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PORT HOBART (1) was built in 1925 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 7448grt, a length of 466ft 10in, a beam of 59ft 10in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Port Dunedin she was delivered in July 1925. On 4th November 1940 she sailed from Liverpool as part of a convoy bound for New Zealand. Sixteen days later she left the convoy to head for the Panama Canal on her own. On 24th November at 11.15 hrs, as she headed for the Sombrero Channel and the Caribbean, smoke was spotted to the north west and closing very fast. As no Allied vessels were reported to be in the area the master soon realised that it was German and an 'RRR' signal was sent out. At 11.57 hrs the unidentified raider opened fire with large calibre guns from a range of two miles and, as instructed, the Port Hobart stopped. The raider, which turned out to be the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, put an armed party aboard. The crew took to the lifeboats and a launch was sent to disembark the only lady passenger before the Admiral Scheer sank the Port Hobart with gunfire. (Photo: Iain Lovie Collection)

PORT FREMANTLE was built in 1927 by Workman, Clark & Co. at Belfast with a tonnage of 8072grt, a length of 477ft 5in, a beam of 63ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. The first of a class of five ships she was completed in April 1927. In 1932 a fire broke out in one of the holds while she was at Wanganui and, with battened down hatches, she quickly sailed to Wellington where superior firefighting equipment could deal with the problem. During 1939-45 she remained on the 'Food for Britain' trade and was finally broken up at Osaka in Japan during September 1960.
(Photo: Cyril Simmons)

PORT GISBORNE was built in 1927 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8001grt, a length of 477ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. In June 1930 she had the task of carrying a spare 8" gun turret to Sydney for HMAS Australia. Weighing 90 tons it had to be carried on deck resting on wooden beam to spread the load. In 1931the 'slump' had made employment in the shipping industry very difficult and in December of that year the Port Gisborne arrived in Hull with all of her 18 deck hands holding Second Mates tickets. Work as a deck hand was preferable to unemployment and the ship was the best in the fleet for cleanliness and tidiness. In those days ordinary seamen were responsible for providing their own bedding and eating utensils but on the Port Gisborne these were supplied by the company. In 1940 she became the company's second war loss when she was torpedoed in gale force conditions on 10th October by U-48 350 miles west of Ireland while participating in convoy HX 77 (Halifax to the UK). Three lifeboats were launched. No. 3 lifeboat capsized with the loss of 27 lives and No's 2 and 4 lost touch. No. 4 was eventually found by a naval tug on 22nd October and the survivors in No.2 lifeboat were picked up by Mossgiel SS Co's Alpera on 24th October. Three ships were sunk in the attack the other two being the Brandanger and the Davanger both owned by Westfal-Larsen of Norway. (Photo: Iain Lovie Collection)

PORT HUON (2) was built in 1927 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 7980grt, a length of 477ft 4in, a beam of 63ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. During 1939-45 she remained on the 'Food for Britain' trade and was finally broken up at Yokosuka in Japan during November 1961. (Photo: Cyril Simmons)

PORT FAIRY (2) was built in 1928 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8072grt, a length of 477ft 5in, a beam of 63ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. In 1930 her refrigeration equipment was modified and she carried the first cargo of chilled meat instead of frozen meat from Australia. She then did the same from New Zealand. On 11th July 1943 she picked up some RAF survivors from the Duchess of York (Canadian Pacific) and was then attacked and hit herself on the following day by Focke-Wulf Kurier bombers west of Gibraltar. Detached to Casablanca with HMS Swale as escort she was again subjected to a high altitude attack and was hit aft on the port side which opened the hull and set the ship on fire. Ammunition in adjacent cargo spaces was jettisoned and compartments flooded to minimise the risk of explosion. A bucket chain was set up to douse the fire and HMS Swale came alongside and played her own hoses on the blaze which was extinguished by 23.00 hrs. After two further air attacks where, fortunately, no hits were recorded both ships arrived in Casablanca where temporary repairs were effected. On 25th December 1953, while operating on the M.A.N.Z. service both engines broke down due to contaminated lubrication oil and the ship proceeded to drift for three days towards the rocks of Fatu Hira atoll. Plans were put in place to rig a temporary sail but as this was being done one of the engines was repaired and the ship made port at 5 knots. By 1965 she was the oldest ship in the fleet and was sold for £126,000 for scrap to Embajada Cia. Naviera S.A. of Piraeus. Renamed Taishikan she made one final commercial voyage to Hong Kong where she was broken up. (Photo: Steve Hunt)

