History of the Merchant Navy
01253 824349

CAPETOWN CASTLE was built in 1938 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 27000grt, a length of 734ft, a beam of 82ft 6in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was launched by Mrs J.D. Low, the Mayoress of Cape Town, and the name of the city was bestowed as one word to conform with the policy of naming the ships after fictional South African castles. Based on the Stirling Castle specification, but with more enclosed superstructure to provide more outside cabins, she was the longest motorship in the world and joined the fleet to operate a faster eight ship mail service. When war broke out on 3rd September 1939 she was at Port Elizabeth and continued in commercial service until 1940 when she was requisitioned for use as a troopship. During 1943 she trooped between the USA and the UK as part of Operation Bolero, the build up for D-Day. After carrying some 164,000 troops and sailing 484,000 miles she returned to Union-Castle in 1946 and was refurbished at Belfast where her original fittings had been stored in complete safety. She was the company’s first ship to return to post-war service, sailing from Southampton on 9th January 1947. On 17th October 1960 a compressor exploded in the engine room, disabling the ship, which was near Las Palmas, and killing seven persons. The passengers were transferred to other ships and she eventually returned to Belfast where she was repaired; the Braemar Castle temporarily replacing her. In 1965 £100,000 worth of gold ingots were stolen from the bullion room but were found cemented in a hold during the following voyage. Two members of the crew were subsequently imprisoned for the theft. On 26th September 1967 she arrived at La Spezia for breaking up by Terrestre Marittima having been replaced by the Southampton Castle and Good Hope Castle.
(Photo: UCPSC 22/146)

ROWALLAN CASTLE (2) was built in 1943 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 7950grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was finally delivered on 24th April 1942 after waiting for engines to be installed. Being a relatively fast ship she was deployed on the refrigerated food run between South Africa and the UK, operating independently of convoys. She was heavily armed, especially against air attack and fitted with paravanes on forward booms as a defence against mines. In 1945, after the war she made several fruit runs to the USA. After a further twenty six years service she was sold to Sheyh Sheng Steel & Iron Works of Taiwan in 1971 and arrived at Kaohsiung on 2nd September of that year for breaking up. (Photo: Union-Castle Line)

RICHMOND CASTLE (2) was built in 1944 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 7971grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Rowallan Castle she was delivered on 28th September 1944 and operated on the refrigerated fruit run until 1971 when she was sold to Chinese shipbreakers for £146,280 and arrived at Shanghai on 27th August 1971. (Photo: A. Duncan)
ROXBURGH CASTLE (2) was built in 1945 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 8003grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 16 knots. The second sister of the Rowallan Castle she was delivered on 14th February 1945 and operated on the refrigerated fruit run between South African and the United Kingdom. She was sold to Chinese shipbreakers in 1971 for £146,000 and arrived in Shanghai on 19th July of that year. (Photo: World Ship Photo Library)

DRAKENSBURG CASTLE was built in 1945 by J & L Thompson & Sons in Sunderland with a tonnage of 9905grt, a length of 500ft 4in, a beam of 64ft 1in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was built for the Ministry of War Transport as the Empire Allenby, one of the Empire Rawlinson class of fast ships. The officers accommodation was amidships and the ratings were housed aft in the poop. Nobody was berthed in the forecastle because of mines. She was acquired by Union- Castle in 1946 under the Government’s Ship Disposal scheme and became the Drakensburg Castle with a black hull. With her sisters she was deployed on the USA – South Africa run but, because she was faster than the service required, was expensive to operate. She was not suitable for tramping operations either so finished up having a shorter than normal working life. In July 1947 she was transferred to South African registry and by the late 1950’s was operating a general cargo service round Africa. On 5th August 1959 she arrived at Hong Kong where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 02/182)

GOOD HOPE CASTLE (1) was built in 1945 by Caledon Ship Building & Engineering Co. in Dundee with a tonnage of 9905grt, a length of 497ft 6in, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was delivered to the Ministry of War Transport on 5th April 1945 as the Empire Life with T & J Harrison as managers. On 9th January 1946 she had to put into Valetta, Malta for repairs after shedding a propeller blade. She was acquired by Union-Castle in March of the same year and given the name Good Hope Castle and a black hull. On 14th July 1947 she became the first Union-Castle vessel to be transferred to South African registry. In August 1959 she arrived in Hong Kong at about the same time as the Drakensburg Castle where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 01/170)

