Justicia Fact File

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Justicia Fact File

Owner: Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. (White Star Line)

Ship Details


Vessel Type: Passenger ship

Official No: 137544

Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Queen's Island, Belfast

Yard No: 436

Laid down: 11 July 1912

Launched: 9 July 1914

Handed over: 7 April 1917 (as Justicia)

Port & Date of Registry: Liverpool, 27 March 1917

Managing Owner & Address: Colonel Henry Concanon, 30 James Street, Liverpool


Number of Decks: 2 (Lloyd's Register list 4/5 decks)

Number of Masts: 2

Rigged: Schooner

Stern: Elliptical

Build: Clencher

Framework & Description of Vessel: Steel

Number of Bulkheads: 11

Number of water ballast tanks: 18


Length: 740.5 ft

Breadth: 86.4.5 ft

Depth: 47.9.6 ft

Gross Registered Tonnage: 32,120.14


Engine Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast

Engine Type: 2 X inverted direct acting triple expansion surface condensing, 1 X low pressure turbine

Cylinders: 2 X 35½; 2 X 56; 4 X 64 inches

Stroke: 60 inches

Nominal Horse Power: 2,903


Description: Double and horizontal cylindrical return tube

Number: 12

Iron or Steel: Steel

Pressure when loaded: 215 lbs

Screw: Triple

Speed: 17 knots

Signal Letters: J. P. F. L.


The third largest merchant vessel lost through enemy action during the First World War belonged to the White Star Line. The largest lost was Britannic (Yard No. 433), next, the Cunarder Lusitania and then Justicia. Originally laid down and launched as Statendam for the Holland-America Line the liner was similar in many respects to the 'Olympic' class, only smaller and together with the Red Star liner Belgenland (Yard No. 391) the five giants were planned by the International Mercantile Marine Company to dominate the transatlantic passenger trade. This was never to come to pass. The uncompleted liner was requisitioned by the British Government. Intended to serve with Cunard, with the name Ruritania, a replacement for Lusitania, the Company were unable to muster a crew so the vessel was handed over to White Star and renamed Justicia (Latin for Justice). Completed as a troop transport, she entered service in April 1917.

In what was described at the time as 'the most extraordinary sea fight of the war' Justicia was attacked off the north coast of Ireland by two German U-Boats that fired seven torpedoes at their target. Two were exploded by Justicia's own gun crews and two missed their mark, but three found their target during a battle lasting twenty-four hours. Despite the efforts of a protective screen of twelve Royal Naval destroyers, two sloops, two armed yachts and eight trawlers the U-boats pressed home their attacks and eventually succeeded in sinking the transport on 20 July 1918 near Rathlin Island.

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