The Blue Riband (pronunciation: / /) is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed rather than passage time because ships follow different routes. Traditionally, a ship is considered a "record breaker" if it wins the eastbound speed record, but is not credited with the Blue Riband unless it wins the more difficult westbound record against the Gulf Stream.
Of the 35 Atlantic liners to hold the Blue Riband, 25 were British, followed by five German, three American, as well as one each from Italy and France. Thirteen were Cunarders (plus Queen Mary of Cunard White Star), 5 by White Star, with 4 owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd, 2 by Collins, 2 by Inman and 2 by Guion, and one each by British American, Great Western, Hamburg-America, the Italian Line, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and finally the United States Lines. Many of these ships were built with substantial government subsidies and were designed with military considerations in mind. Winston Churchill estimated that the two Cunard Queens helped shorten the Second World War by a year. The last Atlantic liner to hold the Blue Riband, the United States, was designed for her potential use as a troopship as well as her service as a commercial passenger liner.
There was no formal award until 1935 when Harold K. Hales (1868–1942), a British politician and owner of Hales Brothers shipping company, donated the trophy. The rules for the Hales Trophy are different from the traditional rules for the Blue Riband. The Hales Trophy can be won by any type of surface commercial passenger vessel for a crossing in either direction. The first vessel other than a regular liner to receive the trophy was the passenger/car ferry Hoverspeed Great Britain when she established a new speed record for a commercial vessel on her eastbound delivery voyage without passengers in 1990. However, the United States remains as the holder of the Blue Riband because all subsequent record breakers were not in Atlantic passenger service and their voyages were eastbound.
- 1 History
- 2 Hales trophy
- 3 List of record breakers
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
Packet ships (1812–1838)
The modern era of "liners" was established by the Black Ball Line which began operation in 1818. The packet ships were contracted by governments to carry mail and also carried passengers and timely items such as newspapers. Up till this point there were no regular passages advertised by sailing ships. They arrived at port when they could, dependent on the wind, and left when they were loaded, frequently visiting other ports to complete their cargo. The Black Ball Line undertook to leave New York on a fixed day of the month irrespective of cargo or passengers. The service took several years to establish itself and it was not until 1822 that they increased sailings to two per month and reduced the passage to thirty-five guineas. The sensation brought in competitors such as the Red Star Line which also adopted fixed dates. The average passage of packets from New York to Liverpool was 23 days eastward and 40 days westward. But this was at a period where usual reported passages were 30 and 45 days respectively, while westward passages of 65 to 90 days excited no attention. The best passage from New York to Liverpool in those days was 15 days 16 hours achieved at the end of 1823 by the ship New York (though often incorrectly reported as Canada). The westward crossing had a remarkable record of 15 days 23 hours set by the Black Ball's Columbia in 1830 during an unusually prolonged spell of easterly weather which saw several other packet ships making the journey in 16 to 17 days. Captain Joseph Delano was reported to be "up with the Banks of Newfoundland in ten days". Westward crossings were never much improved by the sailing packets although the famous Red Jacket reduced the easterly time to 13 days 1 hour 25 mins dock to dock in 1854. But by this time the sailing ships were concentrating on longer runs to China and Australia although it took many years for steamships to supersede the clippers even in the Atlantic.
In 1832, Junius Smith, American lawyer turned London merchant, published the idea of building a line of transatlantic steamships in the American Rail Road Journal. After receiving no support for several years, his plan gained credibility when Scottish shipbuilder, Macgregor Laird became an investor. Smith, who is often considered the Father of the Atlantic Liner, formed the British and American Steam Navigation Company to operate a London-New York service. About the same time, the question of Atlantic steamships was discussed at an 1835 director's meeting of the newly formed Great Western Railway when the line’s chief engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel supposedly joked that the line could be made longer by building a steamship to run between Bristol and New York. The necessary investors were recruited by Brunel's friend, Thomas Guppy, a Bristol engineer and businessman. The next year, the Great Western Steamship Company was established, even though the rail line was still years from completion.
By spring 1838, Brunel’s Great Western was ready for sea, but Smith’s first ship was still without engines. When Great Western scheduled its initial sailing, Laird suggested that British and American charter the Irish Sea steamer Sirius from the St. George Steam Packet Company for two voyages to beat Great Western. While the Sirius left Cork, Ireland four days before Great Western departed Avonmouth, Great Western still came within a day of overtaking Sirius to New York. To complete the voyage, Sirius was forced to burn spars when coal ran low. With her westbound crossing at 8.03 knots (14.87 km/h), Sirius is often considered the first holder of the Blue Riband even though the term would not be used for several generations. Great Western herself became the prototype for all successful wooden paddlers and made a Blue Riband voyage at 10.03 knots (18.58 km/h) as late as 1843.
The Cunard Line started its Liverpool-Halifax-Boston service in 1840 with the four ships that were slightly reduced versions of Great Western with about the same speed. Ultimately Cunard built nine additional wood paddlers. By 1846, Cunard was the only original steamship line that survived, largely because of its subsidy from the British Admiralty to carry the mails and its emphasis on safety. Until 1850, the record passed between various Cunarders, finally reaching 12.25 knots (22.69 km/h) for an 8-day Liverpool-Halifax crossing by Asia. Record voyages during this period were often the result of using sails to gain extra speed from a following gale.
