White Star’s Asiatic was launched at Harland & Wolff’s yard in Belfast on 30th April 1881 as Yard No. 141. Her sister ship Coptic was launched a few months later. She was the first steel-hulled vessel in the company’s service, and originally carried four masts with yards and sails: shecould accommodate 75 passengers in First Class and 1,000 in Steerage. Before she was completed, Asiatic was renamed Arabic. She was handed over to White Star on 12th August 1881, and sailed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 10th September that year. Completing several Atlantic crossings, on 4th February 1882 Arabic joined the Pacific service for the next five years. She then returned to the UK and was given a refit, which included adding at least fifty more cabins.
In an early refit the yards were removed from three of the masts. After a year on the north Atlantic service, Arabic returned to the Pacific route in August 1888.
In December 1889 Arabic returned to the UK, and in February 1890 she was sold to Holland America and renamed Spaarndam. She was very popular for several years, but in February 1901 she was laid up, and in August was broken up at Ward’s in Lancashire.