RMS Cedric was an ocean liner owned by the White Star Line. She was the second of a quartet of ships over 20,000 tons, dubbed the Big Four, and was the largest vessel in the world at the time of her entering service. Her career, peppered with collisions and minor incidents, took place mainly on the route from Liverpool to New York.

SS Cedric at Sea.jpg
RMS Cedric at sea in 1903[1]
United Kingdom
NameRMS Cedric
OperatorWhite Star Line
Port of registryLiverpool
RouteLiverpool to New York
BuilderHarland and Wolff, Belfast
Yard number337
Launched21 August 1902
Completed31 January 1903
Maiden voyage11 February 1903
Out of service1931
FateSold to Thos. W. Ward and scrapped at Inverkeithing in 1932
General characteristics
Class and typeBig-Four class
Tonnage21,035 GRT[2]
Length700 ft (213.4 m) o/a
Beam73 ft (22.3 m)
Depth44 ft (13.4 m)
Installed power14,000 ihp (10,000 kW)
Speed17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h)
Capacity1,223 passengers
Crew486 officers and crew
NotesShip colours: black hull with gold line, red boot-topping, upper works white, funnels: White Star Buff

Requisitioned as an auxiliary cruiser during World War I, Cedric carried out patrol missions until 1916. Her large size being a handicap in this function, she was then transformed into a troop transport and transported soldiers from Egypt and Palestine, then from the United States in the direction of the European fronts. She then resumed civilian service in 1919.

During the 1920s, Cedric faced competition from increasingly modern ships. After having been refitted several times to adapt to new clienteles, she was withdrawn from service in 1931 and scrapped the following year.


Construction and early careerEdit

The unfinished Cedric, few moments after her launch, 21 August 1902. Alongside her, is laid up the Britannic, which months later would be scrapped

At the end of the nineteenth century, the White Star Line decided to build large ships at moderate speed, in order to take advantage of the area of comfort and regularity while achieving fuel economy. The first unit of series known as the "Big Four" was put into service in 1901, RMS Celtic, while a second ship built on the same model was already under construction: the Cedric.[3] Built in the Harland & Wolff yards in Belfast under hull number 337,[4] she was launched in Belfast on 21 August 1902, in a private ceremony which included several guests, amongst others William Pirrie, the chairman of Harland and Wolff and Bruce Ismay, chairman of White Star Line.[5] A month later, a third unit put was under construction, the Baltic.[3]

Delivered on 31 January 1903, Cedric made her maiden voyage on 11 February between Liverpool and New York City; and she was then the largest liner ever built. She quickly became popular, and while the company insisted that his name be pronounced “seedric”, the public called her “sed-ric”.[4] Her entry into service allowed the company to establish a good service from Liverpool departures on Fridays, and to part ways with its thirty-year-old Britannic.[6] Throughout her period of service before World War I, Cedric was mainly used on the route from Liverpool to New York. From 1906, however, she occasionally made cruises between New York and the Mediterranean each winter and sometimes also between January and March.[4]

Promotional postcard for Cedric, circa 1902

Incidents punctuated the beginnings of the ship's career. On 15 March 1905, when a measles epidemic raged on board, the liner was caught in a storm that damaged the ship, took its bell and shook the furniture in the middle of the panicking passengers.[7] In 1910, the ship also suffered a fire at the quayside, but the damage was negligible.[8] In April 1912, on the other hand, Cedric was involved in the events following Titanic's disaster. The president of the White Star, Bruce Ismay, asked that the liner be detained in New York so that the surviving crewmembers of Titanic could return to the United Kingdom.[9]

World War IEdit

Painting of Cedric as a troopship, on the River Mersey during World War I, ca. 1918

At the start of the World War I, the Cedric was one of the ships which were quickly requisitioned and converted into auxiliary cruisers, along with Celtic, Teutonic and Oceanic. All were assigned to the Tenth Cruiser Squadron and tasked with patrolling between Shetland and Norway.[10] Within this set, Cedric was assigned from November 1914 to patrol A, alongside Teutonic.[4]

Nevertheless, Cedric's size made her a poor cruiser, and she was converted in 1916 into a troop transport, a function more suited to her size. She first transported troops from Egypt and Palestine, then from United States after their entry into the war. From 20 April 1917 to 18 March 1919, she served under the Liner Requisition Scheme and transported, in addition to troops, fuel oil for Royal Navy ships.[11]

On 1 July 1917, Cedric collided with and sank the French schooner Yvonne-Odette with the latter losing 24 of her crew. On 29 January 1918, Cedric collided with and sank the Canadian Pacific ship Montreal off Morecambe Bay. Montreal was taken in tow, but she sank the next day 14 mi (12 nmi; 23 km) from the Mersey Bar lightvessel.[12] On 24 July 1919, while the ship was docked in New York, a fire broke out in her No. 6 hold, prompting the intervention of city firefighters who found themselves trapped with crew members. Other teams of police and firefighters were needed to save the victims and bring the blaze under control, while the damage was estimated at $25,000.[13]

Post-war careerEdit

Cedric was returned to her owner in September 1919 and refitted by Harland & Wolff. She was refitted to accommodate 347 first-, 250 second- and 1000 third-class passengers.[4] In fact, immigration laws in the United States no longer allowed as many third-class passengers to be carried as they did at the turn of the century in a cost-effective manner. From 1919 to 1922, Cedric served from Southampton, pending the arrival of the new main ships of the fleet, Homeric and Majestic. She then resumed her service from Liverpool.[14]

