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The Sanitation of a Modern Ocean Liner


COUPLE of generations ago sanitary conditions on shipboard were either of the crudest or did not exist at all. It is a fact that in the days of the famous Yankee clippers the crews of those and contemporaneous craft were absolutely without toilet conveniences.

The first-class passengers of the sailing "packets" of the 1840's and 1850's and still later had no bathing facilities and the so-called lavatories were as foul as they were inefficient. The unfortunates who had to journey in the steerages were even worse off, the filth and immodesty of the sanitary arrangements, if they could be so called, being of an indescribable nature.

Ship fever, a form of typhus that afflicted immigrant ships in particular, was one of the outcomes of this neglect of sanitary principles. Scurvy, the old-time scourge of seagoers, was due to an improper diet, plus lack of ventilation, foul water, bodily uncleanliness and a total disregard of other matters having to do with the preservation of health.

In the case of the comparatively short voyage between this country and Great Britain outbreaks of sickness, and contingent deaths, were in those days invariable. The craft that plied between, say Australia and England, always had a " buried-at-sea " list to report at the end of the outward voyage.

Even the sailors of the ships-of-war of the great powers suffered from this stupid neglect of sanitation, the disease mortality among the fleets that took part in the Crimean War, the Chinese War and our Civil War being proof in point.

And in this connection reference may be made to the reports of a commission appointed by the British Government in 1869 for the purpose of inquiring into the continual diseases and deaths on transports employed to take soldiers to and from India. The reports are to the effect that losses in question were clearly due to the scandalous neglect of the elements of sanitation on the ships.

Photo01 - The Olympic Arriving At New York City - 21 June 1911 - Her Maiden Voyage

Photo01 - The Olympic Arriving At New York City - 21 June 1911 - Her Maiden Voyage

Nowadays, the law looks after the crews and passengers of seagoing craft pretty thoroughly in a sanitary sense. But in addition to the requirements of such law, the companies that cater to that portion of the traveling public that patronizes ocean craft in place of railroads have discovered the advertising advantages which accrue from a system that includes the ingenuity, the refinements and the luxuries of modern sanitary science.

The result is that the great liner of today lacks nothing that this science furnishes to the up-to-date mansion or hotel. Indeed, it is possessed of many things sanitary that are hardly to be found under one roof on land, as will presently be seen. That competition is the keynote of progress is an axiom that is as trite as it is truthful.

An impressive illustration thereof is furnished by the hygienic arrangements and appliances that are found on the rival lines of steamships of the first class, as, for instance, those that form the "ocean ferry" between New York and England.

The new Olympic, of the White Star Line, that is just now the biggest craft afloat, is an excellent example of the trend of seagoing sanitation of the hour. The scheme of hygiene throughout is so elaborate and all inclusive that it is difficult to know where to begin in order to properly describe it. Perhaps we had better start with that essential of health and existence—the ventilation of the ship.

Photo02 - The Ventilating Fans And Their Intakes On The Boat Deck

Photo02 - The Ventilating Fans And Their Intakes On The Boat Deck

One of the external features of the construction of the Olympic that enlists the attention of the visitor is the absence of the big, cowled funnels that are the rule on the upper deck of all other steamers. These cowls are for the purpose of furnishing fresh air to the interior of the craft. When the ship is in dock or at anchor they are turned in the direction of the wind.

If the ship is in motion, their openings face the bow so that they may catch the air current created by the movement of the craft. They are all very well in their way, but they have their disadvantages, among these the fact that they are practically useless during a dead calm or while the ship is at her pier. With the Olympic, the cowls are replaced by electrically operated fans, sixty-four in actuate the fans are fitted with hand and automatic control so that the speed of a given fan may be in accord with the needs of that section of the ship that it is supplying with air.

It is evident that a fan that has to force air via its trunk down to the lowest deck—some ninety feet below the boat deck —will require a higher rate of speed than does one that has to serve the upper decks only.

