The Surprising Fates of the 'Titanic's' Sister Ships

Shannon Leigh O'Neil

The Titanic , which sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912, had two sister ships almost identical in size and luxury: the Olympic and the Britannic . The White Star Line hoped to conquer its rivals in the booming transatlantic passenger trade with this state-of-the-art trio.

All three were built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast, but the stories of the Olympic and Britannic were overshadowed by their middle sister’s legend . Here’s what happened to the Titanic ’s two less-famous siblings.

The RMS Olympic : The White Star Line's "Old Reliable"

An advertisement for the RMS 'Olympic'

The RMS Olympic launched on October 20, 1910, and was the oldest of the three ships. Like the Titanic , it held a contract with the British government to carry mail (“RMS” stands for royal mail ship ), and it would follow the same route from Southampton, UK, to Cherbourg, France; Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland; and New York City. The Olympic could carry more than 2300 passengers at the very height of luxury . Its first voyage took place on June 14, 1911, without incident.

The Titanic ’s shocking sinking on April 15, 1912, suggested that the Olympic could suffer the same fate. White Star executives brought the ship back to the yard for extensive safety modifications, including raising the height of the watertight compartments and adding more lifeboats. The Olympic resumed transatlantic service a year after the T itanic disaster .

During the First World War , the refurbished Olympic served as a British troop transport vessel, earning the nickname “Old Reliable,” and even sank a German U-boat off the coast of Cornwall. After the war ended in 1918, the ship went back into service as a luxury passenger liner until the mid-1930s, when greater competition among shipping companies and the economic impact of the Great Depression made it unprofitable. In 1935, the ship was withdrawn from service and sold for scrap.

Some portions were auctioned off before demolition, though. The Olympic ’s dining room—featuring beautifully carved wood paneling, mirrors, and skylight ceiling—was purchased by the then-owner of the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick , UK, and installed in the inn. Today the room is known as the Olympic Restaurant.

The HMHS Britannic: The Workhorse of World War I

The 'Britannic' as imagined by the White Star Line, prior to its requisition as a hospital ship

Like its older sisters, the Britannic was built to serve as a transatlantic passenger liner, similar in dimensions and accommodations. White Star modified the Britannic ’s architecture extensively to ensure greater safety. The outbreak of World War I intervened, however, and instead of ferrying well-heeled passengers between New York and Europe, the Britannic began service as a floating British military hospital . Starting in 1915, the vessel housed sick and wounded troops as HMHS (his majesty’s hospital ship) Britannic .

Just a year later, after several successful trips between the UK and the Mediterranean, the Britannic struck a German mine in the Aegean Sea on November 21, 1916. The explosion punctured the starboard bow of the ship, allowing water to gush inward, and sank within an hour. Most of the passengers and crew made it safely into the ship’s lifeboats or were picked up by rescuers.

Because of White Star’s safety improvements, only about 30 of the more than 1100 people aboard lost their lives (some deaths occurred when lifeboats were sucked back into the vortex of the ship’s moving propellers). One of the survivors was White Star Line stewardess Violet Jessop, who had survived a collision aboard the Olympic and the sinking of the Titanic .

Titanic Facts

Titanic Sister Ships


Responding to competition from Cunard, whose ships Lusitania and Mauretania were setting new records for speed and new standards of luxury, the White Star Line decided to build three new liners, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Rather than compete on speed, this new breed of olympic class ocean liner would be the largest at sea.

Olympic was the first sister ship to be built, replacing the SS Teutonic. Titanic was intended to replace the SS Majestic (although the Majestic recommenced the New York route following the sinking of the Titanic ). Finally Britannic, although intended to form part of an impressive trio, would only launch after the Titanic had been lost, and was herself destined to sink also.

Image of the Titanic sister ship Olympic.

Above: An image of the Titanic sister ship Olympic (left of the picture, with Titanic on the right), taken on 06 March 1912. Photographed by Robert John Welch (1859-1936), the official photographer for the ship-builders Harland and Wolff.

