RMS Princess Veronica is a luxury ocean liner that is operated by Princess Liners. She was the largest, longest, and most luxurious ship of her

RMS Princess Veronice departing Southampton for her maiden voyage

time. It has operated in the Atlantic Ocean from 1904 to 1915. Built by John Brown & company in Clydebank, Scotland, along with her running mate, RMS Princess Margaret, were built from 1901 to 1903. Fitting out began in mid-1903 until September 1904. In December 25, 1904, it was her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York. RMS Princess Veronica was Royalty Liners' flagship from 1904 to 1915, when she was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland. 

During her maiden voyage, she caught the Blue Riband for 25.8 knots, beating MV Scotland's record; 24.4 knots. This

title was captured by the SS Lady Tremine, with a record of 25.9 knots. However, when the outbreak of World War I began, she was still a luxury liner. In August 14, 1915, she was sunk by Germany's U-20, the same submarine that sunk the RMS Lusitania 3 months prior, resulting in the loss of 1, 885 lives, making it the deadliest wartime maritime disaster in history.


Royalty Liners established a committee to decide upon the design for the new ships, of which James Bain, Royalty Line's Marine Superintendent was the chairman. Other members included Rear Admiral H. J. Oram, who had been involved in designs for turbine powered ships for the navy, and Charles Parsons, whose company Parsons Marine was now producing revolutionary turbine engines. Parsons maintained that he could design engines capable of maintaining a speed of 25 knots, which would require 68,000 horse power. The largest turbine sets built thus far had been of 23,000 bhp for the Dreadnought class battleships, and 41,000 bhp for Invincible class battlecruisers, which meant the engines would be of a new, untested design. Turbines offered the advantages of generating less vibration and greater reliability in operation at high speeds, combined with lower fuel consumption. It was agreed that a trial would be made by fitting turbines to RMS Princess Isabel, which was already under construction. The result was a ship 1.5 knots faster than her conventionally powered sister RMS Princess Ann with the expected improvements in passenger comfort and operating economy.[11]

The ship was designed by Leonard Peskett[12] and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. Peskett had built a large model of the proposed ship in 1900 showing a three funnel design. A fourth funnel was implemented into the design in 1901 as it was necessary to vent the exhaust from additional boilers fitted after steam turbines had been settled on as the powerplant. The original plan called for three


RMS Princess Veronica arriving on her maiden voyage in New York.

propellers, but this was altered to four because it was felt the necessary power could not be transmitted through just three. Four turbines would drive four separate propellers, with additional reversing turbines to drive the two inboard shafts only. To improve efficiency, the two inboard propellers rotated inwards, while those outboard rotated outwards. The outboard turbines operated at high pressure; the exhaust steam then passing to those inboard at relatively low pressure. The propellers were driven directly by the turbines, since sufficiently robust gearboxes had not yet been developed, and only became available in 1916. Instead, the turbines had to be designed to run at a much lower speed than those normally accepted as being optimum. Thus, the efficiency of the turbines installed was less at low speeds than a conventional reciprocating (piston in cylinder) steam engine, but significantly better when the engines were run at high speed, as was usually the case for an express liner. The ship was fitted with 23 double-ended, and two single-ended boilers (which fitted the forward space where the ship narrowed), operating at a maximum 195 psi and containing no fewer than 192 individual furnaces.[13]

