The SS Teutonic is a White Star Line steamship that commenced her maiden voyage on 7th August, 1889. She was launched by the White Star Line to compete for the competitive Blue Riband accolade, which was an award for the fastest Altantic crossing.
Construction began on SS Teutonic in 1887 at Harland and Wolff’s Belfast shipyard, as well as her sister ship, SS Majestic. When launched on 19th January 1889, she was the first White Star Line ship to not feature square rigged sails.
Before she embarked on her maiden voyage, she took part in the Spithead Naval Review on 1st August in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Inspired by the vessel, Emperor Wilhelm II, the Queen’s grandson, returned to his native Germany to build similar ships.
SS Teutonic was built under the British Auxiliary Cruiser Agreement, which means she was the country’s first armed merchant cruiser, offering 4.7″ guns. However, following military reviews, her ammunition was removed prior to her maiden voyage.
The White Star Line’s dream of receiving the Blue Riband accolade once again was answered in 1891 when the Majestic won the honour, only for it to be given to SS Teutonic just one year later when she averaged the crossing speed of 20.25 knots. However, City of Paris stole the title away from the White Star Line in 1893, and the company never regained the title again.
The First Modern Liners
Both SS Teutonic and SS Majestic were internationally respected for their design, as they were the first modern liners because of their modifications to their passenger accommodation. While all of the White Star Line vessels only carried two class types, cabin and steerage, the Teutonic and Majestic offered three, which consisted of first, second and third class. The class types became a staple design in the company’s future liners.
Her Route and the Wars
SS Teutonic continued with her original Atlantic route from Liverpool to New York for 18 years, and averaged 11 to 14 sailings each season. However, she suffered her first collision in 1898, when she collided into the United States Lines’ Berlin in the New York Harbour; however, both ships did not suffer significant damage.
After serving as a troopship in the Boer War in 1900, she returned to the White Star Line, but was replaced by the more modern RMS Olympic, and was consequently transferred to the sister company Dominion Line for Canadian Service.
However, by 1913, she was no longer classed as a modern liner, with wealthy passengers choosing to step aboard more luxurious ships. As a result, she was refitted to accommodate only second and third class passengers.
The First World War resulted in her returning to military service, as she became a merchant cruiser once again in 1914. By 1916, she was refitted with 6″ guns and served as a convoy escort ships, and later as a troop transport ship.
However, after many years of service on the seas, she was retired and scrapped at Emden.