The new Mauretania,
second to bear the illustrious name under the Cunard flag, carried on
Line’s tradition of unparalleled service. The new Mauretania
offered the same first class service, though on a much smaller scale
famous Cunard Queens, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The Mauretania
enjoyed immense popularity in the transatlantic trade among those
who preferred the atmosphere of a smaller ship.
slogan for the new Mauretania was:
"Europe bound - the magnificent Mauretania, proud successor to
the most famous names in transatlantic travel . . . preferred by those
the luxury of the world's largest liners on a more intimate scale . . .
treasure an extra day at sea to enjoy Cunard's wonderful food and
service . . .
to join in the sparkling round of happy shipboard diversions . . . or
relax in the contented conviction that "Getting There is
Half the Fun!" "
and Construction (1937 – 1939):
Mauretania (2) was built
by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead and was the largest ship built in England
at that time. She was also the first new ship delivered to the combined
Cunard-White Star Line. The new Mauretania
laid down on the 24th May 1937 as Yard Number 1029. This new
medium sized Cunarder was
on the 28th July 1938 at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead by Lady Bates, wife of the Cunard
chairman. She was named Mauretania to honour the previous record
breaking Mauretania which had recently been retired in 1935. The ship
was designed for the London
to New York
service and was the largest vessel ever to navigate the River Thames
the Royal Docks. She was also intended to stand in for one of the
when they were undergoing maintenance.
a red letter day, not only for me but for Merseyside. The launch of the
largest ship that has ever been built in England. I hope that like her
namesake she may work her way into the affections of all who have to do
with her on both sides of the Atlantic. To the ship and all who serve
or sail in her I wish all good fortune. I name you Mauretania."
Words of Lady Bates at the Launch
Ceremony, 28th July 1938.
Mauretania's smart and stylish accommodation marked a further
enhancement to the standards of cabins, public rooms and general
facilities provided for passengers of all grades by Cunard Line.
Second World War (1939 – 1947):
Mauretania sailed on
her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York
on the 17th June 1939, after remaining in New York for a week she returned to Southampton via Cherbourg.
Like the Aquitania, 25 years before, the new Mauretania was to
experience only the briefest period of commercial operation before the
outbreak of hostilities halted this work for over 6 years. Returning
from the next voyage the Mauretania called at Southampton, Le Havre and finally to London where she berthed in the King
Dock. From August she was switched to the London
to New York
service she was intended for. Here she supplemented the Britannic
and Georgic on the London to New York service.
On the 11th
August 1939 she left on her final prewar voyage to New York and then was requisitioned
Government. The Mauretania was then
defensively armed with two 6 inch guns and some smaller weapons,
painted in battle
grey and was then despatched to America
at the end of December 1939.
months the ship
lay idle in New York
until it was decided to use her as a troopship. On 20 March 1940 she
from New York to Sydney,
to be converted for her new role. She had an exciting voyage out to
Australia via Bilbao, San Francisco and Honolulu, tracked for much of
the way by the enemy and having to evade concentrations of U-boats that
were known to be lying in wait for her. This conversion work was
carried out in April
and in May
she left Sydney as part of one of the
greatest convoys ever mustered for the transport of troops. With her
were the Queen
Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Aquitania,
with 2,000 troops,
bound for the River Clyde via South Africa.
Other notable liners in this great convoy were the Empress of Britain,
Empress of Canada, Empress of Asia and the Nieuw Amsterdam. During the
early stages of the war the ship transported Australian
troops to Suez, India
and Singapore but
mainly served on the North Atlantic.
Like the Aquitania, she amassed over 50,000 sea miles over the course
of her war duties, first criss-crossing the Indian Ocean, then working
the Atlantic with American and Canadian troops and finally serving in
the Pacific. One of her wartime voyages, of 28,662 nautical miles
duration, took her right around the world, taking 82 days to complete.
During this epic voyage she established a speed record for the crossing
time from Fremantle, Australia to Durban, South Africa. The 4000 mile
distance was covered in 8 days and 19 hours at an average speed of
21.06 knots. On the 8th
January 1941 she was involved in a minor collision with the American
Creek in New York
harbour. After the war had ended the Mauretania
made several further voyages for the Government repatriating troops.
mainly took the ship to Canada
During the Second World War she travelled 540,000 miles and carried
340,000 troops. She was never intended to be an exceptionally fast
ship. Despite this and the fact that her engines had received little
attention for six long years on war service, she achieved an impressive
turn of speed in 1945 making the passage from Bombay to the UK via the
Cape at an average speed of 23.4 knots! On the 2nd September
1946 she returned to Liverpool, was
released from Government service
immediately went into Gladstone Dock to be reconditioned by Cammell
Co. for return to Cunard Line service.
The Postwar Heyday
(1947 - 1962):
and refurbishment of the interior the Mauretania made her first
Atlantic crossing to New York
on the 26th April 1947. After using Liverpool as her home
the first two voyages she was thereafter based at Southampton.
Here she acted as the relief ship for the Queen Mary and Queen
Elizabeth, standing in on the transatlantic service when one of them
was undergoing maintenance.
By this time the London to New York service had been discontinued as
the Georgic with which she had operated the
service was in no fit state to resume
passenger duties, while the other partner the Britannic had been
transferred to a new Liverpool to New York service. Later that year she
began to be used as a cruise ship
during the winter
to the West Indies and the Caribbean.
called 'dollar-earning cruises' assisted the shattered British economy.
next 10 years she served on the Southampton to New
route during the summer months and operated on cruises from New York during
the winter months. When the
Mauretania was taken
in for her annual overhaul at Liverpool
December 1957 the opportunity was taken to fit
air-conditioning throughout the ship.
Mauretania goes cruising and the Final
Years (1962 - 1965):
1962, however, she was facing competition from much more modern ships
beginning to lose money for Cunard Line. In October 1962 the ship was
pale green, like the Caronia (the
famed Green Goddess) and the passenger accommodation was
to accommodate 406 First class, 364 Cabin class and 357 Tourist class
passengers. On the 28th March 1963 she began a new
calling at New York, Cannes, Genoa and
This, however, was a failure and by 1964 she was mainly employed
cruising from New York to the West Indies.
voyage was a Mediterranean cruise which left New York on the 15th
1965. It was announced that on her return to Southampton the Mauretania
would be withdrawn from service and sold. She arrived at Southampton
on the 10th November 1965 and had already been sold to the
Iron & Steel Corporation. On the 23rd November she
Ward's shipbreaking yard in Inverkeithing, Fife in Scotland.
On her final voyage the
Mauretania was commanded by Captain John Treasure-Jones, who navigated
straits of the Forth without tugs. It
sad end to a fine ocean liner – the second Mauretania.