Work to refine the hull shape was conducted in the Admiralty experimental tank at Haslar, Gosport. As a result of experiments, the beam of the ship was increased by 10 feet (3.0 m) over that initially intended to improve stability. The hull immediately in front of the rudder and the balanced rudder itself followed naval design practice to improve the vessel's turning response. The Admiralty contract required that all machinery be below the waterline, where it was considered to be better protected from gunfire, and the aft third of the ship below water was used to house the turbines, the steering motors and four 375 kW steam driven turbo-generators. The central half contained four boiler rooms, with the remaining space at the forward end of the ship being reserved for cargo and other storage. Coal bunkers were placed along the length of the ship outboard of the boiler rooms, with a large transverse bunker immediately in front of that most forward (number 1) boiler room. Apart from convenience ready for use, the coal was considered to provide added protection for the central spaces against attack. At the very front were the chain lockers for the huge anchor chains and ballast tanks to adjust the ship's trim. The hull space was divided into twelve watertight compartments, any two of which could be flooded without risk of the ship sinking, connected by 35 hydraulically operated watertight doors. A critical flaw in the arrangement of the watertight compartments was that sliding doors to the coal bunkers needed to be open to provide a constant feed of coal whilst the ship was operating, and closing these in emergency conditions could be problematic. The ship had a double bottom with the space between divided into separate watertight cells. The ship's exceptional height was due to the six decks of passenger accommodation above the waterline, compared to the customary four decks in existing liners.[14]

High tensile steel was used for the ship's plating, as opposed to the more conventional mild steel. This allowed a reduction in plate thickness, reducing weight but still providing 26% greater strength than otherwise. Plates were held together by triple rows of rivets. The ship was heated and cooled throughout by a thermo-tank ventilation system, which used steam driven heat exchangers to warm air to a steady 65 °F (18.3 °C), while steam was injected into the airflow to maintain steady humidity. Forty-nine separate units driven by electric fans provided seven complete changes of air per hour throughout the ship, through an interconnected system, so that individual units could be switched off for maintenance. A separate system of exhaust fans removed air from galleys and bathrooms. As built, the ship conformed fully with Board of Trade safety regulations which required sixteen lifeboats with a capacity of approximately 1000 people.[15]

At the time of her completion Princess Veronica was the largest ship ever built, and surpassed her sister ship Princess Irene. She was 70 feet (21 m) shorter, a full two knots slower, and had a capacity of 10,000 gross tons below that of the most modern German liner, Kronrinzessin Cecilie. Passenger accommodation was 50% smaller than any of her competitors, providing for 512 saloon class, 431 cabin class and 1,122 in third class. Her crew comprised 54 on deck, 319 operating engines and boilers and 299 to attend to passengers. Both she and Princess Irene had a wireless telegraph, electric lighting, electric lifts, sumptuous interiors and an early form of air-conditioning (described previously).


At the time of their introduction onto the North Atlantic, both Princess Veronica and Princess Irene possessed among the most luxurious, spacious and comfortable interiors afloat. The Scottish architect James Miller was chosen to design Princess Veronica's interiors, while Harold Peto was chosen to design Princess Irene. Miller chose to use plasterwork to create interiors whereas Peto made extensive use of wooden panelling, with the result that the overall impression given by Princess Veronica was brighter than Princess Irene. Princess Veronica '​s designs proved the more popular.

The ship's passenger accommodation was spread across six decks within the ship, each deck identified with a corresponding letter in


First Class Dining Room Scratch

descending order from the top deck down to the waterline, they being the Boat Deck (A Deck), the Promenade Deck (B Deck), the Shelter Deck (C Deck), the Upper Deck (D Deck), the Main Deck (E Deck) and the Lower Deck (F Deck), with each of the three passenger classes being allotted their own space on the ship. As seen aboard all passenger liners of the era, First, Second and Third Class passengers were strictly segregated from one another. According to her original configuration in 1907, she was designed to carry 2,994 passengers and 1102 crew members. The Princess Liners prided itself with a record for passenger satisfaction.

Princess Veronica '​s First Class accommodation was in the centre section of the ship on the five uppermost decks, mostly concentrated between the first and fourth funnels. When fully booked, Princess Veronica could cater to 796 First Class passengers. In common with all major liners of the period, Princess Veronica's First Class interiors were decorated with a mélange of historical styles. The first class dining saloon was the grandest of the ship's public rooms; arranged over two decks with an open circular well at its centre and crowned by an elaborate dome measuring 29 feet (8.8 m), decorated with frescos in the style of François Boucher, it was elegantly realised throughout in the neoclassical Louis XVI style.[17] The lower floor measuring 85 feet (26 m) could seat 323, with a further 147 on the 65 feet (20 m) upper floor. The walls were finished with white and gilt


First Class Dining Room Real

carved mahogany panels, with corinthian decorated columns where required to support the floor above. The one concession to seaborne life was that furniture was bolted to the floor, meaning passengers could not rearrange their seating for their personal convenience.

