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White Star Line Steamship Teutonic - 1889 - Ship Information and History

The well-known prestige of the White Star Line has been greatly enhanced by the latest addition to their fleet of the "ocean flyer" Teutonic, fully illustrated in the present number.

The distinguished and honored CAPTAIN HENRY PARSELL, R. N. R., is her commander. He is a man of 56 years, having been born in 1833, in the town of Sunderland, Durham County, England, which place he must have left at a very tender age, as he received his early education at a college in Wales, and set out, when a mere stripling of fourteen, upon his career as a seaman.

Captain Henry Parsell, R.N.R. 1889 - Captain of the Teutonic

Captain Heny Parsell, R. N. R.

His first experience being on a sailing vessel of 50o tons, trading between London and the East. After a varied and useful career of about twenty-three years, he entered, in 187o, the service of the favorite White Star Line, as second officer of the steamship Oceanic, the pioneer vessel of the line ; being subsequently promoted to chief officer of the same ship ; and; in due course, with speedy promotion, becoming captain of the Tropic, Gaelic, Oceanic, Adriatic, Coptic, Ionic, Britannic, and Teutonic, respectively

Prior to the maiden trip of the last-named noble vessel, he received an honorary commission of lieutenant in the British Navy, and therefore hoists the blue ensign on whatever vessel he commands.

As far as incidents are concerned, his career has been most uneventful, being singularly fortunate in having avoided accidents, shipwrecks, or disasters of any kind, which in a great measure accounts for the confidence in which he is held not only by the company and the patrons of the line, but by ocean travelers in general.

He has navigated the Arctic, Antarctic, and all other seas, as well as all important rivers on this planet of ours. He is genial, patient, and painstaking in all he undertakes ; has a pleasant word and smile for all he comes in contact with; is devoted to duty ; is admired for his kindness ; is every inch a mariner, in fact, what we might term an "ocean, veteran," and is highly esteemed by everybody as a great sailor.


The times have changed, and we live in an age of progression," may well exclaim the experienced traveler as he views the massive proportions of the mammoth new racer that has been added to the famous fleet known far and wide as the White Star Line. Enormous changes have taken place within the past quarter of a century in the character of steamships, and during the last decade the march of improvement in hull, machinery, and luxurious accommodations has been simply marvellous.

On the Promenade Deck of the White Star Liner Teutonic - 1889

A View from the Promenade Deck of the White Star Liner Teutonic - 1889

Thirty years ago, crossing the Atlantic was an undertaking not to be lightly entertained, and was the subject of much thought, preparation and deliberation on the part of those contemplating the trip. The steamships were small, and they frequently came into port bearing the marks of severe punishment inflicted by the erratic and turbulent seas of the mighty Atlantic.

Twelve days, in moderate weather, was considered a fair passage, and at the expiration of that time the weary passenger was only too happy to escape from the not over neat, incommodious steamship. The cabin was beyond the reach of persons of moderate means, the rate was excessive, the majority of those who paid it were wealthy, or forced into the outlay by some pressing exigency.

The saloon itself was not more commodious than the smoke rooms of modern steamships, and the staterooms below the main-deck, narrow and stuffy, were as bare and comfortless as can well be imagined. Both saloon and staterooms were aft ; and when the ship encountered a cross, or head sea, the passengers were pitched out of their berths in the staterooms, and unceremoniously ejected from their seats when at the dinner-table.

The Grand Staircase of the White Star Line S.S. Teutonic

The Grand Staircase of the White Star Line S.S. Teutonic

Warm meals were almost an impossibility, as all the dishes had to be carried along the exposed deck from the galley, which was a long distance from the cabin. There were no softly upholstered smoking-saloons, no electric bells, no pianos, and no flowers. To-day the old order governing ocean travel has disappeared, and through the rapid march of modern innovations, a trip across the Atlantic is viewed as the ne plus ultra of luxurious journeying.

The change in the location of the grand saloon from the stern of the ship, where it was hemmed in by staterooms, making a long, narrow, badly-lighted and poorly-ventilated apartment, removing it from over the jar and tremble of the screw to a position amidships, somewhat forward of the center, was an innovation inaugurated by the White Star Line on the advent of their pioneer steamship in 1870.

