Least Width Inside

Length of Fire Bars
Area Sq. Ft.
Heating Surface Sq. Ft.
Natural or Forced Draught
Type of Oil Fuel System
No. of Burners
159 Corrugated
7'10"

153 @ 3'9"

6 @ 3'3"

153 @ 5'9"

6 @ 4'9"

3,430
142,454
Nautral
White
159

ENGINES

Cylinders (Diameters)
Type
Maker
Date
H.P.
I.P.
I.P.
L.P.
Stroke
4 Cylinder Triple [Expansion]
Harland & Wolff, Ltd.
1911
54"
84"
97"
97"
75"

PROPELLERS

Reciprocating
Turbine
Diam. Ft.
Pitch Ft.
Expand. Surface Sq. Ft.
Diam. Ft.
Pitch Ft.
Expand. Surface Sq. Ft.
22'9"
36'9"
160
16'6"
14'6"
120

HORSEPOWER

Average Reciprocating I.H.P.
Average Turbine S.H.P.

37,000

18,000

TURBINES

Type
Makers
No. of Rotors
No. of Stages Ahead
Propeller Revs. per Min.
Parson’s
Harland & Wolff, Ltd.
1

6

120 [sic: 165]
Note: Although the specifications given here are very technical in nature, some simple abbreviations are easily understandable, while others require a more lengthy explanation.
Regd.: Registered.
Cert.: Certificate.
Dispt.: Displacement.
W.T.: Watertight.
Refrig’d.: Refrigerated.
Ilbs. per Sq. Inch: Pounds per square inch.
Revs. per Min.: Revolutions per minute.
C. feet./Cub feet: Cubic feet.
Tons per Inch Immers’n.: Tons per Inch Immersion, or the number of tons that are required to change the draught of the ship by one inch at a given level of draught.
Block Co-eff.: Block co-efficient. This is the ratio of the underwater volume of a ship to the volume of a rectangular block having the length, breadth and draft of the ship.
Deadweight: The deadweight is the difference between the loaded displacement of the ship and the displacement when it is completely empty of cargo, fuel, passengers, crew, etc.
Trans.: Transverse, i.e. a watertight bulkhead running across the ship, from side to side, rather than along the ship.
Expand. Surface Sq. Ft.: Expanded surface area of the propeller, in square feet.
S.H.P.: Shaft horsepower, the method of measuring a steam turbine’s power output.
H.P., I.P. and L.P.: High pressure, intermediate pressure, and low pressure. Olympic’s reciprocating engines had three stages (i.e. they were triple expansion engines), as steam entered at high pressure and was reduced to a lower pressure.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Scott Andrews’ assistance - offering clarifications and spotting several mistakes that were originally missed during proofreading - is greatly appreciated. However, he is not responsible for any errors that may have crept in.

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