The Ship
The Ship

A "Palatial" Steamer. The new twin-screw steamer 'Republic,' 15,400 tons ... will stand comparison with anything afloat for the excellence, comliness, and comfort of passenger accommodation. The 'Republic' is a vessel which calls for distinct mention among many notable craft.

White Star Line booklet, circa 1908
See also: White Star Line Brochure, 1906

She was a magnificently equipped vessel of 16000 tons, and was known as the “millionaires' ship,” on account of the number of well-known and immensely rich 
Americans who traveled by her.

The Republic and The Delhi, Daily Telegraph of London
Tuesday April 16, 1912. (In regard to the loss of RMS Titanic.)  

The REPUBLIC, often referred to as a "palatial" steamship, was built in 1903 at the Harland and Wolff shipyards, Belfast, yard (hull) number 345. Her official number was 118043, her code letters VFPK, she was British flagged and registered at Liverpool. She was owned by the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (100% of whose stock was owned by J.P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine Company), who did business as White Star Line. She was a steel, twin screw 4 masted vessel, at 15378 gross, 14301 under deck, 9742 net registered tonnage, and her displacement on a mean draft of 34 ft. 1 in. was 27,220 tons. Her length was 570.0 feet, with a 67' 8" breadth and 24' depth. She had 5 decks, 12 water-tight compartments, and was equipped with electric light and refrigeration machinery. She was considered "practically unsinkable."1 In 1909, the Republic was one of the largest, most modern, luxurious passenger vessels afloat.

Originally built for the Dominion Line and christened COLUMBUS, she was placed into service between Liverpool and Boston, touching at Queenstown. Accommodations were available for 280 persons in her first cabin and 250 in her second cabin, while her steerage could hold 2,300 passengers.2 She had a crew of about 300. She made her first trip across the Atlantic in October, 1903 and shortly thereafter was transferred to the White Star Line and employed in the Boston-Mediterranean service.

At the time of transfer, her name was changed to REPUBLIC to correspond in termination (..."IC," e.g. Titanic, Olympic, Oceanic) with all other ships of the White Star Line. Republic spent fall and winter on White Star Line's Mediterranean service, from both Boston and New York in early 1904 and thereafter primarily from New York.



Flagship of the White Star Boston
Service - Only Four Years Old.

The White Star liner Republic was commissioned in 1904. She has been regarded as the finest liner in the White Star Boston-European service, of which she was flagship. Since she took her place in the service she has several times been used in the New York-Mediterranean service in the Winter season. The voyage that ended so disastrously off Nantucket yesterday was one of these extra assignments.
The Republic was of 15,400 tons displacement. For several years she held the record for the fastest passages between Boston and Queenstown. She was luxuriously equipped for the saloon passenger trade, and her second-cabin accommodations, which were not used in this trip, compare favorably with the second-cabin equipment of any liner afloat.
The finest apartments on the liner were the dining saloon with its seating capacity of 200 diners; the library, the smoking room, and the lounge. The dining saloon was finished in ornamental wood. The upholstery was of rich texture, and the wood carvings were among the finest to be found on any vessel afloat. The great dome that formed the principal decorative feature of the ceiling of the dining saloon was another much admired fixture. The library and smoking rooms were equally well equipped.
The Lounge was put on the promenade deck, and was perhaps the most popular apartment, particularly with the women. Suites for saloon passengers and the cabins de luxe were splendidly furnished apartments.
The Republic was a single funnel ship, 570 feet long, 67.8 feet wide, and 24 feet deep. She had twelve water-tight compartments and a double skin. The largest single compartment was that amidships, containing the engines. She was built by Harland & Wolff, at Belfast, in 1903, and was commissioned the following year.
A previous collision in which the Republic figured was a slight one on Sunday, Feb. 16, 1907. While entering the harbor of Naples the Republic and the Centro America, an Italian Steamer, crashed together. No one was hurt, but the passengers of the Republic were alarmed. Both ships were considerably damaged.
On her first trip from Boston to Liverpool the Republic, at that time the Columbus, carried the Honourable Artillery Company of London at the conclusion of their tour of the United States as the guests of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. On her last trip to New York the Republic brought the first refugees from the Sicilian and Calabrian earthquake to land on American shores.
After the acquisition of the Dominion Line by the White Star Line the renamed vessel was placed in the newly established Boston-Mediterranean service, together with the Canopic and Romanic, also purchased from the Dominion Line. Later the Republic was transferred to the New York-Mediterranean service.

NY Times, Jan. 24, 09, 2:6


The "Republic" was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast in 1903. She was a 15,378 gross ton ship, length 570ft x beam 67.8ft, one funnel, four masts, twin screw and a service speed of 16 knots. There was accommodation for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers. Launched on 26/2/1903 as the "Columbus" for the Dominion Line of Liverpool, she sailed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to Boston on 1/10/1903. After only two voyages she was taken over, together with the company's Liverpool - Boston service, by the White Star Line. Renamed "Republic" she commenced her first Liverpool - Boston voyage for White Star on 17/12/1903. On 2/1/1904 she started her first Boston - Naples - Genoa sailing and in April 1904 started her last Genoa - Naples - Boston (arr.27th April) crossing. In May 1904 she sailed from Boston to Liverpool and on 22/9/1904 started her last Liverpool - Boston crossing. In October 1904 she sailed from Boston for Naples, Genoa, Naples and New York, and subsequently sailed between New York and Mediterranean ports in the autumn and winter; and Liverpool - Boston in the spring and summer. On 23/1/1909 she collided with the Italian liner "Florida" near Nantucket and sank the following day with the loss of four lives.

North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor, vol.2, p. 763.


1 The Scientific American, February 6, 09, 110:1. See also: The Practically Unsinkable Republic.
2 Shipping Gazette and Lloyd's List, September 17, 1903, 3:2; Boston Herald, January 24, 1909, 2:4, 5.
On a fully booked journey, Republic had carried 2,300 steerage passengers. Washington Post, Dec. 1, 1907, 4:2.