The Britannia was one of the first flagships of the then newly formed Cunard Company, later to become what is known today as the Cunard Line.
Name - Britannia
Years in Service - 1840 – 1880
Dimensions - 63.09 x 10.36m
Number of funnels - 1
Number of masts - 3
Construction – Wood
Propulsion - Paddle
Engines - Side lever, two
Service speed - 9 knot
Builder - Robert Duncan, Greenock ( engines Robert Napier, Glasgow )
Passenger accommodation - 115 1st Class
Upon winning a government contract to carry mail on a bi-weekly basis, the newly formed Cunard Company began construction on a fleet of ships to initiate mail service between Liverpool and Halifax, Boston and Quebec. The ships employed under this contract were also to be built in order to accommodate troops and supplies in the event of war. Three other ships of similar dimensions were also built, the Acadia, Caledonia and Columbia. The Britannia was launched on 5 February 1840 and made its maiden voyage was from Liverpool to Halifax and Boston on July 4th 1840. Coincidentally, this was the birth date of Samuel Cunard – the lines founder. The voyage took a mere 14 days and 8 hours to complete and was considered downright smokin’ for the times.
During a crossing in February 1844 it became trapped in the ice in Boston Harbor but the citizens of Boston rallied and cut an escape channel 7 miles long at their own expense and freed the ship. Later, in September 1847, it was stranded at Cape Race near Newfoundland but was able to be repaired in New York. In November of 1848 the Britannia saw it’s last voyage in this type of service. In March of 1849 it sailed from Liverpool to Bremen and was re-named the Barbarossa, and became part of the then German Confederation Navy. In 1852 it was transferred to the Prussian Navy under the same name. After another 28 years of service, it was sunk in 1880 while being used as a target ship. A rather ignoble end if you ask me.