Celtic was launched on April 4th, 1901, from the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, and set off on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York City, New York on July 26, 1901.
At the beginning of the First World War, she was converted into a merchant cruiser, but since she used up too much coal, she was converted into a troop ship in January 1916, and used to carry soldiers to Egypt. She was put back on the transatlantic route in March.
In 1917, Celtic hit a German mine off the Isle of Man. Seventeen people on board died, but the Celtic remained afloat. The ship was towed to Liverpool and repaired in Belfast. In March 1918, U-Boat UB-77 torpedoed Celtic in the Irish Sea. 389 people on board died, but again Celtic did not sink. She was towed to Liverpool and repaired again.
Early on 10 December 1928, she ran aground off Roches Point, Cobb. While attempting to free Celtic, the crew reversed engines and ran the ship onto rocks, where it became hopelessly lodged. Passengers were tendered off the ship and a bridge was constructed to remove cargo. After several attempts to free the ship, it was determined that the Celtic could not be moved or salvaged, and was declared a total loss. She was sold to a scrapping company and completely taken apart on the rocks off the shore of Cobb by 1933.
The Celtic features in the painting Sports on the Celtic by the British artist William Nicholson.