KENILWORTH CASTLE (3) was built in 1944 by Chas Connell & Co. in Glasgow with a tonnage of 9916grt, a length of 497ft 6in, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14.5 knots. She was built for the Ministry of War Transport as the Empire Wilson with Union-Castle as managers. Acquired by the company in 1946 she was renamed Kenilworth Castle and given a lavender grey hull and a short funnel. On 4th June 1968 she arrived at Hong Kong where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 01/170)

RIEBEECK CASTLE was built in 1946 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 8322grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was delivered on 11th March 1945 to carry fruit from South Africa on the northbound voyage and general cargo on the southbound voyage. After a career which lasted 26 years she arrived at Kaohsiung on 2nd September 1971 where she was broken up. (Photo: UCPSC 02/182)

RUSTENBURG CASTLE was built in 1946 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 8322grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Riebeeck Castle she was delivered on 5th March 1946 to carry fruit from South Africa on the northbound voyage and general cargo on the southbound voyage. In 1971 she was sold to Chinese breakers for £147,500 and sailed on her final voyage from Singapore to Shanghai on 6th September 1971.
(Photo: C.H.Solomons)

BRAEMAR CASTLE (2) was built in 1943 by Short Bros in Sunderland with a tonnage of 7067grt, a length of 466ft 6in, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was completed for the Ministry of War Transport as the Empire Duchess with Hugh Hogarth & Son as managers. On 7th August 1946 the management was transferred to Union-Castle who purchased her in 1949 and renamed her Braemar Castle. In 1950 she was transferred to King Line and renamed King James. She was sold to Cambay Prince S.S. Co. of Hong Kong in 1958 and renamed Tyne Breeze with John Manners & Co. as managers. Five years later she became the Cathay Trader for owner Cathay Trader Steam Ship Co. of Hong Kong and in the following year, 1964, was purchased by Pacific Pearl Navigation Co. of Hong Kong and renamed Pearl Light. In 1966 she became the Habib Marikar owned by Marikar Navigation & Agencies Ltd of Hong Kong. On 3rd November 1967 she suffered an engine failure while on a voyage from Hong Kong to Chittagong and went ashore on Lincoln Island in position 16.30N 112.50E becoming a total loss. (Photo: A Duncan)

PRETORIA CASTLE (2) was built in 1948 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 28705grt, a length of 747ft 4in, a beam of 84ft and a service speed of 22.5 knots. Costing £2,500,000 she was launched by Mrs Jan Smuts by telephone on 19th August 1947 as a replacement for the lost Windsor Castle. With her sister the Edinburgh Castle (3) she was an enlarged version of the Capetown Castle, the company’s largest ships to date and propelled by steam. On 15th June 1953 she hosted Government guests at the Spithead Coronation Review and took part in the procession through the lines formed by 260 ships which was headed by Trinity House’s Patricia, the then Royal Yacht HMS Surprise, followed by Orient Lines Orcades, Pretoria Castle, P&O’s Strathnaver and British Rail ships carrying Admiralty staff. In 1962 she was refitted when the outward appearance was changed by altering the positions of the mast. She was sold on 1st January 1966 to the South African Marine Corporation (UK) Ltd and entered service with them on 2nd February as the S.A. Oranje with a new Safmarine livery but on the same route and with Union-Castle crews and management. Her registry was transferred to Cape Town on 17th March 1969. After 187 sailings and carrying over 250,000 passengers she arrived arrived at Kaohsuing on 2nd November 1975 to be broken up by Chin Tai Steel Enterprises. (Raphael Tuck postcard)

EDINBURGH CASTLE (3) was built in 1947 by Harland & Wolff in 1948 with a tonnage of 28705grt, a length of 747ft 4in, a beam of 84ft and a service speed of 22.5 knots. Sister of the Pretoria Castle she was built to replace the lost Warwick Castle and underwent the same refit in 1962. On 5th March 1976 she commenced her last passenger sailing from Southampton before undertaking a one-way cargo only voyage to the Far East where she was broken up at Kaohsiung by Chou’s Iron & Steel Co. in the June of that year.

