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ss Oronsay

Courtesy of Keith Radford

Following the Second World War, the Orient Line began itís passenger service from Sydney to Vancouver, via Fiji, with the Orcades augmenting the new service.  Her sister ship was laid down in the same berth in 1949. Oronsay took her name, as did her forebear, from an island off the West coast of Scotland. In accordance with Orient Line policy, her interior theme was influenced by the nationality of her name. Public rooms, for example, were named Edinburgh, Fife & Drums and Balmoral. At her bow and funnel she displayed a targe and broadsword insignia, symbols of the area from which her name was derived. Oronsay was a particularly spacious ship and her accommodation set a new standard for both first and tourist classes on the Australasian service.  She cost £4,228,000 (1951) to build and was the epitome of post-war British ship-building excellence. 

 

Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

Specifications
Displacement: 28,136 gross tons
Dimensions:        Length 708 feet, beam 93.5 feet.
Draught: 31 feet (9.4 m)
Propulsion:      Parsons marine steam turbines capable of developing a maximum of 42,500 shaft horsepower.  These drove twin screws and gave a service speed of 22 knots.
Cargo capacity:    370,000 cubic feet.
Ship's company:    622
Accommodation:  668 first and 883 tourist class passengers on seven decks.

 

Courtesy of Keith Radford

Unfortunately, as is the ultimate fate of all the much loved vessels of the world, there comes a time when they have to be decommissioned and Oronsay was sold to the Nan Feng Steel Enterprise Company of Kaohsiung, Taiwan for scrapping on October 9 1975.

 

During her 25 year career she had called at 150 ports and had completed 64 line voyages and 37 cruises.

 

Keith Radford sent me these magnificent shots of Oronsay in Alaska and the Engineers of 1972 and 1973. Great photos Keith.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Dear old Oronsay berthed at Nassau in the Bahamas and below are a few shots of Nassau as it was in the 70's.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This was the headquarters of the Bacardi Rum Corporation in the Caribbean.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

I love this shot ... my first car was a Triumph Herald (the yellow one).

 

Courtesy of Keith Radford

Oronsay at the wharf in Auckland New Zealand circa 73/74.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Here she is nosing into the Ice Floes in Glacier Bay, Alaskan Cruising 1972/3.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

That's Jon Harvey marvelling at the Glaciers in Glacier Bay.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Some great shots of the tranquil waters encountered in Glacier Bay with snow capped mountains and ice all around the ship as she turned around.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Here's one of the many Glaciers that terminate in Glacier Bay, quite possibly John Hopkins Glacier but Keith could not be absolutely certain.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Ditto but left hand end.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Ditto

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Ditto

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This shows the lifting of one of the lifeboats sent to collect Glacial Ice which the drinks and Champagne were put on for dinner the same night. Personnel in the boat are from 

L-R 

Geoff Lee (1st or Ch Off), Charlie Dodsworth (2nd lecky), and in the white boiler suit, the late Peter Stuart (Tassie VO), in between Chaz and Tas can be seen the tins full of Glacial Ice. 

 

Keith remembers that If you were lucky enough to get Glacial Ice in your drink the stuff never melted, it certainly got smaller but did not melt like ordinary manufactured Ice. 

 

Courtesy of Keith Radford

Oronsay at anchor off Sitka which was the old Russian capital of Alaska before they sold it to the USA. We had just left the ship to go on a buckshee shore excursion which also involved going down a disused gold mine. In the distance on all the mountains were thousands of acres of Sitka Spruce trees which were sadly destined for a Japanese owned wood pulp mill that had recently been constructed and the de-forestation had already started.

 

Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

above and below shows the acres of Sitka Spruce trees.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Keith recalls;

Above shows a group of the local Tlinget Indians in a street parade, we arrived at Sitka on the 4th July and this parade was one of the many events that were occurring on "Independence day". No problems pulling a vacuum on the condensers with the water temperature in this part of the world good for the evaps too. :) I often wonder what this area looks like now 30 years down the track after the trees have been felled. Maybe one day I'll get back to this fabulous part of the world to see for myself the march of progress.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

Of course, it was no good just going to those amazing places without proof that you had actually been there so it was traditional in those days to present a traveller with a certificate like the one above to fittingly mark the occasion.