In the Library of the White Star Line Teutonic

In the Library of the White Star Line Teutonic

The feature was very popular, productive of greatly increased comfort, and has been widely adopted by other lines. When the first vessels of the line were brought to Liverpool from Belfast they created a sensation and became the subject of comment and observation. Events have proved that the builders reached a high degree of speed and safety, and that no steamships have been better able to cope with the Winter storms of the fierce Atlantic.

For twenty years, in Winter as in Summer, the steamships of the White Star Line have lived down adverse criticisms, and the best evidence of the value of the improvements introduced by this company is that they have been adopted by all rival lines.

In May, 1875, the Germanic, the latest addition to the White Star Atlantic fleet, was placed on the New York and Liverpool route, and with her sister ships completed the famous and splendidly equipped fleet of liners that soon won the reputation for possessing superior speed, efficiency and uniformity of passages.

As an instance of the regularity attained by the line, the Britannic, in 1876, averaged for six voyages outward 7 days, 18 hours and 26 minutes, and in 1886 made her fastest passage, being then twelve years in commission. On her trip last month she made the run from Queenstown to Sandy Hook in 7 days, 11 hours and 54 minutes.

Since 1874 the White Star fleet has made no special effort to shorten the time in making the passage across the Atlantic; but the important subject was by no means lost sight of. Eight years ago Messrs. Ismay, Imrie & Co. agreed upon the model and general features of a new and advanced type of marine architecture, quietly awaiting an opportune period for their project to become an accomplished fact.

The carefully-prepared and well-matured plans for twin-screw steamships were put in the builder's hands during the Summer of 1887, and the Teutonic is the result of Messrs. Harland & Wolf 's handiwork. It is with no small sentiment of pride that the firm point to the fact that they have built fifteen steamships for the White Star Company, which enjoys the reputation of being the most efficient and best appointed service in the transatlantic trade.

In the Main Saloon of the Teutonic

In the Main Saloon of the Teutonic

The leading features of the Teutonic were briefly described in the January issue of OCEAN, since which date the racer has made her debut and steamed triumphantly into the waters of New York Harbor. Her length is 582 feet, constituting her the largest ship afloat ; breadth, 57 feet 6 inches ; depth, 39 feet 4 inches, with a gross tonnage of 9,686 tons.

The combined horse-power is 2,400, and is expected to develop over 17,000. The amount of coal consumed is about 235 tons per day. In form and construction of hull, the Teutonic possesses all the distinctive features of outline and strength which have made the White Star fleet famous the world over, with the addition that she is minutely sub-divided by athwartship bulkheads as well as a longitudinal bulkhead running fore and aft throughout the greater portion of her length, greatly increasing the security of the steamship in case of collision.

The lines of the Teutonic have all the preciseness and grace usually possessed by a yacht. The straight cutter stem has a very business-like air about it ; while the tapering sheer, rounded counter and shapely stern presents as perfect a picture of marine architecture as any nautical expert will allow. She is built of Siemens-Martin steel, and propelled by two independent sets of triple-expansion engines, constructed by Messrs. Harland & Wolff, driving twin-propellers with manganese bronze blades.

Another View of the Main Saloon of the Teutonic

Another View of the Main Saloon of the Teutonic

Below the water-line more than usual care has been taken to diminish skin friction as much as possible, and to accomplish this the plating has been carefully cleaned, rubbed down and smoothed, then treated with a coating of Rahtnjen's celebrated composition. So nicely has this been done that the bottom plating of the Teutonic is as smooth as glass, having the appearance of an enameling process.

In the construction of the Teutonic, while every improvement that could possibly be applied with benefit has been utilized, the type and main features that have characterized the line remain intact. The single screw, which performed satisfactory work for the 5,000-ton steamship, has been swept aside in favor of the twin-screws for the 10,000-ton racer. An important feature, and one that will greatly interest professional men, is the disposition of the steering apparatus on the main-deck, where all on board who choose may view its massive proportions and ingenious workings.

