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Postby shipstamps » Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:14 am

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Built as a cargo-passenger vessel under yard No 648 by Barclay Curle & Co., Glasgow built for Burns, Philp & Co. Ltd., Sydney, Australia.

21 August 1933 launched under the name MALAITA, named after one of the islands in the Solomon Group.

Tonnage 3.310 gross, 1.883 net, 3.660 dwt., dim. 325 x 47 x 21.1ft. (draught), length bpp. 315.1ft.

Powered by two 8-cyl. diesel engines, manufactured by J. Kincaid & Co., Greenock, 1.740ihp., speed 14 knots.

Passenger accommodation for 77 passengers and berths in public rooms

October 1933 completed.

21 October 1933 sailed for her maiden voyage from Glasgow arrived Sydney 03 January 1934.

20 January she left for the first time from Sydney in the service between Sydney and the Solomon Islands.

She was the first ship of Burns, Philp which hull was painted white.

11 March 1942 requisitioned by the Australian Government, her white hull thereafter painted gray.

Used from the east coast ports of Australia to Port Moresby with supplies and troops.

12 August 1942 she sailed from Sydney for her fourth wartime voyage to Port Moresby.

23 August 1942 she arrived at the anchorage of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, at 06.00 p.m. her troops on board were disembarked, but due to the congestion in the port she did not berth till 5.45 p.m. on the 27th. 29 August all cargo was discharged and at 11.34 a.m. she sailed for Cairns in Australia under escort of the destroyer HMAS ARUNTA.

29th August she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine RO-33. off Port Moresby.

The report made by Capt. R. Duddell stated: Baselik Beacon abeam 12.02 p.m. and at 12.10 p.m. course set and 104 revs ordered for engines. ARUNTA on station ahead, when there was a terrific explosion which lifted the vessel out of the water and threw everything movable into the air. MALAITA by this time had heeled far over to starboard, and debris was falling everywhere. Everyone ordered to starboard lifeboats and abandoned ship. The ship was cleared at 12.45 p.m. Smoke observed coming from a galley fire, at 1.15 p.m. boarded the ship. The fire had not got much hold and was quickly extinguished with fire extinguishers. BP’s MATAFELE approached and as MALAITA appeared to be going to capsize the crew again abandoned ship. About 15 minutes later decided she was not sinking and reboarded.

A Supplementary Report made by the master gave more detail.

The submarine was apparently lying close into the reef on the west side of Basilisk Passage and ARUNTA’s Asdic detector gear could not pick it up, as I understand it they get contact from the reef. The Chief Officer, who was on the after end of the Boat deck, saw the track of the torpedo on the starboard quarter a few seconds before it struck. The torpedo struck at No 3 hatch just under the bridge and appears to have exploded inside the mass of twisted steel showing through No 3, the extensive damage cannot be described. The blast blew the hatches and beams off No 3 and No 2, some hatches were found on top of the funnel and the bridge. Starboard No 1 lifeboat was blown bodily over the bridge and landed in No 2 hatch.

The Chief Steward had a miraculous escape, his cabin directly over the explosion was a complete shambles, and considering the amount of flying debris it is a miracle no one was killed.

31 August she shifted to a save anchorage for temporary repairs. Divers from the salvage tug ST GILLES surveyed the underwater hull of the MALAITA, and found extensive underwater damage, which made repair in Port Moresby impossible, and it was decided to send her to Cairns, Australia during good weather via the N.E. Channel and the inside passage.

9 September she left under her own power with reduced speed her anchorage, and made the passage to Cairns with an average speed of 7 knots. Arriving in Cairns on 20 September.

With her hull further strengthened at Cairns, and loading logs in her centre holds to give her more buoyancy she made the passage to Sydney, during bad weather sheltering along the N.S.W. Coast.

Near Brisbane her bow was in danger of breaking, and she entered that port. In Brisbane several length of railway line were bolted across the split deck before she continued her voyage

13 November 1942 arrived at Sydney.

The extent of the damage was so severe that not any repair took place till October 1945 after the war.

She was then moved from her anchorage in Sydney to Mort’s Dock in Sydney for repair.

April 1947 repairs finished and still under Government control made three voyages from Sydney to New Guinea.

Her passenger accommodation decreased till 48 passengers, all first class

24 April 1947 she made her first voyage from Sydney, arriving for the last voyage on 02 October, where after she was handed back to her owners Burn, Philp.

By the company used in the service from Australia to Papua New Guinea the next four years.

From 1952 she was in the service from Sydney to Lord Howe island, Norfolk Island, New Hebrides, Solomon Islands, Bougainville, Rabaul, Soraken and Sarnarai, from 1954 the itinerary was shortened to Australia to Papua New Guinea, with occasional calling a port on the islands in the Pacific.

16 August 1960 in Port Moresby she got engine trouble and had to limp back to Sydney where she arrived on 17 September.

After repair again in service.

July 1965 sold to San Fernando SS Co. (a subsidiary of John Maners & Co. Ltd., Hong Kong), Panama and renamed PILAR REGIDOR.

She was chartered to Indonesia by Djakarta Lloyd for the Australia-Indonesia route, without carrying passengers.

1968 Sold to Jaguar Shipping Corp. Ltd., (a other subsidiary of John Maners) Panama, renamed LINDA JR. then used in tramping from Hong Kong to eastern ports

1971 Sold to Chin Ho Fu Steel & Iron Co. Taiwan for breaking up, she arrived 18 August 1971 by the breakers yard in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Source: Across the Sea to War by Peter Plowman. The ships of Burns, Philp and Company by Ronald Parsons. Passenger Ships of Australia and New Zealand by Peter Plowman. SG299
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