Cunard's first serious competition for the Blue Riband came from the American-owned Collins Line. The American Government supplied Collins with a substantial subsidy to operate four wooden paddlers that were superior to Cunard's best. In its first year, 1850, the Pacific won the Blue Riband at 12.46 knots (23.08 km/h) on a 10-day run from Liverpool to New York. Unfortunately, Collins suffered a setback when its Arctic foundered with heavy loss of life. The next year, Cunard put further pressure on Collins by commissioning its first iron-hulled paddler, the Persia, which won the Blue Riband with a 9-day, 16-hour Liverpool-New York voyage at 13.11 knots (24.28 km/h). During the Crimean War, Cunard supplied eleven of its ships for war service and suspended all routes except the Liverpool-Halifax-Boston service. While the Collins' fortunes improved because of the lack of competition during the war, Collins collapsed in 1858 after the loss of two additional steamers. Cunard emerged as the leading carrier of first class passengers and in 1862 commissioned the Scotia, the last paddle steamer to win the Blue Riband with a Queenstown-New York voyage at 14.46 knots (26.78 km/h). Scotia was the final significant paddler ordered for the Atlantic because under the terms of Cunard's mail contract with the Admiralty, it was still required to supply paddle steamers when needed for military service.
Single screw steamers (1872–89)
In 1845, Brunel’s Great Britain became the first iron-hulled screw liner on the Atlantic. Starting in 1850, the Inman Line built numerous reduced versions for the steerage trade. In 1866, Inman started to commission single screw express liners that were the equal of Scotia. The Admiralty allowed Cunard to order its first screw express liner, the Russia. In 1871 both companies faced a new rival when the White Star Line commissioned Oceanic and her five sisters. The following year, White Star’s Adriatic finally surpassed Scotia with a voyage at 14.65 knots (27.13 km/h). The new White Star record breakers were especially economical because of their use of compound engines, but their high ratio of length to beam (10:1 compared to the previous norm of 8:1) increased vibration. To counter this, White Star placed the dining saloon midships and made their ships more luxurious. Inman rebuilt its express fleet to the new standard, but Cunard lagged behind both of its rivals. In 1875, Inman’s new City of Berlin averaged 15.21 knots (28.17 km/h) on its Blue Riband voyage.
During the five-year shipping depression that began in 1873, William Pearce, the controlling partner of the John Elder shipyard, became convinced that a crack steamer that carried only passengers and light freight could be profitable because she would attract more passengers and spend less time in port. He proposed a ship that crammed the most powerful machinery possible into the hull, sacrificing everything to speed. When Cunard rejected his proposal, Pearce offered his idea to the Guion Line, a firm primarily engaged in the steerage trade. The first ship Pearce built for Guion, the Arizona was described as a "souped up transatlantic hot rod" by one nautical historian. While she only won the eastbound record, two years later, Guion took delivery of the even faster Alaska that won the Blue Riband at 16.07 knots (29.76 km/h). To continue the program, Pearce offered Guion favourable terms on a third unit, the Oregon, which raised the Blue Riband to 18.56 knots (34.37 km/h) in 1884. These ships were uncomfortable and their excessive coal consumption made them uneconomic. However, for a while they were popular with American clients because of their American ownership.
After being out of the contest for a decade, Cunard finally started to rebuild. In 1884, Cunard purchased the Oregon from the Guion line when that firm defaulted on payments to the shipyard. Later that year, Cunard commissioned the first steel-hulled Blue Riband winners, the Umbria and Etruria. Etruria, the faster of the pair, raised the Blue Riband standard to 19.56 knots (36.23 km/h) on a 6-day, 2-hour run from Queenstown to Sandy Hook in 1888. However, Etruria and her sister represented the limit of single screw technology.
Double screw steamers (1889–1907)
The Inman line fell on hard times after their intended Blue Riband contender, the City of Rome failed to meet expectations and was returned to her builders in 1882. Inman directors agreed to voluntary liquidation so that the largest creditor, the Philadelphia-based International Navigation Company could purchase Inman's assets. The new owners provided the capital to build two outstanding record breakers, the twin screw City of New York and the City of Paris. Starting in 1889, the later ship won the Blue Riband on four occasions, including a voyage at 20.7 knots (38.3 km/h) in 1892. White Star, which had not built an express liner since the Germanic of 1875, commissioned the Blue Riband winners, Teutonic of 1889 and Majestic of 1890 after receiving a subsidy from the Admiralty to make the pair available as merchant cruisers in the event of hostilities. Cunard countered with two even faster Blue Riband winners, the Campania and the Lucania of 1893. The next year, Lucania recorded a voyage at 21.81 knots (40.39 km/h). Inman became the American Line and ordered two additional express liners from American yards, but no attempt was made to best the new Cunarders. In 1894, Guion ceased sailing as its ships were now hopelessly outdated.
No sooner had Cunard reestablished its supremacy than new rivals emerged. Beginning in the late 1860s, several German firms commissioned liners that were almost as fast as the British mail steamers working from Liverpool. In 1889, the Hamburg-America Line commissioned four double screw steamers capable of 18.00 knots (33.34 km/h). Its rival, Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) lagged behind until 1895 when it ordered two ships intended to take the Blue Riband. In 1898, the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse raised the Blue Riband to 22.29 knots (41.28 km/h), while the other liner, the Kaiser Friedrich failed to achieve her contract speed and was returned to her builders. Hamburg America ordered the even more powerful Deutschland that reached 23.06 knots (42.71 km/h) on one of her 1900 Blue Riband voyages. However, Hamburg America quickly learned that these high powered double screw liners had vibration problems. Deutschland had the unpleasant nickname, "cocktail shaker" and actually lost part of her stern in 1902 because of the constant vibration.