There is a large cog-wheel on the rudder-head that is connected by gearing to two sets of steam-engines specially built for the purpose, by which means the huge rudder is managed as easily and readily as a yacht's. There is also a tiller, fitted with tackles, all in position, and ready for instant use should an emergency arise.

Though similar in hull and outline to the remainder of the fleet, and having two funnels, like the Britannic and Germanic, but set some sixty feet apart, the masting of the Teutonic is entirely different, and is a direct departure from the methods formerly in vogue. Three large, symmetrical pole masts, without yards, take the place of the familiar four masts possessing full sail power and cumbersome top hamper. The application of twin-screws has emphatically struck a death blow to sail power and the use of heavy spars aloft.

A striking feature of this noble steamship rests in the hurricane or promenade-deck, which is two hundred and forty-five feet long, or nearly one-twentieth of a mile, with a clear width of eighteen feet on each side of the deck-houses, and free from obstructions of every description, the boats being disposed of on an awning-deck above, which at the same time affords shelter during bad weather.

A View of the Smoking Saloon of the Teutonic

A View of the Smoking Saloon of the Teutonic

A clear space extending from 10 to 12 feet beyond the swell of the deckhouse enables passengers to promenade completely around the deck structure without break or interference of any kind, thus placing at their disposal, for the purpose of exercise and pleasure, 600 feet of space, or nearly one-eighth of a mile. This is a feature that will at once commend itself to the weary and ennuied traveler, who, braving storm and hissing squalls, prefers to remain on deck where there is plenty of room, in lieu of the closer atmosphere below.

On no other steamship afloat do the accommodations exist that are here devoted exclusively for the pleasure and use of the restless, vigorous and thoroughly-seasoned tourists. On this deck are the quarters of the commanding officer, which are unusually roomy and luxurious in character.

Every facility for communicating instantly with those intrusted with important duties are at the commander's hand ; while charts, books, instruments, and all the paraphernalia of a nautical commander find place within allotted spaces. Staterooms A, B, C and D, are also located on this deck, and from their freedom from obstructions of all kinds, with an uninterrupted view of the ocean in all its moods, and with an unlimited supply of ozone and health-giving salt air they are, therefore, specially desirable.

Adjoining the main entrance on this, the promenade-deck, is the library, containing bookcases filled with a careful collection of the choicest works published. The apartment is particularly light and attractive, being paneled in light oak, the wood of which was carefully selected on account of grain, color and texture, carrying a novel ornamentation produced by burning the design in a gilt ground, varied by carvings exquisitely executed, and hand-made panels in varied colored crewels on a pale-blue satin ground.

The room is lighted at the sides by windows, covered with glass shutters of Italianesque design, that admits of a subdued and mellow light, particularly adapted for those making use of the magnificently appointed apartment. Additional light is furnished by the richly stained glass dome. Every device and appliance that could possibly add to the comfort and luxury of the inmates has been furnished. Revolving chairs that, while inviting rest and contentment, occupy but little space, are here found in conjunction with individual writing tables.

In the center of the apartment is a massive sheet of opaque glass, in the form of a table, from the edges of which rise fluted columns, carved, decorated and adorned with the highest art of the carver's handicraft. Over head, the eye is greeted with panels, large and artistically covered with intricate and quaint patterns of delicate tracery, relieved by colorings and effects that tend to deceive the eye and add entranced height to the noble proportions of the ornate library.

Seductive chairs, covered with warm and costly stuffs. stand invitingly forth from quiet nooks, while the effect of light and shadow on carvings, massive oak decorations, distant alcoves and sequestered retreats, all add indescribable charms to the delighted guest and thoughtful, quiet reader and student.

A View of a Stateroom on the White Star Line Steamer Teutonic

A View of a Stateroom on the White Star Line Steamer Teutonic

Passing down through the main entrance to the upper-deck the comfortable quarters of the purser is found, and we will now pause for a moment by the grand staircase, which in any steamship is a marked and prominent feature, generally reserved for an elaborate display of ornamentation and carved and polished effects.