Besides that, if all the fans were to number, that are "boxed in" on the boat deck—the uppermost deck of all. These fans vary from 3o to 20 inches in diameter in accordance with the purpose that they serve. Attached to groups of them are inlets—comparatively small cowled funnels—that supply them with air.

The air currents generated by the fans are conducted to the five ventilating sections into which the ship is divided and which include every portion of it, by means of trunks, these being oblong tubes that vary in size from two feet to one foot five inches at their broadest parts. The motors that run at the same speed, they would be apt to become "overloaded" or otherwise fail in the requirements made on them.

As has been said, the trunks lead all over the ship, keeping the interior sweet and fresh under all conditions of outside temperature or local circumstances. In the case of the staterooms, the air enters by means of a "hit or miss" ventilator that is placed in some convenient location. If the passenger finds that his room is becoming too airy, he may shut off the supply altogether.

If the weather is frigid and the current too cool in consequence, he touches a little lever connected with the ventilator and a portion of the incoming air is made to pass over steam-heated coils that are connected with the supply trunk. And if in spite of all this he continues to shiver he may turn on the electric heater in the room.

This system of ventilation also adds materially to the deck space by doing away with the old-time cumbersome cowls, which furthermore means the sanitary advantage to the passenger that arises from additional room in which to exercise. The sister ship of the Olympic, which is the Titanic, now nearing completion, will be ventilated in the manner just described, as will the Imperator, of the Hamburg-American Line, due in this country in the spring of 1912, and the gigantic Cunard steamer that is to eclipse anything afloat in point of size, the plans calling for a total length of 900 feet as against the 882 feet 6 inches of the Olympic.

In other words, the Olympic has set the fashion of a new and radical departure of ventilation afloat that will probably be copied by all big passenger ships in the future.

"The Olympic is the only ship in existence on which the occupant of a stateroom can make the temperature and the incidental ventilation suit his bodily idiosyncrasies," said one of the officers to the writer. "And when you reflect on the variety of nationalities that are included on the passenger list during the season of travel, the advantage of the arrangement alluded to will be evident.

The rich Brazilian who is taking a trip to Europe will be shiveringly unhappy on the day that the robust Briton is walking the deck enjoying the crisp Atlantic breezes that are met with in midocean even in the middle of the summer.

So the first will be likely to take refuge in his stateroom and become comfortable with the help of the hot-air current or the heater or both, while the latter will revel in the pen and, when he does turn in, will see to it that he is getting his full quota of cool air from the 'hit-and-miss.' In the past it has been pretty hard to suit everybody in the matter of air and temperature, but I think that this has been accomplished in the case of the Olympic."

Then, too, all the state and other rooms, such as the verandas, libraries, parlors, palm and lounging rooms, are supplied with electric fans. These fans are portable, cleats being placed around the rooms, allowing of the former being placed in convenient positions.

Photo03 - One Of The Automatic Ventilating Portholes

Photo03 - One Of The Automatic Ventilating Portholes

The lavatories, water closets, galleys, pantries and so forth are ventilated by sucdon, the fans used for this purpose being of slightly greater capacity than the pressure fans. By this means the outtake is a trifle in excess of the speed of the intake, thus in-
suring the air being kept continuously fresh. The arrangement, too, affects the ship in general, new air being brought into it and foul air being removed simultaneously, thus insuring "live" ventilation of a constant sort.

The windows of the ship throughout are fitted with slide ventilators adjustable at the will of the occupants. In the case of the portholes, of which there are just x,000, those that light the lower decks are fitted with an ingenious ventilating device. When the ship heels so much that the porthole touches the water, the latter automatically closes the ventilating apertures of the former. But when the craft rights herself again, and the porthole emerges from the water, the apertures reopen; so that even in the stormiest weather, there is but slight interference with the ventilation that comes from the portholes.

Photo04 - The Swimming Pool On The Olympic

Photo04 - The Swimming Pool On The Olympic

The baths on the Olympic are many, varied and luxurious. There is a swimming bath on the starboard side of deck F, which is the fifth down from the uppermost deck of the liner. It is 34 feet in length, to in width and has an extreme depth of 5 feet, to inches.

