Thursday, 24 March 2016



It is surprising that steamers, circa 1908, with significant top hampers are still regarded in some circles
as being 'top heavy'. This judgment ignores the mechanics of adjusting GM by means of dead weight
and its distribution. If there are still any nay-sayers out there this gorgeously opulent steamer
from 1908 should sort the confusion out once and for all. RMS Asturias was not GM unstable and
neither was Waratah when she departed Durban for the last time.

Operator:Royal Mail Steam Packet Company,Belfast
Builder:Harland & Wolff, Ltd., Belfast

  • 22,181 GRT
  • tonnage under deck 16,089
  • 13,189 NRT
  • 630.5 ft (192.2 m) p/p
  • 656 ft (200 m) o/a
Beam:78.5 ft (23.9 m)
Depth:40.5 ft (12.3 m)
Installed power:
  • As built: 3,366 NHP; 10,000 ihp, 7,500bhp
  • From 1934: 4,205 NHP; 24,000 bhp
  • 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h) (until 1934)
  • 19 knots (35 km/h) (from 1934)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
built with 30 lifeboats, later reduced to 28
  • 1,430 passengers:
  • 432 1st class
  • 223 2nd class
  • 775 3rd class

The following description of the Asturias is a joy to read. And all of this in 1908. The Waratah was small
fry by comparison with Astoria's luxurious capacity.

Western Mail (Perth) Saturday 7 March 1908.


