Oceanic (I) was the first new steam ship built for the White Star Line, and the first White Star Line ship to be built by Harland and Wolff, the company that would build all of White Star’s new ships. Harland and Wolff built Oceanic on a cost plus basis, which would be used to build all of White Star’s new ships, except for Laurentic in 1927.
Oceanic was launched on 27th August 1870. Weighing 3,707 tons, at the time of her completion she was a very modern ship, could travel at 14.5 knots and could accommodate 1,166 passengers.
Oceanic began her maiden voyage on 2nd March 1871, from Liverpool to New York, but only a few hours into the voyage the ships engines overheated and she was forced to return to port. Oceanic then left Liverpool again on 16th March, arriving in New York for the first time on 29th March.
In Jersey City on 8th July 1871, Oceanic struck Pavonia, a ferry which had misjudged how much time they had to go out in front of Oceanic, causing around $2,000 worth of damage to Pavonia.
On 8th January1872, Oceanic rescued the crew of Mountain Eagle, a sinking American schooner; during that same voyage, in bad weather, Oceanic lost three of her four propeller blades.
When Britannic (I) entered service in 1875, Oceanic was moved to the San Francisco-Yokohama-Hong Kong service, which was a joint service between White Star and Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co. While on this service, Oceanic flew the house flag of and had her crew provided by Occidental & Oriental; she did though remain in White Star livery and had White Star officers. She remained on this service for 20 years.
While sailing in fog on 22nd August 1888, off Point Paint in San Francisco Bay, Oceanic collided with a coastal steamer, City of Chester. City of Chester sunk within 5 minutes, with the loss of 31 of her passenger’s and 3 of her crew.
On 22nd April 1889, $5,376 worth of opium was discovered and seized onboard Oceanic in San Francisco.
In May 1895 Oceanic returned to Harland and Wolff for re-engineering – but after a survey – it was decided it would cost too much money, and instead Oceanic was sold for scrap, for £8,000. She left Belfast on her last voyage before being broken up on 10th February 1896.