Return to Normalcy

After the war, Mauretania took American and Canadian servicemen home, her last trooping voyage made on 28 June 1919.  On 12 December 1918 Cunard decided that Mauretania’s homeport would now be Southampton instead of Liverpool.  On her way to New York, she would stop in Cherbourg, France.  She was refitted for civilian service in Southampton over the summer of 1919 and returned to passenger service on 21 September.  Lusitania survivor Barbara Anderson was one of the passengers who sailed on Mauretania’s 1919 Christmas service to New York. An extensive overhaul was originally planned for Mauretania in 1920, but excessive passenger demand delayed her renovation.  On 22 July 1921, while docked at Southampton, a fire broke out on E deck.  The fire spread rapidly and both the fire brigade and crew were needed to extinguish it.  The fire damage caused was confined to the first class cabin area, so much water had pumped into the ship to put out the fire and Mauretania seemed to be in danger of capsizing.  She was drained safely, and Cunard decided to take this opportunity to give Mauretania her long-overdue renovation. Mauretania returned to Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richarsdon at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, England where she was converted to oil firing.  She returned to North Atlantic service in March 1922.  Mauretania’s fuel economy had improved with the conversion, but her speed had become inconsistent.  On 25 July, Mauretania broke her pre-war speed record for an average speed of 26 knots.  In another 1922 crossing, she only managed an average speed of 19 knots. In July 1923, an American travel company chartered Mauretania for a Mediterranean cruise. Cunard decided that Mauretania’s turbine engines needed an overhaul, and in November 1923, began another round of refitting in Southampton.  Partway through the refit, the shipyard workers went on strike, so Cunard had Mauretaniatowed to Cherbourg by tugboats, where the work was finished at another shipyard.  Mauretania returned to Atlantic service in May 1924. In 1924, the Cowes Harbour Commission complained that Mauretania’s speed as she left the Solent was causing a heavy wash that was flooding the town’s main street.  The Government decided that the flooding was the fault of the ship’s pilot.

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