Article: MV Britannic 1929 A short history (Russell Wild)

The name Britannic has been used not only on one ship, but on 2 others in the history of the White Star Line. These other two ships were fortunate to share a somewhat longer and more successful life than the Britannic we study here which, in actual fact, is Britannic II.

MV Britannic was the last White Star vessel to bear the name Britannic - a name which had always been favoured by the company for its successful history and its patriotic ring. Built in 1929, she was the end of an era for White Star. By that time their finances were drying up and their dominance on the Atlantic was coming to a quiet end, requiring a much smaller and economical vessel. Nevertheless, MV Britannic was, in White Star tradition, something of a revolution when she was launched. She was among the first Motor Vessels (MV) at that time, using four-stroke single acting engines as opposed to the more common turbine engines.

MV Britannic set off on her maiden voyage on 28th June 1930, on a slightly unusual voyage of Liverpool to New York via Glasgow and Belfast. Inevitably White Star was absorbed into Cunard, and the ship's maiden voyage for that company was London to New York via Southampton. During 1935 this route was altered slightly with the ship calling at Le Havre, France.

MV Britannic's career was more or less routine, with no major mishaps. However, in 1939 she was requisitioned by the British Government to serve in the World War - a war which would also require the vast capacities of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In total she carried 180,000 troops and steamed some 376,000 miles.

Finally in May of 1948 she returned to normal passenger service, steaming the Liverpool to New York route. One mishap occurred in June 1950 when the ageing steamer collided with another ship, Pioneer Land, in the Ambrose channel. Luckily the damage was superficial and she was able to continue her journey.

During the later years of her career MV Britannic was employed as a part time cruise ship, an activity that was becoming increasingly popular. However, her career finally ended on the 4th December 1960 when she arrived in Liverpool. Having already been sold to a scrap yard, she set sail for Inverkeithing in 16th December for scrapping.

Click the thumbnails below to view pictures of the ship. The colour images are courtesy of Kevin Tam of Uncommon Journeys - a site dedicated to travelling in the Grand style.

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