Ship History


RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE                                                                                                                                                                                                                     RMS CARMANIA 1905

The RMS Carmania was one of a unique pair of ships that were used to test and compare the standard quadruple expansion propulsion system (fitted on the RMS Caronia) with the new steam turbine system invented by Sir Charles Parsons (fitted on the RMS Carmania). The result of the testing in these two ships later led to the steam turbine being chosen as the propulsion system for Cunard Line's mighty Lusitania and Mauretania in 1907. The Caronia and Carmania entered service in 1905 on Cunard Line's flagship Liverpool to New York transatlantic service and were affectionately known as "the Grand Dames of the Atlantic".

Design and Construction (1904-1905):

The Carmania was built by John Brown & Co. (Clydebank) Ltd, Clydebank, Glasgow, Scotland, UK as one of a trial pair of ships to test the new steam turbine propulsion system developed by Sir Charles Parsons. She was launched on the 21st February 1905.

Early Cunard Line era (1905 1914):

The Carmania and her sister, Caronia, entered service in 1905 on Cunard Line's flagship Liverpool to New York transatlantic service and were affectionately known as "the Grand Dames of the Atlantic". The Carmania sailed on her maiden voyage to New York on the 2nd December 1905. In October 1913 Carmania distinguished herself by being one of 9 ships that helped rescue a total of 521 passengers (out of 654) on board the burning Canadian Northern ship Volturno.

The First World War (1914 - 1916):

Sadly their career on the transatlantic service was interrupted in 1914 by the outbreak of the First World War. The Carmania was requisitioned by the British Government, along with her sister, for use as Armed Merchant Cruisers in August 1914. In that capacity the Carmania was involved in an epic battle with the Hamburg Sud liner Cap Trafalgar off Trinidad in September 1914. The Cap Trafalgar was disguised as the Carmania! The real Carmania won the battle and sank the Cap Trafalgar.
The Carmania managed to sink the German ship but suffered extensive damage with her bridge being blown away in the battle. However she managed to reach port for repairs. This confrontation proved the unsuitability of passenger liners for war service as Armed Merchant Cruisers.

Final Cunard Line era (1916 - 1931):

As a result the Carmania was returned to Cunard Line and underwent refurbishment before returning to passenger service on the Liverpool to New York route in November 1916. She was also converted to oil firing as part of the refit. In the final years with Cunard Line, Caronia served to begin with on the Liverpool to New York or Boston services. Soon the two sisters were switched to serve on the London to New York route. She remained on this service until 1923 apart from a few months sailing from Southampton in 1921-22.  In 1923 she was refitted, including a conversion to oil firing. Soon she returned to the Liverpool to New York or Quebec services. Then she was switched to the London to New York service. She and her sister soon became very popular on their new route - the Cabin Channel Service - from London, Le Havre and Plymouth to New York. Finally in the late 1920s they were further refitted to enable their use on winter cruises from New York to Havana and the Caribbean. They proved popular on this service. But by 1932 with increasing competition from newer ships they were withdrawn from service and sold for scrap.

The Final Years (1931 - 1932):

The Carmania sailed on her last voyage from London to New York in July 1931. After this she was laid up at Sheerness before being sold to Hughes Blocknow for scrapping at Blyth in 1932.


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