RMS Olympic

16 December 1908 – the date the keel was laid down and construction commenced.

20 October 1910 – the date Olympic was launched, the first of the trio of White Star Liners comprising Olympic and the sister ships Titanic and Britannic.

22 months – the length of time it took to build the Olympic, from keel to launch.

How Big Was The Olympic?

45,324 GRT – the gross register tons at launch.

46,358 GRT – the gross register tons from 1913.

46,439 GRT – the gross register tons from 1920.

52,067 tons – the ship’s displacement.

882 feet 6 inches – the length of the Olympic (269 metres).

92 feet 6 inches – the beam (28.2 metres).

175 feet – the height of the ship, from keel to the top of the funnels (53.3 metres).

10 – the number of decks.

2 – the number of rockets that were fired at 10:50 am, to signal the imminent launch of the ship.

11.00 am – the time Olympic was launched, accompanied by the firing of another, single rocket.

12.5 knots – the approximate speed that Olympic entered the water.

62 seconds – the time it took Olympic to enter the water, sliding down slipway number 2 on a thick layer of soap and tallow.

20,600 tons – the weight of Olympic’s hull at launch. She was then moored, ready for fitting out, at Alexandria Wharf.

01 April 1911 – the date Olympic entered the Thompson dry dock for final completion. Here her propellers were installed and her hull painted.

27 May 1911 – the date of an open day, where members of the public could board and explore the ship.

5 shillings – the cost of entry for the open day, with all the money raised being donated to local Belfast hospitals.

29 May 1911 – the date that the Olympic sea trials commenced.

2 – the number of days over which the sea trials were completed.

31 May 1911 – the date Olympic was handed over to White Star line, in a joint ceremony on the same day as the launch of Titanic.

04:30 pm – the time at which Olympic departed for Liverpool, the same day.

01 June 1911 – the date Olympic arrived in Liverpool, where she would briefly stay before sailing for Southampton, the port from which she would commence her maiden voyage.

02 June 1911 – the date Olympic left for Southampton, departing Liverpool shortly after midnight.

03 June 1911 – the date Olympic arrived in Southampton.

Olympic Maiden Voyage

14 June 1911 – the date of Olympic’s maiden voyage to New York, also under the command of the future captain of the Titanic , Edward J Smith.

2,590 – the number of passengers Olympic was registered to carry (1,054 first class, 510 second class, 1,026 third class).

1,313 – the number of passengers who embarked for the maiden voyage from Southampton (489 first class, 263 second class, 561 third class).

21 June 1911 – the date Olympic arrived at the White Star Line’s Pier 59 in New York.

650 tons – the daily coal consumption for the crossing (five single-ended boilers were not used, reducing speed and saving fuel).

2,894 miles – the distance travelled between Daunt’s Rock, near the entrance to Cork Harbour in Ireland, and the Ambrose Channel lightship, New York.

5 days, 16 hours, 42 minutes – the duration of the main Ireland to New York leg (the time calculated between Daunt’s Rock and the Ambrose Channel lightship.

21.17 knots – the average speed of the crossing.

Note: the duration and speed of the crossing, reported consistently for almost a century, have more recently been questioned. Possible errors in calculating the duration between start and finish, which occurred in differing time zones, reflect evidence from Captain Smith that Olympic sailed around 3 hours late. A new calculation, researched and written for the Titanic International Society and published in 2006, propose the following corrections:

5 days, 15 hours, 2 minutes – the revised duration of the journey between Daunt’s Rock and the Ambrose Channel lightship.

21.43 knots – the revised average speed of the crossing.

20 September 1911 – the date on which Olympic was involved in a collision with the cruiser HMS Hawke, and needed to return to the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, where she was repaired using parts from Titanic, which was then still under construction .

6 weeks – the length of time Olympic was out of action following the collision with HMS Hawke. Olympic’s stern was punctured and the bow of Hawke stove in.

01 September 1915 – the date the British Government requisitioned Olympic for war service as a troopship.

15th May 1934 – the date the Olympic was involved in a collision with a Nantucket lightship.

7 – the number of lives lost in the collision.