BLOEMFONTEIN CASTLE was built in 1950 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18400grt, a length of 594ft 6in, a beam of 76ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots. It was the company’s intention to use her as an emigrant carrier to East Africa,and in particular Rhodesia, for the ill fated ‘Ground Nut Scheme’. However, when in 1948, the South African government of Field Marshall Smuts was ousted by Dr Malan’s Nationalist Party the traffic dried up when the new government cancelled the assisted passage scheme. Consequently, during the construction the plans were amended but she was always considered to be the ‘odd man out’ as far as the Union-Castle fleet was concerned. However, she entered service as the only one class ship until the Transvaal Castle, and operated from the London-Rotterdam-Cape-Beira route, the only vessel to do so. In the mid-afternoon of 8th January 1953 she rescued the 234 passengers and crew from the Klipfontein (Vereenigde Nederlands Maats) which had struck a rock and foundered five miles off Cape Barra near Inhambane whilst on route for Beira. Ironically, when the accident occured the Klipfontein was racing the Bloemfontein Castle for the only vacant berth at Beira. In August 1959 a newly joined crew member was arrested for his part in a jewel robbery. On 9th November 1959, being the odd man out, she became surplus to requirements and was sold to Chandris (England) Ltd and renamed Patris. After a refit at North Shields ownership changed to the National Greek Australia Line and she sailed for Australia where, by 1972, she was cruising out of Sydney and then operated on the Sydney-Singapore service. In February 1974 she became an Australian Federal Government accommodation ship for nine months after typhoon ‘Tracy’ had virtually destroyed Darwin in the Northern Territory. Returning to Greece in 1976 she was converted to carry 260 cars though large side-loading doors for the Venice-Ancona-Patras service. In 1980 she was sold to the Michail A. Karageorgis Group and renamed Mediterranean Island and in 1981 became the Mediteranean Star on the Piraeus-Alexandria run under the same owners but registered as Star Navigation Corp and was later transferred within the group to Consolidated Ocean Transports. She was sold to St. Vincent owners for breaking up and renamed Terra pro temps.

RHODESIA CASTLE was built in 1951 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 17041grt, a length of 576ft 5in, a beam of 74ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Based on the Bloemfontein Castle design she was built for the Round Africa service and replaced the Llanstephan Castle. In 1958 she had her funnel heightened and a dome top fitted and after two cruises out of Southampton replaced the Dunnottar Castle. She was remodelled in 1960 to accommodate 442 one class passengers. On 4th May 1967 she was laid up in the River Blackwater prior to sailing to Kaohsiung for breaking up by Chin Ho Fa Steel & Iron Co.

KENYA CASTLE was built in 1951 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 17041grt, a length of 576ft 5in, a beam of 74ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Rhodesia Castle she was delivered at Southampton on 18th February 1952 but undertook a 14-day cruise to the Canary Islands before sailing on the London – Cape via Suez service. In 1958 she had her funnel re-modelled and in 1960 had her accommodation altered to cater for 442 One Class passengers. The British National Export Council considered her for an exhibition ship in 1966 but the idea came to nothing. On 22nd April 1967 she was laid up in the River Blackwater and was later sold to the Greek Chandris Line and renamed Amerikanis. Converted into a 920 passenger One Class ship she sailed on her maiden voyage for her new owner on 8th August 1968 from Pireaus – Messina – Naples – Lisbon – Halifax – New York. After three line voyages she cruised out of New York to the Caribbean during the following winter , an operating pattern that was repeated in 1969. In 1970 she was transferred to cruising only with a passenger complement of 617 and operating inexpensive 3, 4 and 7 day cruises out of US East coast ports and the Bahamas. She was replaced on the New York – Bermuda service by the newly built Horizon in 1989 and transferred to San Juan, Puerto Rica. Since 1996 she has been laid up in Greece and, although there were plans to use her as a floating hotel in London, she has been sold recently for breaking up in India.