 

 

Courtesy of Eldred Clark & David Garry

Circular Quay - 1975

Hereís a great shot sent by Eldred Clark & David Garry. Eldred tells me the smoke may have been due to the odd too many beers that night or possibly the fact that the Starboard Fwd boiler (No.2) brickwork/refractory collapsed during flash-up may have had something to do with it.

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Taken in Bali

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Nice welcome, I donít remember seeing that at any other place.

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Hereís Oronsay just arrived at Circular Quay, Sydney.

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Taken in Fiji

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Also in Fiji

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Fiji again.

 

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Courtesy of William Stephens

Fiji again.

Laurie Lesley writes;

I think you'll find that this is a shot of "Oronsay " at Pago Pago and on a side note the palm trees in the foreground are no longer there as a new container wharf has been built at this location.

  

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Courtesy of William Stephens

Above is the postal schedule for SS Oronsay Aug 73 to July 74. 

 

Courtesy of William Stephens

William recalls;

I was on this cruise. It's an advert in a Sydney newspaper asking for nurses to fill up the empty cabins. What a cruise. Does anyone remember that one?

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Taken in Miami

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Also in Miami

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

  

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Oronsayís Chippieís Shop

Dave Barrett has kindly corrected a typo of mine and added;

I am sure that workshop was on the port side boat deck and the sign covers three trades, carpenter, painter and plumber shown by a saw hammer, brush and plunger.

  

Gwynne Tyler writes;

I was looking at the Oronsay in the Alaskan cruises of 1972/3. I was LMM on her during that time (and on Orsova before that). I also met my now wife in San Francisco during this time. I noticed the boat deck carpenters shop, I painted the sign for the three trades, brush plunger and hammer under the company's rising sun. The shop was a disused late night grill which the plumbers, carpenters and myself built we gutted it and made it a viable workshop, much larger than the one's in the port and starboard fore peak.

  

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Above is a familiar site ďCrossing the Line ceremony and thatís "Jock" LeFevre Captain/Staff Captain on the microphone.

 

I apologise is Iíve got this wrong but I think the next few shots are distant ones of Oronsay taken in SavuSavu. If not please let me know.

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

 

Courtesy of Dai Griffin

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

This is of course taken from the Sydney Opera House.

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Iíve seen some streamer shows but I think this is the best Iíve seen.

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Keith Radford suggests this is Pago Pago in Samoa the Cable Car above the ship gives it away. I remember they used to shower the ship with Rose Petals from the Cable Car when she leaves.

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Pago Pago again

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Dai believes this was taken in Vavau.

 

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Courtesy of Dai Griffin

Taken in Villa

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford & Kevin Morgan

Keith Radford recalls the following story;

In Bali, being a boat port we obviously had to anchor out and when the order was given to "drop anchor 8 shackles" the poor deckie counted 8 shackles only to see the end of the anchor chain disappearing through the bullring. There were supposed to be 2 more shackles left in the chain locker but obviously the deck department hadnít bothered to flake out the chain when taking over the ship and weíd been "short-changed". Don't know if it was ever recovered but do remember on arrival in Sydney there awaited a "new" anchor and chain which was checked with a fine tooth comb by the deck department to ensure we had the right amount this time. It was also quite an interesting evolution to get it all on board and "tie down" the free end in the chain locker. It had to be threaded through the bullring, over the windlass/winch and threaded down the hawse pipe into the depths of the ship where the chippies took charge of the roping it in. But we sailed on our next trip on time and with a brightly painted, fresh, new anchor ready to hit the seabed of the South Pacific once again.