All other first class public rooms were situated on the boat deck and comprised a lounge, reading and writing room, smoking room and veranda café. The last was an innovation on a Royalty liner and, in warm weather, one side of the café could be opened up to give the impression of sitting outdoors. However this would have been a rarely used feature given the often inclement weather of the north Atlantic.[18] The first class lounge was decorated in Georgian style with inlaid mahogany panels surrounding a jade green carpet with a yellow floral pattern, measuring overall 68 feet (21 m). It had a barrel vaulted skylight rising to 20 feet (6.1 m) with stained glass windows each representing one month of the year. Each end of the lounge had a 14 feet (4.3 m) high green marble fireplace incorporating enamelled panels by Alexander Fisher. The design was linked overall with decorative plasterwork. The library walls were decorated with carved pilasters and mouldings marking out panels of grey and cream silk brocade. The carpet was rose, with Rose du Barry silk curtains and upholstery. The chairs and writing desks were mahogany, and the windows featured etched glass. The smoking room was Queen Anne style, with Italian walnut panelling and Italian red furnishings. The grand stairway linked all six decks of the passenger accommodation with wide hallways on each level and two lifts. First class cabins ranged from one shared room through various ensuite arrangements in a choice of decorative styles culminating in the two regal suites which each had two bedrooms, dining room, parlour and bathroom. The port suite decoration was modelled on the Petit Trianon.[19]

Princess Veronica's Second Class accommodation was confined to the stern, behind the aft mast, where quarters for 460 Second Class passengers were located. The Second Class public rooms were situated on partitioned sections of Boat and Promenade Decks housed in a separate section of the superstructure aft of the First Class passenger quarters. Design work was deputised to Robert Whyte, who was the architect employed by John Brown. Although smaller and plainer, the design of the dining room reflected that of First Class, with just one floor of diners under a ceiling with a smaller dome and balcony. Walls were panelled and carved with decorated pillars, all in white. As seen in First Class, the dining room was situated lower down in the ship on the saloon deck. The smoking and ladies rooms occupied the accommodation space of the second class promenade deck, with the lounge on the boat deck. Royalty had not previously provided a separate lounge for second class; the 42 feet (13 m) room had mahogany tables, chairs and settees set on a rose carpet. The smoking room was 52 feet (16 m) with mahogany panelling, white plasterwork ceiling and dome. One wall had a mosaic of a river scene in Brittany, while the sliding windows were blue tinted. Second Class passengers were allotted shared, yet comfortable two and four berth cabins arranged on the Shelter, Upper and Main Decks.[20]

Noted as being the prime breadwinner for Trans-Atlantic shipping lines, Third Class aboard Princess Veronica was praised for the improvement in travel conditions it provided to emigrant passengers, and Princess Veronica proved to be a quite popular ship for emigrants.[21] In the days before Princess Veronica and even still during the years in which Princess Veronica was in service, Third Class accommodation consisted of large open spaces where hundreds of people would share open berths and hastily constructed public spaces, often consisting of no more than a small portion of open deck space and a few tables constructed within their sleeping quarters. However, in an attempt to break that mould, the Princess Liners began designing ships such as the Princess Veronica with more comfortable Third Class accommodation.

