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Cunard Shipping Line




It was in 1838 that  shipping magnate Samuel Cunard, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, along with engineer Robert Napier and businessmen James Donaldson, Sir George Burns, and David MacIver formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (BNARMSPC).  This company was however distinct from the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company founded in London in 1839 by Scot James Macqueen. BNARMSPC successfully bid for the rights to a transatlantic mail shipping contract between England and America - winning this entitled it to use the RMS (Royal Mail Ship) prefix on its vessels. The company later changed its name to Cunard Steamships Ltd.



In May 1840 the 648 gross ton coastal paddle steamer SS Unicorn, the company's first steamship, made the company's first transatlantic trip. Under the direction of Captain Douglas, she carried 24 passengers, including Edward Cunard (Samuel's son), on a trip lasting 14 days, at an average speed of 8 knots, thereby meeting the contract requirement of a crossing in a fortnight. Regular passenger and cargo service by steamship was inaugurated by the paddle steamer Britannia, the first ship commissioned by the company. On 4 July 1840 she sailed from Liverpool to Halifax, arriving in 12 days, then to Boston in 2 days 8 hours more.




PS Caledonia was another of their early ships.



David MacIver, the superintendant over the Liverpool branch of the company died in 1845 and the reins were passed to his brother, Charles MacIver. Cunard continued to face competition from its many competitors from Britain, France, the United States and Germany, but survived them all. This was mainly due to a great focus on safety. Cunard ships were usually not the largest or the fastest but they earned a reputation for being the most reliable and the safest.








Between 1914 and 1918 Cunard Line built its European headquarters in Liverpool. The grand neo-Classical Cunard Building was to be the third of Liverpool's 'Three Graces'. The headquarters were used by Cunard until the 1960s. The prosperous company eventually absorbed Canadian Northern Steamships Ltd and, in 1934, Cunard's principal competitor, the White Star Line, owners of the ill-fated RMS Titanic and the RMS Britannic.


For more than a century and a half, Cunard dominated the Atlantic passenger trade and was one of the world's most important companies, with the majority of their liners being built at John Brown's Shipyard, Clydebank, Scotland. Its ships played important roles in the development of the world economy, and also participated in all of Britain's major wars from Crimea to the Falklands War, when Cunard's container ship Atlantic Conveyor was sunk by an Exocet missile.












Cunard Line and Princess Cruises had headquarters in Santa Clarita. The line began to decline in the 1950s as speedy air travel began to replace ships as the main transporters of passengers and mail across the Atlantic. Cunard tried to address this by forming BOAC-Cunard Ltd in 1962 with the British Overseas Airways Corporation to operate scheduled air services to North America, the Caribbean and South America. It was dissolved in 1966.









Cunard Ships

The Cunard fleet, all built for Cunard unless otherwise indicated, consisted of the following ships in order of acquisition:


