19 August 2010

Oceanic, 8 June 2009


IMO 5260679
Built 1965, Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 37 772 GT
Length 238,44 m
Width 29,42 m
Draft 8,60 m
1 550 passengers
2 CRDA-Del Laval steam turbines, combined 39 279 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 26,5 knots

Oceanic is one of my personal favourite ships in existance. Like the Mona Lisa and Marco Polo, she's a survivor of the age of the ocean liner. Unlike those two, the Oceanic has been spared the rebuilding of her stylish exterior and she still retains her original name. On the technical side she's powered with steam turbines, unlike the Mona Lisa and Marco Polo which were built with diesel engines.

The Oceanic was originally built for Home Lines with the intention of using her on Europe-Canada transatlantic service during the summers and cruising during the winters. However, by the time of her completion Home Lines had decided to abandon liner services, leaving line voyages for the associated Hamburg Atlantik Linie. Resulting the Oceanic entered service as a full-time cruise ship and she was marketed as the world's largest purpose-built cruise ship - which she of course was not. Oceanic left the fleet of Home Lines in 1985 due to the arrival of the new Homeric (today Thomson Cruises' Thomson Dream). Oceanic was sold to Premier Cruise Lines and renamed StarShip Oceanic. In 2000, shortly before Premier went bankrupt, the StarShip Oceanic was renamed Big Red Boat I in keeping of Premier's marketing sheme of their ships as the Big Red Boats (naturally, they had a matching hull colour).

Following Premier Cruise Lines' bankruptcy Big Red Boat I was sold to Pullmantur Cruises and reverted back to her original name Oceanic for Mediterranean cruising out of Spain. Reportedly Pullmantur only operated her during the summer seasons and she spent the winters laid up. During these layups she was gradually rebuilt to be compatible with the SOLAS 2010 regulations. Pullmantur Cruises was sold to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. in 2006, and subsequently the new owners begun disposing of the older tonnage. The Oceanic was withdrawn from service in 2009, but fortunately the aged ship found a new owner with the Japanese Peace Boat charity organization. Still retaining the name Oceanic, the ship sails around the world on educational cruises.

Externally the Oceanic is a superb example of post-World War II Italian ocean liner design with a long hull, a relatively low superstructure beautifully streamlined in the front and attractively terraced towards the rear. Yet her design does have more modern touches, most notably the single funnel placed quite far aft and the libefoats located in recesses on the sides of the ship instead of being at the top of a superstructure. According to William H. Miller, the Oceanic's head designers were Home Lines' Charalambos Keusseuglou and the Italian maritime architect Constanza (first name not mentioned in Miller's book).

Photographs below are from Oceanic's visit to Helsinki's Länsisatama on 8 June 2009 as a part of Peace Boat's 66th Global Voyage for Peace. To the best of my knowledge this was the 44-year-old ship's maiden visit to Helsinki. Photographed from the breakwater in Vattuniemi, click on the image(s) to view full size.

Pulling away from quay in the evening light, with Hernesaari in the background.
Old-world charm: a steamer powering up, with the tug that helped her off the quay (in this case the Hector) returning to port.
Passing Pihlajasaari (what else?) on the deep shipping lane en-route to the Bay of Finland.
This image might look oddly familiar [Dec. 2011 edit: this was the original kships header image]. Panoramic Oceanic heading for the open sea.

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