RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister
‘The best…marvellous…astounding achievement…superb…excellent…fascinating…boy, was it worth the wait! …An instant classic.’
‘The best…marvellous…astounding achievement…superb…excellent…fascinating…boy, was it worth the wait! …An instant classic.’
Chirnside, Mark. RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister. Tempus Publishing; November 26th 2004. 320 pages. Twenty-eight colour images.
Reprinted: November 2005.
Revised and expanded edition:
Chirnside, Mark. RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister. The History Press; September 1st 2015. 352 pages. Thirty-eight colour images.
PUBLISHER’S TEXT AND PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Launched as the pride of British shipbuilding and the largest vessel in the world, Olympic was more than 40 per cent larger than her nearest rivals: almost 900ft long and the first ship to exceed 40,000 tons. She was built for comfort rather than speed and equipped with an array of facilities, including Turkish and electric baths, a swimming pool, gymnasium, squash court, á la carte restaurant, large first-class staterooms and plush public rooms. Surviving from 1911 until 1935, she was a firm favourite with the travelling public – carrying hundreds of thousands of fare-paying passengers – and retained a style and opulence even into her twilight years. During the First World War, she carried more troops than any other comparable steamship and was the only passenger liner ever to sink an enemy submarine by ramming it.
Overshadowed frequently by her sister ships Titanic and Britannic, Olympic’s history deserves more attention than it has received. She was evolutionary in design rather than revolutionary, but marked an ambition for the White Star Line to dominate the North Atlantic express route. Rivals immediately began trying to match her in size and luxury. The optimism that led to her conception was rewarded, whereas her doomed sisters never fulfilled their creators’ dreams.
This revised and expanded edition of the critically acclaimed RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister uses new images and further original research to tell the story of this remarkable ship eighty years after her career ended.
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‘I must congratulate you on an excellent history of Olympic, the best I have seen yet. Well done!’ – John White, December 4th 2004. White Star Memories, Europe’s Leading Exhibition Specialists on RMS Titanic and the White Star Line
‘It was worth the wait.’ – Michael Standart, December 29th 2004.
‘The RMS Olympic went to the assistance of the Titanic, whose fate eclipsed its sister ship’s image. Chirnside argues that the former was the most innovative British-built ocean liner of its time, with a mostly successful run of transatlantic crossings and troop transport. In this first comprehensive history spanning 1908 to 1935, he corrects several misconceptions. Illustrations include the ship’s amenities, deck plans, colourful cruise ads and souvenir postcards. Appendices include what is believed to be its only profit and loss account, other statistics, and notes of a competing line’s “spy.”’ – ‘Book News’ annotation, 2004. Powell’s Books
‘A substantial new volume dealing with the life and times of Olympic…it is a mystery as to why Olympic has been previously neglected by maritime historians. How impressive it is that this omission has been so effectively redressed by Mark Chirnside…’ – Maritime Journal, Emsworth, Hantshire, January 2005.
‘Your Olympic book is a marvellous read-and-re-read!’ – Pete Hodges, January 11th 2005.
‘An astounding achievement and an incredible credit to the Olympic. A first class, grade “A” book, I am very pleased I bought it.’ – Daniel Klistorner, February 10th 2005.
‘I received my copy at last via Amazon, and so far have read up to the end of the chapter on Olympic’s war service. I must say, Mark really has done “Old Reliable” justice. The research and attention to detail which has gone into this work would drive mere mortals round the bend! …an excellent book, and about time that Olympic received the credit she deserves. After all, she was not only the first of her kind, but the only one of her class to succeed in the purpose for she was created. I did find it mildly amusing to see Titanic in one caption referred to as “Olympic’s sister.” Makes a change from the usual, doesn’t it, because for once Olympic is being recognised in her own right and not as the forgotten twin (more or less) of two of the most ill-fated vessels ever to put to sea.’ – Matthew Lips, February 28th 2005. Encyclopedia-Titanica
‘It’s great. Good information on a ship that has been overshadowed by her sisters…The colour illustration on the cover was very interesting, as were the illustrations throughout. It was a good read!’ – Anthony Nigrelli , Washington , April 4th 2005.
