RMS Victorian

RMS Victorian was an ocean liner of the Allan Line, built for service between Britain and North America. The liner was launched in 1904 and was the first large civilian ship propelled by steam turbines. Victorian was in service for almost a quarter of a century, and was broken up in 1929.

Cassier's magazine (1904) (14768635052).jpg
RMS Victorian
  • RMS Victorian
  • Marloch
Owner: Allan Line
Port of registry: United Kingdom
Route: LiverpoolMontreal
Builder: Workman, Clark and Company, Belfast
Launched: 25 August 1904[1]
Out of service: 1929
Fate: scrapped 1929
General characteristics
Type: ocean liner
Tonnage: 10,629 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 520 ft (160 m) oa
Beam: 60 ft (18 m)
Depth: 38 ft (12 m)
Propulsion: steam turbine
Capacity: 1690 passengers
Notes: sister ship: RMS Virginian


Canadian Pacific Steamship Company bought the Beaver Line in 1903 and entered the transatlantic trade. To compete, the Allan Line ordered two large new liners in October 1903. They were originally intended to be conventional twin-screw ships powered by reciprocating steam engines.

The specification was changed to three-shafted vessels propelled by steam turbines in light of the great success of King Edward, a turbine-powered excursion vessel in service on the Firth of Clyde since 1901. Allan Line ordered engines similar to that of King Edward and from the same builder, the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company. Victorian became the first three-shaft ship and the first turbine liner in Atlantic service, and with sister ship RMS Virginian became the first large turbine-powered commercial vessels of any kind, at a time when others doubted the wisdom of using the new technology in large ships.[2][3]


The engines in Victorian were a scaled-up version of King Edward's. Coal-fired Scotch marine boilers supplied steam at 180 psi (12.66 bar) to Parsons turbines. The smoke was exhausted through a large single stack. The high-pressure steam from the boilers was fed to a turbine directly driving the centre shaft; from the centre turbine steam was reused at a lower pressure in flanking turbines, each directly turning a wing shaft. Each shaft had a single screw.[2]

The ship was 520 feet (160 m) long, 60 feet (18 m) in beam and 38 feet (12 m) in depth, and measured 10,629 GRT.[4] There were orlop decks fore and aft of the machinery spaces, and three full decks within the hull fitted to carry 240 second-class passengers on the main and upper deck and up to 940 in third class. Atop the hull, a forecastle was followed by forward holds, a long superstructure with passenger accommodations and public spaces for 470 first-class passengers on bridge and promenade decks, an after hold, and a poop deck. A combination cargo and passenger liner, Victorian could carry 8,000 tons of cargo and had refrigerated space for fruit and dairy products of Canada carried on the eastbound voyages.[2]


The liner was designed for a service speed of 17 knots (31 km/h) and achieved 19.5 knots (36 km/h) on sea trials, with the turbines developing some 12,000 shaft horsepower and turning the directly coupled screws at 260 rpm. In 1905 the ship set an eastbound record of 5 days and 5 hours from Rimouski in Quebec to Moville in Ireland, which stood for some time.[2]


The ship as Marloch

Victorian's maiden voyage was in 1905, from Liverpool to St. John, New Brunswick. The ship was an immediate success, and after some adjustments to the machinery, settled into transatlantic service to Canada until August 1914.

Following the outbreak of World War I the Admiralty requisitioned the ship on 17 August for conversion into an armed merchant cruiser and fitted eight 4.7-in (120 mm) guns which later were replaced by six 6-in (152 mm) guns.[5] Victorian was commissioned into the Royal Navy and served with the 9th and 10th Cruiser Squadrons. Soon assigned to escort duty, the vessel also transported troops and cargo.[2] In 1914, Victorian patrolled the Atlantic,[6] and in September that year, in conjunction with the French cruiser Cassard carried out a sweep along the coast of Morocco in and carried out several bombardments to help suppress a rebellion.[7]

After Canadian Pacific took over Allan Line and the war ended, Victorian resumed civilian service in 1920. At the end of the following year the direct-drive turbines were replaced by geared turbines and oil fuel supplanted coal. The vessel became a single-class liner and was renamed Marloch. In the mid-1920s the liner was in reserve (although often used) until sold for breaking in 1929.[8]



  1. ^ "Ship Descriptions – V". The Ship List. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Baker 1965, p. 114. harvnb error: no target: CITEREFBaker1965 (help)
  3. ^ Maber 1980, p. 34.
  4. ^ Baker 1965, p. 126 harvnb error: no target: CITEREFBaker1965 (help)
  5. ^ Dittmar & Colledge 1972, p. 121.
  6. ^ Corbett 1920, p. 264.
  7. ^ Corbett 1920, pp. 265–266.
  8. ^ Baker 1965, p. 116. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBaker1965 (help)