12 April 1935 – the date Olympic completed her final voyage, arriving back in Southampton.

After Grand Staircase on the Olympic.

Above: An image of the After Grand Staircase of the Olympic.

24 – the number of years Olympic was in service before being retired.

13 October 1935 – the date the ship arrived at Palmers Yard in Jarrow on the Tyne ready for the superstructure to be broken up.

19 September 1937 – the date the broken remains of the RMS Olympic were towed to Inverkeithing, Scotland to complete her demolition of her hull.

51,680 – the gross tonnage of SS Imperator, the ship that stole the crown of largest ocean liner from Olympic. Built for the Hamburg America Line (otherwise known as the Hamburg Amerikanische Paketfahrt Aktien Gesellschaft, or ‘HAPAG’ for short) she was launched on 23 May 1912.

HMHS Britannic

HMHS Britannic in her hospital ship livery.

Above: HMHS Britannic in her hospital ship livery.

30 November 1911 – the date Britannic’s keel was laid down and building work begun.

26 February 1914 – the date Britannic was launched, the build taking longer due to the need to redirect labour and materials to the war effort. In addition, following the Titanic disaster time was required to implement safety changes, such as the installation of a double hull along the engine and boiler rooms, and raising six of 15 watertight bulkheads to a higher deck.

27 months – the length of time it took to build the Britannic, from keel to launch.

Did You Know?

It was claimed that this ship was due to be named Gigantic, with a change of name being deemed necessary following the loss of the Titanic (a claim that White Star Line and Harland & Wolff always denied).

13 November 1915 – the date that Britannic was requisitioned for use as a hospital ship in the First World War (HMHS is short for His Majesty’s Hospital Ship).

23 December 1915 – the date Britannic entered service as a hospital ship.

3,309 – the number of wounded she was adapted to carry.

How Big Was The Britannic?

48,158 GRT – the gross register tons.

53,200 tons – the ship’s displacement.

882 feet 9 inches – the length of the Britannic (269.06 metres).

92 feet – the beam (28 metres).

175 feet – the height of the ship, from keel to the top of the funnels (53 metres).

9 – the number of decks.

12 November 1916 – the date Britannic departed Southampton on what would be her final voyage, returning to the Mediterranean for the sixth time in her service.

Because she was requisitioned for use in the war effort, Britannic would never carry a single fare-paying passenger.

21 November 1916 – the date Britannic struck a mine whilst in the Kea Channel in the Aegean Sea, and subsequently sank, becoming the largest ship lost at sea during the First World War.

08:12 am – the time she hit the mine, rupturing her starboard side.

55 minutes – the time she took to sink.

09:07 am – the time the ship sank below the surface.

She took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths… -Survivor Violet Jessop, a nurse aboard HMHS Britannic, describing the moment the ship disappeared beneath the surface of the Aegean

48 – the number of lifeboats carried aboard, one of the safety improvements made following the loss of the Titanic.

75 – the capacity of each lifeboat.

3,600 – the maximum capacity of the lifeboats, far more people than the ship was actually capable of carrying.

Titanic sister ship Britannic under construction in Belfast, from a contemporary postcard.

Above: Titanic sister ship Britannic under construction in Belfast, from a contemporary postcard.

1,065 – the number of people on board when she sank; 673 crew members, 315 Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), and 77 nurses.

1,035 – the number of survivors.

30 – the number of people killed.

5 – the number of dead whose bodies were recovered and given a burial. The other 25 dead were left in the water.

38 – the number of people injured in the disaster (18 crew members and 20 members of the RAMC).

37°42′05″N 24°17′02″E – the coordinates of the wreck of Britannic wreck.

400 feet – the depth at which the Britannic shipwreck lies (122 metres).

August 1996 – the date on which maritime historian Simon Mills purchased the HMHS Britannic wreck, with an expressed intention to “leave it as it is”.

More To Explore

If you’ve found these facts about the sister ship of the Titanic interesting, why not find out more about the people who built the Titanic and the shipyard where they were built , or read all about the Titanic ship and find out all about ambitious plans to build Titanic 2 .

