This ship was originally laid down as the "Hindenburg", and was the sister ship of the S/S Columbus (1) built in 1913. The Columbus (1) was laid up, unfinished, for the duration of World War I. Ceded to Britain in 1919 and purchased by White Star in 1920, she became the S/S Homeric. When the S/S Hindenburg was completed in 1922, it was decided to name her Columbus (2) instead of Hindenburg. Rebuilt and re-engined in 1929, the new engine gave the ship a speed of 22 knots. During the rebuilding she got new shorter funnels.