The bath itself is tiled in white and the flooring and fittings are of white marble. Lockers and shower baths form a part of the equipment. Salt water is supplied, it being filtered before it reaches the bathers. By a combination of pumps and gravity, there is a constant flow of water when the bath is in use. A steam-coil attachment permits of the temperature of the water being raised when the occasion rises. The shower baths connected with the swimming bath have a fresh-water supply.

The Turkish bath rooms, which adjoin the swimming bath on the aft side of the companionway of the same deck, are notable by reason of their elaborate and luxurious appointments. Written descriptions can hardly do justice to the opulent splendor of some of them. For instance, the cooling room is decorated in the Arabian style of the seventeenth century. The portholes of the room are concealed by elaborately carved wooded Cairo "curtains," through which the light comes fitfully as if fraught with the mystery of the Orient.

Photo05 - A Combined Needle And Shower Bath.

Photo05 - A Combined Needle And Shower Bath. Observe the Space Given to the Bath Fixtures and the Artistic Nature of the Decorations.

The walls, from dado to cornice, are tiled in panels of blue and green that are in turn surrounded by other tiles of a deeper, bolder hue. The ceiling and cornice are gilt, with intervening panels picked out in dull red. From the panels and frieze bronze Arab lamps are suspended. A warm-tinted teak is used for the dados and paneling that is in strong contrast with the gorgeous effect of the tiles. The stanchions, also cased in teak, are carved in Moorish patterns.

Over the door of the room is a semi-dome of teak carved in an Oriental design of low relief. Conveniences for the smoker are placed around the walls, interspersed with inlaid Damascus tables on which are served coffee, cigarettes or books and publications. On one side is a handsome drinking fountain of marble, framed with tiles.

Lounging chairs, lockers, footstools and so forth complete the charm and comfort of the room. Steam, temperate, hot and shampooing rooms and shower, needle and other baths are included in the scheme of the Turkish bath, all of which are in line with the completeness and luxury of the cooling room.

One of the adjuncts of the Turkish bath deserves a special mention, inasmuch as it is of a novel nature and has never been seen in this country prior to its arrival via the big liner. It is known as the "blade douche," according to the attendants, and its inventor is an Englishman. The picture of it that goes with this article needs but little explanation.

The bather lies on a slab of marble. From the ends of this slab and over him runs a pipe that, above, bears a number of faucets adjustable to any angle. The faucets have narrow, broadened mouths that throw a thin jet of water of a bladelike shape, the strength of the jet being dependable on the will of the bather.

Photo06 - The Blade-Douche Room - The Latest And Most Novel Form Of The Bath

Photo06 - The Blade-Douche Room - The Latest And Most Novel Form Of The Bath

In addition to these there are other apparatus that give needle, spray or "bulb" effects. The "blade douche" can be directed on any portion of the body desired, and it is said to be as stimulating as it is pleasant. There are slight corrugations on the slab that are not seen in the picture that allow of the descending water readily passing away and so not causing discomfort to the bather.

Adjoining are two electric baths of modern type. Qualified operators are in attendance and the mechanism of the baths allows of a variety of currents being administered to the patrons.

Part II

ABOUT 50 per cent of the first-class staterooms have private baths. Some of the second-class rooms are fitted in like fashion. The so-called "public baths" are as well equipped as are the private ones, the distinction being that the former are for the use of passengers in general and the latter for the individual only. Attendants cleanse a bath with disinfectants after its use. All the rooms are tiled in white and electric heaters are installed in each.

Also, there is an electric bell within reach of every bather. The baths themselves are full size and modern. The fittings are nickle-plated, and small luxuries in the shape of bath seats, rubber rugs, nozzled hose and the like have not been forgotten. The influx is rapid and the outlet the same. A fresh or salt, hot or cold-water supply can be obtained at will by turning switches at the side of the bath. In many cases a full-sized shower is found in the bath room.