Encyclopedia Britannica

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.


Olympic , in full Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Olympic , British luxury liner that was a sister ship of the Titanic and the Britannic . It was in service from 1911 to 1935.

construction of the ships Olympic and Titanic

To compete with the Cunard Line for the highly profitable transatlantic passenger trade, the White Star Line decided to create a class of liners noted more for comfort than speed. The first ships ordered were the Olympic and Titanic ; the Britannic was added later. The Belfast firm of Harland and Wolff began construction of the Olympic on December 16, 1908, with the laying of the keel. After work finished on the hull and main superstructure, the Olympic was launched on October 20, 1910. At the time of its completion in 1911, the Olympic was perhaps the world’s most luxurious liner. It was also the largest, with a length of approximately 882 feet (269 metres) and a gross tonnage of 45,324. It could carry more than 2,300 passengers.


To much fanfare, the Olympic embarked on its maiden voyage on June 14, 1911, traveling from Southampton , England, to New York City . The ship was captained by Edward J. Smith , who would later helm the Titanic . In September 1911 during its fifth commercial voyage, the Olympic collided with the HMS Hawke near the Isle of Wight , southern England. It was later determined that suction from the Olympic had pulled the Hawke into the ocean liner . Both ships suffered major damage, and the Olympic did not return to service until November 1911.

After the Titanic sank in 1912, the Olympic underwent major safety improvements. In addition to an increase in the number of lifeboats, the ship’s double bottom was lengthened, and five of its watertight compartments (which featured doors that allowed the sections to be isolated from each other) were raised from E deck to B deck. The ship resumed its transatlantic crossings in April 1913. Despite the start of World War I in 1914, the liner continued to operate commercial voyages , and in October it helped rescue survivors of the HMS Audacious , which had struck a mine near Tory Island, Ireland . In 1915 the Olympic was requisitioned as a troop ship. It subsequently made a number of solo Atlantic crossings to ferry Canadian and U.S. troops to Europe. In May 1918 the Olympic sighted a German U-boat near the Isles of Scilly , England, and rammed and sank the enemy vessel. The following year “Old Reliable,” as the liner was nicknamed, ended its military career. It subsequently underwent major renovations before resuming commercial voyages in June 1920.

Despite competition from larger ships, the Olympic remained a popular vessel , making frequent Atlantic crossings. On May 15, 1934, in a heavy fog, the Olympic struck and sank the Nantucket lightship , a boat that was positioned to mark the shoals near Cape Cod , Massachusetts. Seven of the 11 crewmen aboard the lightship were killed, and the Olympic was later blamed for the accident. In April 1935 the Olympic was retired from service. It was later sold for scrapping, and many of the fixtures and fittings were bought and put on display by various establishments, notably the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick , Northumberland, England.

6 Things You Didn't Know About Titanic's Sister Ship Britannic

Although Titanic is arguably the most famous ship ever built, many people are unaware that she was one of three sister ships which were designed to be the largest and most luxurious liners in the world! Today, 21st November, marks the anniversary of the sinking of the youngest and lesser known ship, Britannic . Take a look at some fascinating facts about the Olympic Class liner:

1. Requisitioned, Repainted and Renamed....

Originally like its sister ships, Britannic, was designed to be an Atlantic liner but with the First World War and the urgent need for hospital ships, it was converted for service in the Mediterranean. Repainted white with large red crosses and a horizontal green stripe, she was renamed HMHS (His Majesty's Hospital Ship)  Britannic.

2. Finding the Fittings...

Most of the luxurious fittings of Britannic were auctioned off in Belfast some years ago. Members of the Belfast Titanic Society  hold items such as the staircase and railings, with many fittings being the same as those used on-board RMS Titanic.

3. Speed of Sinking...

At 8.12am on 21 st November 1916, while steaming in the Aegean Sea HMHS Britannic struck a mine and sadly sunk in only 55 minutes with the loss of 30 lives. In total, 1,035 people survived the sinking.

4. A Large Loss...

Britannic was the largest ship lost in the First World War.

