Belfast Ships: The Olympic

A luxury liner and a naval transporter. The Olympic sunk a German U-boat in 1918, the only recorded instance of a merchant vessel sinking any type of warship during the first world war. The Olympic sunk a German U-boat in 1918, the only recorded instance of a merchant vessel sinking any type of warship during the first world war.

At 45,324 gross tons, the Olympic was the largest ship ever built at the time of its launch on October 20, 1910. Powered by two four-cylinder, triple-expansion engines, combined with a low pressure turbine, it could achieve 46,000 indicated horse-power. However, luxury was more important than speed and the liner had a gymnasium, a squash court, electric baths, and electric lifts.

The launch of the Olympic was attended by Lord and Lady Aberdeen, J Bruce Ismay of the White Star line, and many members of the Irish aristocracy.

In 1915, the admiralty commissioned the Olympic to be used as a fast troop transport. It was stripped of her luxury fittings and painted in ‘dazzle paint’ to make it harder for enemy rangefinders to make an accurate target. It could carry up to 7000 troops at any one time. {PAGE BREAK}

In 1917, the HMT Olympic had anti-submarine guns fitted, and in 1918 sunk a German U-boat, the only recorded instance of a merchant vessel sinking any type of warship during the first world war.

After the war, the Olympic was refitted and returned to transatlantic traffic. The ‘Old Reliable’ was then retired in 1935 and broken up in 1937.

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