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Jervis Bay

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Jervis Bay

Postby shipstamps » Wed Sep 03, 2008 4:56 pm

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The Jervis Bay was one of five emigrant and cargo carriers built for the U.K.–Australia trade. She, the last of the five to be completed, will be remembered not so much for her blighted early career as for her extremely gallant last fight with a German raider, a fight which could only end in death and earned her Commander, Capt E. S. Fogarty Fegan, a posthumous Victoria Cross. Three of the Bay ships were built by Vickers, Ltd. at Barrow: the Moreton Bay, Hobsons Bay and Jervis Bay.
In her original state the Jervis Bay had a gross tonnage of 13,839 (later 14,184) and a displacement of 23,230 tons. Her main dimensions were length overall 549 ft (530 ft b.p.), breadth mld 68 ft and depth to shelter deck 43 ft 6 in. The load draught was 33 ft. She had six decks, of which three were continuous. Most of her cargo space was insulated for the carriage of meat, etc., and of her six holds and 'tween decks, the only ones not insulated were Nos. 1 and 6 and the decks above.
The ship had twin screws and four Parson-type, D.R.-geared turbines. These developed 9,000 s.h.p. at a propeller speed of 90 r.p.m. Steam at 220p.s.i. and 150° F. was supplied by three D.E., and two S.E., oil-fired boilers. The service speed was 15 knots. Accommodation was provided for 732 third-class passengers in 2-, 4- and 6-berth cabins, a number of those on C deck being removable, the space otherwise being used for cargo. The first class, limited to suites for 12 was reserved for government officials.
The Jervis Bay was launched at Barrow on 17 January, 1922, and she left there early in September for Liverpool, London and her maiden voyage. Within a year there had been reorganisation ashore and from 1923 the service was advertised as the Australian Commonwealth Line, and continued as such until 1928. By then trading losses and a declining reputation caused by irregular sailings and unruly crew behaviour resulted in the fleet being sold. The Jervis Bay and her sisters then became the property of the White Star Line. The line, kept as a separate entity, now became known as the Aberdeen & Commonwealth. The first class was abolished, various improvements made and the ships given British, not Australian, crews. The ships' hulls previously all black, were repainted, in the traditional Aberdeen green, the old Aberdeen Line houseflag, with its six-pointed star, also being adopted.
In the early 'thirties, after the Kylsant group had disintegrated, the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line was bought jointly by the P&O and Shaw Savill Lines, the latter acting as managers. In these later years the Jervis Bay carried tourist- instead of third-class passengers, the figures being first 635 and then 542. Although her colours were unchanged, the old 'Australis ' type davits had been replaced by new. The bridge now reached to the forward king-posts, while the wings of the forecastle had been lengthened by over 30 ft. As always, she used the Suez route. London was still her terminal, but passengers were handled at Southampton. Outwards she called at Malta, Port Said, Aden and Colombo, thence to Fremantle and ports on to Brisbane.
In August 1939 the Jervis Bay was taken over for service as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and sent to the Tyne for conversion where, for fighting power, she was given eight 6-inch guns. Early in November 1940 she was escorting an Eastbound convoy of 38 ships across the Atlantic when, at about 17.00 hrs on 5 November, it was attacked by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. In an endeavour to protect the convoy, which had been ordered to scatter, the Jervis Bay went into action. Quite outgunned, her steering gear was hit early on and in an hour all guns were out of action and the ship on fire. About two hours after the engagement had ended she sank, still with colours flying. But through her action—and that of the Beaverford (q.v.)—the raider was able to sink only six of the 38 ships. Of the Jervis Bay's complement about 180 were lost, while the 65 survivors owed their lives to the gallant action of a Swedish cargo ship, the Brostrom-owned Stureholm which turned back after dark to look for them.
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