‘…so very good! Nice to read some detail on “Old Reliable” for a change, rather than her being a small footnote to the Titanic story.’ – Mike Bull, May 23rd 2005.
‘Thanks for the superb book. I really admire you for getting it all done and in such an excellent format. I know I shall enjoy reading about the Olympic very much…as you said she was the most successful of the three “Titans.”’ – John Hodges, July 6th 2005.
‘Book of the Month: Although a seemingly endless output of books have described Titanic’s brief career in minute detail, fewer have been devoted to her sister, Olympic. This fascinating book goes a long way to redressing the balance.
‘The author gives the reader the first detailed history of the White Star liner Olympic which, throughout her career and since, has been overshadowed by her two ill-fated sisters. This is a thoroughly researched book which includes many rarely seen photographs…
‘Although this book contains a lot of technical information, the author has presented both this and the story of the ship in a very readable style. Wherever possible, the author has included contemporary accounts of life onboard Olympic from the perspective of both passengers and crew members. This book comes highly recommended.’ – Ships Monthly, August 2005.
‘I own both the book about the Olympic and also The Olympic Class Ships. I think they were both excellent, and I hope you continue to write more in the future.’ – Mike J. Miller, September 20th 2005.
‘I just received your Olympic book and love it. Thanks! I’m really enjoying the book. Amazing…It was a fascinating read, and you explained the technical aspects of Olympic’s story that no other author has matched – Olympic was a splendid ship in her own right, and it has always seemed unfair that she loomed in the shadow of Titanic. Your book enabled Olympic to stand on her own, without just being “Titanic’s sister ship.”’ – Tarn Stephanos, October 27th 2005; November 12th 2005.
‘I would just like to say again how much I have enjoyed reading your books! I’ve have read both The ‘Olympic’ Class Ships and RMS Olympic numerous times – and find them just as fascinating as the first time I read them!’ – Evan Meyerriecks, December 27th 2005. Webmaster: Ship Magnificent – The RMS Olympic
‘Titanic’s elder sister, RMS Olympic, plays the Cinderella role in the history of the White Star Line, overshadowed as she is by Titanic. A book concentrating at length on Olympic is long overdue – but, boy, was it worth the wait!
‘Mark Chirnside writes with great authority, has a painstaking eye for detail and colour and draws on a vast array of sources to bring to life the ship’s romantic grandeur, state of the art technology and popularity with the sailing public.
‘He charts her long and fascinating career, vividly exploring her days as a millionaires’ playground, her stint as a troop ship, her ramming of a German U Boat and her accidental slicing-through of the Nantucket Lightship at the close of her commercial life.
‘The book is peppered with numerous crisp black and white photographs (many which I have never seen) and a series of colour plates. Mr Chirnside’s highly readable style kept me absorbed and frequently transported me back to the heady days when ocean going liners so completely caught the public imagination.
‘Why this elegant Edwardian ship, almost identical to her ill-fated sisters Titanic & Britannic, was allowed to meet an ignominious end at the breaker’s yard in Jarrow in 1936 leaves me puzzled and saddened; her grandeur only now recalled in the pieces of her exquisite panelling gracing a north country hotel. A sad end to a wonderful Queen of the Ocean and a tale brilliantly told by Mark Chirnside in a book I cannot praise too highly.
‘If you’re interested in the White Star Line’s “Olympic” class ships, dispel any hesitation from your minds. This is a book to read, re-read and always treasure. First class!’ – Richard Lee-Van den Daele. January 15th 2006. Amazon UK
‘The publisher is to be congratulated for taking an interest in merchant ships—a subject usually regarded by mainstream publishers with an expression of blank indifference, although a commercial nose will scent a great enthusiasm for liners and these two books cater for that market.
Author’s Note: This originally appeared as a joint book review with Clive Harvey’s excellent RMS Empress of Britain: Britain’s Finest Liner.
