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Southampton Is Ideal Port For Passenger Liners (1922)

Modern docks, a sheltered harbor, four tides a day, safe approach channels, deep waters at all states of the tide, and its proximity to London, all combine to make Southampton the ideal home port for the great vessels engaged in the passenger carrying trade, says the Monthly Bulletin of the Department of Overseas Trade.

It is, therefore, a natural consequence that the important steamship companies have selected and regularly use Southampton as the home port for their mammoth ships. At no other port in the world can such vessels be berthed at any hour of the day or night.

For years before the war, Southampton enjoyed the distinction of dealing with the largest liners of the principal steamship companies, and when the port was released by the Government for commercial purposes it regained at once the premier position amongst British ports in respect of the ocean passenger trade. The distance between Southampton and London is only 78 miles, and special trains make the journey between the quayside at Southampton and the London terminus in about 1 1/2 hours.

It is recognized that a large port is not properly equipped unless it has adequate facilities for the rapid bunkering of steamers, whether consuming coal or oil. A coal jetty with hydraulic and electric power cranes and spacious coal barge docks has been constructed on the Itchen, for the purpose of storing coaling lighters for bunkering out-going liners. These coaling docks are capable of floating 20,000 tons of bunkering coal at one time. The best Welsh coal is received by coastal steamers, or by special trains from the South Wales coalfields.

Special facilities are also provided for oil bunkering, and the leading oil companies have constructed large installations of oil and motor spirit.

The great increase in the number of modern steamers consuming oil fuel, particularly the largest class of liners, has demanded special facilities for replenishing bunkers and adequate arrangements have been made to meet these requirements. Several of the principal oil fuel companies have opened branches at the port. Large Atlantic liners such as the Olympic and Aquitania have fuelled under 7 hours. It is expected that in the near future it will be possible for vessels to be oil-bunkered whilst lying in their berths in the docks by means of pipelines laid on from the various companies’ tanks.

The channel from the Solent to the docks has been dredged to a depth of 35 feet, and is lighted by gas buoys. There are double tides at the port, with the result that the water remains at high tide level for about 2 hours twice daily. The docks and quays are fitted with hydraulic and electric installations and provide for numerous cargo sheds and warehouses, also with sidings connecting with the London and South Western Railway main line.

The port is connected by special services with all principal ports in the United Kingdom. The rapidity with which Southampton has gained popularity throughout the shipping world is owing, to a considerable degree, to the excellent railway facilities to and from the port, not only for passengers, but also for goods and all kinds of perishable merchandise.

“Southampton is Ideal Port for Passenger Liners,” in The Nautical Gazette: America's Oldest Shipping Weekly, Volume 103, No. 3, Whole No.  2656, Saturday, 15 July 1922, p. 80.

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