The main staircase of the Teutonic is singularly free from all such innovations, but the effect is none the less striking and impressive. The fittings, panels and material generally is composed of selected English oak, which, as it becomes tempered and mellowed with age, assumes a darker and richer hue until it is difficult to distinguish it readily from black walnut. It is the same style of oak that for centuries has made England famous in her wainscotings in abbeys, chapels, residences, and manor-houses generally.

The stairs are wide, spacious and gradual in descent, terminating in a broad, substantial landing which is relieved by an inlaid, tinted rubber floor, that contrasts pleasingly with the shades of oak. The balustrade is highly polished, massive and relieved by a deep beading. The upright rounds are correspondingly heavy, fitting into side pieces that are hand-carved in a beautiful pattern of bas-relief. The newel posts are heavy, finely polished and handsomely carved, while supporting pillars, bearing a pattern of a circular description with the heads of tritons, complete as fine an effect as can well be imagined from a refined and artistic point of view.

On this deck, forward of the grand staircase, are some of the choicest staterooms in the ship, furnished with baths and every possible convenience. They are unusually large, with handsome brass bedsteads. They are lighted with windows, which open onto the promenade around the deckhouse, giving fresh air in abundance ; they are also connected by electric bells with the necessary departments of this great floating city. Nothing finer or more complete in every detail has ever been placed at the disposal of the public.

In addition to the rooms already mentioned, on this deck, further aft, is the gentlemen's lavatory, the barber's shop, and the finely-appointed smoking-saloon. This apartment, as one of the attractive features of the great racer, deserves more than passing attention. Here may be found the ne plus ultra of a smoker's paradise, the acme of human comfort and pure contentment. Nothing that approaches a straight back chair or disagreeably formed sofa has been allowed place within the generous bounds devoted to the devotees of the fragrant weed. As Byron has it :

"Divine in hookahs, glorious is a pipe. When tipped with amber, mellow, rich and ripe; Like other charmers, wooing the caress. More dazzling when daring in full dress; Yet thy true lovers more admire by far. Thy naked beauties—give me a cigar."

The walls of this room are covered with richly-gilt embossed leather, the design being a careful reproduction of one of the best patterns of the old Flemish " cuir repousse." Panels in the sides of the room are decorated with oil paintings, representing shipping from some of its most picturesque and interesting aspects.

Ships of war, old and new, dating from the gaily decorated Venetian Republic and other great naval powers of the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages. — represents the Spanish American Empire, a royal treasure ship in the 17th century, by E. J. Taylor ; 2—Armed Genoese Galley in the Harbor of Venice, 16th century, by Frank Murray ; 3—Columbus in Sight of America, representing the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, in October, 1497, by Frank Murray ; 4—The Romans in Britain during the 2nd Century, by E. J. Taylor; 5—Viking Ships in the Nile during the loth Century, by Frank Murray.

Other spaces are filled with shallow niches, each containing a figure in high relief carved in pear-wood, after Donatello. The dome and ceiling are works of art in themselves, the latter containing an old English plaster pattern in oddly-shaped panels, with finely modeled rosettes at intervals. Shutters of stained and ornamented glass fit each window, and are placed in position as soon as the electric lights are called into requisition, completely obscuring the inmates from all outside observation.

Even the floor of this apartment, like the vestibule at the foot of the grand staircase, is a novelty and a decided innovation on anything of the kind that has heretofore been introduced. It is composed of rubber, artistically colored and arranged in pleasing designs and patterns. The superior features of this over a wood floor, or one covered with oilcloth, linoleum or even the finest carpet, is obvious, as to slip on a rubber floor, when the ship pitches or rolls, is simply impossible.

The furniture and upholstering of this luxurious apartment has been carefully designed, with every attention devoted to ease and pure enjoyment. The sofas, chairs, tete-a-tetes, and accessories generally in point of costly elaborateness correspond with the fittings of the smoking saloon.

