Monday, August 27, 2012

More Memories - Immigrant Liners

As a comment on More Memories I wrote:

JohnD said...
"Jo - it was fairly common back in those days. Mostly it was still the era of the P&O cruises to England - the liners would bring out migrants during the 1950's and load up with tourists, mostly young Aussies and Kiwis for the return trip. "
To which Sue replied:
"John. I would have been on one of those liners full of immigrants. The Seven Seas."
That got me thinking about some of those immigrant/tourist liners. In Sue's case, the MS Seven Seas.

MS Seven Seas

The Seven Seas was originally laid down as a standard C3 class cargo ship and was built in the United States for Moore-McCormack Line as the MS Mormacmail. She was built by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, in Chester, PA – Yard 184 and was launched on January 11, 1940.
However even before her completion she was transferred to the US Navy and she was totally transformed to become an auxiliary aircraft carrier at the famed Newport News shipyard.
On June 2, 1941 the US Navy officially commissioned and renamed her as the USS Long Island. She had a massive flight deck topside and she had the capability to accommodate 21 aircraft in her hangers below decks. She was armed with one 5-inch gun and two 3-inch guns and she was dispatched to the Pacific where she spent the war years being involved in the famed Battle of Guadalcanal as well as in other conflicts. Thankfully unlike so many other ships of her kind, she served her wartime duties and returned to the United States to be decommissioned!

images of the USS Long Island as an Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier
a "GP or 'Jeep' Carrier that ferried replacement aircraft into the
Pacific war zones.

On March 26, 1946, the Long Island was released from service and laid up. Two years later on March 12, 1948, she was purchased at action by Caribbean Land & Shipping Co (a Swiss based company) and was renamed MS Nelly. She was extensively rebuilt to operate migrant services to Australia.
When completed she could accommodate up to 1,300 in the most basic of accommodations. MS Nelly was placed on the migrant trade to Australia. Her first voyage was from Naples to Australia was in June 1949, sailing via the Suez and Fremantle, completing her voyage inMelbourne on July 17. In 1949 her schedule was extended to Sydney with her first arrival there on January 15, 1950.
MS Nelly seen arriving in Sydney in January 1950

She continued on the Australian run, including a special voyage to Jakarta to bring Dutch nationals back to the Netherlands. In addition to her Australian operations, she also operated a number of Trans-Atlantic crossings to Canada. However, on  January 1953 the Nelly departed Southampton for Canada for the last time under that name for upon completion of that voyage she was withdrawn from service and she returned to Bremerhaven to be comprehensively rebuilt and upgraded to operate both migrant and passengers services.
Upon completion she was renamed MS Seven Seas and her decks were extended forward and aft as well as her bridge house being enlarged. In addition she was now a two class liner having accommodations for 20-first class and 987 tourist class passengers. Her accommodations and lounges were very modern and rather attractive.
She departed Bremerhaven for her very first voyage as the MS Seven Seas on May 9, 1953 and headed for Australian sailing viat the Suez and Fremantle, arriving in Melbourne on June 12.
Upon return to Germany she was chartered to the Europe-Canada Line, which was jointly owned by Holland America Line and Royal Rotterdam Lloyd, although the Europe-Canada Line was established especially to provide inexpensive student/migrant travel to Canada, but during her career she frequently operated student voyages to North America, etc. Thus the Seven Seas commenced operating Trans-Atlantic voyages.
MS Seven Seas ready to depart for her Trans Atlantic voyage on March 1, 1957

With the decline in immigration numbers and cruise ships struggling to compete with airlines, the Seven Seas was broken up for scrap in the 1960's 

My older sister did her UK trip on the Orcades

SS Orcades was an ocean liner serving primarily on the UK – Australia – New Zealand route. She started service as a British Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) carrying first and tourist class passengers. Orcades carried many migrants to Australia and New Zealand  and was later used as a cruise ship.
During the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne the Orcades served as an accommodation ship.