Ship
Built
In service for Cunard
Type of Ship
Tonnage (GRT)
Notes
1836
1840–1846
wood-paddler
650
coastal steamer purchased for Montreal service, sold 1846
1840
1840–1849
wood-paddler
1,150
Eastbound record holder, sold to North German Navy 1849
1840
1840–1849
wood-paddler
1,150
sold to North German Navy 1849
1840
1840–1850
wood-paddler
1,150
sold to Spanish Navy 1850
1841
1841–1843
wood-paddler
1,150
Blue Riband, wrecked 1843 without loss of life
1843
1843–1850
wood-paddler
1,400
Eastbound record holder, sold to Spanish Navy 1850
1845
1845–1860
wood-paddler
1,400
Blue Riband, sold to Italian owners 1860
1848
1848–1863
wood-paddler
1,850
Blue Riband, sold 1863 and converted to sail
1848
1848–1866
wood-paddler
1,850
sold 1866 and converted to sail
1848
1848–1867
wood-paddler
1,850
Blue Riband, sold 1867
1848
1848–1866
wood-paddler
1,850
Eastbound record holder, sold 1866 and converted to sail
1850
1850–1868
wood-paddler
2,250
Blue Riband, sold 1868
1850
1850–1868
wood-paddler
2,250
sold 1868
1852
1852–1864
wood-paddler
2,400
sold 1864 and converted to sail
1852
1852–1859
iron-screw
1,400
sold to Spanish Government 1859
1853
1853–1859
iron-screw
1,400
sold to Spanish Government 1859
1854
1854–1860
iron-screw
2,200
sold to Allan Line 1860
1855
1855–1860
iron-screw
2,200
sold to Inman Line 1860
1856
1856–1869
iron-paddler
3,300
Blue Riband, taken out of service 1868 and scrapped 1872
1857
1860–1876
iron-screw
2,700
built for other owners, sold 1876
1862
1862–1880
iron-screw
2,550
sold to Spanish owners 1880
1862
1864–1878
iron-paddler
3,850
Blue Riband, sold 1878 and converted to cable layer
1864
1865–1876
iron-screw
2,700
sold 1876 and converted to sail
1865
1865–1878
iron-screw
2,700
sold 1878 to Red Star Line, and renamed "Zeeland"
1867
1867–1880
express
2,950
sold to Red Star Line 1880
1867
1867–1880
intermediate
2,550
sold to Spanish owners 1880
1868
1868–1892
intermediate
2,550
sold 1892
1870
1870–1884
intermediate
2,550
traded in for Oregon 1884
1870
1870–1880
express
3,250
sold to Guion Line 1880
1870
1870–1881
express
3,250
sold to Red Star Line 1881
1870
1870–1884
intermediate
3,150
traded in for Oregon 1884, scrapped 1955
1874
1874–1898
express
4,550
sold 1898
1875
1875–1899
express
4,550
sold 1899
1879
1879–1897
express
4,800
sold to Beaver Line 1899
1881
1881–1901
intermediate
4,850
sold 1901
1882
1882–1900
intermediate
5,500
sold to Russian Navy 1900, sunk Port Authur
1882
1882–1900
intermediate
5,500
sold 1900
1881
1881–1902
express
7,400
first steel liner to New York, scrapped 1902
1883
1883–1905
express
7,250
sold 1905
1883
1884–1886
express
7,400
Blue Riband, built for Guion Line, purchased by Cunard 1884, sank 1886 without loss of life
1884
1884–1910
express
7,700
Blue Riband, sold 1910
1884
1884–1910
express
7,700
Blue Riband, sold 1910
1893
1893–1914
express
12,900
Blue Riband, sold to Royal Navy 1914 and converted to aircraft carrier
1893
1893–1909
express
12,900
Blue Riband, scrapped after fire 1909
1899
1899–1917
intermediate
10,400
sunk by submarine 1917
1900
1900–1917
intermediate
14,250
sunk by submarine 1917
1900
1900–1925
intermediate
14,250
sold 1925
1903
1903–1918
intermediate
13,600
rescued survivors from Titanic, sunk by submarine 1918
1905
1905–1932
intermediate
19,650
scrapped 1932
1905
1905–1932
intermediate
19,650
scrapped 1932
1907
1907–1915
express
31,550
Blue Riband, sunk by submarine 1915
1907
1907–1934
express
31,950
Blue Riband, scrapped 1934
1911
1911–1916
intermediate
18,100
sunk by submarine 1916
1900
1911–1912
intermediate
7,650
built for Thompson Line, purchased by Cunard 1911, sold 1912
1911
1911–1918
intermediate
9,100
wrecked 1918
1912
1912–1917
intermediate
18,100
sunk by submarine 1917
1913
1913–1918
intermediate
13,400
sunk by submarine 1918
1913
1913–1916
intermediate
13,400
sunk by mine 1916
1914
1914–1950
express
45,650
scrapped 1950
1914
1914–1921
intermediate
15,700
built for other owners, acquired by Cunard 1914, sold 1921
1916
1916–1918
intermediate
13,400
sunk by submarine 1918
1920
1920–1930
intermediate
12,750
sold to Libera Triestina 1930
1913
1921–1938
express
51,950
built by Hapag as Imperator, purchased by Cunard 1921, sold for scrap 1938
1921
1921–1958
intermediate
19,700
scrapped 1958
1922
1922–1955
intermediate
19,700
scrapped 1955
1922
1922–1942
intermediate
19,700
sunk by submarine 1942
1922
1922–1942
intermediate
13,900
sold to Admiralty 1942
1922
1922–1942
intermediate
13,900
sold to Admiralty 1942
1922
1922–1940
intermediate
16,250
sunk by bombing 1940
1923
1923–1956
intermediate
20,200
scrapped 1956
1924
1924–1942
intermediate
14,000
sold to Admiralty 1942
1925
1925–1940
cruise
20,200
sunk by submarine 1940
1925
1925–1956
intermediate
14,000
scrapped 1956
1925
1925–1942
intermediate
14,000
sold to Admiralty 1942
1936
1936–1967
express
80,750
Blue Riband, sold 1967, now a stationary hotel ship
1939
1939–1965
express
37,750
scrapped 1965
1940
1946–1968
express
83,650
WWII troopship 1940-1945, sold 1968, destroyed by fire 1972

Post WWII

Ship
Built
Cunard service
Type of Ship
Tonnage
(GRT)
Notes
1947
1947–1961
Cargo liner
13,350
sold to Cogedar Line 1961
1947
1947–1961
Cargo liner
13,350
sold to P&O 1961
1949
1949–1968
Cruise
34,200
sold 1968, wrecked 1974
RMS Saxonia
RMS Carmania
1954
1954-1962
1962-1973
Iintermediate
Cruise
21,637
21,370
Sold to the Black Sea Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973
RMS Ivernia
RMS Franconia
1955
1955-1963
1963-1973
Cruise
21,800
Sold to the Far Eastern Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973
1956
1956–1968
Intermediate
21,800
sold to Sitmar Line 1968
1957
1957–1968
Intermediate
21,800
sold to Sitmar Line 1968
1969
1969–2008
Express
70,300
sold 2008, laid up in Port Rashid
1971
1971–1977
Cruise
14,150
sold to Norwegian Cruise Line 1977
1972
1972–1974
Cruise
14,150
sold after fire 1974 to C. Clausen and converted to a cattle carrier
1975
1976–1996
Cruise
17,500
sold to Awani Cruise Line 1996
1975
1977–1995
Cruise
17,500
sold to MSC Cruises 1995
1965
1983–1997
Cruise
24,500
built for Norwegian America Line, sold to Saga Cruises 1997
Vistafjord
Caronia
1973
1983-1999
1999-2004
Cruise
24,300
built for Norwegian America Line, sold to Saga Cruises 2004
1984
1986–1998
Cruise
4,333
Built for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1998
1985
1986–1998
Cruise
4,333
Built for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1998
1988
1994–1999
Cruise
37,850
built for Royal Viking Line, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1999
2004
2004–present
Cruise
148,528 GT
in service
2007
2007–present
Cruise
90,049 GT
in service
Queen Elizabeth
2010
2010–present
Cruise
90,901 GT
in service



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