The first Caronia was launched in Glasgow on 13 July 1904 at John Brown & Co. According to some sources, Caronia was the only Cunard liner named after an American—Caro Brown, granddaughter of the company’s New York agent. (Caronia (1949) was named after the first Caronia.) Other sources, however, claim that Caronia (1904) was named after the town of Caronia in northern Sicily.
The twin-funnel 19,524 GRT Caronia was 678 feet long and 72 feet at beam. She could carry up to 1,550 passengers
(300 First Class, 350 Second Class and 900 Third Class). Caronia’s steam quadruple-expansion engines drove a pair of propellers at a rated service speed of 18 knots.
Caronia left Liverpool on her maiden voyage for Cunard Line to New York on 25 February 1905. A 1906 cruise from New York to the Mediterranean was the first of many cruises Caronia would make during the coming years. (The name Caronia, incidentally, refers to a town on the Northern coast of Sicily.)
Caronia’s brush with history occurred on the evening of 14 April 1912, when her wireless operator send the first ice warning (“bergs, growlers and field ice”) to Titanic, the doomed White Star liner.
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