Athenic was launched at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, in 1901, for the White
Star/Shaw, Savill and Albion joint service to New Zealand. She entered
that service with her 14 February 1902 maiden voyage from London to
Wellington. Like all of the ships on that service, she sailed to New
Zealand via Capetown and returned to England around Cape Horn.
Due to her large meat-carrying capacity, Athenic was left in commercial
service during World War I, although she was operated under the Liner
Requisition Scheme during 1917-19 and often carried troops from New
Zealand to England. During the War, her route also changed, so that the
Wellington-London leg was via the Panama Canal, an innovation which
would remain in place after the War ended.
Athenic made her last White Star voyage in October 1927. She was then
sold to Norwegian interests and converted into a whale factory ship
named Pelagos. Captured in the Antarctic by the German raider Pinguin
in January 1941, Pelagos was turned over to a German whaling company,
which operated her until she was sunk at Kirkenes in 1944. She was
raised and put back into service by her Norwegian owners after the war
and remained in operation until 1962, when she was scrapped.
Sources: Haws' Merchant Fleets; Anderson's White Star.