On 30 September 1923, Cedric collided with Cunard Line's RMS Scythia in Queenstown harbour during dense fog. Neither vessel was seriously damaged, but Scythia needed to return to Liverpool to be repaired.[15] On 26 December 1924, she was again the victim of a fire affecting a large shipment of Peruvian cotton on board; the ship was not damaged, but the cargo was lost.[16] Finally, while she was in Boston harbor on 12 September 1926, she struck the river vessel Van, severely damaging it.[17]

She continued her regular service between Liverpool and New York during the 1920s. In 1928, with new ships entering service, her age began to show and her first class became a "cabin class".[4] Finally, the arrival in 1930 of MV Britannic and that of MV Georgic, scheduled for 1932, sealed her fate. Her last Liverpool–New York sailing commenced on 5 September 1931 and she was sold later the same year, for £22,150 to Thos. W. Ward and scrapped at Inverkeithing in 1932.[14]


In 1901, with a 21,035 gross tonnage, RMS Celtic was the first liner to surpass the size record set in 1860 by SS Great Eastern.[18] Despite having similar profile, Cedric boasted a slightly higher net tonnage, which translated into a few more cabins.[4] On the other hand, the dimensions of the two ships were similar, with 213.8 meters long by 22.9 meters wide and 13.4 meters draft.[19] The ship was fitted with two chamois-colored funnels with a black cuff, the hull being black enhanced by a white superstructure (colors displayed by all the company's ships). The funnels were surrounded by four masts which only served to support the lookout's nest (on the front mast) and the cables of the wireless telegraphy.[20]

Internally, Cedric was decorated and benefited from many luxury amenities of the time. The ship offered lounge, promenade deck, verandah café, reading and writing lounge decorated with large bay windows, smoking room decorated with stained glass windows and dining room topped with a glass roof. The ship also benefited from its own orchestra.[21] Finally, comfort was improved by the low extent of the roll. When commissioned, the ship could accommodate 365 first-class, 160 second-class and 2,352 third-class, for a total capacity of 2,577 passengers.[9] In 1919, its capacity was reduced and it could carry 347 first-class, 200 second-class and 1,000 third-class passengers. Finally, in 1928, she was again converted to carry 300 cabin class passengers, 385 tourist class, and 530 third-class.[4]

The ship was propelled by two propellers powered by quadruple expansion machines generating a power of 14,000 horsepowers. It sailed at an average speed of 16 knots, and could reach a maximum speed of 19 knots. At average speed, the engines consumed 260 tonnes of coal per day, which was significantly lower than most of her competitors.[22] Technically, Cedric stood out from her sister ships by being equipped with the new Welin-type davits (those which were subsequently fitted to many vessels such as those of the Olympic-class ocean liners), instead of the swiveling davits.[9]

Notable passengersEdit

The leader of the Baháʼí Faith, `Abdu'l-Bahá, travelled on board Cedric from Alexandria, Egypt, leaving on 25 March 1912, travelling via Naples, Italy on 28 March[23] and arriving in New York City on 11 April 1912.[24] On 5 December 1912 he travelled on the Celtic from New York to Liverpool.[25] Shoghi Effendi, as a youth 15 years old, accompanied ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from Egypt, disembarking in Italy.[23]

Titanic survivor Robert Williams Daniel, a banker who frequently travelled to England on business, returned to New York from Liverpool aboard the Cedric, arriving on 4 December 1912 to learn of the death that day of his friend and fellow Titanic survivor Archibald Gracie IV, whom he was to visit while in New York.[26]

Future garment industry trade union leader Sidney Hillman sailed to the United States (his name was spelled Sydney Hilman on the passenger manifest) as a steerage passenger on Cedric from Liverpool in August 1907.



  1. ^ "Photograph of Cedric, White Star Line". National Museums Liverpool. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Cedric (1115354)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b Roy Anderson 1964, p. 89
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Duncan Haws 1990, p. 57
  5. ^ "Launch of the Cedric". The Times. No. 36853. London. 22 August 1902. p. 5.
  6. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 44
  7. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 72
  8. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 119
  9. ^ a b c Richard de Kerbrech 2009, p. 107
  10. ^ Roy Anderson 1964, p. 124
  11. ^ Richard de Kerbrech 2009, p. 108
  12. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 182
  13. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 197
  14. ^ a b Richard de Kerbrech 2009, p. 109
  15. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 198
  16. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 211
  17. ^ John Eaton and Charles Haas 1989, p. 212
  18. ^ Richard de Kerbrech 2009, p. 94
  19. ^ Duncan Haws 1990, p. 55
  20. ^ Duncan Haws 1990, p. 56
  21. ^ The famous Big Four of the New York - Liverpool Service - White Star Line - 1909 Brochure, Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives
  22. ^ Richard de Kerbrech 2009, p. 96
  23. ^ a b Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, Mírzá; Mohi Sobhani (1997). Mahmúd's Diary. George Ronald.
  24. ^ Lacroix-Hopson, Eliane; `Abdu'l-Bahá (1987). 'Abdu'l-Bahá in New York- The City of the Covenant. NewVistaDesign. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013.
  25. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1979). God Passes By. US Baháʼí Publishing Trust.
  26. ^ "Came to See Col. Gracie". 7 December 2012.


  • Anderson, Roy Claude (1964). White Star. Prescot: T. Stephenson & Sons Ltd. OCLC 3134809.
  • de Kerbrech, Richard (2009). Ships of the White Star Line. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-3366-5.
  • Eaton, John; Haas, Charles (1989). Falling Star, Misadventures of White Star Line Ships. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-084-5.
  • Haws, Duncan (1990). White Star Line. Merchant Fleets. Vol. 17. Hereford: TCL Publications. ISBN 0-946378-16-9. OCLC 50214776.

External linksEdit