Many stories have been written about the two ill-fated White Star ocean liners, Titanic and Britannic. Because of the tragic sinking of these two liners, one by iceberg and the other due to a mine, these ships have been documented extensively in the press, web, documentaries and movies. The account of these other sisters have dwarfed those of the most successful White Star liner named RMS Olympic. The Olympic was known as "Old Reliable" because of its long service as a passenger liner, troop carrier and general purpose ship that the Crown used for various purposes. In its twenty-five year service, the Olympic steamed close to two hundred thousand miles into various ports around the world.
The Olympic has the unique distinction of being the only vessel of its kind to directly sink an enemy ship without the use of armaments. In 1915, the Crown needed to bring her into the war as a troop carrier to ferry soldiers to the front. Immediately she was repainted in the "dazzle" motif which was a bizarre, geometric-like abstract color pattern of black, white and gray on a yellow backdrop. This paint pattern was meant to confuse enemy ships from attacking this huge liner. In May of 1918, the Olympic, on its twenty-second voyage as a troop carrier, was attacked by a marauding German submarine U-103 in the English Channel. The submarine started the assault on the much quicker liner by launching two torpedoes directly at the ship's port-side bow. Unarmed but not defenseless, the Olympic used evasive maneuvers and was able to escape the torpedoes destructive impact. Even though the huge liner could of steamed away from harm's way following this torpedo attack, in a most courageous act, she turned on this deadly submarine and proceeded to ram the U-103. Even though the impact on the submarine was a glancing blow, the size and weight of the Olympic's attack proved to be deadly to the submarine and she quickly sank. Several submariners were able to escape and eventually were picked up by an American destroyer. The Olympic was the only merchant ship to sink an enemy warship during the war.