Prewar Years

Mauretania departed Liverpool on her maiden voyage on 16 November 1907 under the command of Captain John T. Pritchard.  Severe storms delayed her crossing, but she still made good time and arrived in New York on 22 November.  On her return trip she managed to capture the eastbound record for fastest Atlantic crossing, with an average speed of 23.69 knots (43.87 km/h). On 2 May 1908, Mauretania was thought to have struck a submerged object, damaging her propeller blades.  Cunard took the situation as an opportunity to replace all of her propellers with four-bladed propellers.  She was also given a refit in the Canada Graving Dock later that year.  Mauretania would not return to service until 23 January 1909.  From April to September, Mauretania and Lusitania competed for the Blue Riband until Mauretania captured both eastbound and westbound speed records for good in September 1909.  Mauretania would be the speed record holder for the next 20 years, until the debut of Norddeutscher Lloyd’s Bremen in July 1929. In December 1910, Mauretania was in Liverpool when she broke free from her moorings on the River Mersey.  She sustained some damage that caused the cancellation of Mauretania’s special express Christmas crossing to New York.  In her place, Lusitania, which had just returned from New York, completed a quick turnaround and covered Mauretania’s Christmas voyage under the command of Captain James Charles. By 1909 customers wanted ports closer to London than Liverpool. Thus Fishguard, Wales became a port of call for transatlantic ocean liners.  On 30 August 1909, Mauretania became the first Cunarder to use the new port. Captain John T. Pritchard retired at the end of 1909 and Captain William Thomas Turner became Mauretania’s new captain. Mauretania also attracted a number of notable passengers throughout her career.  Prince Albert and Prince Radizwill crossed in December 1910, as did Alexander Carlisle, the managing director of Harland and Wolff, the Belfast shipyard which were building OlympicTitanic, and Britannic.  Mauretania brought thousands of visitors to Britain in June 1911 for the Coronation of King George V.  In 1912, Mauretania gained further distinction when both King George and Queen Mary were given a special tour of the ship. Mauretania returned to Liverpool for her annual overhaul in December 1913, where her main propulsion turbines were worked on.  On 26 January 1914, four men were killed and six were injured when one of the gas cylinders exploded as they were working on one of her steam turbines.  The fire from the explosion was extinguished, and the damage was limited to the blades in her starboard turbine.  She returned to the Atlantic service that March.  Also in 1914, Mauretania and Lusitania were joined by a third, the larger but slower Aquitania.

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