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Old 25-01-16, 09:42 AM
Gordy Ross Gordy Ross is offline
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Adelaide
Posts: 77
Default Awatea IDNo 1157650

...shown here at Circular Quay Sydney Australia

Awatea 1936-1942. (Pass-cargo ref.) USSCo. 1936-1941.

ON: 157650
IDNo: 1157650
Year: 1936
Type: Passenger/cargo
Flag: NZL
Launched: 25.2.36
Completed: 25.7.36
Owner: Union S.S.Co. NZ Ltd., Wellington.
Builder: Vickers-Armstrong Ltd., Barrow in Furness.
Yard No: 707
Link: 1614
Starke: V1936 #33
GRT: 13,482
LPP: 160.7
Beam: 22.6
2ST-22 knots.

Awatea and Queen Mary were the only 2 ships to have telephone numbers in the London telephone directory.

She was known as "The Queen of the Tasman Sea" and in October 1937 she set a record between Auckland and Sydney of 55 hours, 28 minutes.

In achieving this, no less than 23,881 shaft horse power was unleashed at an average speed of 22.89 knots.

In recognition of this, she was presented a stainless steel greyhound which was mounted on the foremast of the ship.

Captain Arthur Davey was the Master most associated with AWATEA, and on his retirement in 1941, he was presented with the greyhound, and had it mounted at his home in Auckland.

Her career was marred by 3 wartime collisions :-

(1) Standard Oil Co tanker M.E. Lombard, September 1941. After repairs & conversion to troopship, she collided with :-

(2) Empire Pride (Bibby) March 1942, neither seriously damaged.

(3) Destroyer USS Buck, detecting a submarine on sonar, cut across Awatea's bows too finely and was run down, with heavy loss of life.

At the outbreak of war she was undergoing her annual survey and was fitted with a 4 in. gun aft. She continued to cross the Tasman until July 1940 after which she made several trips to Vancouver and, in addition, was used for transporting troops and refugees. In September 1941 she was requisitioned by the British Government for use as a troop transport and did three voyages. Then she was fitted out to take part in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa. She carried the 6th Commando group to a point off Algiers where she dropped them early on 8 November 1942. Eventually the Awatea anchored off Bougie (now Bejala, Algeria), but as she was leaving on 11 November 1942, German bombers attacked her and despite good anti-aircraft fire she was hit several times and sank during the night. The master, Captain G. B. Morgan, was awarded the D.S.O. and several of the crew were decorated for the ship’s part in the operation.

In her tragically short career, she steamed a total of 576,132 miles.

Vickers Dock Museum. Barrow in Furness.

The website above has some fantastic photographs of Awatea being built, and also hundreds of other ships built there. Well worth a look.

Details: Mirimar Ship Index

Photo Credits: Trove Australia National Library

Cheers and GB

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