‘Personally, I find it difficult to get excited about large and opulent passenger ships, if only because I should have found the paying cargo even more troublesome than the open-stowed general cargoes which dominated the first years of my career at sea.
‘Nevertheless, these two books provide us with a valuable insight into the operation; construction and day-to-day running of passenger ships when they provided the only means of global travel.
‘Mark Chirnside’s detailed history of the Olympic is an impressive record of Titanic’s elder sister, which had, for the first two years of her life, the same Master as Titanic herself. Captain Smith seems to have been something of a liability for, while he claimed large liners had become unsinkable and he had never had anything to do with a wreck, he had put several White Star liners aground and managed to do sundry damage to Olympic, which culminated in a notorious collision with the cruiser HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight.
‘Nor was that the end of the chequered aspect of the Olympic’s career, but I would not like to spoil the story, for there is plenty of interest here. Suffice it to say that far from being unsinkable, one gets the distinct impression that there is a point that ships reach a dinosaurian maximum beyond which mere mortals have trouble controlling them.
‘Mr. Chirnside has gone to considerable trouble to chronicle every discoverable detail about a ship he clearly admires and the details of her construction are closely followed, which struck this reviewer as apt when one considered the loss of such skills.
‘Unfortunately, the reader becomes overwhelmed under a torrent of detail, often in short staccato paragraphs, from which a slower pace would have rescued us, which rather obscures clarity.
‘The book is generally well illustrated, with a magnificent colour section. There are a few typos (bride for bridge, for example) and I found the explanation of the collision with the Hawke difficult to follow, despite a working knowledge of the incident. This was not helped by the confusion inherent in the pre-1938 helm orders. Much could have been made clearer with a diagram…Nevertheless, Mr. Chirnside has gone to great pains to provide us with an undeniably fascinating factual record, not least in his elucidation of the economics of managing such great ships.
‘…splendidly produced to a high quality by Tempus, though a little editorial rigour would have enhanced…’ – Richard Woodman. Maritime Policy & Management 2006; Volume 33 Number 1: pages 88-89.
‘I was completely impressed! You opened my eyes to so much about the ship that I was unaware of! Thank you so much for producing such a great work!…Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to read your next book!…You are truly talented.’ – Jason Hutchens, March 16th 2006.
‘I must say it’s a fantastic book and extremely well-written…I look forward to reading more of your books.’ – Simon Rooney, March 21st 2006.
‘I think that both books are wonderful!…The RMS Olympic book I am most impressed with. Never have I come across a book solely on the Olympic before, and that contains so *much* information, as well as an emphasis on what was an impressive liner…
‘My personal favourite of the two books. Because, I believe Olympic is the forgotten Titan, greatly overshadowed by misfortunes encountered to Titanic and Britannic. This fact seems to be “forgotten” by many Titanic authors. Here, Mark has turned this statement around, approaching the story from all angles. A *extraordinary* story from start to finish. Outlining the success of an impressive ship. Lots of supporting images are provided…In my biased opinion, RMS Olympic was the ship that set a trend for the later Cunard’s Aquitania and Queen Mary.’ – Mitchell Fletcher, Nottinghamshire, April 2nd and April 3rd 2006.
‘I enjoyed reading your book on the Olympic. It’s a marvellous piece of research. How I wished that you had written this book ten years ago – my late father would have so much enjoyed it…There were so many references to my grandfather, relating to things that neither I, nor my father I suspect, ever knew…
‘Once again, thanks for writing such a meticulously researched book.’ – Nick Thearle, April 5th 2006. Grandson of Chief Engineer John Thearle.
‘Mark Chirnside’s “RMS Olympic” is one of the finest maritime studies ever performed on the Titanic’s sister. The book looks at the entirety of the liner’s career, from beginning to end. The author’s research is incomparable, and it is obvious that he dug into numerous first-hand accounts and original sources to find answers to questions and controversies over her life, design and career.