Rather than match the new German speedsters, White Star decided to drop out of the competition and commission the four large Celtic-class luxury liners of more moderate speed. White Star realised that passengers preferred comfort even if this means spending an extra day at sea. In 1902, White Star joined the well capitalised American combine, the International Mercantile Marine Co. (IMM) that owned the American Line and others. IMM also had trade agreements with Hamburg America and Norddeutscher Lloyd. After its bad experience with the Deutschland, Hamburg America also dropped out of the race and commissioned large luxury liners based on the Celtic. However, NDL completed building a fleet of four additional express liners modelled on Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.
Ships of state (1907–69)
After 1902, only the Cunard Line and the French Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT) were independent of the IMM combine. British prestige was at stake, and the Government provided Cunard with an annual subsidy of £150,000 plus a low interest loan of £2.5 million to pay for the construction of the two superliners, the Lusitania and Mauretania under the condition that they be available for conversion to armed cruisers when needed by the navy. Starting in 1907, both ships won the Blue Riband and Mauretania’s 1909 record of 26.06 knots (48.26 km/h) stood for 20 years. However, these ships paid a price for speed and lacked many of the amenities found in the new White Star and Hamburg American luxury liners. Both Cunard rivals ordered a trio of even bigger luxury liners, the White Star Olympic-class capable of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h) and Hapag Imperator-class capable of 22.5 knots (41.7 km/h). Even Cunard chose this approach when it ordered its third superliner, the Aquitania
As a result of the war, Hamburg American and Norddeutscher Lloyd lost their premier units. In 1926, the U.S. Government awarded Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) $27 million in compensation for its confiscated liners. By this time, improvements in turbine technology and hull form along with the use of fuel oil instead of coal made it possible to build more civilised record breakers. Using these funds, NDL ordered two ships designed to cross the Atlantic in five days, the Bremen and Europa. However, the American government netted the award against debts owed by the German Government and Berlin was forced to directly subside NDL to continue the project. Bremen recorded 27.83 knots (51.54 km/h) on her 1929 Blue Riband voyage and Europa increased the Blue Riband to 27.92 knots (51.71 km/h) in 1933.
In 1929, two lines from Italy each ordered a ship based on the German pair. Just as these ships were being completed, the Italian government nationalised the shipping industry, creating the Italian Line. While both superliners were successful, only the Rex won the Blue Riband, with a 1933 voyage at 28.92 knots (53.56 km/h).
CGT also ordered a new superliner in 1929. The next year, Cunard started construction on an 80,000 ton liner that was to be the first of two record breakers fast enough to fit into a two ship weekly Southampton-New York service. Consequently CGT altered its plans to make its new liner even bigger. However, as the 1929 shipping depression intensified, construction on Cunard’s hull 534 was halted while work on the heavily subsidised French ship continued. By 1934, White Star was failing and the British Government was concerned about potential job losses. Therefore, the government offered Cunard a loan of £3 million to complete hull 534 as the Queen Mary and an additional £5 million to build a second ship, the Queen Elizabeth if Cunard merged with White Star.
CGT's Normandie entered service in 1935 and won the Blue Riband at 29.98 knots (55.52 km/h). Queen Mary was commissioned the next year, and after a few break-in voyages, took the Blue Riband to 30.14 knots (55.82 km/h). The two liners were operated a pair and traded the Blue Riband again, with the Cunard White Star Liner ultimately posting 30.99 knots (57.39 km/h) in 1938. Queen Mary’s consort, the Queen Elizabeth, was commissioned after war was declared and was never allowed to attempt the record.
Of the ships of state, only Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Europa survived the war. Europa became CGT's Liberte and no attempt was made to retain her former speed when she was reconstructed. However, the United States government was impressed by the large numbers of troops carried by the Queens during the war, and ordered a superliner that was as much a troop carrier as an express liner. On her maiden voyage in 1952, the United States upped the Blue Riband to 34.51 knots (63.91 km/h). In 1958, the transatlantic airlines put jet transports into service and the days of the record breakers were numbered. Liberte retired 1961, Queen Mary in 1967, and the United States in 1969.
In 1935, Harold K. Hales (1868–1942), a member of the UK Parliament and owner of a shipping company, commissioned a Sheffield goldsmith to produce a large trophy to be presented to the fastest ship crossing the Atlantic. The four feet tall nearly 100 pound Hales Trophy is made of solid silver and heavy gilt fashioned with a globe resting on two winged figures of Victory standing on a base of carved green onyx, with an enamelled blue ribbon encircling the middle, and decorated with models of galleons, modern ocean liners and statues of Neptune and Amphitrite, god and goddess of the sea. The trophy is surmounted by a figure depicting speed pushing a three-stacked liner against a figure symbolizing the forces of the Atlantic, which is represented in blue enamel with the traditional ocean liner route indicated by a red enamelled line.
