FALSE. The Mauretania and the Lusitania, built by Cunard in 1906, were both significantly faster than the Olympic and Titanic, whose owners, the White Star Line, had not tried to compete on speed since the Oceanic II was launched on January 14th, 1899. She and all subsequent White Star vessels were built for size and luxury, rather than speed. The Mauretania had a guaranteed service speed of no less than 24 knots, with a maximum recorded speed of 28 knots, and had since 1909 held the Blue Riband for the fastest westbound Atlantic crossing, a record which lasted for two decades. She had also broken the eastbound speed record in 1907, but only the westbound leg was counted for the Blue Riband. The Lusitania was slightly slower, but still had a guaranteed service speed of 24 knots, compared with the Olympic-class’s designed service speed of 21.5 knots.
The Olympic-class ships were designed to be larger than their rivals to attract the emigrant trade, and also to attract the more wealthy with the comfort of the first and second class accommodation. White Star Line was able to offer a smoother passage for all classes, without the vibration that the Cunarders’ quadruple screws gave at high speeds, achieving at the same time a significant economy of running costs, as fuel consumption was correspondingly lower. Olympic consumed about 650 tons of coal per twenty four hours with an average speed of 21.7 knots on her maiden voyage, compared to 1000 tons of coal per twenty four hours for both the Lusitania and Mauretania. Although they would not have noticed the saving in fuel, passengers did notice and appreciate how smooth Olympic and Titanic were.
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