‘The details and alterations made to the ship throughout her service are all wonderfully highlighted, and the narrative if fresh and enjoyable. There are a number of wonderful illustrations, though this book is more of a “reader” than a “picture book”.
‘All in all, this volume is an instant classic, and belongs on the shelf of anyone with an interest in the Olympic or her sisters.’ – J. Kent Layton. February 21st 2007. Amazon.com
‘Mark Chirnside’s book…tells in considerable detail the story of the lead ship which gave its name to a new class of liner, a ship that had a very successful career, yet a ship that history has, to a large extent, forgotten, because her sister, Titanic, stole the limelight in dramatic circumstances in 1912…
‘One of the gems of information provided by the author is the amazing scenario where Bruce Ismay of White Star could write to his bitter rival Lord Inverclyde of Cunard, requesting that Cunard provide to Harland & Wolff full size working drawings of the Utley’s vertical sliding windows used on Mauretania, which he wanted to use on Olympic’s B-deck. On the face of it the two companies were rivals for the North Atlantic passenger traffic, yet behind the façade there must have been an excellent business relationship between Ismay and Lord Inverclyde that led to co-operation on matters of mutual interest.
‘The book contains a wealth of information on the creation of Olympic, from the laying of her keel to the maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, the impact of Titanic’s loss, her wonderful as a troopship in World War I, and continued popularity in the years that followed. Lots of wonderful trivia breathe life into the story of this ship, such as the price of cabins then and in modern values, the provision of 400 plants for the first class public areas or the achievement in transferring 4,000 tons of coal from barges to the ship in 15 hours, a world record at the time…
‘The only downside with this book is the absence of a detailed index, although in fairness with this much information the index would become a book in its own right!
‘This is a great read, packed with information, anecdotes, photographs, entertainment; it offers value for money…Once you see the author’s name on the cover you know it’s worth buying.’ – Ed Coghlan. White Star Journal 2007; Volume 15 Number 1: pages 12-14.
‘This book is probably the definitive volume about Titanic’s almost forgotten older sister.
‘It fills in a lot of gaps in the knowledge of the Olympic and sets right some myths about her (for instance that she struck the Nantucket lightship at full speed.) There is a lot of detail in this book, and sometimes it gets a little difficult to stay focused reading it, but it is absolutely worth the money.’ – Stanwyck. October 29th 2008. Amazon.com
‘This book is absolutely fantastic. A full and concise biography of one of history’s forgotten technological marvels. M. Chirnside’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the RMS Olympic ensures that you are in for a good read. He charts every detail of the Olympic’s life, from her conception and maiden voyage and the impact of the Titanic disaster to her wonderful war career and eventual withdrawal from service. The book contains many rare photographs and some astounding facts that will be of considerable interest to the ocean liner enthusiast. It is unfortunate that today, Olympic is largely forgotten, foreshadowed by other liners and sadly no longer with us. However through his accuracy and professionalism, the author helps to revive the story of the liner and this golden age in transatlantic travel. This work is by far the best that I have read in a long time and it is quite a prized possession. It was a pleasure to read and well worth the price. It belongs in any maritime enthusiasts collection.’ – T. Oldham. May 20th 2009. Amazon.co.uk
‘Excellent book, read it twice and will most likely read it again. Olympic’s wonderful career laid out in a detailed chronological order. Excellent research and well written.’ – J. Gogas. September 22nd 2009. Amazon.com
‘This is a first class write about one of the world’s most successful liners. Until this book was released, little had been written about Titanic’s sister ship. She had a magnificent career spanning several decades and the author has captured her history in wonderful detail. The ship, later known by many as `The Old reliable’ is revealed in this book through comprehensive, diligent and unbiased research.
‘It is not often a book about a ship can capture in text the thoughts felt amongst both her crew and passengers; that those that worked and walked her splendid decks did so with absolute confidence and pride.
‘We see RMS Olympic for what she was: a well built ship, one that proved over and over again that she could take all that nature could throw at her and still arrive at port safely.
