Postcard of SS Athenic
|United Kingdom; Norway|
|Name:||SS Athenic (1901–28)|
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Harland and Wolff, Belfast|
|Launched:||17 August 1901|
|Completed:||23 January 1902|
|Commissioned:||14 February 1902|
|Renamed:||SS Pelagos, 1928|
|Reclassified:||Whaling factory ship, 1928|
|Captured:||15 January 1941 by the German auxiliary cruiser Pinguin|
|Fate:||Scrapped Hamburg 1962|
|Class and type:||Athenic-class ocean liner|
|Length:||500 ft 3 in (152.48 m)|
|Beam:||63 ft 3 in (19.28 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 quadruple expansion steam engines driving 2 screws|
|Speed:||14 knots (26 km/h)|
|Crew:||158 to 200|
The SS Athenic was a British passenger liner built by Harland & Wolff shipyards for the White Star Line in 1901. In 1928, she came to a Norwegian company and was renamed the SS Pelagos. Torpedoed in 1944, she was refloated the following year and continued to serve until her demolition in 1962.
The 12,234-ton steamship Athenic was built on the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast and launched on 17 August 1901. Athenic was the first of three identical sister ships which were built for the profitable freight and passenger service from London to Wellington, New Zealand. The other two were the SS Corinthic (1902) and the SS Ionic (1903). They were the first orders of the White Star Line after its takeover by J. P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine Company (IMMC). On 13 February 1902, she sailed into London on her maiden voyage to Wellington via the Canary Islands, Cape Town and Hobart. She remained on the New Zealand route until the outbreak of World War II.
Like her sister ships, Athenic had two eight-cylinder quadruple expansion steam-powered engines by Harland & Wolff, working the ship's two propellers that delivered 604 nominal horsepower and giving a service speed of 14 knots (26 km/h). Her passenger capacity was 121 first class, 117 second class and 450 third class. She was equipped with electric lighting and cooling chambers for transport of frozen meat, specifically lamb.
When war was declared between England and Germany in August 1914, Athenic was in Wellington, New Zealand, and was requistioned as a troopship under the British Liner Requisition Scheme. On September 23, 1914 she was in Lyttelton (Christchurch) in the South Island of New Zealand, where as one of the transports carrying what was known collectively as the "Main Body", she took on board the following units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force: Headquarters, Mounted Rifles Brigade, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regt. (2 squadrons) and the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (less 1 Company). The Officer Commanding Troops was Colonel A.H. Russell. In total Athenic carried 54 officers, 1,259 men and 339 horses. She proceeded to Wellington and berthed there till 16 October 1914, when it was judged safe to depart. She sailed across the globe, sailing per convoy by way of Hobart, Albany, Colombo, Aden and finally arriving in Alexandria to disembark the soldiers on December 3, 1914. SS Athenic was designated at that time as being (His Majesty's New Zealand Transport) HMNZT 11. She was the largest troopship ever sent from New Zealand transporting New Zealand forces to the Middle East. Athenic acted several other times as a transport throughout WWI, with a new number for each voyage she undertook.
- Ship Description from The Ships List
- Athenic-class ocean liners at ssMaritime.com
- Auckland War Museum. Troopships: HMNZT II, Athenic
- Details of Athenic's service as a New Zealand transport throughout WWI From NZ Transport Ships at the Flotilla Australia website.