The wash basins are spacious, deep, the open plumbing being nickel plated. There is a hot and cold supply of fresh water to each. The water closets and lavatories on the Olympic are arranged on the center line of the ship, which is contrary to the usual rule. But although this means a complication of the piping system of these offices, it also allows of a greater number of outside cabins than does the conventional plan. And as the liner is above all else a passenger carrier, the cause of the arrangement will be obvious.

Photo10 - The Beautiful Drying Room Of The Turkish Bath on the Olympic

Photo, Underwood & Underwood
Photo10 - The Beautiful Drying Room Of The Turkish Bath on the Olympic

The closets embody the latest hygienic principles. As has been said, the rooms themselves are fitted with air-suction trunks as well as ventilators and hence are kept free from odors or atmospheric impurities. Also they are well lit, lofty and tiled in white. Each closet has a time flush that runs for two minutes. Sea water is used for flushing purposes, it being furnished by a special supply tank that is situated on the boat deck.

In the majority of the first and second-cabin rooms there is an independent closet. The general closets do not differ in detail from the private ones. In the case of the former attendants come around three times daily with vacuum cleaners and cloths
dipped in an antiseptic solution.

The drinking and cooking water of the ship is carried in huge tanks on the lower deck, from whence it is pumped into the various sections. These tanks are emptied and refilled at the end of each voyage.

The Olympic has a distilling plant that is capable of delivering 120 tons of water daily, in compliance with the rules of the British Board of Trade, but the plant is not made use of as far as table purposes are concerned. As the reader probably knows, distilled water tastes flat, so much so indeed that to some palates it is unpleasant. Which explains why the Olympic patrons have water au naturel.

Before the water is served to the passengers it is filtered three times—once through a fiber filter and twice through Pasteur filters. So that it is purity itself when it is consumed. It is hardly necessary to add that the iced water of the ship is prepared by being passed through tubes cooled by the refrigerating plant and that it never touches ice.

Photo11 - One of the First-Class Public Baths.

Underwood & Underwood
Photo11 - One of the First-Class Public Baths. These Baths Have Hot and Cold, Fresh and Salt-Water Supplies

The water used for cleansing purposes is fresh and is stored in different tanks to those that contain the potable water. Here, again, a new supply of water is obtained at the end of each voyage and it undergoes one filtration before being used.

The "housecleaning" of the ship is done with the help of pneumatic and vacuum machines. The motive power is electricity, and the machines themselves vary in size from the small ones that are used for staterooms to the ponderous contrivances swig' ing some tons that prevent the gathering of debris in the working parts of the liner.

And, by the way, the exquisite cleanliness that prevails on the Olympic is not only typical of that that obtains in the case of her big rivals, but is suggestive of the high place that sanitation holds in the economy of the modern liner.

As light has an important place in hygiene it will be in order to make reference to the methods by which it is supplied to the Olympic, such reference including both the natural and artificial kinds. In regard to the former then, there are rather over 2,000 windows and side lights on the liner, these ranging in size from the big palm-garden bay windows to the smallest portholes on the lowest deck.

A reference to the ventilating device that is attached to the latter, known as Utley's patent, has already been made in Part I. The staterooms on the upper decks have spacious windows—not portholes. In the first-class dining room are to be noted arrangements of four to six lights, each about m x 12 inches.

In the reception rooms are individual windows measuring 22 X 17 inches. The palm garden is lighted with a series of bay windows of liberal width and height.

In many of these windows a special glass that contains lenses and prisms is used, the light being much more diffused with its help than with ordinary glass. On the promenade deck there are big sliding windows that can be drawn when the weather becomes too cool or boisterous. The gymnasium on the boat deck has windows that are as big as one would find in a similar building on shore.

Chief Engineer Bell told the writer that there are over io,000 electric lamps on board
the liner, these ranging in size from 16 to ioo candle power. Tantalum loops are used in all cases. The stateroom lamps have two filaments, so as to allow of "dimming." In addition to the fixed light in the staterooms there is another and portable light that may be placed in practically any position desired with the assistance of convenient cleats fixed on the walls.

Photo12: A First Class Water Closet.

Photo: Underwood & Underwood
Photo12: A First Class Water Closet. One of These Goes With A Stateroom In The Majority of Cases.

