Britannic—The Liner That Never Was

Britannic—The Liner That Never Was


The liner that never was, Britannic (1915), was launched on 26 February 1914.

The Liner That Never Was

The 48,158 GRT triple-screw vessel, rated at 22 knots, featured two masts and four funnels. She was 883 feet long and 94 feet at beam.

Britannic was White Star Line’s third and final Olympic-class ship, following Olympic and Titanic. Britannic was originally going to be named Gigantic, but in the wake of the Titanic disaster White Star decided to throttle down its hubris a bit. In any case, with World War I brewing and patriotic feelings running high, Britannic was deemed to be a much more appropriate moniker.

As it turned out, Britannic gave up her life for King and country. Before ever carrying a paying passenger, she was thrust into service in November 1915 as a hospital ship. On 21 November 1916, while stationed in the Mediterranean, HMHS Britannic struck a mine (or, less likely, was hit by a torpedo) and sank.

The silent newsreel footage above, which begins on a foggy day at the Harland &Wolff shipyard in Belfast, presents various views of the Britannic construction. Most impressive are the views of a funnel being readied for installation. It’s hard not to think of Titanic while viewing this rare film.

If World War I hadn’t intervened, Britannic might have become one of the greatest ocean liners ever, but she never got the chance.

The New York Sun-27 February 1914.

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