White Star Line was left in a very dangerous position following World War II. Their fleet had been decimated by the war effort. As war reparations, White Star acquired the 35,000 ton German liner Columbus renaming her Homeric.
The ship was originally laid down in 1912 for Norddeutscher Lloyd. Powered by tripe expansion engines, the twin screw liner was one of the largest built at the time, and able to achieve 18 knots.
Having sailed for Norddeutscher Lloyd before World War II, Homeric entered White Star service in 1922, after extensive rebuilding following years of neglect.
The liner was initially popular with passengers; however her slow service speed and coal-powered boilers made her difficult and costly to manage on the premiere transatlantic route. Homeric’s boilers were converted to burn oil in 1923; many years later than other express liners. This increased her speed to just over 19 knots. While the conversion improved her reliability, she was still unable to successfully match the speed and efficiency of her fleet mates, Olympic and Majestic.
Another problem for Homeric was her steerage accommodation, designed to transport thousands of immigrants. However, when the US. curtailed its mass immigration programme in the 1920s, this made a large area of Homeric obsolete.
White Star Line’s worsening financial position, and the onset of the Great Depression, saw Homeric suffer further. She was used as a cruise ship while still undertaking occasional crossings, before being laid up in 1932.
Later, she was reinstated as a full time cruise ship, but following the 1934 merger of Cunard and White Star, Homeric was flagged as excess tonnage.
Following a brief final moment of glory, whereby she participated in King George V’s Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, Homeric was laid up once more and eventually scrapped in 1936.
Image source: Simplon Post Cards