PORT ALMA was built in 1928 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 7983grt, a length of 477ft 4in, a beam of 63ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. She spent the whole of her career on the company's traditional routes with the exception that during the war years she also made calls to the River Plate ports of South America to load cargoes of beef. On 30th August 1964 she arrived at Onomichi in Japan where she was broken up. (Photo: Don Ramsey)

PORT CHALMERS (4) was built in 1933 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8535grt, a length of 506ft 10in, a beam of 65ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Prior to her maiden voyage in January 1934 she was presented with a green stone miniature of a Maori God as a good luck charm. This was put on display in the saloon and the Maoris believe that the subsequent charmed life of the ship was due to the fact that the gift was always treated with respect by the crew. On 3rd September 1937 she collided with Ellerman's City of Oran off the coast of Portugal and had to return to Falmouth for repairs. She made her first Malta convoy run on 21st July 1941as part of Operation 'Substance' which comprised of six stores ships and one troopship. Her cargo included 2000 tons of aviation spirit. Escorted by four cruisers and ten destroyers the convoy proceeded to Gibraltar where the battleship Nelson, the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, four cruisers and ten destroyers took over. Despite some naval losses the convoy got through with vital supplies and was also able to release seven merchantmen which had been trapped since Operation 'Excess'. Although the ship was bombed while at Malta she did not suffer any damage and in the September sailed under the cover of darkness and successfully completed the dash to Gibraltar unescorted. On 10th August 1942 she sailed as part of the more well known and vital convoy, Operation 'Pedestal'. The convoy was made up of fifteen ships, which included the tanker Ohio, and was escorted by the battleships Nelson and Rodney, four aircraft carriers, the Victorious, the Furious, the Indomitable and the Eagle which was subsequently sunk, seven cruiser and thirty destroyers. The size of the escort indicated the importance of the convoy. After four days of constant enemy attack by U-boats, E-boats and aircraft five merchant ships, the Brisbane Star, the Melbourne Star, the Rochester Castle, the Port Chalmers and, eventually, the Ohio, got through arriving on 13th August. The Port Chalmers was the only ship to arrive undamaged. In the following September she made a dash from Malta to Port Said where she proceeded through the Suez Canal and sailed round the Cape of Good Hope to the USA where she loaded munitions. Sailing back to the UK in convoy she went through a storm which did more damage than either of the Malta convoys. She continued to participate in convoy duties for the remainder of the war and during the hostilities earned twenty five decorations. In June 1965, after a farewell luncheon and Malta convoy reunion at the King George V Dock in London, she sailed on her 66th voyage to New Zealand after which she proceeded to Kaohsiung where she was broken up by Nam Feng Steel Enterprises. (Photo: Cyril Simmons)

PORT TOWNSVILLE (1) was built in 1935 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8661grt, a length of 496ft 5in, a beam of 65ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Port Chalmers was deployed on the New Zealand service. On 3rd March 1941 during a voyage from Bristol to Melbourne she was machine gunned and bombed by German aircraft in the St. Georges Channel off Pembrokeshire. A bomb penetrated the No.3 hatch and exploded blowing a hole in the ship's side and starting a fire. The 67 crew and 11 passengers abandoned ship and were picked up by their French escort ship and taken to Milford Haven. The ship sank the next day in position 52.05N 05.24W. (Photo: Iain Lovie Collection)

PORT WYNDHAM (3) was built in 1935 by John Brown & Co. at Clydebank with a tonnage of 8580grt, a length of 494ft 6in, a beam of 65ft 2in and a service speed of 14 knots. The second sister of the Port Chalmers she was the company's final war casualty when on 11th April 1945 she was torpedoed twice by a German midget submarine off the outer Lade Buoy at Dungeness. Holed forward she was towed stern first into Southampton where we was given temporary repairs prior to permanent repairs being completed by her builder. The event does not appear in German records and it is thought that rather than being torpedoed she could have been holed by a British or rogue mine. She returned to service in September 1946 and operated until January 1967 when she was broken up at Osaka. (Photo: John Rix Collection)