The grand dining-room, or main saloon, is on the main-deck, placed amidships, where there is the minimum of movement, and apart from its great size presents many unique and novel features. In general the decoration is of the Renaissance period, the tints being a subdued ivory and geld.

The walls are exquisitely enameled, relieved by a delicate and elaborate tracing, slightly shaded with a filling of gold, while the panels in this labyrinth of artistic design, executed in a glyptic material, exhibits tritons, sea nymphs, and ocean symbols generally, all gracefully grouped and executed.

The figures in relief are finished in an ivory-like surface, and the groundwork of the panels are in gold. The ports are lined with repoussee brasswork of the same Renaissance character as the walls, and are fitted with stained-glass shutters, emblazoned with the arms of the different States and cities of America, Canada and Europe, behind which are placed electric lights, so that the brightness of the design is apparent by night or day.

The ceiling, like the walls, corresponds in regard to the tints of ivory and gold, the electric lights peeping forth from numerous niches and artistic corners ; the whole producing an effect almost beyond the power of language to describe. Tables of polished wood extend the entire length of the saloon, flanked on either side by revolving chairs that are upholstered in the finest plush.

The accommodations are such that three hundred passengers can be seated at one time, and as the Teutonic is not intended to carry more in the first-class quarters, the inconvenience and vexatious delays occasioned by dining in relays will be avoided. This feature will undoubtedly commend itself to the patrons of the line.

Although she is much larger than the Etruria and Umbria, still she carries only about half the number of saloon passengers, the limit having been placed at three hundred, and there is abundance of room for all this number to dine at one time in the saloon, which is 6o feet long by 58 feet wide. The rule limiting the number of saloon passengers is a good one, as it obviates the necessity of serving double meals. The great aim of the company is to furnish incomparably the finest cuisine, and served in a luxurious manner.

Surmounting this richly-appointed saloon, which, without doubt, is the most elaborate and artistic creation that is afloat, is a dome of stained glass, combining the soft and beautiful tints of the rainbow, which sparkles and flashes in the warm sunlight, or gleams in the brilliant rays of the electric light, shedding a flood of ever-changing scintillating colors over the vast area of the main saloon.

The effect is heightened by an arrangement of mirrors which reflect and multiply the gorgeous colorings, that, when in full play, with the steamship gently rolling, resembles the brilliant combinations of a mass of jewels. The carvings and effect generally surrounding the dome ace of the richest character, dazzling the eye in attempting to follow the sinuous windings of the perplexing pattern, the creation of a genius and an artist of great ability.

Forward of the grand saloon, and directly below it, on the main deck, are the regular staterooms, handsomely decorated, furnished and provided with every comfort and luxury that good judgment and discernment could suggest. A large proportion of these are two-berthed only, and so arranged that there will not be both upper and lower berth in same room. Numerous rooms of large size for families are provided, as well as rooms suitable for a single passenger.

The stateroom curtains are of art muslin, which produce a particularly fine effect. All the woodwork in the passages and hallways are beautifully modeled in artistic designs, showing on the part of the builders the greatest care, even to the minutest detail. In short, so far as the interior of the Teutonic is concerned, nothing has been left undone that good judgment and a lavish expenditure of .money could produce.

When domiciled in one of the Teutonic's spacious staterooms, seated in a luxuriously-upholstered easy chair, with finely-polished brass bedstead occupying one part of the room, the electric light revealing the richly chaste design of the tapestry covering the walls and the artistic folds of the art muslin draperies—it would be hard to realize that one was really afloat.

In point of size, the rooms are superior to those generally allotted to transient customers at the average hotel. In some of the larger staterooms on the upper-deck the fluted tapestry draping is varied with an oak paneling, relieved with gold, which is both soft and pleasing to the eye, and rich and appropriate in design. While dwelling upon the comfort and elegance of the Teutonic's sleeping accommodations, mention should be made of some of the staterooms which are fitted with bedrooms and sitting-rooms en suite.

Adjoining the grand saloon are elaborate bath and toilet arrangements, which the guests of the steamship will appreciate on account of their generous proportions and perfect ventilation. Abaft the saloon, on one side, is located a large pantry, galley, baker's shop, bread-room and butcher's quarters, with a huge receptacle for ice directly below. On the other side are staterooms leading aft, where the accommodations for the second-class passengers are located.