I was one of the 'airline tourists', flying the return trip to the UK, however, I later took a young Greek man home after he severely shattered both legs in a car accident while visiting Australia. We did that trip to Greece on the Oronsay, with him in his cabin in traction - but that's another story LOL!


SS Oronsay was the second Orient Line ship built after World War II. A sister ship to SS Orcades, she was named after one of many islands called Oronsay on the west coast of Scotland.
The liner was completed in 1951 at Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness; but several months behind schedule due to a serious fire while in the fitting-out berth. The Oronsay operated the UK to Australasia service, via the Suez Canal until 1953. Her accommodation set new standards, in both first and tourist class, with decor by Brian O'Rourke. In 1960 the Orient Line was absorbed into P&O and Oronsay continued as a cruise ship, but, with declining passenger numbers, she was broken up in 1975. Oronsay was the ship used in the British comedy film "Carry On Cruising".


The Elephant's Child said...

Both my parents and my brothers came out by ship. They first landed in Perth in the early 1950s and commented that they had never seen fruit stalls before. In the UK at the time, fruit was rare and held under the grocer's counter.

JohnD said...

Australia's development, even from First Settlement was aimed at "self-sufficiency" and market gardens were common. Even up until recent times the 'quarter acre block' often had a small vegetable garden and/or fruit trees. In the 1950's if was common to dispose of surplus stock at market stalls, either selling your own or selling/trading with a stall holder.

Al said...

My mum came out as a ten pound pom.

Dad came a bit earlier.

JohnD said...

Good stock - people coming to make a new home for themselves, get married, raise a family, forget the war and the hard times they left behind!

cathy@home said...

I found your post very fascinating my Dad father was from Melbourne he came to Britain in the WW2 had TB met my Gran(nurse) in a TB clinic 9 months later etc and his Father was back in Australia never to be heard of again.

JohnD said...

LOL! Reverse migration ????

AstridsSoapbox said...

John, my mother, sister and I came out on the MS Nelly on her maiden voyage from Naples to Melbourne!!! She was such a leaky, dreadful ship I thought the owners would have scuttled her after our horrific journey. Is there a picture of the Nelly? I'd love it for the memoir I'm writing.

JohnD said...

For those who asked for a photo of the MS Nelly

Passenger list as the MS Seven Seas

JimD said...

Just a couple of things. Hoping not to be picky. The shot of Oronsay is the Orcades, the shot of the Orcades is correct ( a late photo in full P&O colours). Oronsay had the goal post sampson posts (masts) on the bow on the forward set of posts, the Orcades had them on the rear set as depicted clearly in the Orcades shot. Also the funnel box structure of the Oronsay was flat with a rounded rear edge, the Orcades clearly has a slope from the center line of the funnel. The D deck open area by the gangway (where the bum boats are) was enclosed on the Oronsay. The picture was taken in Port Said prior to 1664 as she is in Orient line colours.
As for Carry on Cruising, the opening shot with the tug is the Orsova (no mast and single post on the bow, no goal post) The subsequent shots on board ship are none of the Orient boats but P&O ships. Paint round the deck line on P&O was red boot topping, Orient was green boot topping. The teak rails on the Orient ships were unpainted and scrubbed. The inside paintwork in cabins was a creamish colour, almost had a greenish tinge. The ariel shot at about 65 mins into the film is indeed the Oronsay, it is a very original shot.
It is also worth mentioning that ships of the time did 'Line Voyages' in segments most of the time, just a glorified floating bus, a typical segment was London to Sydney another Sydney to SanFrancisco via Japan or Fiji and then SanFrancisco to London. Oronsay often crossed the Pacific three times on a voyage making 5 segments. A Cruise was a two week trip from a port and back to the same port.
Many immigrants were carried on the London to Sydney segments and Tourists and non fliers on the others.

JohnD said...

Wow! Great points Jim. Those images I posted were taken from secondary sources and I merely accepted they were correct.