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SS Athenic
Athenic-100 bg
Postcard of SS Athenic
Career (UK; Norway)
Name: SS Athenic (1901–28)

White Star flaga White Star Line (1901–28)

Hvalfangerselskapet Pelagos A/S (1928–62)
Port of registry:

United Kingdom Liverpool (1901–28)

Norway Tønsberg (1928–62)
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
Yard number: 341
Launched: 17 August 1901
Commissioned: 14 February 1902
Renamed: SS Pelagos, 1928
Reclassified: Whaling factory ship, 1928
Captured: 15 January 1941 by the German auxiliary cruiser Pinguin
Fate: Scrapped Hamburg 1962
General characteristics
Class & type: Athenic-class ocean liner
Tonnage: 12,234 GRT
Length: 500 ft 3 in (152.48 m)
Beam: 63 ft 3 in (19.28 m)
Propulsion: 2 quadruple expansion steam engines driving 2 screws
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h)
Capacity: 688 passengers:
66–121 First class
81–117 Second class
450 Third class
Crew: 158 to 200

The SS Athenic was a British passenger liner built by Harland & Wolff shipyards for the White Star Line in 1901. In 1928, she came to a Norwegian company and was renamed the SS Pelagos. Torpedoed in 1944, she was refloated the following year and continued to serve until her demolition in 1962.


The 12,234-ton steamship Athenic was built on the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast and launched on 17 August 1901. Athenic was the first of three identical sister ships which were built for the profitable freight and passenger service from London to Wellington, New Zealand. The other two were the SS Corinthic (1902) and the SS Ionic (1903). They were the first orders of the White Star Line after its takeover by J. P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine Company (IMMC). On 13 February 1902, she sailed into London on her maiden voyage to Wellington via the Canary Islands, Cape Town and Hobart. She remained on the New Zealand route until the outbreak of World War II.

Athenic at Queens Wharf, Wellington

Athenic moored at Queens Wharf, Wellington (1913)

Like her sister ships, Athenic had two eight-cylinder quadruple expansion steam-powered engines by Harland & Wolff, working the ship's two propellers that delivered 604 nominal horsepower and giving a service speed of 14 knots (26 km/h). Her passenger capacity was 121 first class, 117 second class and 450 third class. She was equipped with electric lighting and cooling chambers for transport of frozen meat, specifically lamb.

When war was declared between England and Germany in August 1914, Athenic was in Wellington, New Zealand, and was requistioned as a troopship under the British Liner Requisition Scheme. On September 23, 1914 she was in Lyttleton (Christchurch) in the South Island of New Zealand, where as one of the transports carrying what was known collectively as the "Main Body", she took on board the following units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force: Headquarters, Mounted Rifles Brigade, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regt. (2 squadrons) and the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (less 1 Company). The Officer Commanding Troops was Colonel A.H. Russell. In total Athenic carried 54 officers, 1,259 men and 339 horses. She proceeded to Wellington and berthed there till 16 October 1914, when it was judged safe to depart. She sailed across the globe, sailing per convoy by way of Hobart, Albany, Colombo, Aden and finally arriving in Alexandria to disembark the soldiers on December 3, 1914. SS Athenic was designated at that time as being (His Majesty's New Zealand Transport) HMNZT 11. She was the largest troopship ever sent from New Zealand transporting New Zealand forces to the Middle East. Athenic acted several other times as a transport throughout WWI, with a new number for each voyage she undertook.

See alsoEdit


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