‘The book features stunning black and white photography; with detailed descriptions of her career across the Atlantic and includes details of her distinguished war record. ‘It is written with clear and concise authority by one of the world’s foremost experts on the “Olympic” class ships.
‘People talk about Titanic ! But before Titanic, there was Olympic. Captain Hayes captained the ship between 1915 and 1921 and said: “The finest ship in my estimation that has ever been built or ever will be.”
Read this book and you’ll understand why Capt. Hayes said what he said.’ – Steve Hall, 25 August 2012. Amazon.co.uk
‘Mark Chirnside is turning out some great books concerning the great liners of the past – and they’re very welcome additions to anyone that is interested in them. A great reference material book – if you’re remotely interested in this class of ocean liner – this is a “must have” book.’ – Ray Lepien, 28 May 2013. Amazon.co.uk
‘Just received my copy. So far, I am very impressed with the photographs in this updated edition. I don’t think people are fully aware that the photographs are nearly all new images. It was one of the main reasons why I obtained a copy of the updated version. Also, from what I can gather, the bulk of these pictures have never been online. Many of them show the ship from very interesting & unusual view points. New photos of the Olympic are always a great substitute for new Titanic photographs!’ – Miles Lehmann, 12 October 2015. Amazon.co.uk
‘Another well done book by researcher Mark Chirnside. Mark continues to uncover new information on the career of this amazing liner. The book is full of info you won’t get anywhere else. Highly recommended.’ – Brent Holt, 17 April 2016. Amazon.co.uk
‘I’ve just finished reading the second edition of Mark Chirnside’s RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister (The History Press, 2015). This book includes a huge “quantity” of information about Olympic, and is a book to which the word “quality” certainly applies. Congratulations, Mark, on a superb record of “Old Reliable”! A must-have title for any Titanic library.’ – Graeme Jupp, 5 April 2016.
‘Unlike its more famous sisters, Titanic and Britannic, the RMS Olympic had a long and successful career. Adored by many travelers, the Olympic would remain in service for twenty-four years, surviving service in World War I, and becoming the model of consistent performance and durability. This was so true, that the vessel became known as “Old Reliable.” It is likely that if Titanic had not sunk, that Olympic would have been the most famous of the class of White Star Line vessels which bore its name. Sadly, this was not the case, as the tragedies of its sisters overshadowed the success story that was the RMS Olympic.
‘Mark Chirnside’s latest volume does much to bring the complete story of Olympic to light. The first edition of this book, published in 2004, was a high quality work on its own merit. However, the second edition, published in 2015, goes even further, fleshing out many details and facts relating to the ship’s career. Indeed, the latest version of the book contains so much new information and has been expanded to the extent that it is almost a new book entirely. Those who have read Mark Chirnside’s other works on the Olympic Class ships, the Majestic and Aquitania, will not be surprised to hear that this current volume is just as good. The author is able to take an extensive number of facts, figures and details, and condense these down into an engrossing narrative of Olympic’s life and service record, without things getting dry or tedious. In fact, despite the book’s pages being so densely packed with information, it is a surprisingly quick and easy read.
‘The format of the book is a thick paperback, with a wonderful colorized image of the Olympic on the cover. I was initially concerned when I realized the book would be released as a softcover, since it was to be a thick book, and I thought the cover might not prove to be durable enough upon repeated use. Fortunately, the publisher utilized thicker, gloss-coated stock for the cover, making it more durable than the paper used on many similarly-sized softcover volumes. It also looks nicer in presentation. There are many high-quality black and white images throughout the book, including many that were previously unpublished, or have been rarely seen.
‘The book contains a nicely-sized color section containing contemporary renderings of the vessel, images of surviving portions of the ship’s paneling and interiors, as well as ephemera. If there is any criticism to be made of the photographic content or images, it is that a few are reproduced somewhat small. One specific example are the deck plans of the ship from The Shipbuilder in 1911. It would have been nice to see these reproduced in a larger scale or fold-out format, since details are hard to make out at the scale in which they are reproduced. However, this is a minor detraction, when there are so many detailed and high resolution images throughout the book.