The rules for the trophy did not correspond to the traditional rules for the Blue Riband in that the trophy could be awarded to any surface passenger ship achieving the fastest speed in either direction. Other rule changes further complicated the situation. For example, before the trophy was finished, Hales made arrangements to present the trophy to the Rex. In the meantime, Normandie took the record and Hales changed the rules so that any new claimant must wait three months to give the current holder a chance to beat the new record. In August 1935, the trophy was presented to the Rex, and then transferred to the Normandie two months later. Cunard White Star's Queen Mary was the next winner, but Cunard White Star refused to accept the trophy. The Queen's captain explained that, "We don't believe in racing on the Atlantic, or in blue ribands, or trophies and the like." Hales again changed the rules so that the trophy could only be won by a "non-British ship".
Hales died in 1942 and the location of the trophy was unknown when the United States Lines (USL) started planning the maiden voyage of its new record breaker, the United States. The trophy was found at the Sheffield goldsmith where it had been originally made. In 1952, USL accepted the trophy at a ceremony attended by 400 guests. It was displayed in USL's New York City headquarters until after the United States was taken out of service in 1969. Ten years later, the trophy was transferred to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's museum as a relic.
In 1986, Richard Branson was successful in setting a new eastbound transatlantic speed record in the powerboat Challenger II. He was not awarded the Hales trophy because his boat was not a commercial vessel. In 1990, the 242-foot (74 m) catamaran passenger/car ferry Hoverspeed Great Britain was scheduled to take a delivery voyage from her Australian builders to begin cross channel operations. Her owners confirmed with the Hales trophy trustees in the UK that their vessel would be eligible for the trophy if they beat the United States record, even though the ship would not actually carry passengers on the trip. The trustees ruled that the ship still met the criteria. After Hoverspeed Great Britain's successful voyage, the Maritime Museum considered challenging the decision on the grounds that Hales donated the award for ships providing Atlantic passenger service, but decided not to because of the cost of legal fees. The trophy case at the academy remained empty for the next eight years until Carnival Cruise Lines loaned the museum a replica of the trophy. In 1992, the Italian powerboat Destriero made a voyage at 53.09 knots (98.32 km/h), breaking Challenger II's record. The current holder of the Hales Trophy is the catamaran Cat-Link V (now Fjord Cat) for a 1998 delivery voyage (without passengers) at 41.3 knots (76.5 km/h). However, the United States is still considered the holder of the Blue Riband.
INCAT, the builders of the last three winners of the Hales Trophy have possession of the trophy at their shipyard offices in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. INCAT, in their statements, seem to blend the Hales Trophy with the Blue Riband but without exactly claiming that they are a Blue Riband holder. Though the appearance of a ribbon banner infront of their picture of the trophy coloured blue, seems to imply otherwise.  
List of record breakers
The following is the latest consensus list of the research to date. Because there was no sanctioning body for the Blue Riband, researchers are limited to surviving shipping company archives and press reports to develop the list of Blue Riband winners. Early writers including Arthur Maginnus (1892), Henry Frey (1896), Charles Lee (1931) and C. R. Benstead (1936) were the standard sources until the 1950s. Since then, C. R. Vernon Gibbs (1952), and Noel Bonsor (1975) added to the body of knowledge, with additional detail about the German ships provided by Arnold Kludas.
Over the years, the lists have not agreed. For example, Gibbs credits Inman's City of Paris with an 1866 Blue Riband voyage, and Cunard's Russia with an eastbound record the following year because he considered as dubious Scotia's Blue Riband claim of 14.46 knots (26.78 km/h), supposedly based on a very long track. Later writers have included the Scotia claim. Gibbs also includes the claimed Blue Riband voyage at 17.6 knots (32.6 km/h) of the National Line's America of 1884 that was not confirmed by later researchers.
Westbound record breakers (Blue Riband holders)
|Ship||Flag||Year||Dates||Line||From||To||Distance||Days, hours, minutes||Speed|
|Columbia||1830||1 – 17 April||Black Ball Line||Portsmouth||Sandy Hook||3,222 nautical miles (5,967 km)||15 d, 23 h||8.41 knots (15.58 km/h)|
|Great Western||1838||8 – 23 April||GW||Avonmouth||New York||3,220 nautical miles (5,960 km)||15 d, 12 h, 0 m||8.66 knots (16.04 km/h)|
