Two other Titanic ships were built and had tragic endings as well

Wreck of the Titanic

You've probably heard of the Titanic, the most famous shipwreck in history. But did you know that the Titanic had two sister ships, the Britannic and the Olympic?


These three vessels were part of the White Star Line's Olympic-class liners, designed to be the largest, most luxurious and safest ships of their time.


Here, we'll explore the fascinating stories of the Britannic and the Olympic, how they differed from the Titanic, and what happened to them after their maiden voyages. 

What were the 'Olympic Class' ships?

The Olympic class ships were a trio of British ocean liners built by the Harland & Wolff shipyard for the White Star Line during the early 20th century.


They were Olympic (1911), Titanic (1912) and Britannic (1914).


All three were designed to be the largest and most luxurious passenger ships at that time, designed to give White Star an advantage in the transatlantic passenger trade.  


Titanic was the second and the most famous of the three sisters. She was launched in 1911 and entered service in 1912.


She was widely regarded as unsinkable, but she struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, killing more than 1,500 people. She remains one of the most tragic and iconic maritime disasters in history. 


But the two others, which are less famous, had far more enduring careers. 

RMS Olympic

The Olympic was launched on October 20, 1910, and made her maiden voyage on June 14, 1911, from Southampton to New York.


She was the largest ship in the world until her sister ship Titanic surpassed her in gross tonnage in 1912.


The Olympic had a successful career as a passenger ship, carrying celebrities, politicians, and wealthy travelers across the Atlantic.


She also served as a troopship during World War I, earning the nickname "Old Reliable" for her reliability and endurance. 

The Olympic survived several accidents and collisions during her service, including a collision with a British warship in 1911, a near-miss with an iceberg in 1912, and a ramming of a German submarine in 1918.


She underwent several refits and modernizations over the years, including the installation of oil-fired boilers, new propellers, and additional lifeboats.


She also adopted some of the features of her sister ship Britannic. 

The Olympic and the Titanic together

The Olympic continued to operate as a passenger ship after World War I, but faced increasing competition from newer and faster liners, such as the Cunard Line's Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.


She also suffered from the decline in demand for trans-Atlantic travel due to the Great Depression and the rise of air travel.


In 1934, the White Star Line merged with the Cunard Line, and the Olympic became part of the new Cunard-White Star Line.


She made her last voyage in March 1935, and was retired from service in April 1935.


She was sold for scrap later that year, and was dismantled in Jarrow, England, between 1935 and 1937. 

HMHS Britannic

The Britannic was the last of the three Olympic class ships and was designed to be a luxury liner for transatlantic passengers.


It was also modified to be safer than its sister ships after the Titanic sank in 1912.


Some of the changes included more lifeboats, higher watertight compartments, and a double hull. 


The Britannic never served as a commercial vessel, however, because it was completed after the outbreak of World War I in 1914.


The British government requisitioned the Britannic as a hospital ship, and it was renamed His Majesty's Hospital Ship (HMHS) Britannic.


The Britannic made five successful voyages to the Mediterranean, transporting wounded soldiers from various battlefields to England. 

The Britannic as a hospital ship

On November 21, 1916, the Britannic was on its way to pick up more casualties from Greece when it hit a mine or a torpedo near the island of Kea.


The explosion damaged six of the watertight compartments and caused water to flood in through the open portholes.


The Britannic's captain, Charles Bartlett, tried to beach the ship on Kea, but it was too late.


The Britannic sank in less than an hour, taking 30 lives with it. More than 1,000 people were rescued by nearby ships. 


The Britannic remains the largest in-tact shipwreck in the world, lying at a depth of about 400 feet (120 meters) in the Aegean Sea.


It was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in 1975 and has been explored by several expeditions since then.


The Britannic is considered a historical and archaeological treasure, as well as a memorial to those who died on board. 

Differences between the Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic

The main differences between the three Olympic class ships were their size, design, and service.


Britannic was slightly larger than her sisters, with a gross tonnage of 48,158 tons, compared to 46,328 tons for Titanic and 45,324 tons for Olympic.


She also had a more powerful turbine engine and a larger rudder for better maneuverability.


Titanic had some minor design improvements over Olympic, such as an enclosed promenade deck on A-deck and more lifeboats.


Olympic had some modifications after Titanic's sinking, such as a double hull and additional lifeboats.


All three ships had different careers, with Olympic being the only one that served as a civilian liner for most of her life, Titanic being the only one that sank on her maiden voyage, and Britannic being the only one that served as a hospital ship. 

Remembering the sister ships

So, while the Olympic and Britannic may not have had the same tragic end as their sister ship, the Titanic, they still had impressive and unique stories of their own.


These two vessels were symbols of luxury and innovation during their time and continued to leave a lasting legacy even after they were retired from service.


The Olympic and Britannic may not be household names like the Titanic, but they are still worth remembering and exploring for their contributions to maritime history. 

Cruise ship at night