‘The chapters of the book are arranged chronologically. Chirnside goes to lengths to present the context of events in the world at different stages of the Olympic’s life, from conception of its design, to its scrapping. This is helpful in sections such as those addressing the reason for the design of the ship, by putting it in the context of being White Star’s response to Cunard’s dominance and crack liners Lusitania and Mauretania. Also, his presentation of facts make it easier to understand why the Olympic was scrapped when it was, rather than being kept in service.
‘A series of appendices follow the main chapters, and dive into more in-depth subjects such as passenger statistics, economics and a chronology of wartime voyages. These will be of great interest to true enthusiasts and researchers, although more casual readers may not be quite as interested in this section. Sources are footnoted and documented throughout the book.
‘Chirnside adds some new information to this edition of the book, including the full telling of the strike by firemen and mutiny of deckhands of Olympic over safety concerns, following Titanic’s loss. He also adds additional details of the Olympic’s ramming and sinking of U-103 in May 1918, and more information of the later, failed, torpedoing of Olympic by another U-boat. Chirnside details the incident, which occurred on September 3, 1918, and presents evidence supporting that the attacker was U-53. Scarily enough, nobody aboard Olympic knew that they had been attacked, and the damage to the hull was not discovered until the ship’s hull was examined after the war. If the torpedo had detonated, it is possible that all three Olympic class ships would have met untimely ends. While the torpedo strike has been mentioned in other works, Chirnside makes a valuable contribution to the collective research about the incident by fleshing out where and when it occurred, and the most likely aggressor.
‘Liner aficionados and those with only a casual interest in maritime history will both enjoy the latest edition of RMS Olympic, Titanic’s Sister, equally. It is highly recommended, and no reader should be without a copy on their shelf’. – Tad Fitch. Titanic Commutator 2017; Volume 41 Number 216: Page 180.
‘While many would think the career / life of Ships like the RMS Olympic from the “Golden Age of Ocean Liners” would be dull and only interesting to a select few, Mark Chirnside’s research and subsequent book reveals a wide and amazing history of the RMS Olympic from her connection to the RMS Titanic to her history as a ocean liner and troop ship. Filled with dozens of personal accounts and varied stories, this book is worth getting.’ Amazon Customer, 26 August 2017.
‘This is a much needed biography of the RMS Olympic, the lesser known of the three sister Olympic Class ships. From the circumstances of her inception to the trip to the breaker’s yard – her breakup was a crime as it would have been a museum ship even more important and spectacular than Queen Mary – this book covers every minute detail of both the ship and the key characters in its history.
Author Mr Mark Chirnside certainly is an authority on such ships and has a very inviting prose. The whole book can be read quite easily and relaxingly over 2-3 days. A must have book for any amateur or professional naval historian.
The only minute detail that I could not fight in the book was the changing of the ships colour scheme, with the relocation of the ships golden stripe a little lower. Not anything important, just an observation. The quality of the photographs and their quantity and diversity is excellent and I have seen photos for the first time, despite a long standing interest in classic liners.’ Argyris Periferakis, 19 May 2018. Amazon.co.uk
‘Such a wonderful book!! Great for the collection. Very exciting, with very rare photos of Olympic as well. A true gem of a book!’ Michael R. Rosario, 22 October 2018. Amazon.com
‘I’ve read many books on Titanic in particular, as I was introduced to “A Night to Remember” at my local library when I was very young, many years before James Cameron’s movie, and I’ve had an interest in ocean liners, not only Titanic, ever since. I never knew much about Olympic because, although she had a long, productive life, Titanic and Britannic received all the notoriety. I found this book to be extremely interesting, and it made me see Olympic through new eyes. Some casual readers may find this book a bit detailed, as it contains a lot of statistics and information like speeds on individual voyages, passenger counts, and details of her many refits; however the author’s depth of research is impressive. I was pleased to see so many photos and drawings that I had never seen before, and especially the color plates at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.’ Elizabeth A. Koch, 21 May 2020. Amazon.com
‘This was the most informative book on a career of a ship that you could ever read !! Illustrations were great…a must read for ship enthusiasts!!!!’ Donnie, 14 March 2021. Amazon.com
Mark comments on the book’s history:
The first words of the book were written three years before its eventual publication in 2004; and fourteen years before the second edition in 2015. The original manuscript was largely finished by 2003 and delivered to the publisher in January 2004; it was published earlier than expected, in November 2014. As he wrote in the introduction to the second edition:
‘Although many of the events in this book took place more than one hundred years ago, Olympic’s history is still evolving. Researchers continue to unearth new information or documentation that improves our understanding, changes perspectives or adds to our knowledge of the ship and her life. The continuing analysis only improves our comprehension.