5. Record Wreck...

The great size of the ship, combined with the shallow water she sank in (400 feet/122 m), means the vessel is one of the biggest intact passenger ship wrecks in the world.

6. Titanic Inspiration...

the titanic sister ship

My Itinerary

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Titanic Belfast soon! Here's how your itinerary currently looks.

There have been no activities saved to your itinerary planner yet. Why not take a look at our   Experiences   or upcoming  events   for some inspiration?

Based on your chosen activities, we estimate your visit may take approximately: 0

Ultimate Titanic

RMS Olympic & Britannic

Titanic:  her sister’s olympic & britannic.

A ship as grand Titanic was too expensive to be built as a one-off project, and as a result, she had two sister ships which were hoped would form the front line of White Star Lines Transatlantic route for the next two decades.  This class of liners were named the “Olympic” class.  RMS Olympic was constructed before Titanic and “Britannic” was built in the aftermath of the Disaster.

RMS Olympic

A photo of the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic together.

Like Titanic, Olympic was designed by Thomas Andrews and literally built side by side to Titanic in the mammoth Gantries of Harland & Wolff’s shipyards.  Olympic was completed and launched almost exactly twelve months before her infamous sister ship on September 20, 1910, and she had a successful maiden voyage on June 14, 1911.

Strangely, for all the fanfare Titanic receives for its superiority to other liners of her day, it is amazing how similar the Olympic and Titanic are.  Titanic was fractionally larger than the Olympic with best estimates being only some 3 inches favouring the Titanic but over 1000 tonnes heavier in gross tonnage than Olympic.

A Complete Titanic TEACHING UNIT

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | titanic lesson plans 1 | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

A complete unit of work to teach students about the historical and cultural impact Titanic made upon the world both back in the early 20th century. This complete unit includes.

Well-received by patrons, the Olympic found minor tragedy when it was struck by the military cruiser the HMS Hawke. She returned to Belfast and was repaired using parts from the Titanic, which was currently under construction.

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | rms olympic maiden voyage | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

Olympic was fitted out for a different clientele to Titanic and had very little of the lavish affection to detail, craftsmanship and opulence that Titanic was to offer later.  In saying this, Olympic was a grand ship for her era and had many cutting edge features which set her above her peers.

After the Titanic disaster, Olympic revisited the Harland and Wolff dry-dock for various safety improvements, including lifeboats for all aboard. In October 1912 Olympic returned to Belfast again to install an inner watertight skin.

In October of 1914, Olympic assisted the sinking British battleship Audaciously and conducted a daring at-sea rescue. During the remainder of the first world war, Olympic served as a troopship carrying Canadians to the European war front. During this service, Olympic obtained her nickname “Old Reliable,” for her trustworthy service on these troop-carrying voyages.

Her most famous wartime moment, and perhaps the most famous moment of all of the Titanic sisters is when the Olympic struck and sank a German submarine, U103.  This would prove quite ironic in comparison to the Titanic striking an iceberg in outcome for the liner.

RMS Olympic lived up to her nickname of ‘Old reliable” after many years of successful service as a troopship moving over 120,000 troops from Canada to Europe and surviving 4 submarine attacks. She returned to being a passenger liner for the next two decades. The only blemish in her career was a collision with the lightship Nantucket in heavy fog killing seven people.

Olympic was scrapped in 1937 some 2 years after completing her final voyage on April 12, 1935, which was the anniversary of Titanic’s maiden voyage two decades earlier.

The Olympic was the first of three sisters and was originally fitted with the various styles and graces found on the Titanic except for the Promenade decks which only ran half-length.

On her maiden voyage, Bruce Ismay had noticed that the open deck space on B deck was too large and not many passengers were using it. He soon rectified the position by ordering the RMS Titanic’s plans to be changed to add more cabins to the promenade deck to create extra passenger space.

Most of the Olympics interiors have been well photographed. In fact, most books on the subject contain pictures from the Olympic, not the Titanic because the Titanic was not in service long enough for the press to gain access to her.

View full-size

Olympic is in Drydock in this photo. The men in the foreground exemplify the bravado of the era as they hang onto the scaffolding.