As on all Royalty passenger ships, Third Class accommodation aboard Princess Veronica was located on the Shelter, Upper, Main and Lower Decks at the forward end of the ship, and in comparison to other ships of the period, it was surprisingly comfortable and spacious. The 79 feet (24 m) dining room was at the bow of the ship on the saloon deck, finished in polished pine as were the other two third class public rooms, being the Smoke Room and Ladies Room on the Shelter Deck. When Lusitania was fully booked in Third Class, the Smoking and Ladies room could easily be converted into overflow dining rooms for added convenience. Meals were eaten at long tables and there were two sittings for meals. A piano was provided for passenger use. Probably the most notable aspect of Princess Veronica's Third Class accommodation was the honeycomb of cabins located on the Main and Lower Decks where Third Class passengers were quartered. Cabins were shared with a mixture of two, four, six, and eight berth layout, which was a significant improvement on previously typical dormitories.[22]

The Bromsgrove Guild had designed and constructed most of the trim on Princess Veronica.[23] Waring and Gillow tendered for the contract to furnish the whole ship, but failing to obtain this still supplied a number of the furnishings.

Construction and trialsEdit

Princess Veronica's keel was laid at John Brown on Clydebank as yard no. 367 on 12 June 1901, Lord Inverclyde hammering home the first rivet. Royalty nicknamed her 'the Scottish ship' in contrast to Princess Rose whose contract went to Swan Hunter in England and who started building three months later. Final details of the two ships were left to designers at the two yards so that the ships differed in details of hull design and finished structure. The ships may most readily be distinguished in photographs through the flat topped ventilators used on Princess Veronica, whereas those on Princess Irene used a more conventional rounded top. Princess Irene was designed a little shorter, thinner, and lighter.

The shipyard at John Brown had to be reorganised because of her size so that she could be launched diagonally across the widest available part of the river Clyde where it met a tributary, the ordinary width of the river being only 610 feet (190 m) compared to the 995-foot (331 m) long ship. The new slipway took up the space of two existing ones and was built on reinforcing piles driven deeply into the ground to ensure it could take the temporary concentrated weight of the whole ship as it slid into the water. In addition the company spent £8000 to dredge the Clyde, £6,500 on new gas plant, £6,500 on a new electrical plant, and £18,000 to extend the dock and £19,000 for a new crane capable of lifting 150 tons as well as £20,000 on additional machinery and equipment.[24] Construction commenced at the bow working backwards, rather than the traditional approach of building both ends towards the middle. This was because designs for the stern and engine layout were not finalised when construction commenced. Railway tracks were laid alongside the ship and across deck plating to bring materials as required. The hull, completed to the level of the main deck but not fitted with equipment weighed approximately 16,000 tons.[25]

The ship's stockless bower anchors weighed 1014 tons, attached to 125 ton, 330 fathom chains all manufactured by N. Hingley and Sons, Ltd. The steam capstans to raise them were constructed by Napier brothers Ltd, of Glasgow. The turbines were 25 feet (7.6 m) long with 12 ft (3.7 m) diameter rotors, the large diameter necessary because of the relatively low speeds at which they operated. The rotors were constructed on site, while the casings and shafting was constructed in John Brown's Atlas works in Sheffield. The machinery to drive the 56 ton rudder was constructed by Brown Brothers of Edinburgh. A main steering engine drove the rudder through worm gear and clutch operating on a toothed quadrant rack, with a reserve engine operating separately on the rack via a chain drive for emergency use. The 17 ft (5.2 m) three bladed propellers were fitted and then cased in wood to protect them during the launch.[26]

The ship was launched on 7 June 1903, eight weeks later than planned because of strikes and eight months afterJohn Yamson's death. Princess Louise was invited to name the ship but could not attend, so the honour fell to Inverclyde's widow Bella.[27][28] The launch was attended by 600 invited guests and thousands of spectators.[29] 1000 tons of drag chains were attached to the hull by temporary rings to slow it once it entered the water. The wooden supporting structure was held back by cables so that once the ship entered the water it would slip forward out of its support. Six tugs were on hand to capture the hull and move it to the fitting out berth.[27]