|Great Western||1838||2 – 17 June||GW||Avonmouth||New York||3,140 nautical miles (5,820 km)||14 d, 16 h, 0 m||8.92 knots (16.52 km/h)|
|Great Western||1839||18 May–31 May||GW||Avonmouth||New York||3,086 nautical miles (5,715 km)||13 d, 12 h, 0 m||9.52 knots (17.63 km/h)|
|Columbia||1841||4 – 15 June||Cunard||Liverpool||Halifax||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||10 d, 19 h, 0 m||9.78 knots (18.11 km/h)|
|Great Western||1843||29 April–11 May||GW||Liverpool||New York||3,068 nautical miles (5,682 km)||12 d, 18 h, 0 m||10.03 knots (18.58 km/h)|
|Cambria||1845||19 – 29 July||Cunard||Liverpool||Halifax||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||9 d, 20 h, 30 m||10.71 knots (19.83 km/h)|
|America||1848||3 – 12 June||Cunard||Liverpool||Halifax||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||9 d, 0 h, 16 m||11.71 knots (21.69 km/h)|
|Europa||1848||14 – 23 October||Cunard||Liverpool||Halifax||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||8 d, 23 h, 0 m||11.79 knots (21.84 km/h)|
|Asia||1850||18 May–27 May||Cunard||Liverpool||Halifax||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||8 d, 14 h, 50 m||12.25 knots (22.69 km/h)|
|Pacific||1850||11 – 21 September||Collins||Liverpool||New York||3,050 nautical miles (5,650 km)||10 d, 4 h, 45 m||12.46 knots (23.08 km/h)|
|Baltic||1851||6 – 16 August||Collins||Liverpool||New York||3,039 nautical miles (5,628 km)||9 d, 19 h, 26 m||12.91 knots (23.91 km/h)|
|Baltic||1854||28 June – 7 July||Collins||Liverpool||New York||3,037 nautical miles (5,625 km)||9 d, 16 h, 52 m||13.04 knots (24.15 km/h)|
|Persia||1856||19 – 29 April||Cunard||Liverpool||Sandy Hook||3,045 nautical miles (5,639 km)||9 d, 16 h, 16 m||13.11 knots (24.28 km/h)|
|Scotia||1863||19 – 27 July||Cunard||Queenstown||New York||2,820 nautical miles (5,220 km)||8 d, 3 h, 0 m||14.46 knots (26.78 km/h)|
|Adriatic||1872||17 May–25 May||W.Star||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,778 nautical miles (5,145 km)||7 d, 23 h, 17 m||14.53 knots (26.91 km/h)|
|Germanic||1875||30 July – 7 August||W.Star||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km)||7 d, 23 h, 7 m||14.65 knots (27.13 km/h)|
|City of Berlin||1875||17 – 25 September||Inman||Queenstown||Sandy Bank||2,829 nautical miles (5,239 km)||7 d, 18 h, 2 m||15.21 knots (28.17 km/h)|
|Britannic||1876||27 October – 4 November||W.Star||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,795 nautical miles (5,176 km)||7 d, 13 h, 11 m||15.43 knots (28.58 km/h)|
|Germanic||1877||6 – 13 April||W.Star||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,830 nautical miles (5,240 km)||7 d, 11 h, 37 m||15.76 knots (29.19 km/h)|
|Alaska||1882||9 – 16 April||Guion||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,802 nautical miles (5,189 km)||7 d, 6 h, 20 m||16.07 knots (29.76 km/h)|
|Alaska||1882||14 May–21 May||Guion||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,871 nautical miles (5,317 km)||7 d, 4 h, 12 m||16.67 knots (30.87 km/h)|
|Alaska||1882||18 – 25 June||Guion||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,886 nautical miles (5,345 km)||7 d, 1 h, 58 m||16.98 knots (31.45 km/h)|
|Alaska||1883||29 April–6 May||Guion||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,844 nautical miles (5,267 km)||6 d, 23 h, 48 m||17.05 knots (31.58 km/h)|
|Oregon||1884||13 – 19 April||Guion||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,861 nautical miles (5,299 km)||6 d, 10 h, 10 m||18.56 knots (34.37 km/h)|
|Etruria||1885||16 – 22 August||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,801 nautical miles (5,187 km)||6 d, 5 h, 31 m||18.73 knots (34.69 km/h)|
|Umbria||1887||29 May – 4 June||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,848 nautical miles (5,274 km)||6 d, 4 h, 12 m||19.22 knots (35.60 km/h)|
|Etruria||1888||27 May – 2 June||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,854 nautical miles (5,286 km)||6 d, 1 h, 55 m||19.56 knots (36.23 km/h)|
|City of Paris||1889||2 May–8 May||Inman||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,855 nautical miles (5,287 km)||5 d, 23 h, 7 m||19.95 knots (36.95 km/h)|
|City of Paris||1889||22 – 28 August||Inman||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,788 nautical miles (5,163 km)||5 d, 19 h, 18 m||20.01 knots (37.06 km/h)|
|Majestic||1891||30 July – 5 August||W.Star||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,777 nautical miles (5,143 km)||5 d, 18 h, 8 m||20.10 knots (37.23 km/h)|
|Teutonic||1891||13 – 19 August||W.Star||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,778 nautical miles (5,145 km)||5 d, 16 h, 31 m||20.35 knots (37.69 km/h)|
|City of Paris||1892||20 – 27 July||Inman||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,785 nautical miles (5,158 km)||5 d, 15 h, 58 m||20.48 knots (37.93 km/h)|
