Built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast, Germanic was launched in 1874.
Unlike her sister,
Germanic was completed with a
traditional fixed propeller shaft. (Britannic had originally been
fitted out with an experimental propeller shaft which could be lowered
in deep water to increase thrust; this proved to be unsuccessful. As a
result, Germanic's drop-shaft was removed during construction and
Britannic's after nine voyages.)
Germanic made her maiden voyage, Liverpool-New York on 20 May 1875,
becoming the final square-masted ship to enter White Star's North
Atlantic passenger service. Once in service, Germanic set three
crossing records, westbound in August 1875 and April 1877 and eastbound
in February 1876. (Britannic was also a Blue Riband winner, with record
crossings westbound in November 1876 and eastbound the following month.)
In 1895, Germanic was reboilered and given new triple-expansion engines
and taller funnels. In addition, all rigging but two yards on the fore
mast was removed. She returned to the Liverpool-New York service after
In February 1899, Germanic arrived in New York harbor covered with an
estimated 1,800 tons of ice which had accumulated during a severe North
Atlantic storm. When a storm hit New York, she sank at her berth in the
Hudson River, and remained stuck in the mud there for 10 days. The damage
she incurred as a result was not major, however, and she returned to
service by June 1899.
Germanic ended her White Star service in September 1903. She was transferred
to the American Line and, after six trips for American, to the Dominion Line.
(White Star, American and Dominion were all owned by J.P. Morgan's International
Mercantile Marine Co.) Dominion renamed the ship Ottawa and put her in service
as an emigrant carrier.
At the end of the 1909 season, Ottawa was laid up, then sold to the
government of Turkey for use as a troop transport named Gul Djemal. Gul
Djemal was torpedoed by a British submarine in the Sea of Marmora in May
1915, with the loss of a majority of the 4,000 troops aboard. She was
later raised and returned to service and then, at war's end, disarmed
and sent to Germany with returning German troops.
Still owned by the Turkish government, she returned to passenger service
for the Ottoman-America Line in 1920-21, making 4 trips on an
Istanbul-New York route. Renamed Gulcemal in 1928, the ship also saw
service on the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora until 1949. She was then
converted into a store ship anchored at Istanbul, and then into a floating
hotel. In October 1950, after 76 years of service, the ship was towed to Messina
Sources: Haws' Merchant Fleets; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Eaton
and Haas' Falling Star; The New York Times, various dates in February 1899.