BRAEMAR CASTLE (3) was built in 1952 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast with a tonnage of 17029grt, a length of 576ft 5in, a beam of 74ft 3in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Kenya Castle she commenced her maiden voyage on 22nd November on the Round Africa service via the Cape and Durban. Her passenger accommodation was remodelled in 1960 to 459 but her funnel was not altered like her sisters. In October 1960 she briefly replaced the Edinburgh Castle on the mail run while she underwent engine repairs. On 6th January 1966, after less than 14 years service, she arrived at Faslane for breaking up by Shipbuilding Industries. A combination of the increased popularity of air travel and Independence of the former African colonies reducing the transit of Europeans made her uneconomic and surplus to company requirements. From then on the service between East Africa and Europe was maintained by the British India Line’s Uganda and Kenya and much of their time was spent carrying government officials. (Photo: UCPSC 05/182)

TANTALLON CASTLE (3) was built in 1954 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7448grt, a length of 494ft 6in, a beam of 65ft 10in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 22nd October 1953 and entered service in 1954 on the South Africa – USA/UK service. After 17 years service she was, in October 1971, sold to Aria Shipping Company of Famagusta, and renamed Aris II and in 1972 her name became Aris. In August 1978 she arrived at Aioi in Japan for breaking up by Ishikajima Kogyo K.K. (Photo: UCPSC 01/182)

TINTAGEL CASTLE (2) was built in 1954 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7447grt, a length of 494ft 6in, a beam of 65ft 10in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Tantallon Castle she was the last ship built for Union-Castle before the company was merged with Clan Line within the British & Commonwealth Group in January 1956. She was sold to Armar Shipping Co. of Cyprus in 1971, renamed Armar, and remained with the company until 27th June 1978 when she arrived at Kaohsiung where she was broken up by Nang Eng Steel Enterprise Co.

PENDENNIS CASTLE was built in 1958 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage 28582grt, a length of 763ft 2in, a beam of 83ft 9in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was the largest ship built for Union-Castle as subsequent buildings were ordered by British & Commonwealth. Due to a dockyard strike she was named on the 10th December 1957 but not launched until 24th December. Based on the earlier Pretoria Castle design, but considerd to have an ungainly profile, her internal layout was the first to differ significantly since the Arundel Castle set the pattern. She commenced her maiden voyage on 1st January 1959 on the Southampton- Cape Town- Durban mail run and was the first ship to have Stewardettes – waitresses in the dining room. She was withdrawn from the mail run on 14th June 1976 and replaced by Blue Star’s refrigerated cargo liner Andalucia Star but in Union-Castle livery. Sold to Ocean Queen Navigation Copr. of Panama, but Philippine owned, she was renamed Ocean Queen.and arrived in Hong Kong on 9th August 1976 where she was laid up. In 1978, still laid up, she was renamed Sinbad by Kinvarra Bay Shipping Co. of Liberia and later in the year was renamed Sinbad 1. Four years later, in April 1980, she arrived at Kaohsiung in Taiwan for breaking up.

ROTHERWICK CASTLE was built in 1959 by Greenock Dockyard Co at Greenock with a tonnage of 9659grt, a length of 519ft 9in, a beam of 66ft 1in and a service speed of 16 knots. One of two ‘R’ class reefers, much of her career with British & Commonwealth was managed by the Clan Line’s, Cayzer, Irvine & Co. of London. In 1975 she was sold to Sea Fortune Shipping Co. of Monrovia and renamed Sea Fortune and in 1980 became the Silver Bays owned by Barbridge Shipping Ltd of Liberia. She was sold again in 1981 to Jersey Shipping Ltd of Panama with Wallem Ship Management as managers and was finally sold in 1983 to Mickle Shipping Ltd of Panama and broken up at Chittagong. (Photo by JK Byass)

ROTHESAY CASTLE (2) was built in 1960 by Greenock Dockyard Co at Greenock with a tonnage of 9659grt, a length of 519ft 9in, a beam of 66ft 1in and a service speed of 16 knots. Although the sister of the Rotherwick Castle she actually had a lesser cargo carrying capacity. She was sold to Lloyd Uruguayo S. A. of Montevideo in 1975 and renamed Laura. On 28th August 1980 she sailed from Kuwait bound for Karachi where she was broken up at Gadani Beach. (Photo: C.H.Solomon)