 

Courtesy of Chris Benham

The following 5 shots are of Oronsay's very LAST dry dock and that's Chris holding up the bow.

 

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Courtesy of Chris Benham

 

Courtesy of Chris Benham

 

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Courtesy of Chris Benham

 

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Courtesy of Chris Benham

That looks suspiciously like John Thow on the gantry around the port prop

 

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Courtesy of Alan Mackenzie

Local postcard showing Oronsay in the Panama Canal

 

Following are some menus from Oronsay sent in by Keith Radford. There are 5 menus in total, including Xmas Day 1973, a Race Meeting menu and "The Last Supper" on Oronsay - an explanation will follow. There are 4 individual photos for each menu, the front and back are shown on top and the insides below. Each photo can be clicked on to enlarge. 

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This is the first in the series and from memory holds no particular importance for Keith but I loved the story of the Show A Leg on the back.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This was Christmas Day 1973 and the interesting thing for me is it's signed by the late Don Hallam, John Thow's brother-in-law.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This was Burns Night 1973 and Keith recalls;

This was purely haggis bashers night, being a predominantly Jock-ish orientated ship, it was understandable I suppose. That great puddin used to get piped in by "jocks in frocks blowing their porridge guns".

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This was Sunday 28th January 1973 - Ascot Race Meeting Night.

 

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Courtesy of Keith Radford

This was the Oronsay "Last Supper" menu.

Keith recalls;

Sadly this is the last of my "Oronsay" menus. It was dinner the evening before she sailed from Sydney to Hong Kong where she disembarked passengers, then finally sailed to the breakers yard at Kaohsiung. The dinner was hosted by Peter "The General" Smith and attendees were Lyn and myself, Charlie and Maggie Dodsworth and Kevin and Pat Morgan. I remember dinner well as I had the minute steak, one of my P&O favourites. We all gathered at Circular Quay the next day at sailing time and watched with tears in our eyes as she disappeared down the harbour past the Opera House, knowing we would never see or experience her ambiance ever again. In fact I am sure that some of Dai Griffins photos with the "streamer show" may be that very sad departure. I have found some photos of that day and will whiz them over to you during the week. All 3 of us, Kevin, Charlie and I had met our wives on the bronzy Oronsay so it was a poignant moment for all 6 of us.

  

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Courtesy of Mike Williams

Going through the Gatun Locks, Panama Canal.

     

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Courtesy of Mike Williams

Oronsay at Canada Place, Vancouver.

  

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Courtesy of Brian Richardson

This is a fitting place for this sad document. Click on the photo to read it.

  

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Courtesy of Brian Richardson

Oronsay sailing from Southampton for the last time outward bound for Sydney, then Hong Kong and the last stop, the beach at Taiwan.

 

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Courtesy of Brian Richardson

Suva 1975 possibly.


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Courtesy of Robert Hill

ss Oronsay steamed into Vancouver harbour on January 14, 1970 with an epidemic of typhoid on board. After three weeks in quarantine the ship sailed, the epidemic contained. Eighty-three sick crewmen and passengers were admitted to hospital with suspected typhoid. Control measures were so successful that no cases developed during the subsequent voyage of the ship, no secondary cases developed in Vancouver and only one of the passengers who disembarked in Vancouver came down with typhoid, contracted while on board. 


Robert has supplied the names of some of the people who were onboard at the time;
The Captain was Commodore Maurice Trenfield, Staff Captain Cookson, Ch Off  the late Sammy Bradford, 1st Off Mike Moulin, 3/O Ion Acland, Ch R/O Ken Gibson, 1R/O "Dat Frank" - Frank Murphy, 2R/O the late Brian Stewart, 3R/O Derek Rice.And I clearly remember the smoothie feet chopper V/O Paddy Clare. The Bopper was 2E/O and I think Sheldon Ainsworth was 3E/O. Chief Steward (later called DP Accom) was Dick Standing who lived next door to me because the 4R/O's cabin was on D deck forward near WAP Alley!


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