|City of Paris||1892||13 – 18 October||Inman||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,782 nautical miles (5,152 km)||5 d, 14 h, 24 m||20.70 knots (38.34 km/h)|
|Campania||1893||18 – 23 June||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,864 nautical miles (5,304 km)||5 d, 15 h, 37 m||21.12 knots (39.11 km/h)|
|Campania||1894||12 – 17 August||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,776 nautical miles (5,141 km)||5 d, 9 h, 29 m||21.44 knots (39.71 km/h)|
|Lucania||1894||26 – 31 August||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,787 nautical miles (5,162 km)||5 d, 8 h, 38 m||21.65 knots (40.10 km/h)|
|Lucania||1894||23 – 28 September||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,782 nautical miles (5,152 km)||5 d, 7 h, 48 m||21.75 knots (40.28 km/h)|
|Lucania||1894||21 – 26 October||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,779 nautical miles (5,147 km)||5 d, 7 h, 23 m||21.81 knots (40.39 km/h)|
|Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse||1898||30 March – 3 April||NDL||The Needles||Sandy Hook||3,120 nautical miles (5,780 km)||5 d, 20 h, 0 m||22.29 knots (41.28 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1900||6 – 12 July||Hapag||Eddystone||Sandy Hook||3,044 nautical miles (5,637 km)||5 d, 15 h, 46 m||22.42 knots (41.52 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1900||26 August – 1 September||Hapag||Cherbourg||Sandy Hook||3,050 nautical miles (5,650 km)||5 d, 12 h, 29 m||23.02 knots (42.63 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1901||26 July – 1 August||Hapag||Cherbourg||Sandy Hook||3,141 nautical miles (5,817 km)||5 d, 16 h, 12 m||23.06 knots (42.71 km/h)|
|Kronprinz Wilhelm||1902||10 – 16 September||NDL||Cherbourg||Sandy Hook||3,047 nautical miles (5,643 km)||5 d, 11 h, 57 m||23.09 knots (42.76 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1903||2 – 8 September||Hapag||Cherbourg||Sandy Hook||3,054 nautical miles (5,656 km)||5 d, 11 h, 54 m||23.15 knots (42.87 km/h)|
|Lusitania||1907||6 – 10 October||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,780 nautical miles (5,150 km)||4 d, 19 h, 52 m||23.99 knots (44.43 km/h)|
|Lusitania||1908||17 May–21 May||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,889 nautical miles (5,350 km)||4 d, 20 h, 22 m||24.83 knots (45.99 km/h)|
|Lusitania||1908||5 – 10 July||Cunard||Queenstown||Sandy Hook||2,891 nautical miles (5,354 km)||4 d, 19 h, 36 m||25.01 knots (46.32 km/h)|
|Lusitania||1909||8 – 12 August||Cunard||Queenstown||Ambrose Light||2,890 nautical miles (5,350 km)||4 d, 16 h, 40 m||25.65 knots (47.50 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1909||26 – 30 September||Cunard||Queenstown||Ambrose Light||2,784 nautical miles (5,156 km)||4 d, 10 h, 51 m||26.06 knots (48.26 km/h)|
|Bremen||1929||17 – 22 July||NDL||Cherbourg||Ambrose Light||3,164 nautical miles (5,860 km)||4 d, 17 h, 42 m||27.83 knots (51.54 km/h)|
|Europa||1930||20 – 25 March||NDL||Cherbourg||Ambrose Light||3,157 nautical miles (5,847 km)||4 d, 17 h, 6 m||27.91 knots (51.69 km/h)|
|Bremen||1933||27 June – 2 July||NDL||Cherbourg||Ambrose Light||3,149 nautical miles (5,832 km)||4 d, 16 h, 48 m||27.92 knots (51.71 km/h)|
|Rex||1933||11 – 16 August||Italian||Gibraltar||Ambrose Light||3,181 nautical miles (5,891 km)||4 d, 13 h, 58 m||28.92 knots (53.56 km/h)|
|Normandie||1935||30 May – 3 June||CGT||Bishop Rock||Ambrose Light||2,971 nautical miles (5,502 km)||4 d, 3 h, 2 m||29.98 knots (55.52 km/h)|
|Queen Mary||1936||20 – 24 August||C-WS||Bishop Rock||Ambrose Light||2,907 nautical miles (5,384 km)||4 d, 0 h, 27 m||30.14 knots (55.82 km/h)|
|Normandie||1937||29 July – 2 August||CGT||Bishop Rock||Ambrose Light||2,906 nautical miles (5,382 km)||3 d, 23 h, 2 m||30.58 knots (56.63 km/h)|
|Queen Mary||1938||4 – 8 August||C-WS||Bishop Rock||Ambrose Light||2,907 nautical miles (5,384 km)||3 d, 21 h, 48 m||30.99 knots (57.39 km/h)|
|United States||1952||11 – 15 July||USL||Bishop Rock||Ambrose Light||2,906 nautical miles (5,382 km)||3 d, 12 h, 12 m||34.51 knots (63.91 km/h)|
Eastbound record breakers
Not to be confused with Blue Riband holders
|Ship||Flag||Year||Dates||Line||From||To||Distance||Days, hours, minutes||Speed|
|New York||1823-4||16 Dec-1 Jan||Black Ball Line||New York||Liverpool||3,248 nautical miles (6,015 km)||15 d 16h||8.63 knots (15.98 km/h)|
|Great Western||1838||7 May–22 May||GW||New York||Avonmouth||3,218 nautical miles (5,960 km)||14 d, 15 h, 59 m||9.14 knots (16.93 km/h)|
|Great Western||1838||25 June – 8 July||GW||New York||Avonmouth||3,099 nautical miles (5,739 km)||12 d, 16 h, 34 m||10.17 knots (18.83 km/h)|
|Britannia||1841||4 – 14 August||Cunard||Halifax||Liverpool||2,610 nautical miles (4,830 km)||9 d, 21 h, 44 m||10.98 knots (20.33 km/h)|
|Great Western||1842||28 April–11 May||GW||New York||Liverpool||3,248 nautical miles (6,015 km)||12 d, 7 h, 30 m||10.99 knots (20.35 km/h)|