WINDSOR CASTLE (3) was built in 1960 by Cammell Laird & Co. (Shipbuilders & Engineers) Ltd at Birkenhead with a tonnage of 37640grt, a length of 783ft 1in, a beam of 92ft 7in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was the largest ship owned by the company, Cammell Lairds first building for Union-Castle and the largest liner built in England. Replacing the Winchester Castle she completed her maiden voyage to Cape Town in 11.5 days. In December 1950 having carried 35,000 passengers over 700,000 miles without breakdown or delay, her 50th voyage was celebrated in style. On 12th August she made her 124th and final sailing for Union-Castle and left Southampton with much ceremony which included an RAF fly past. On her return she had been sold to John Latsis of Piraeus and renamed Margarita L. She proceeded to Greece where she was converted for use as a static luxury accommodation ship at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. There, she was deployed as an office and leisure centre for the Petrola International S.A. construction company replacing the Marianna IV. A special jetty was built two miles north of Jeddah with car parks, swimming pools and other sports facilities and the ship was equipped with a helicopter pad on the fore deck. In 1983 she was overhauled in Bahrain before returning to Jeddah where she remained until June 1991 when she returned to Piraeus to be laid up. (Photo: Union-Castle Line)

TRANSVAAL CASTLE was built in 1961 by John Brown & Co. (Clydebank) Ltd at Clydebank with a tonnage of 32697grt, a length of 760ft 2in, a beam of 90ft 2in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. When launched, on 17th January 1961, she was described as an Hotel-Class Ship with eleven fare grades ranging from de luxe suites to ordinary berths and carried forty Stewardettes. Operating on the mail run she was never as popular as either the Pendennis Castle or Windsor Castle. On 1st January 1966 she was transferred to the South African Marine Corp (UK) Ltd of London, renamed S.A. Vaal, but maintaining the Red Ensign, Union-Castle crew and management, and the same route. In February 1966 registry was transferred to Cape Town. She made her last voyage for Union-Castle-Safmarine on 2nd September 1977 and was withdrawn from service on her return and sold to Festivale Maritime Inc. a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines of Miami. Rebuilt at Kawasaki with extra decks and renamed Festivale she joined the Mardi Gras (ex Empress of Canada) on their ‘Fun Ship Cruises’. In 1978 she cruised in the Caribbean based in san Juan, Puerto Rica and in 1982 was based in in Miami operating 7 day cruises to Nassau-San Juan- St Thomas. She was acquired by Premier Cruises of Port Canaveral in 1996 and renamed IslandBreeze operating for her owners in the Caribbean during the northern winter and on charter to Thomson Holidays in the Mediterranean during the summer. At the beginning of 2000 she was renamed Big Red Boat III as part of Premier’s corporate identity. However, in September 2000 Premier Cruises ceased trading and the ship was seized by creditors for non payment of debts.
(Photo: UCPSC 05/199A)

REINA DEL MAR was built in 1956 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 20263grt, a length of 600ft 10in, a beam of 78ft 5in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was built for the Pacific Steam Navigation Co., an associate company of Royal Mail Lines, for their South American via Panama service. At the time she was the largest, fastest and only fully air-conditioned passenger liner operating a regular service between the UK, France, Spain and the west coast of South America. On 5th March 1964 she completed her final South American voyage and was chartered to the South African Max Wilson’s Travel Savings Association for cruising and transatlantic summer sailings. The shareholders of TSA became Canadian Pacific, Union-Castle and Royal Mail. During 1964 she was refurbished for her new role and equipped with a cinema and extra lido decks as it was also the intention to use the ship as a hotel at its ports of call. Under Union-Castle management the ship commenced her first sailing to New York on 10th June 1964. In the October Union-Castle became the sole owner of TSA but not the ship. However, in the November the ship was painted in Union-Castle livery and operated winter cruises from South Africa to South America; Union-Castles only venture into the cruise business. In 1969 Royal Mail became the registered owner of all PSNC ships but the Reina del Mar never traded under the Royal Mail umbrella and was chartered to Union-Castle for five years. In 1973 she was acquired by Union-Castle before the charter expired and traded for a further two years before being broken up at Kaohsiung in Taiwan by Tung Cheng Steel Co. in late 1975.

SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE was built in 1965 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Walsend with a tonnage of 10538grt, a length of 592ft, a beam of 77ft 5in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. She was built under the government’s Shipbuilding Credit Scheme whereby 80% of the £6 million cost was advanced at an interest rate of 4.875% and repayable over 10 years. First of a pair of fast cargo ships she continued to maintain the 11.5 day mail contract and was referred to as a ‘Mini Mail’ At the time they were the fastest cargo ships afloat. In October 1967 accommodation for 12 Government (Commonwealth Office) allocated passengers was added so that calls at Ascension and St. Helena could continue following the withdrawal of the Capetown Castle. The additional calls added 336 miles to the voyage. On 4th May 1976 she had the distinction of appearing on an Ascension Island postage stamp. In the following year, on 11th October 1977, she sailed from Cape Town on the last mail contract sailing, an event that was marked with, an albeit sad, ceremony. In 1978, after being laid up at Southampton Docks, she was sold to Costa Armatori SpA of Genoa and renamed Paola C. It doesn’t appear that she is still trading. (Photo: UCPSC 01/182)