PORT JACKSON (3) was built in 1937 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 9687grt, a length of 521ft 2in, a beam of 68ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. On 27th August 1942 she was attacked by U-516 who fired three torpedoes but missed. The U-boat surfaced and, before the Port Jackson could escape, hit the ship with 2 105mm shells. In 1952 she had to put into Table Bay where a smoldering fire in her cargo was extinguished after eight days. She was sold to Embajada Cia Naveira S.A in 1967 and renamed Legation for one final commercial voyage to the Far East where she was sold for scrap and broken up at Kure in the April. Her bell was presented to the Sydney Marine Underwriters & Salvage Association. (Photo: Cyril Simmons)

PORT PHILLIP (4) was built in 1942 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 9936grt, a length of 523ft 11in, a beam of 68ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. Similar to the Port Jackson she was, however, built with a vertical profile due to the war. In 1965 she was chartered to Thos. & Jno Brocklebank carrying their funnel livery over the existing grey hull. On 10th March 1968 she was transferred to Blue Star Port Lines (Management), known as Blueport, a company which had been formed to to manage the ships of the two companies. Three years later she completed her final voyage at Hong Kong before proceeding to Shanghai were she was broken up early in 1971.(Photo: John Rix Collection)

PORT MONTREAL (1) was built in 1937 by Wm. Doxford & Sons at Sunderland with a tonnage of 5882grt, a length of 438ft 10in, a beam of 58ft 10in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was one of three ships built for the M.A.N.Z. service between Australia, New Zealand and the eastern seaboard of North America. On 8th June 1942, during a voyage from Halifax to Sydney via the Panama Canal, she picked up 43 survivors of the Honduran ship Tela but 2 days later was herself torpedoed by U-68 in the Caribbean. Four lifeboats were lowered and all persons aboard safely abandoned ship to be picked up later the same day by the Colombian schooner Hilde. The official report of the incident noted that the gun crew only left their post when the gun was awash. (Photo in Wellington Floating Dock - 28.2.1942: Iain Lovie Collection)

PORT HALIFAX was built in 1937 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 5820grt, a length of 440ft 1in, a beam of 59ft and a service speed of 14 knots. The second of the three ships built for the M.A.N.Z. service she operated until 1962 when she was purchased by Olistim Navigation Co. of Beirut, Lebanon with Turkish money and renamed Ilena. In 1969 Olistim transferred their operation to Famagusta in Cyprus where ownership was by their Sanspyridon Shipping Co. and in February 1973 she was sold for breaking up at Istanbul in Turkey. (Photo: Dick Henshaw)

PORT SAINT JOHN was built in 1938 by J. L. Thompson & Sons at Sunderland with a tonnage of 5668grt, a length of 465ft, a beam of 59ft and a service speed of 14 knots. During her maiden voyage in 1938 she stranded at Sydney Harbour on Cape Breton Island but was refloated without damage. She later went ashore again on Lady Elliot Island during the following voyage to Australia but on this occasion major salvage was required and she was towed to Sydney, Australia for repairs. Surviving the war she re-opened the M. A. N. Z. service in November 1945. In 1961 she was sold to Cia. Lamia de Nav. S.A. of Piraeus and renamed Redestos. Remaining with the company for eight year she was finally broken up at Hsinkiang in China during the latter part of 1969. (Photo: Dick Henshaw)

PORT QUEBEC was built in 1939 by J.L.Thompson & Sons at Sunderland with a tonnage of 5936grt, a length of 468ft, a beam of 59ft 8in and a service speed of 14 knots. Costing £207,783 to build she was intended for the M. A. N. Z. service but was requisitioned by the Admiralty who converted her into the minelayer HMS Quebec. She was deployed as part of the 1st Minelaying Squadron together with the Port Napier, Prince Line's Southern Prince and Alfred Holt's Menestheus and Prometheus. She was purchased by the Admiralty in 1943 and converted into an aircraft component repair ship and renamed Deer Sound but after the war, in 1947, was re-purchased by Port Line and converted back to her original form. On 10th March 1968 she came under the management of Blueport and on 23rd June of the same year arrived at Kaohsiung where she was broken up. (Photo: John Rix Collection)

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