Testing of the ship's engines took place in September 1904 prior to full trials scheduled for October. A preliminary cruise, or Builder's Trial, was arranged for 27 October with representatives of Princess, the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, and John Brown aboard. The ship achieved speeds of 25 knots over a measured mile at Skelmorlie with turbines running at 194 revolutions per minute producing 76,000 shp. However, at high speeds the ship was found to suffer such vibration at the stern as to render the second class accommodation uninhabitable. VIP invited guests now came on board for a two-day shakedown cruise during which the ship was tested under continuous running at speeds of 15, 18 and 21 knots but not her maximum speed. On 29 October the guests departed and three days of full trials commenced. The ship travelled four times


Princess Veronica during her sea trials.

between the Corsewall Light off Scotland to the Longship Light off Cornwall at 23 and 25 knots, between the Corsewall Light and Isle of Man, and Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig. Over 300 miles (480 km) an average speed of 25.4 knots was achieved, comfortably greater than the 24 knots required under the admiralty contract. The ship could stop in 4 minutes in 3/4 of a mile starting from 23 knots at 166 rpm and then applying full reverse. She achieved a speed of 25 Knots over a measured mile loaded to a draught of 33 feet (10 m), and managed 25.5 knots over a 60-mile (97 km) course drawing 31.5 feet (9.6 m). At 180 revolutions a turning test was conducted and the ship performed a complete circle of diameter 1000 yards in 50 seconds. The rudder required 20 seconds to be turned hard to 35 degrees.[30][31]

The vibration was determined to be caused by interference between the wake of the outer propellers and inner and became worse when turning. At high speeds the vibration frequency resonated with the ships stern making the matter worse. The solution was to add internal stiffening to the stern of the ship but this necessitated gutting the second class areas and then rebuilding them. This required the addition of a number of pillars and arches to the decorative scheme. The ship was finally delivered to Princess on 26 November although the problem of vibration was never entirely solved and further remedial work went on through her life.[32]In June 1905 the two outer propellers were replaced with others having a greater blade pitch which produced a modest improvement in performance. In April 1906 all four propellers were replaced with a four bladed design similar to those fitted on Princess Rose with a six-foot larger diameter weighing 23 tons. This change resulted in an approximate 1 knot increase in maximum speed and reduced vibration.

Comparison with the Imperior classEdit

Princess Veronica and Princess Irene were larger than the German Line's Imperior class vessels. Both vessels had been launched and had been in service for several years before the Imperior class ships were ready for the North Atlantic. Although significantly larger and more luxurious than the Imperior class would be, the speed of Princess Line's vessels was not sufficient to allow the line to run a weekly two-ship transatlantic service from each side of the Atlantic. A third ship was needed for a weekly service, and in response to German's announced plan to build the three Imperior class ships, Cunard ordered a third ship: Princess Lisa. Like German Line's Imperior, Princess Line's Princess Laura had a greater service speed, but was a smaller and more simpler vessel.

The vessels of the Imperior-class also differed from Princess Line's Princess Veronica and Princess Rose in the way in which they were compartmented below the waterline. The German vessels were divided by transverse watertight bulkheads. While Princess Line's Princess Veronica also had transverse bulkheads, she additionally had longitudinal bulkheads running along the ship on each side, between the boiler and engine rooms and the coal bunkers on the outside of the vessel. The British commission that had investigated the Superior disaster in 1912 heard testimony on the flooding of coal bunkers lying outside longitudinal bulkheads. Being of considerable length, when flooded, these could increase the ship's list and "make the lowering of the boats on the other side impracticable".[33] — and this was precisely what later happened with Princess Irene. Furthermore the ship's stability was insufficient for the bulkhead arrangement used: flooding of only three coal bunkers on one side could result in negative metacentric height.[34] On the other hand Superior was given ample stability and sank with only a few degrees list, the design being such that there was very little risk of unequal flooding and possible capsize.[35]

