• Belfast Between The Wars

NEW WHITE STAR LINER: THE LAURENTIC LAUNCHED AT BELFAST, UNSURPASSED COMFORTS

Northern Whig, Friday 17 June 1927


Gliding silently and swiftly down the greased slipway, the new White Star liner Laurentic was launched from the Belfast yard of Messrs. Harland & Wolff, Ltd., yesterday morning.


A large number of visitors saw the huge hull take the water during a heavy downpour of rain. The launch took place without any fuss. There was an air of hushed interest over the sightseers as the towering mass of riveted steel plates dipped gracefully into the water. The launch successfully completed, cheers were raised by the crowd of workmen who had gathered at the end of the slipway.


The launching looked so exceedingly simple in execution that it tended to obscure the fact that the highest engineering skill was required to carry out the operation so successfully. No sooner had the Laurentic tasted sea water than she was taken into custody by four tugs and towed to the 150-ton harbour crane.


There was no breaking of a bottle of champagne on the side of the ship at the moment of moving. In fact, the Laurentic started to stir before some of the onlookers had realised it.


The honour of pulling the lever which released the ship from the slips fell to Mr. J. Gillespie, foreman shipwright.


THE TONNAGE AND SPEED


The Laurentic has a gross tonnage of 18,700, and a sea speed of 16 ½ knots, and with the Albertic, already in commission, the White Star Line will possess the two largest cabin steamers on the St. Lawrence route to Canada. The new boat will have accommodation for 1,600 passengers – cabin, tourist third cabin, and third class.


It is anticipated that she will be in commission next November, and in 1928 she will be associated with the Albertic, Calgaric, Doric, Regina, and Megantie in maintaining the Company’s weekly sailings from the Mersey to Canada. Before entering the Canadian service the Laurentic will engage in winter cruises.


It is claimed that the comforts provided for passengers on the Laurentic will be unsurpassed by any steamer of its class afloat. From the Louis Seize dining saloon, which will seat 310 passengers, the cabin passengers may pass to the lounge – a reproduction of Italian renaissance work – or to the Empire drawing-room, or to the oak-panelled smoking-room, designed on Jacobean lines. There is also a parquet floor for dancing in the lounge, and a card room.


The cabin staterooms have been designed on spacious and well-appointed lines, while amidship there will be suites, including bedroom, sitting room, and private bathroom.


DEMOCRATIC TRAVEL


Bearing in mind the growing popularity of democratic travel, which has brought Transatlantic crossing within the means of many who have hitherto been unable to entertain it as a possible holiday, the builders of the Laurentic have provided excellent accommodation for the increasing volume of tourist third-class passengers. The greatest care will be taken to provide suitable amenities for travellers in this class, and the advanced requirements of the ordinary third-class passenger will receive equal attention. In additional to the well-furnished and airy staterooms for four and six persons, there will be a number of two-berth rooms, fitted with hot and cold water, available for married couples and friends desirous of being berthed together. The numerous public rooms will include three dining-rooms, ladies’ room, lounge, general room, two smoking-rooms, and a children’s room. There will also be a barber’s saloon. Extensive promenade decks will be a feature of each class, and there are also a gymnasium and a children’s playground.


HANDLING OF CARGO


The Laurentic will be fitted with the latest appliances for the swift and efficient handling of cargo, and will have an unusually large capacity for refrigerated cargo of all kinds at varying temperatures. In addition to the wireless installation, the Laurentic will be fitted with a wireless direction finder, which is of great assistance to the navigation of the ship during foggy weather; a submarine signalling apparatus; a non-magnetic semaphore installation with a Morse lamp on top, and the latest Gyro compass.


The new ship should prove a useful factor in the increasing trade between this country and Canada, as well as a valuable addition to the White Star Line fleet.

Among those who witnesses the launching were: - Viscountess Pirrie and her sister, Miss Carlisle, Mr. W. J. Willet-Bruce (supt. engineer), and Mr. D. Galloway (resident supervisor of construction), representing the White Star Line, and directors and officials of Messrs. Harland & Wolff, Ltd.


This is the second Laurentic built by Messrs. Harland & Wolff. The first, of 14,400 tons, was sunk by a German submarine off the Donegal coast during the war, while carrying some millions in bullion to America. The salvage operations, successfully carried out by divers, made a thrilling story.


To find out more about shipbuilding in Belfast, click here.


Browse the Harland & Wolff Collection on National Museums NI's website.


Browse the Paul Louden-Brown White Star Line Collection on National Museums NI's website.