Great Ships that Belfast Built
’The sea is a hard, unrelenting mistress, always ready to whip up the fools.’
Some of the largest ships in the world were built in Belfast. After Harland and Wolff signed a contract in 1870 with the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company of Liverpool – better known as the White Star Line – the company specialised in luxury liners.
Launches of these liners were always a grand occasion. Thousands gathered for a ship’s launch, and to ensure better photographs the liner’s hull was usually painted white. There was, however, no christening with a bottle in Belfast until the later twentieth century.
Harland and Wolff also built some of the largest tankers, including the oil tanker Myrina launched in 1967 which at 192,250 tons and more than 320m long was the largest vessel ever built in Europe.
Workman, Clark and Co, the ‘wee yard’, built some of the largest refrigerated cargo ships and fruit carriers. These included the £250,000 Ulysses, at 14,000 tons the largest ship to leave the yard before the outbreak of the first world war.