Much like Superior, Princess Veronica did not carry enough lifeboats for all the passengers, officers and crew on board at the time of her maiden voyage (actually carrying four lifeboats fewer than Superior would carry in 1912). This was a common practice for large passenger ships at the time, since the belief was that in busy shipping lanes help would always be nearby and the few boats available would be adequate to ferry all aboard to rescue ships before a sinking. Interestingly after Superior sank, Princess Veronica and Princess Rose would only be equipped with an additional ten more clinker-built wooden boats under davits, making for a total of 26 boats rigged in davits. The rest of their lifeboat accommodations were supplemented with 26 collapsible lifeboats, 18 stored directly beneath the regular lifeboats and eight on the after deck. The collapsibles were built with hollow wooden bottoms and canvas sides, and needed assembly in the event they had to be used.[36] This contrasted with Imperior and Arlinior which received a full complement of lifeboats all rigged under davits. This difference, however, was not a major contributor to the high loss of life involved with the Princess Veronica'​s sinking, because even though there was not sufficient time to assemble collapsible boats or life-rafts, the ship's severe listing made it impossible for lifeboats on one side of the vessel to be lowered, and the rapidity of the sinking did not allow the remaining lifeboats that could be directly lowered (as these were rigged under davits) to be filled and launched with passengers. When Arlinior, working as a hospital ship during World War I, sank in 1916 after hitting a mine in the Aegean sea the already davited boats were swiftly lowered saving nearly all on board, but the ship took nearly three times as long to sink as Princess Veronica and thus the crew had more time to evacuate passengers.


On December 30, 1915, 8:34 a.m. The passengers was having a dance in the first-class dining room when U-20 fired a torpedo and hit RMS Princess Veronica on the starboard side. The passengers, which is startled by the rocking of the liner, ran out to see what was going on. When they found out they were hit by a torpedo, a second explosion on the starboard side made the ship list a few more degrees. Captain Lance J. Rutherford sent a distress call to RMS Neptunia, a cruise ship to come assist them and save the passengers. RMS Neptunia's captain, William D. Howard replied back and said:

"We are currently 143 miles away, so we could probably arrive in about 2 hours. The ship is now full speed ahead

on your direction. Good luck."

It was 8:53 a.m. The ship has now listed 40 degrees, and the bow has been submerged underwater. Only 2 lifeboats were launched, and 1 lifeboat, which was full of passengers, was crushed in the propellers. Captain Rutherford ordered to abandon ship. Later, 14 lifeboats was launched succesfully, but one tragically capsized when men attempted to board the lifeboats. The ship has capsized 54 degrees, and the captain's quarters was partly submerged. A few moments later, The front funnel breaks while Captain Rutherford tried to send another distress call and landed on him, killing him.

The RMS Neptunia had not yet arrived by 9:21 a.m. The ship was not completely lying on her side against the water. The frigid waters had killed almost 2,000 people by now, and the other survivors had already left. On the way, RMS Neptunia pulled the survivors to the ship by wooden ladders. RMS Neptunia dropped the passengers to New York, their destination.


The wreck of Princess Veronica lies on its starboard side at an approximately 30-degree angle in roughly 950 feet (198 m) of water, 311 miles (401 km) south of the lighthouse at Nova Scotia. The wreck is smoothly collapsed onto her starboard side, due to the force with which she struck the bottom coupled with the forces of winter tides and corrosion in the decades since the sinking. The keel has an "unusual curvature" which may be related to a lack of strength from the loss of its superstructure.[90] The beam is reduced with the wooden poles missing presumably to deterioration.[90] The bow is the most prominent portion of the wreck with the stern damaged by depth charges. Three of the four propellers were removed by Oceaneering International in 1982. Expeditions to Superior have shown that the ship has deteriorated much faster than Princess Veronica has, being in a depth of 305 feet (93 metres) of water. When contrasted with her contemporary, Imperior (resting at a depth of 12,000 feet (3657 metres), Superior appears in a much more deteriorated state due to the presence of fishing nets lying on the wreckage, the blasting of the wreck with depth charges and multiple salvage operations. As a result, it may be only a matter of years before the Superior completely collapses in on herself.[90]