Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger Ship
Slip Number
Launch Date
August 6, 1929
June 21, 1930
Oceanic Steam Navigation Co.
26943 grt
BP Length
680 feet
82 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
17.5 knots
Direct Acting (D.A.) Diesel
Official No.

[Harland and Wolff Collection]

This Britannic, the third White Star ship by that name, was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, where she was launched in 1929, the largest motorship under the British flag, and the second largest such ship in the world, only exceeded by the Italian liner Augustus. Like her nearly-identical sister Georgic, Britannic was a motorship powered by diesel engines, not a steamer. These two would be the only White Star motorships. (Between 1915 and 1932 Harland & Wolff built a total of 111 motorships for Lord Kylsant's Royal Mail Group, which controlled both Harland & Wolff and White Star for a time.)
The Britannic was launched on 6th August 1929 and she left Belfast for three days of trials in the Firth of Clyde on 26th May 1930. Following the successful completion of these trials, the new ship returned to Belfast, and left again on 21st June for Liverpool.
She was probably the largest and finest cabin-class liner in the world when she first came out and introduced new standards of accommodation on the Liverpool to New York route. In 1934 the final crash came for the White Star Line, and the White Star liners which remained after the merger, including the Britannic, retained their White Star Line colours and flew the White Star houseflag above that of Cunard.
Following the merger, she was transferred to a London - New York service, and she became the largest liner ever to sail up the Thames. The Britannic left London for the first time on 19th April 1935 and remained on this route until the outbreak of war.
On 29th August 1939 the Britannic was requisitioned for service as a troopship. In the initial stages of the war she carried a complement of 3,000 men, but this had been increased to over 5,000 troops by the time the war ended. In September 1939 the BRITANNIC left the Clyde for Bombay, and returned to the UK with British personnel. She operated principally carrying troops across the Atlantic, but made occasional trooping voyages round Africa to Suez.
In 1943 she carried American troops to the Sicilian landings, but her principal contribution to the war effort was in transporting over 20,000 US troops across the Atlantic in the build-up to the Normandy Landings. By the end of hostilities, the Britannic had carried 180,000 service personnel and had steamed 367,000 miles on war service.
Following repatriation work, the Britannic was released in March 1947 and sent to Harland & Wolff at Liverpool who gave her a complete refit before she re-entered service on the Liverpool - New York service.
On 15th August 1960 the Cunard Line announced that it had decided to withdraw the Britannic at the end of the year. A statement said that the Company's decision had been accelerated by uncertainties resulting from the present unofficial crew strike which was involving the Company in serious losses. This was on top of the already very onerous settlement agreed with the unions which in itself meant the addition of about £750,000 to the Company's annual crew wages bill.
Breaking up operations commenced in early February 1961 when the interior fittings were stripped out; many of these were sold at auction.