The second-class department is a distinctive feature of the great ship, and provides for the comfortable accommodation of one hundred and fifty passengers. There is included a roomy, finely-equipped dining saloon on the upper-deck, with a smoking and lounging-room on the promenade-deck above. All the fittings are handsome and substantial, corresponding in point of appearance with the general fittings met with throughout the steamship.

The staterooms compare favorably with the first-class accommodations generally met with on passenger ships of to-day, and are fitted with every comfort usually found in a first-class hotel. A promenade-deck is devoted exclusively to the use of those desiring a less expensive trip across the Atlantic, with bath-rooms, lavatories, and many comforts that will not fail to win the approbation of those patronizing the line.

While the arrangements for steerage passengers have always been a special feature in the White Star steamships, the Teutonic is, in many respects, a decided improvement on the older ships. The complete isolation of the single men and women at each end of the ship, and of the married people in their own quarters, in two and four-berth rooms, separate entrances, closets and locations for each division, a bath for the women and children, and a smoke-room for the men ; and the comfortable steerage pantry enabling a constant supply of hot water and other comforts, is maintained for those who need them. In common with all other parts of the ship, the steerage is lighted by electricity throughout. There are accommodations, without pushing or incommoding one another, for about 750 passengers in this thoroughly-equipped department.

In building the Teutonic and Majestic, the White Star Company agreed that the vessels should be of such type and speed as would render them specially suitable for service as armed cruisers, and in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the admiralty. In consideration, the admiralty agree to pay to the company for these vessels an annual subvention, payable half-yearly, at the rate of fifteen shillings per gross registered ton per annum, such subvention to commence from the date on which the vessels, respectively, start on their first voyage with the mails.

The guns designed for these Royal Naval Reserve cruisers are of the type known as the thirty-six pounder Armstrong's, of which but four have as yet passed into the possession of the Government, and were mounted on the Teutonic when she participated 1n the late naval demonstration at Spithead. When fully equipped as a cruiser she will carry, in battery, twelve Armstrongs. At present, she has fittings to accommodate one gun on each bow and one on each quarter.

With the keen eye of an expert and the zest of one whose heart was in the work, Emperor William, when inspecting the Teutonic, at once recognized the racer's guns as something new and novel. Walking to the starboard forward gun, he accosted the detail, who had been sent from the steel-armored cruiser Howe, as to the working of the breech mechanism. He personally elevated and depressed the piece, glancing along the sights, and turning to his brother, said : " We have nothing like them ; but we must have them, and at once."

Before the Emperor left, the gun detail tried the breech-loader with a blank cartridge for the special benefit of the distinguished guest, who expressed himself as highly pleased with the Teutonic in all her departments, and during the ceremonies no vessel exceeded her in point of interest with the multitudes present.

Following are the daily runs made by the Teutonic from Roche's Point to Sandy Hook Lightship on her maiden trip : August 9th, 349 knots ; August 10th, 404 knots ; August it th, 430 knots ; August 12th, 431 knots ; August 13th, 440 knots ; August 14th, 454 knots; August 15th, 227 knots.

Her corrected time from Roche's Point, Queenstown, to Sandy Hook, was 6 days, 14 hours and 45 minutes.

Source: Ocean: Magazine of Travel, Vol. III, No. 2, September 1889, Pages 34-38+


Had not the late violent gale which has swept our coast interfered with the movements of incoming steamers, it is more than probable that the Teutonic might have materially changed the champion record. But it is not too late yet. In the teeth of a North-east hurricane, which in point of fierceness has not been surpassed for over twenty years, both of the celebrated racers, Teutonic and City of New York, succeeded in lowering the records they had previously made. The Teutonic's time from Queenstown to Sandy Hook was 6 days, 7 hours and 14 minutes, which beats her own record by 7 hours and 31 minutes.

Source: Ocean: Magazine of Travel, Vol. III, No. 2, September 1889, Page 41

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