(See Illustrations.)
Never in the history of Australian
Shipping has a vessel of such luxurious
passenger accommodation been seen in
the waters of the island continent as
the R M S. Asturias, which reached
Fremantle early on February 27
from London on her maiden voyage.
The advent of the new and much-talked
of liner excited a considerable amount
of interest; consequently, at a comparatively 
early hour, large numbers of
people from the different parts of the
metropolitan area came down to the
Port, in order to inspect the ship, and
during most of the time she was at
Victoria Quay a continuous stream of
visitors inspected the saloons, staterooms, 
and other portions of the vessel,
and were loud in their praises of all
they saw. Many made the suggestion
that Mr. T. Day, the local manager of
the Orient Royal Mail line, might have
followed the example adopted by the
Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.'s directors, 
who threw the Asturias open to
inspection at Tilbury Dock on Wednesday, 
January 15, and charged a shilling
for admission, the whole of the proceeds
going to the benefit of the Tilbury Hospital. 
Had such a course been followed here, 
it was held that the Fremantle Hospital 
would have benefited considerably.
The Asturias is the last of five vessels
of a distinctive type the Royal Mail
Steam Packet Company have had 
constructed for their South American mail
service, the Amazon, Aragon, Avon,
and Araguaya being the remaining
four. In these an effort has been made
to place, as far as possible, at the disposal 
of the rapidly-increasing South American, 
travelling public those luxuries which have 
been provided for those who journey between 
Europe and the United States and Canada. 
From a variety of causes, it is not necessary to
enumerate, the only ocean steamboat
route in the world that pays purely on
a passenger basis is the North Atlantic;
consequently, considerations of cargo
have not stood in the way of what has
been described as the ever-increasing
demands of passengers. This is not so
elsewhere; hence cargo-carrying capacity 
is a most important item, and
shipbuilders have striven to combine
the highest comfort for travellers without 
detracting from the space available
for freight. Certainly no British
built vessel has the happy medium been
so successfully attained as in the Asturias 
and her sister-ships. Indeed, one
would be pretty safe in asserting that
no vessels afloat are so advantageously
constructed, both from the passengers'
and shippers' point of view.
The vessel is 12,200 gross tonnage, 
and the largest British passenger steamer 
that has yet been employed in the 
English-Australian mail service.
She is 530 ft. long, 62ft. beam, and
38 ft. depth. In design she is schooner
rigged, with one funnel, and is a graceful craft. 
Nothing, however, has been
sacrificed to architectural beauty in the
endeavour of the owners and the builders 
to meet the requirements, and to
secure the safety of her passengers. On
the trip round from Belfast to London
she carried a distinguished party of
guests, and one of them wrote:-"No
one could wish to be in a hotel with better 
accommodation than this boat affords, 
or on board a liner with better
seagoing qualities," And her seagoing
capabilities were well tested on this preliminary 
trial trip, heavy seas being experienced. 
Despite this and the fact that she was in ballast trim, 
she rolled very little. Some idea of the size of
the Asturias is to be learned from the
fact that she has no less than seven
decks above the waterline; access is to
be had to all the decks, and it is possible 
to get to any part without going
outside, by means of the staircases. An
electric lift runs from the main deck
to the promenade deck, and has landings 
on the intermediate decks. The passenger 
accommodation of the Asturias provides for 
300 in the first-class, 84 in the second, 
and no less than 1 200 in the third. 
It ia this accommodation which excited such 
enthusiastic praise.
On the main deck is located the first-class 
dining-saloon, a truly luxurious apartment, 
decorated in the renaissance style, with light carved oak, 
white and gold panelled walls, relieved by centres
of light blue, while the adornments are Cupids and 
sea trophies. From the centre springs a dome of noble 
proportions, modeled after that of a Genoese palace. 
The table arrangement is in the latest restaurant style, 
the tables seating parties of four, six, eight, ten, and twelve. 
So large is this apartment that the entire complement of first-class
passengers can dine at one sitting. A most complete installation 
of electric fans renders the saloon cool in the hottest weather. 
A splendid stairway leads to the deck above, and near by is the
electric lift. A children's saloon or nursery, adjoins the dining-saloon, and
is suitably furnished, and decorated.
This nursery is certainly an innovation on British steamers 
engaged in the Australian mail service, though it may be
pointed out that three years ago the North German Lloyd 
introduced similar apartments on to the vessels employed
on the Australian run with meet successful results. 
The kitchens and other offices, equipped with every modern
appliance, and where electricity is used in a bewildering 
variety of forms, are situated on this deck, as are also some
of the third-class berths. The major part of the next deck is taken up by
staterooms each of which is provided with a side light, 
owing to the adoption of the Bibby tandem principle.
These rooms are comfortably fitted, and
good taste is displayed in the decorating, 
the white and gold walls being relieved by brown-tinted pictures. 
The second-class passengers are provided with equally 
comfortable sleeping accommodation on this deck, which also
contains the third-class saloon, undoubtedly the finest apartment of its
kind which those who have a considerable acquaintance 
with vessels engaged in the Australian passenger trade have
yet teen. On the deck above there are more state-rooms, 
and in addition four suites-de-luxe, each consisting of bedroom 
and sitting-room, superbly furnished in white and gold with silk
pannelling, with bathroom and lavatory attached. 
The second-class accommodation, consisting of a handsome 
dining saloon, drawing and smoke room, and extensive promenade, 
is conveniently situated on the same deck. The deck above is 
termed the "lower promenade deck," and it is almost entirely
given up to single-berth state-rooms affording privacy to those 
travellers desiring it. These single rooms, and also a number 
of two-bedded state-rooms, are elegantly furnished, and have 
bathrooms attached. Above is the upper promenade deck, 
a spacious area some 350ft. long. On this are situated some
of the most notable apartments in the ship. At the forward end is the
social hall and lounge for first-class passengers, it is a palatial saloon, 
surmounted by two domes of stained glass, decorated in carved oak, 
and furnished with lounges and writing tables aft.
On this deck is the smoke-room, divided into two parts, 
the lower portion being on the upper promenade deck,
and the other forming a wide gallery with a well, on the boat 
deck immediately above. Carved oak panels line
the walls, which are also decorated with
large Dutch tiles having on them places
of interest. Thirteen electric fans in
these apartments supply ample artificial ventilation. 
The upper section of the apartment is termed the card-room
and the lower the smoke-room. In the
matter of electric fans the Asturias is
well provided, each cabin in the first
and second class being fitted with one.
Here, again, the British owners have
been wise in following the example of
the North German Lloyd, fans being
placed in all cabins free of extra cost
to the passengers. The Bremen Corporation 
some years ago fitted certain of their Australian 
passenger steamersm with gymnasia, 
and so popular were these that travellers 
by the Asturias will find a fully equipped 
gymnasium provided for them on the boat deck. 
The washing question, so long a serious one
with passengers homeward or outward
bound by British steamers, has been
solved on the Asturias by the provision
of a laundry worked by electricity and
supplied with the latest electric appliances. 
In this particular the admirable example of 
the Germana in their Australian steamers
has been also followed. The provision
made for third-class passengers is remarkably complete. 
The ship is lighted throughout by electric light, and there
is an elaborate system of ventilation.
As to the propelling power; the set of engines 
for the twin screws are of Messrs. Harland and Wolff's 
latest "balanced" quadruple type, and although vibration 
is not altogether absent, many of the passengers stated that
it was difficult in some parts to feel the throb of the engines.
When the Asturias leaves Fremantle
some five weeks hence for Colombo,
Naples. Marseilles, Plymouth, and London, 
she will have her passenger accommodation 
entirely occupied. She sailed for Adelaide at 1 p.m. 
yesterday with the local mails and 100 passengers. 
On reaching London she will take her place on the 
South American mail service for which she was built.

note vast expanse of top hamper relative to hull length

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