Oceanic Overhauling A Sailing Vessel - RMS Oceanic

More from John Stewart

White Star Line RMS Oceanic Painting


Launched on 14th January 1899, RMS Oceanic was, from the outset meant to attract the attention of the public. Named after the pioneering White Star Line ship of the 1860s, Oceanic was the first ship to supercede the length of Brunel’s Great Eastern.

The ship entered service in 1901 and after a successful maiden voyage was involved in a collision with the steamer Kincora with the loss of seven lives. In 1905 the ships crew would be the focus of building class tensions as the stokers mutinied to take control of the ship, bringing to the public’s attention the appalling working conditions under which they had to work.

In 1907 the ships home port was changed from Liverpool to Southampton with the inaugral service taking place in June of that year. With the coming of war the ship was converted into an armed merchant cruiser with two captains, Capt. W.F Slayter R.N and Capt. Smith, her original captain of the WSL. This proved to be a truly bad idea as on 8 September 1914 the ship grounded after a dispute over how close the ship should be taken to the island of Foula. Oceanic was classed as a total loss but removing such a large vessel proved impractical and due to the fact that she was not in the shipping lanes was left where she had grounded. The last remains were broken up in 1979.


In John Stewart’s marine painting, the ship is seen at speed overtaking a sailing ship somewhere in the Atlantic.   

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