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AWATEA

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AWATEA

Postby shipstamps » Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:45 pm


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The $1 stamp issued by Australia in 2004 depict the AWATEA of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand.

Built on the yard of Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow, U.K. for the Union Steam Ship Company.
25 Feb. 1936 launched under the name AWATEA, what in Maori means “eye of the dawn”, the wife of New Zealand Governor-General, Lady Bledisloe, christened her that day.
Tonnage 13.481 gross, 8.032 net, dim. 527.3 x 74.2 x 25.5ft (draught.)
Powered by two-geared Vickers steam turbines 22.500 shp., twin screws, speed 22½ knots.
Passenger accommodation for 377 first, 151 second and 38 steerage passengers, and more as 200 crew.
Seven decks. Two funnels.
25 July 1936 delivered to owners.

She was built for the Trans-Tasman liner service between New Zealand and Sydney.
After handed over she sailed to Liverpool, where cargo was loaded and a large number of passengers embarked for down under.
05 August 1936 she sailed for her maiden voyage from Liverpool under command of Capt Arthur Davey. Across the Atlantic and via the Panama Canal and the Pacific she sailed to Wellington, where she arrived on 3 September, setting a new record for the passing from Great Britain in 28 days, 14 hours and 20 minutes. During the passage she used only three boilers of the six on board.
She sailed for her first voyage across the Tasman on 15 September 1936 from Wellington, arriving early in the morning of the 18 September in Sydney, average speed 21.21 mile.
Her regular service was from Wellington to Sydney, then to Auckland, returning to Sydney and back to Wellington. But sometimes she made a coastal voyage on the New Zealand coast.

AWATEA was in July 1937 dry-docked at Sydney, her funnels were lengthened by about two meter, before much smuts was falling on the after decks from the two funnels.
October she made a record passage from Auckland to Sydney of 55 hours and 28 minutes, averaging 22.89 mile.
10 June 1938 she was in competition with the USA liner MARIPOSA, and she was the fastest of the two.
22 August 1939 after 225 trans-Tasman crossing plus 19 voyages between Wellington and Auckland she made her annual survey returning to service just as war broke out in Europe.
She stayed in the service to Sydney, but made also some voyages from Wellington to Lyttleton, the first time she visited it the South Island of New Zealand.
July 1940 made a voyage to Manila to bring to Sydney women and children who had been evacuated there from Hong Kong.

When the NIGARA (on Fiji 1999 $1 sg 1046) was lost due to a mine on the coast of New Zealand, she did replace her in the service from Australia/New Zealand to Canada. After two roundtrips in this service she was taken up for a trooping voyage with New Zealand troops to Colombo in December 1940.
Then returned to the service to Canada.
1941 When in Vancouver she was requisitioned by the British Government, sailed on 12 September 1941 for Great Britain, but when passing the Strait of Juan de Fuca six hours later during dense fog, she collided with the American tanker ME LOMBARDI, and had to return for Vancouver for repair.
During this repair at Vancouver she was refitted in a troopship.
27 October 1941 she sailed from Vancouver with Canadian troops for Hong Kong, after disembarking the troops in Hong Kong on 16 November 1941,she sailed for the U.K. via Singapore, Colombo, Cape Town and Trinidad to Liverpool. She made then a voyage with Allied troops to the Middle East, taken on her return voyage from Bombay refugees. Then she made a voyage to Durban.
From Durban she sailed to Halifax to take troops to Europe. Sailed on 22 August 1942 from Halifax in convoy AT 20, with on board around 5000 troops. The same day at 10.30pm during dense fog the USS BUCK came to close of the bow of the AWATEA, and she was hit in the stern by the AWATEA, which cut the destroyer in two, she sank after a few hours. The AWATEA got considerable bow damage, and she had to return to Halifax for repair.
After her repair she sailed to Glasgow where she arrived October 1942. At Glasgow she embarked troops for the landing in North Africa, “Operation Torch”.
08 November she landed her troops at Algiers, then she embarked some soldiers from a disabled vessel and sailed then to Jijelli, where the soldiers had to capture an airfield, but due to bad weather the landing was aborted. She sailed then to Bougie where the troops disembarked on 11 November.
The AWATEA sailed then for Gibraltar under command of Capt. George Morgan and a crew of 227.
About one mile from Bougie she was attacked by six German aircraft, two were shot down by the gunners, but the other four struck the vessel with several bombs and she was set on fire. The captain tried to beach her but it was to late, the fire spread so quickly that she had to be abandoned. Some of the crew were wounded but all were rescued.
She was last seen afloat, down by the stern with a 30-degree list. 12 November 1942 she had completely disappeared.

New Zealand SG619

Source: Lloyds War Losses, the Second World War. Some web-sites. A Century of Style by N.H.Brewer.
Passenger ships of Australia and New Zealand by Peter Plowman.
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