The electric lighting of the dining room and reception rooms and the libraries and palm garden is as brilliant as it is artistic. The fixtures include designs in majolica, ormulu and Sevres, and range from Italian Renaissance to Louis Seize. It may be added that there are emergency lamps in the staterooms and passages that are connected with emergency dynamos, so that in the event of the original circuit giving out the ship would not be left in darkness.

The sanitation of the kitchens is as complete as is that of the ship in general. The help wear spotless white jumpers and overalls and keep their heads covered with the traditional cook's cap.

The writer can testify to the fact that one might literally eat off the floors as readily as he might off a table by reason of the immaculate cleanliness of the former. In spite of the fact that there are two ranges having a frontage of 96 feet and 19 ovens heated by coal, a good deal of the cooking is done by electricity.

The appliances include four silver grills, two huge roasters, steam ovens, steam stock pots, hot closets, bainmaries, and electrically actuated slicers, potato peelers, mincing, whisking, freezing and dough-mixing machines, to mention a few of them.

None of the bread used on the ship is touched by hand and the same remark applies to the bulk of the pastry. Special ventilating fans are placed in various parts of the kitchen for the benefit of the working force.

A steamship depends upon the heat generated in her bowels, so to speak, for her motion, her working and the well being of her passengers. This being so, the disagreeable effects of this heat must be offset by a sufficient system of refrigeration that shall preserve food and perishable cargo, cool those parts of the ship that are apt to get overheated and in other ways perform its duty in the total plan of sanitation.

On the Olympic the refrigerating plant, situated on the lower and orlop decks, is of elaborate design and high power. Without going into a detailed description of it, it may be said that it is of the usual brine type and that its two duplex engines have each two complete units capable of independent work, so that in the event of one breaking down the remaining efficiency of the plant would be sufficient for the uses of the ship.

Photo13: The Gymnasium on the Olympic.

Copyright, Underwood & Underwood
Photo13: The Gymnasium on the Olympic. Looking Aft, To The Right of the "Horse-Back" Apparatus. Note the Other Elaborate Athletic Contrivances.

Adjoining the plant are compartments for perishable cargo, cold larders and apparatus for making ice and cooling drinking water. By a system of pipes, refrigerated air is led to pantries, the bar of the cafe and so forth.

As sanitary conditions include facilities for exercise, it will be appropriate to conclude with a brief notice of such facilities as they are found on the Olympic. First, then, there is the gymnasium, situated, as already stated, on the boat deck. It is 44 feet in length, 18 feet wide, nearly 10 feet high, and is lit by eight windows of an exceptional size.

Also, it is fitted with a variety of elaborate apparatus, including the "horse-back," "camel-back," rowing machine, rings, trapeze, horizontal and parallel bars and more.

The squash and racket court is on the lower deck and is two decks high so as to afford players the necessary space. It is 30 feet long, 20 feet wide and has a gallery for spectators.

The deck space of the Olympic is of noble proportions and therefore allows of passengers "taking their walks abroad" while going abroad or coming home. The boat deck takes in the whole breadth of the ship, and is therefore much fancied by the athletic among the passengers for running, jumping and so forth, each exercise, however, being confined to the early morning when the bulk of seagoers are still in their staterooms.

The bridge deck, that comes next, is 400 feet in length and 13 in width. It is provided on either side with solid side screens fitted with big windows that can be raised or lowered in accordance with the state of the weather.

Photo14 - The Promenade Deck Of The Olympic

Photo14 - The Promenade Deck Of The Olympic

The main or promenade deck is soo feet long and 3o feet wide. It is the most favored of all the decks by sitters or walkers.

The modern ocean liner is a marvel of human audacity and ingenuity. And no small portion of the latter has been expended, and rightly so, in meeting and solving those sanitary problems that are peculiar to seaboard.


Modern Sanitation, DECEMBER, 1911 vol. 8, No. 12 (Page 446-451) and JANUARY 1912 Vol. 9, No. 1 (Page 12-16)

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