Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger Ship
Slip Number
Launch Date
July 9, 1914
April 7, 1917
Oceanic Steam Navigation Co.
32234 grt
BP Length
740 feet
86 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
17 knots
8 Cylinder Steam Triple Expansion Engines
Official No.

[Harland and Wolff Collection]

Laid down in 1912 and launched in 1914 she had three funnels, two masts, triple screw and a speed of 17 knots, Holland America's Statendam was unfinished when WW I broke out. She sat, unfinished, at Harland & Wolff until 1915, when the British government requisitioned her and work resumed. She was completed in April 1917, and was initially intended as the replacement for Lusitania; thus the Cunard-sounding name, which means justice in Latin. Cunard, however, had trouble putting together a crew, while White Star had Britannic's crew easily available. Thus, the ship was put under White Star management (the Government still owned her) rather than Cunard's. She was never painted in any line's livery. When delivered she was painted grey, and in 1918 she was repainted in dazzle.
Renamed Justicia and under White Star Line management she was used on transatlantic trooping duties. On 19 July 1918 Justicia was torpedoed three times by UB 64 off Skerryvore, Scotland, without sinking. Two hours later she was again torpedoed by the same submarine but remained afloat. The next day, though, she was torpedoed twice more, by UB 124, and sank. 16 engine room crew were killed. Later in the day, UB 124 was herself sunk by the destroyers "protecting" Justicia. A Royal Navy inquiry was held into how Justicia, escorted by at least three destroyers, was torpedoed five times within 18 hours, each time in daylight. It concluded that the determination and bravery of the U-boat crews was "beyond belief." After the war, Holland America was compensated for Justicia's loss with 60,000 tons of steel.
The Justicia was the largest merchant vessel sunk during World War I.
[North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor, vol.2, p.766] [Sea Breezes magazine, Dec.1951]