In many ways, the scrapping of the Olympic was a closure to the tangible life of Titanic.  Savvy collectors purchased numerous items from her, which are highly sought after today.

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | olympic floating drydock | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

HMHS Britannic

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | HMHSBritannicLaunchPostcard | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

With all of the safety revisions, Britannic had following the Titanic inquiry, Britannic sank three times faster than her doomed sister.

Britannic was built in the shadow of the tragedy of Titanic, this ensured it had all of the safety features her ill-fated sister did not, but she was also subjected to a high level of scrutiny and negativity in the press that both Olympic and Titanic never received.   The catchphrase of “The Unsinkable Ship” would haunt White Star Lines forever after.

Continuing the growing trend of all three ships.  Britannic was the largest of all three liners. She was originally called ‘Gigantic’ but was changed after it was deemed too similar in name to Titanic, which would have been a marketing suicide.

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | BritannicSideProfile | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

Britannic launched on February 26th 1914, as a passenger liner between Southampton and New York but her course would alter greatly with the outbreak of World War 1.  She was requisitioned by the admiralty and officially completed as a hospital ship.  The original fixtures and fittings that were to be placed on the Britannic were stored for after the war and were fitted out to resemble a hospital. The first-class dining rooms were converted into operating theatres and main wards. B deck would house the medical officers and other staff. The ship was fitted to carry 3,309 people.  On December 12th 1915 she was ready for war service.

Obviously following the greatest maritime disaster of all time would lead to changes in the construction of Britannic.  One major difference was the layout of the lifeboats. She was designed to carry 48 open lifeboats. Forty-six of them would be 34 foot long (making them the largest lifeboats ever placed on a ship before). Two of the 46 would be motor propelled and would carry wireless sets for communications. The other two were 26-foot cutters placed at both sides of the bridge.

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | HMHSBritannicSinking2 | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

Britannic would take her maiden voyage as a military vessel to Mudros Greece. After three trips to the Mediterranean, Britannic was laid up in April 1916 and decommissioned a month later. However, before she was completely refitted for passenger service, she was recalled to hospital ship duty and resumed that service in September.

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | HMHSBritannicWreckageMap | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins

On her third trip after being recalled, she struck a mine off Kea Island on 21 November 1916 and sank 55 minutes later. Various sources give the number of deaths between 21 and 41; all occurred when the ship’s still turning propellers shredded two lifeboats. Fortunately, no patients were aboard; the balance of the 1,125 medical staff and crew were rescued. Much like the sinking of the Titanic the Britannic would also end up on the ocean floor.

RMS Olympic,RMS Britannic,titanic sister ships | RMSOlympicWarShip 1 | RMS Olympic & Britannic | kevcummins


the titanic sister ship

The perfect INDEPENDENT LEARNING PROJECT on the TITANIC for students of all ages and abilities. With over 100 5-Star reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  

Comscore beacon

Claims the Titanic was secretly switched with a sister ship are unfounded

CLAIM: The Titanic did not sink. It was switched with one of its sister ships, the Olympic, before it set sail.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Irrefutable evidence exists to prove the Titanic is lying at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, and maritime historians agree it would have been impossible for the Titanic and the Olympic to have been switched.

THE FACTS: More than 110 years after the ill-fated luxury steamship sank off Newfoundland after hitting an iceberg, killing about 1,500 people on its maiden voyage, social media users are resurrecting decades-old conspiracy theories to suggest the two ships were switched.

The motives used to support these unfounded claims vary. For example, some say the supposed switch occurred as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Others posit that the tragedy was intended to kill three powerful businessmen who were allegedly opposed to the creation of a central banking system in the U.S., now known as the Federal Reserve.

An Instagram video sharing a version of these claims had more than 58,000 likes as of Friday, while a TikTok video had approximately 12 million views and about 1.8 million likes.

But maritime historians told The Associated Press that switching the RMS Titanic and the RMS Olympic would not have been possible. “There’s a mountain of evidence against this switch conspiracy,” said J. Kent Layton, who has published multiple books about the Titanic.

