ss united states

Blue Riband – Uncovering the Fascinating History of the Accolade

As one of the world’s oldest and most coveted awards, the Blue Riband accolade has been a source of fascination and pride for centuries. First awarded in 1838, the Blue Riband is a highly sought-after award given to the fastest transatlantic ocean liner. This accolade has been captured by some of the world’s most famous vessels, from the Lusitania to the SS United States, and is still a source of national pride for countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, the Blue Riband is a symbol of innovation and engineering excellence, representing the pinnacle of maritime achievement. Take a look at the fascinating history of the Blue Riband and learn about the vessels that have captured this prestigious award.

Origins of the Blue Riband Award

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The Blue Riband award was first established in 1838 when the British-owned Cunard Line announced that their steamship, the Britannia, had crossed the Atlantic in an impressive 8 days and 19 hours. The record-breaking voyage earned the vessel the first-ever Blue Riband award, a prestigious accolade from the Royal Mail Steamship Company that recognized the fastest transatlantic crossings. The award quickly gained popularity and recognition, and soon the competition to capture the Blue Riband award was fierce. Throughout the 19th century, vessels from all over the world vied for the honor, with the prize becoming so sought-after that in 1886, the British Parliament awarded a monetary prize of £10,000 to the ships that achieved the fastest crossings.
The award was officially discontinued in 1977, and subsequent attempts to revive the prize were unsuccessful. However, the Blue Riband accolade still remains a source of national pride and recognition and is still highly sought after today.

The First Blue Riband Winners

The Britannia’s win was followed by a number of other vessels, including the Great Western and the Sirius, which captured the Blue Riband in 1845 and 1851 respectively. The most successful Blue Riband winners of the 19th century were the British-owned vessels, the Scotia and the Campania, which both achieved record-breaking crossings in 1895 and 1897.

Blue Riband Rivals – Lusitania vs Mauretania



One of the most famous rivalries for the Blue Riband was between two British liners, the Lusitania and the Mauretania. Launched in 1906, the Lusitania was the world’s largest and most luxurious vessel of its time and quickly became a worldwide sensation. Its first crossing was completed in a record-breaking 5 days, 16 hours, and 15 minutes, earning the vessel the Blue Riband.  The Lusitania’s record was short-lived, however, as it was soon surpassed by the Mauretania in 1907. The Mauretania was the sister ship to the Lusitania built by Cunard.  Its first crossing was completed in 5 days and 10 hours. The Mauretania went on to hold the record for the next 22 years and is still regarded as one of the most successful Blue Riband recipients of all time.

The Rise of the SS United States

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The Mauretania’s reign was finally broken in 1929 when the SS United States captured the Blue Riband with a record-breaking crossing of 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes. The SS United States was the largest and most advanced vessel of its time, and its success marked the start of a new era in ocean liners.  The SS United States held the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing for the next 35 years until it was finally broken by the SS Norway in 1964. The SS Norway was the first vessel to be powered by nuclear energy, and its record-breaking journey of 3 days and 2 hours earned it the Blue Riband.

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