The original book’s goal was to draw attention to Olympic in her own right, rather than as the sister ship of one of the most famous ships in the world. To a large extent, it succeeded, and it won considerable praise. However, it was largely written fourteen years ago and appeared in print in 2004. Building on original research, it introduced a lot of new or previously little-known material, from small anecdotes to more substantial information: J. Bruce Ismay’s request to Cunard for working drawings of some Mauretania windows that would be suitable for Olympic, which sheds light on the degree of mutual cooperation that existed between the rival companies; Chief Engineer Bell’s report of the maiden voyage; detailed information about Cunard’s research into Olympic, based on designer assessments of her public rooms and interiors; an engineering viewpoint of her machinery and overall layout; and the notes Cunard’s naval architect, Leonard Peskett, made when he travelled onboard in August 1911, which provided an interesting insight to life at sea on Olympic during her first summer season. Anecdotes, extracts from diaries during peacetime, as well as previously unpublished accounts of life onboard during the war, all combined to shed new light on her career. Data of Olympic’s passenger carryings over the years, provided with generous assistance from other researchers, helped to illustrate the context in which she succeeded, and then the inevitable decline when new competitors and the Great Depression took their toll in the 1930s. Detailed accounts of the Hawke collision,the sinking of the U103, the Fort St George and Nantucket Lightship collisions all included new information or facts that were not widely known, even to the modern day exploration of the sunken lightship, for the first time in a single volume.
Now, the second edition is intended to add to our knowledge with the addition of other material and more rare illustrations. Much of it could only have been provided through the kind-hearted generosity of other researchers. In particular, the chapter covering the Hawke collision has been expanded, with additional testimony about the accident and information about the appeals that followed; rare photographs have been added covering the mutiny in 1912, and an interesting account of being at sea aboard Olympic just after the Titanic disaster; further information about the attempts to attack and sink the ship during her war service; new details about her post-war refit and service in the 1920s; the voyage of Ivan Poderjay in 1933, a man suspected of murdering his wife and disposing of her body through a porthole; more information about the events that led to the Cunard White Star merger and the cancellation of her cruise programme and schedule for 1935-36, which led to the ship’s retirement. New appendices include an explanation that there was an error in the maiden voyage crossing time reported in 1911, which led to the ship’s speed being understated; an analysis of the contribution first, second and third class made to revenues and profits; the recovery of her popularity after the Titanic disaster; a detailed chronology of the ship’s war service; a more detailed breakdown of passenger carryings over her career; new data comparing Olympic and her post-war running mates; a comparison tracking the fall from profit to loss in the early 1930s; and a detailed list of the ship’s commanders over her career. Altogether, the original book has been expanded from 320 pages with a 16 page colour section to 352 pages with a 16 page colour section, or a total increase from 336 to 368 pages.
When an article or book is published, its contents represent an understanding of those historical events at that particular moment in time. Historical discoveries are ongoing. Since the original book’s completion, I have had the pleasure of working with other researchers, and relatives of passengers or crew who shared generously information and photographs. This new edition of RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister takes advantage of the progress from the intervening decade and hopes to convey an even more accurate and complete picture of Olympic’s life and times, eighty years after she was withdrawn from service.’