One key piece of evidence can be found in the construction of the ships. Each had a distinct construction identification number, also known as a yard number, that appeared on many of their parts, including their wood paneling. It is well documented that the Olympic’s yard number was 400, while the Titanic’s was 401. Multiple artifacts bearing the number 401 have been raised from Titanic and items auctioned off after the Olympic was retired in 1935 feature the number 400.

“Every scrap of paneling, which took months to install in each of those two ships, would have had to have been taken off both ships and switched in just a couple of days, which makes no sense,” Layton said.

Mark Chirnside , another maritime historian who has written about the Titanic, pointed out that the Olympic and the Titanic were both surveyed by British authorities to ensure they met certain standards.

“The surveyors that went over them made the most detailed notes, write down to the last rivet, about repairs or maintenance that needed doing,” he said. “You simply couldn’t pass off one ship as another.”

Speculation that the Olympic, which was damaged in a 1911 collision with the HMS Hawke, a British warship, was sunk in place of the Titanic as part of an insurance fraud scheme to build an entirely new boat with the Titanic’s policy also doesn’t hold up, in part because the Titanic wasn’t insured for its full construction value. The ship cost $7.5 million to build, but was insured only for $5 million, meaning that its sinking was a financial loss.

The murderous claim that the Titanic was sunk to kill three powerful men opposed to the creation of the Federal Reserve — Benjamin Guggenheim, Isidor Straus and John Jacob Astor — also has no foundation . Straus spoke favorably of the central banking system on multiple occasions and there is no known public record of Guggenheim or Astor’s views on the matter. Plus, there would have been no guarantee that all three men would have died.

Regardless, experts say, the sheer number of people it would have taken to pull off a switch of the Olympic and the Titanic adds to its implausibility, especially because the most likely place for the switch to occur would have been in the easily viewable Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. Both ships were built there and the Olympic went back for repairs after its collision with the Hawke.

“It was really open air, there were hills around the shipyard where people could see if they were doing that kind of work to the ships,” Layton explained. “Just ordinary people that lived in the Belfast area would have been able to see. We also know there were visitors to the shipyard and press who took photos of the ships during that stay. They weren’t being kept out of the shipyard like there was something super secret going on.”

This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP .

One Hundred Years Ago, the Titanic’s Sister Ship Exploded While Transporting Injured WWI Soldiers

Bad luck seemed to follow the White Star Line’s infamous steam liners

Danny Lewis


On April 14, 1912, ​in a perfect storm of engineering flaws, hubris and simple bad luck, the RMS Titanic descended into the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean roughly 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. But while the Titanic has gone down in history, it wasn’t the only ship of its line to meet a watery end. In fact, 100 years ago today, its sister ship the HMHS Britannic also met its doom at sea.

As the sinking of the “unsinkable ship” made headlines, its owners at the White Circle Line already had its next Olympic-class counterpart in production. Originally called the Gigantic , its owners renamed the passenger liner with the slightly more humble name  Britannic  shortly after its predecessor sunk, according to .

In the wake of the inquiries into how its predecessor failed so spectacularly, the Britannic  underwent some big changes, including a thicker hull to protect against icebergs and the addition of enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone on board, according to However, it didn’t get much of a chance to redeem its sister ship as a passenger liner—shortly after the Britannic launched in 1914, the British government requisitioned it for use as a hospital ship in the early days of World War I.

As the largest of the British fleet, the Britannic wasn’t a bad place for soldiers to rest up and heal before heading back to the front lines. The ship’s ranking surgeon, a Dr. J.C.H. Beaumont, called it "the most wonderful hospital ship that ever sailed the seas," and with the capacity to carry and treat as many as 3,309 patients at once, British military officials figured the former passenger ship would be a great aid to the war effort, according to PBS .

On November 21, 1916, the  Britannic was heading through the Aegean Sea to pick up wounded soldiers. But at 8:12 am, its venture came to an end with a blast. The source of the explosion is still unknown, but many believe the ship struck a mine left by a German U-boat.

