Tonnage: 4,368 tons gross, 4,040 under deck and 2,788 net. Constructed in steel, single screw, 4 masts, 3 decks, 2 of them in steel, and 7 bulkheads. She had a compound engine with 4 inverted cylinders of 32 & 71 inches diameter each pair and stroke 60 inches. The engine delivered 550 horsepower, and was built by J. Jack & Co. in Liverpool. Call sign: WBHJ. Official registration #: 84128
The following description of the first White Star ship by the name of "Arabic" has been transcribed from an 1881 booklet issued by the company in the event of the launching of their new ship.
The White Star fleet of ocean-going steamers has just received two very important additions by the construction of the "ARABIC" and "COPTIC" by Messrs. Harland and Wolf, of Belfast, who have built the whole of the fleet owned by the White Star Company.
The "ARABIC" arrived in the Mersey on the 18th inst. from Belfast, and the "COPTIC" was launched on the 10th. They are to be in every respect sister ships, so that in appearance and arrangements they will be exactly similar. Their general appearance embraces the symmetrical characteristics of well known vessels of the line; long graceful yacht-like hull, with ample beam, four masts ship rigged in the tree, and the fourth, in default of a better definition, appropriately named the "jigger." These provide effective sail power, in the event of any breakdown of the machinery fully equal to that of a first-class sailing ship. Like the larger sisters, the "BRITANNIC" and "GERMANIC" they have turtle backs, both forward and aft, to relieve the deck of the rolling seas which would otherwise inundate the decks. These also form an excellent shelter in wet and stormy weather to the steerage passengers.
The captain's cabin is immediately adjacent to the wheel-house and bridge, so that he is practically speaking , ever at the post duty. The officers quarters are in the deck house on the main deck forward, close to and convenient to their work, and quite apart from passengers, so that there is nothing to interfere with their needful rest or efficient execution of their responsible duties.
THE STEERAGE ACCOMMODATION
The steerage accommodation is in three sections, approached by separate entrances, and provided with separate lavatories, with an ample water supply kept in constant circulation by a pulsometer pump. The single men are all quartered in the main and lower deck forward, and between them and the married people there is a saloon accommodation and engine space. The single women are still further aft, and have their quarters entirely to themselves, and as they are in charge of experienced matrons and fully qualified surgeon, they are thoroughly well cared for in every respect. A hospital replete with every requirement is provided for every section and two on deck for infectious cases. The steerage berths are of canvas, and by an ingeniously simple arrangement can, when not in use, be compactly stowed away, the space vacated becoming available for tables and seats during the day. The steerage is also provided with a pantry, from which the emigrant can be supplied with tea and coffee made on the same principal as in the saloon, and for the women who prefer to make their own there is an ample supply for teapots and hot water. The invalid and sea sick passengers are not lost sight of, beef tea, chicken broth, and arrowroot being freely provided for them. The main deck, fore and aft, forms a splendid promenade and recreation for the steerage passengers, the saloon passengers having a special separate deck amidships, all mixing of classes being avoided.
THE ACCOMMODATION OF THE SALOON PASSENGERS
The accommodation of the saloon passengers is of the most unique and perfect description, and if not unrivalled, is certainly unsurpassed by that of any ship afloat. It is situate amidships, immediately forward of the engine and boilers, so that it is in the quietest and best part of the ship. The saloon. or dining-room is approached by a very handsome entrance-hall from the main deck, paneled with walnut and maple, and from it there is access to the upper or saloon deck, already alluded to, by an easy double staircase, with bronze and mahogany balustrading. The saloon is beautifully and most artistically decorated, and forms a most charming apartment. The paneling has the appearance of embossed leather, the relieves so delicately and harmoniously coloured that they leave a most novel and pleasing impression of the mind. The sofas at the sides, upholstered in a subdued shade of rich olive-green velvet, are luxuriously comfortable. The cane-seated revolving chairs are quite a new feature in the furnishing of steamers.
The ladies' cabin and the smoking-room are on the promenade deck, and are models of artistic decoration and furnishing. The sleeping cabins are all on the main deck, are large, airy, perfectly ventilated, and lightly and elegantly furnished. Four bathrooms and lavatories, beautifully tiled and arranged , are provided for the convenience of the saloon passengers, and in this respect the "ARABIC" might fairly claim to be super-excellent and almost unequalled either on land or sea.
The ship is illuminated throughout by the Swan system of electric light, and everything which the inventor and the best engineering skill could devise to ensure its perfect working, has been done with the most satisfactory result. The light is exceedingly soft and bright, and at the same time perfectly steady and free from flickering. The engine which supplies the motive power is something of a novelty. It is really a combination of three engines in one; and it is this combination which makes the light so steady and uniform throughout the vessel. The principle on which it has been introduced on board the "ARABIC" proves most satisfactorily the possibility of using it just as gas or oil is used in private dwellings, the only question to be considered being that of cost. The engines by which the light is worked are the invention of Messrs. Thompson, Bros. and Walker, Seaham Engine Works, Seaham Harbour, county Durham. Should any failure occur, the lamps can promptly be transformed so as to burn mineral sperm oil, which gives a beautiful light, almost equal to electric light.
The "ARABIC" is divided into eight water-tight compartments, any of which may be penetrated without imperilling the vessel's safety; and it may be truly said that no vessel afloat excels in efficiency and perfection of arrangement in this respect. The bulkhead water-tight doors are so much approved of that they have been copied in her Majesty's navy, as something infinitely superior toe the old system of bulkhead.
The provisions against fire are of a complete description, and an outbreak in any section of the ship can at once be brought into subjection through the agency of both steam and water.
The life-saving appliances are also of the most approved order. Two large life-rafts are stowed in the deck houses forward, ready for immediate use, and eight large lifeboats hang in their davits, with fittings complete, and ready for service on the shortest notice in case of need.
The "ARABIC" is built of mild steel, the ductile quality which insures the maximum of strength and durability. Her dimensions are: - Length, 430 feet; breadth, 42 feet; depth 24 feet; and the gross register tonnage 4,368 tons. She has two double-cylindered engines of 450 horse-power, built by Messrs. J. Jack & Co., of the Victoria Engine Works, Liverpool, the steam for which is supplied from three elliptical boilers, working at a nominal pressure of 90lbs. to the square inch, but tested by the Board of Trade to double that pressure, and capable of bearing even much greater pressure than the maximum official requirement. on the passage over from Belfast to Liverpool, the engines worked perfectly and without the slightest hitch of any description. The crank shafts are of steel, and so constructed that the risk of a breakdown is rendered a remote contingency, and this is rendered still more so by the engines being two distinct machines, so that in the event of one being disabled it is a simple matter to disconnect them and continue the passage with a single engine, and this only at a slightly reduced speed. She is steered amidships by steam, and has in addition to the approved ordinary compasses and sounding appliances, Sir William Thompson's patent compasses machine. Special precautions have been taken for an effective look-out, a bridge forward being provided for the men engaged in that important duty.
The "ARABIC" sails on her first voyage to New York on the 10th September, and on this occasion will sail under the Cunard flag, that company having secured her from White Star Line for that trip. She will be under the command of Captain Pearne.