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SS Athenic

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SS Athenic

Postcard of SS Athenic
UK; Norway
Name: SS Athenic (1901–28)
Port of registry:
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
Yard number: 341
Launched: 17 August 1901
Completed: 23 January 1902
Commissioned: 14 February 1902
Renamed: SS Pelagos, 1928
Reclassified: Whaling factory ship, 1928
Captured: 15 January 1941 by the German auxiliary cruiser Pinguin
Fate: Scrapped Hamburg 1962
General characteristics
Class & type: Athenic-class ocean liner
Tonnage: 12,234 GRT
Length: 500 ft 3 in (152.48 m)
Beam: 63 ft 3 in (19.28 m)
Propulsion: 2 quadruple expansion steam engines driving 2 screws
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h)
  • 688 passengers:
  • 66–121 First class
  • 81–117 Second class
  • 450 Third class
Crew: 158 to 200

The SS Athenic was a British passenger liner built by Harland & Wolff shipyards for the White Star Line in 1901. In 1928, she came to a Norwegian company and was renamed the SS Pelagos. Torpedoed in 1944, she was refloated the following year and continued to serve until her demolition in 1962.


The 12,234-ton steamship Athenic was built on the Harland & Wolff shipyard in International Mercantile Marine Company (IMMC). On 13 February 1902, she sailed into London on her maiden voyage to Wellington via the Canary Islands, Cape Town and Hobart. She remained on the New Zealand route until the outbreak of World War II.

Athenic moored at Queens Wharf, Wellington (1913)

Like her sister ships, Athenic had two eight-cylinder quadruple expansion steam-powered engines by Harland & Wolff, working the ship's two propellers that delivered 604 nominal horsepower and giving a service speed of 14 knots (26 km/h). Her passenger capacity was 121 first class, 117 second class and 450 third class. She was equipped with electric lighting and cooling chambers for transport of frozen meat, specifically lamb.

When war was declared between England and Germany in August 1914, Athenic was in Wellington, New Zealand, and was requistioned as a troopship under the British Liner Requisition Scheme. On September 23, 1914 she was in Lyttelton (Christchurch) in the South Island of New Zealand, where as one of the transports carrying what was known collectively as the "Main Body", she took on board the following units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force: Headquarters, Mounted Rifles Brigade, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regt. (2 squadrons) and the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (less 1 Company). The Officer Commanding Troops was Colonel A.H. Russell. In total Athenic carried 54 officers, 1,259 men and 339 horses. She proceeded to Wellington and berthed there till 16 October 1914, when it was judged safe to depart. She sailed across the globe, sailing per convoy by way of Hobart, Albany, Colombo, Aden and finally arriving in Alexandria to disembark the soldiers on December 3, 1914. SS Athenic was designated at that time as being (His Majesty's New Zealand Transport) HMNZT 11. She was the largest troopship ever sent from New Zealand transporting New Zealand forces to the Middle East. Athenic acted several other times as a transport throughout WWI, with a new number for each voyage she undertook.

See also


  • The Ships ListShip Description from
  • -class ocean liners at ssMaritime.comAthenic
  • AthenicAuckland War Museum. Troopships: HMNZT II,
  • ‍ '​s service as a New Zealand transport throughout WWIAthenicDetails of From NZ Transport Ships at the Flotilla Australia website.

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