The blast caused more extensive damage to the ship than even the Titanic had experienced, PBS reports. Only this time, thanks to the improvements made in the wake of that tragedy and the preparedness of the crew, many more lives were saved.

“The explosion occurred when we were at breakfast. We heard something, but had no idea the ship had been hit or was going down,” the Britannic’s matron, E.A. Dowse, told The New York Times a few days after the disaster. "Without alarm we went on deck and awaited the launching of the boats. The whole staff behaved most splendidly, waiting calmly lined up on deck...The Germans, however, could not have chosen a better time for giving us an opportunity to save those aboard, for we had all risen. We were near land, and the sea was perfectly smooth.”

The evacuation, however, was not perfectly smooth, according to The ship's captain directed the boat towards the nearest land with the goal of running her aground. But as the ship charged ahead, the crew attempted to launch several lifeboats unbidden. The ship's spinning propellers quickly sucked them in, killing those aboard the rafts. Even so, over 1,000 passengers escaped with their lives and the 30 people who died in the sinking of the Britannic  stands in stark contrast to the more than 1,500 lives lost aboard the  Titanic . 

The disasters that befell the  Britannic , the Titanic , and the pair's older sister, the Olympic , all had something (or someone) in common, Emily Upton writes for  Today I Found Out — a woman named Violet Jessop. As a crew member and nurse, Jessop worked on all three ships, and miraculously escaped each one alive even though the incidents left two of the vessels nestled on the ocean floor. Having cheated death three times, Jessop eventually passed away in 1971 at the age of 84.

Danny Lewis | | READ MORE

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.


  1. Titanic’s sister ship Britannic could become a diving attraction in Greece

    the titanic sister ship

  2. Pin on workshipsolutions

    the titanic sister ship

  3. Pin by Darren Pope on Titanic, Olympic & Britannic

    the titanic sister ship

  4. What Happened to the Titanic's Sister Ships

    the titanic sister ship

  5. RMS Titanic's sister ship, RMS Olympic off Spithead after the Titanic... News Photo

    the titanic sister ship

  6. Titanic sister ship

    the titanic sister ship


  1. Titanic sister ships

  2. I found Titanic #shorts 😱😱😱🧐🧐😨😨

  3. Bro who was on titanic in 1591?

  4. Titanic

  5. Titanic Ship 🚢 #shorts #titanic

  6. Rebuild Titanic's sistership Olympic


  1. The Surprising Fates of the 'Titanic''s Sister Ships

    The Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912, had two sister ships almost identical in size and luxury: the Olympic and

  2. Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic, sinks in Aegean Sea

    The Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic, sinks in the Aegean Sea on November 21, 1916, killing 30 people. More than 1,000 others were rescued.

  3. Titanic Sister Ship

    Facts about the Olympic, first of a trio of White Star Line ships built to compete for ocean-going glory and equally grand sister ship to Titanic.

  4. Olympic

    Olympic, in full Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Olympic, British luxury liner that was a sister ship of the Titanic and the Britannic.

  5. Olympic-class ocean liner

    Olympic became the largest ship in the world when it was completed in May, 1911 before losing the title to its sister Titanic when she was completed in

  6. RMS Olympic

    RMS Olympic was a British ocean liner and the lead ship of the White Star Line's trio of Olympic-class liners. Olympic had a career spanning 24 years from

  7. 6 Things You Didn't Know About Titanic's Sister Ship Britannic

    Originally like its sister ships, Britannic, was designed to be an Atlantic liner but with the First World War and the urgent need for hospital

  8. RMS Olympic & RMS Britannic

    Learn about the famous Titanic sister ships RMS Olympic and RMS Britannic. How similar were they to the ill fated Titanic and what happened to them.

  9. Claims the Titanic was secretly switched with a sister ship are

    CLAIM: The Titanic did not sink. It was switched with one of its sister ships, the Olympic, before it set sail. AP'S ASSESSMENT: False.

  10. One Hundred Years Ago, the Titanic's Sister Ship Exploded While

    But while the Titanic has gone down in history, it wasn't the only ship of its line to meet a watery end. In fact, 100 years ago today, its