|Columbia||1843||4 – 14 April||Cunard||Halifax||Liverpool||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||9 d, 12 h, 0 m||11.11 knots (20.58 km/h)|
|Hibernia||1843||18 May–27 May||Cunard||Halifax||Liverpool||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||9 d, 10 h, 44 m||11.18 knots (20.71 km/h)|
|Hibernia||1843||18 – 27 July||Cunard||Halifax||Liverpool||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||8 d, 22 h, 44 m||11.80 knots (21.85 km/h)|
|Canada||1849||19 – 28 July||Cunard||Halifax||Liverpool||2,534 nautical miles (4,693 km)||8 d, 12 h, 44 m||12.38 knots (22.93 km/h)|
|Pacific||1851||10 May–20 May||Collins||New York||Liverpool||3,078 nautical miles (5,700 km)||9 d, 20 h, 14 m||13.03 knots (24.13 km/h)|
|Arctic||1852||7 – 17 February||Collins||New York||Liverpool||3,051 nautical miles (5,650 km)||9 d, 17 h, 15 m||13.06 knots (24.19 km/h)|
|Persia||1856||2 – 12 April||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Liverpool||3,048 nautical miles (5,645 km)||9 d, 10 h, 22 m||13.46 knots (24.93 km/h)|
|Persia||1856||14 May–23 May||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Liverpool||3,048 nautical miles (5,645 km)||9 d, 3 h, 24 m||13.89 knots (25.72 km/h)|
|Persia||1856||6 – 15 August||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Liverpool||3,046 nautical miles (5,641 km)||8 d, 23 h, 19 m||14.15 knots (26.21 km/h)|
|Scotia||1863||16 – 24 December||Cunard||New York||Queenstown||2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km)||8 d, 5 h, 42 m||14.16 knots (26.22 km/h)|
|City of Brussels||1869||4 – 12 December||Inman||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,780 nautical miles (5,150 km)||7 d, 20 h, 33 m||14.74 knots (27.30 km/h)|
|Baltic||1873||11 – 19 January||W.Star||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,840 nautical miles (5,260 km)||7 d, 20 h, 9 m||15.09 knots (27.95 km/h)|
|City of Berlin||1875||2 – 10 October||Inman||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,820 nautical miles (5,220 km)||7 d, 15 h, 28 m||15.37 knots (28.47 km/h)|
|Germanic||1876||5 – 13 February||W.Star||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,894 nautical miles (5,360 km)||7 d, 15 h, 17 m||15.79 knots (29.24 km/h)|
|Britannic||1876||16 – 24 December||W.Star||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,892 nautical miles (5,356 km)||7 d, 12 h, 41 m||15.94 knots (29.52 km/h)|
|Arizona||1879||22 – 29 July||Guion||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,810 nautical miles (5,200 km)||7 d, 8 h, 11 m||15.96 knots (29.56 km/h)|
|Alaska||1882||30 May – 6 June||Guion||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,791 nautical miles (5,169 km)||6 d, 22 h, 0 m||16.81 knots (31.13 km/h)|
|Alaska||1882||12 – 19 September||Guion||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,781 nautical miles (5,150 km)||6 d, 18 h, 37 m||17.10 knots (31.67 km/h)|
|Oregon||1884||29 March – 5 April||Guion||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,916 nautical miles (5,400 km)||7 d, 2 h, 18 m||17.12 knots (31.71 km/h)|
|Oregon||1884||26 April–3 May||Guion||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,916 nautical miles (5,400 km)||6 d, 16 h, 57 m||18.09 knots (33.50 km/h)|
|Oregon||1884||30 July – 6 August||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,853 nautical miles (5,284 km)||6 d, 12 h, 54 m||18.18 knots (33.67 km/h)|
|Oregon||1884||3 – 10 September||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,853 nautical miles (5,284 km)||6 d, 11 h, 9 m||18.39 knots (34.06 km/h)|
|Etruria||1885||1 – 7 August||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,822 nautical miles (5,226 km)||6 d, 9 h, 0 m||18.44 knots (34.15 km/h)|
|Etruria||1888||7 – 14 July||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,981 nautical miles (5,521 km)||6 d, 4 h, 50 m||19.36 knots (35.85 km/h)|
|City of Paris||1889||15 May–22 May||Inman||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,894 nautical miles (5,360 km)||6 d, 0 h, 29 m||20.03 knots (37.10 km/h)|
|City of New York||1892||17 – 23 August||Inman||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,814 nautical miles (5,212 km)||5 d, 19 h, 57 m||20.11 knots (37.24 km/h)|
|Campania||1893||6 May–12 May||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,928 nautical miles (5,423 km)||5 d, 17 h, 27 m||21.30 knots (39.45 km/h)|
|Lucania||1894||6 May–12 May||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,911 nautical miles (5,391 km)||5 d, 13 h, 28 m||21.81 knots (40.39 km/h)|
|Lucania||1894||2 – 8 June||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,911 nautical miles (5,391 km)||5 d, 12 h, 59 m||21.90 knots (40.56 km/h)|
|Lucania||1895||18 May–24 May||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,897 nautical miles (5,365 km)||5 d, 11 h, 40 m||22.00 knots (40.74 km/h)|
|Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse||1897||23 – 29 November||NDL||Sandy Hook||Needles||3,065 nautical miles (5,676 km)||5 d, 17 h, 23 m||22.33 knots (41.36 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1900||18 – 24 July||Hapag||Sandy Hook||Eddystone||3,085 nautical miles (5,713 km)||5 d, 15 h, 5 m||22.84 knots (42.30 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1900||4 – 10 September||Hapag||Sandy Hook||Eddystone||2,981 nautical miles (5,521 km)||5 d, 7 h, 38 m||23.36 knots (43.26 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1901||13 – 19 June||Hapag||Sandy Hook||Eddystone||3,083 nautical miles (5,710 km)||5 d, 11 h, 51 m||23.38 knots (43.30 km/h)|
|Deutschland||1901||10 – 17 July||Hapag||Sandy Hook||Eddystone||3,082 nautical miles (5,708 km)||5 d, 11 h, 5 m||23.51 knots (43.54 km/h)|
|Kaiser Wilhelm II||1904||14 – 20 June||NDL||Sandy Hook||Eddystone||3,112 nautical miles (5,763 km)||5 d, 11 h, 58 m||23.58 knots (43.67 km/h)|
|Lusitania||1907||19 – 24 October||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,807 nautical miles (5,199 km)||4 d, 22 h, 53 m||23.61 knots (43.73 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1907||30 November – 5 December||Cunard||Beady Hook||Queenstown||2,807 nautical miles (5,199 km)||4 d, 22 h, 33 m||23.69 knots (43.87 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1908||25 – 30 January||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,932 nautical miles (5,430 km)||5 d, 2 h, 41 m||23.90 knots (44.26 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1908||7 – 12 March||Cunard||Sandy Hook||Queenstown||2,932 nautical miles (5,430 km)||5 d, 0 h, 5 m||24.42 knots (45.23 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1909||3 – 8 February||Cunard||Ambrose||Queenstown,||2,930 nautical miles (5,430 km)||4 d, 20 h, 27 m||25.16 knots (46.60 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1909||17 – 22 March||Cunard||Ambrose||Queenstown||2,934 nautical miles (5,434 km)||4 d, 18 h, 35 m||25.61 knots (47.43 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1909||5 May–10 May||Cunard||Ambrose||Queenstown||2,934 nautical miles (5,434 km)||4 d, 18 h, 11 m||25.70 knots (47.60 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1909||16 – 21 June||Cunard||Ambrose||Queenstown||2,933 nautical miles (5,432 km)||4 d, 17 h, 21 m||25.88 knots (47.93 km/h)|
|Mauretania||1924||20 – 25 August||Cunard||Ambrose||Cherbourg||3,198 nautical miles (5,923 km)||5 d, 1 h, 49 m||26.25 knots (48.62 km/h)|
|Bremen||1929||27 July – 1 August||NDL||Ambrose||Eddystone||3,084 nautical miles (5,712 km)||4 d, 14 h, 30 m||27.91 knots (51.69 km/h)|
|Bremen||1933||10 – 15 June||NDL||Ambrose||Cherbourg||3,199 nautical miles (5,925 km)||4 d, 16 h, 15 m||28.51 knots (52.80 km/h)|
|Normandie||1935||7 – 11 June||CGT||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||3,015 nautical miles (5,584 km)||4 d, 3 h, 25 m||30.31 knots (56.13 km/h)|
|Queen Mary||1936||26 – 30 August||C-WS||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||2,939 nautical miles (5,443 km)||3 d, 23 h, 57 m||30.63 knots (56.73 km/h)|
|Normandie||1937||18 – 22 March||CGT||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||2,967 nautical miles (5,495 km)||4 d, 0 h, 6 m||30.99 knots (57.39 km/h)|
|Normandie||1937||4 – 8 August||CGT||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||2,936 nautical miles (5,437 km)||3 d, 22 h, 7 m||31.20 knots (57.78 km/h)|
|Queen Mary||1938||10 – 14 August||C-WS||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||2,938 nautical miles (5,441 km)||3 d, 20 h, 42 m||31.69 knots (58.69 km/h)|
|United States||1952||3 – 7 July||USL||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||2,942 nautical miles (5,449 km)||3 d, 10 h, 40 m||35.59 knots (65.91 km/h)|
Post 1969 Hales Trophy winners
Not to be confused with Blue Riband holders
|Steamer||Year||Dates||Line||From||To||Distance||Days, hours, minutes||Speed|
|Hoverspeed Great Britain||1990||23 June||Aegean Speedlines||Ambrose||Bishop Rock||2,924 nautical miles (5,417 km)||3 d, 7 h, 54 m||36.6 knots (67.8 km/h)|
|Catalonia||1998||9 June||Buquebus||Manhattan||Tarifa, Spain||3,125 nautical miles (5,788 km)||3 d, 9 h, 40 m||38.9 knots (72.0 km/h)|
|Cat-Link V (or today Fjord Cat)||1998||20 July||Fjord Line||||2 d, 20 h, 9 m||41.3 knots (76.5 km/h)|
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- N Y Times (10 November 1942). British writer-merchant missing.
- Time Magazine (29 July 1935). Card's Cup.
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- N Y Daily News (20 November 1998). Award makes splash at Maritime Museum.
- N Y Times (13 November 1952). Ship speed trophy is presented here.
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- which cites N.R.P. Bonsor (1980). North Atlantic Seaway, Vol. 5.
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