Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger Ship
North Yard
Slip Number
Launch Date
14 January 1899
26 August 1899
Oceanic Steam Navigation Co.
17274 grt
BP Length
685 feet
68 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
19 knots
Triple expansion constructed in Belfast
Official No.

[Harland and Wolff Collection]

Oceanic was perhaps the most distinguished name White Star assigned to any of its ships. Not only was Oceanic the formal name of the company that ran the White Star Line (Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Ltd.), but the first Oceanic was one of the greatest White Star liners. She was the first ship built for White Star after Thomas Ismay bought the White Star name, and her innovative design set new standards for ocean travel. The ship shown here, the second Oceanic, was intended as the first of two sister ships, but the second (which was to have been named Olympic) was never built.
Oceanic was the first ship to exceed the legendary Great Eastern in length and was the largest ship in the world from 1899 to 1901.
Launched in January 1899, she made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 6 September of that year.
In 1907, she, Majestic, Teutonic and Adriatic moved from Liverpool to Southampton when White Star moved the terminus of its primary service there. Oceanic remained on that route until 1914.
When World War I broke out, Oceanic was one of the first ships requisitioned for service as an armed merchant cruiser; she was commissioned on 8 August 1914. She was also the first Allied passenger ship to be lost in the war, but it was navigational error that did her in, not enemy action. Oceanic ran aground in the Shetlands on 8 September 1914 in thick fog on rocks on Foula Island. All attempts to rescue the ship failed and she sank in a heavy gale on September 19, 1914.
In the 1970s divers located the remains of the Oceanic on the sea bed and a number of artefacts were subsequently retrieved.
One of her massive 6-ton propeller blades brought up from the sea bed is now on display at the Ulster folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, Northern Ireland.