GOOD HOPE CASTLE (2) was built in 1965 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Walsend with a tonnage of 10538grt, a length of 592ft, a beam of 77ft 5in and a service speed of 22.5 knots. The second ‘Mini Mail’ fast cargo ship, her delivery was delayed by 3.5 months during which time the Capetown Castle had to undertake her sailings but her eventual arrival meant that seven ships could handle the mail contract requirements instead of eight. She was the first of the pair to have her accommodation altered to cater for the government requirements. On 23rd June 1973 a severe engine room fire spread to the accommodation and she had to be abandoned. Eighty two survivors were picked up by the Liberian tanker George F. Getty and were landed at Ascension. Taken in tow by the German owned salvage tug Albatros she reached Antwerp on 18th August. There, the contract for the extensive repairs was awarded to Astilleros Espanoles and, as a result, she was towed to Bilboa by the tug Heros. Repairs were completed by May in the following year and she was back in service on 31st of that month. Like her sister, she also had the distinction of appearing on an Ascension Island postage stamp in May 1976. In February 1978 she was sold to Costa Armatori SpA of Genoa and renamed Franca C. It doesn’t appear that she is still trading. (Photo: R Pabst)

KINPURNIE CASTLE (1) was built in 1954 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 8121grt, a length of 512ft 7ins, a beam of 66ft 4in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched for Clan Line as the Clan Stewart and entered service in February 1954. In 1961 she was transferred to the South African Marine Corp. (Safmarine) and renamed South African Sculptor. In the following year ,after the Round Africa service was discontinued, she was transferred to Union-Castle but managed by Clan Line and renamed Kinpurnie Castle. She was sold to Astro Firme S. A. of Panama in 1967 and renamed Hellenic Med. She served with them for a further eleven years until 15th March 1978 when she arrived for demolition at Gadani Beach.

KINNAIRD CASTLE was built in 1956 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7718grt, a length of 502ft 10ins, a beam of 65ft 10in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 17th January 1956 as the Clan Ross (3). In 1961 she was transferred to Safmarine and renamed South African Scientist but in the following year reverted to Clan Line and renamed Kinnaird Castle for Union-Castle operations. During 1969 registered ownership was transferred to King Line Ltd, without a change of name. In October 1975 she was sold to Dasonab Nav. S.A. of Panama and renamed Nazeer. She continued in service until 26th April 1978 when she arrived at Gadani Beach and broken up. (Photo: Fotoship)

BALMORAL CASTLE (3) was built in 1965 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was launched for Clan Line as the Clan Robertson, the first of four refrigerated ships built for the South African fruit run. Out of season the ships were laid up at Southampton. The Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. was the owner and the four ships were the last built by Greenock Dockyard. She was renamed Balmoral Castle in November 1976 and became the Balmoral Universal when the fleet joined the joint Union-Castle/Safmarine Universal Reefer Consortium in 1979. In December 1982 she was sold to National History Cia Naviera S.A. of Piraeus for $1,500,000 and renamed Psara Reefer. She was eventually broken up at Chittagong where she arrived on 19th June 1984.

DOVER CASTLE (3) was built in 1965 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Sister of the Balmoral Castle she was launched as the Clan Ranald on 21st December 1964 and delivered to Clan Line with Union-Castle as owners in the following June. In October 1967 she made Clan history when she sailed into Durban flying the Royal Mail pennant as she was deputising, with the Clan Ross, for the Good Hope Castle while she was having her accommodation altered. She was renamed Dover Castle in November 1976 and in 1979 became the Dover Universal under the same ownership. In May 1981 she was sold to Invergordon Shipping Co. of Piraeus and renamed Golden Sea. Four years later, on 9th May 1985, she arrived from Jeddah at Gadani Beach where she was broken up. (Photo: A Duncan)

WINCHESTER CASTLE (2) was built in 1965 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. Launched as the Clan Ramsay she was delivered to Clan Line with Union-Castle as managers in March 1965. In 1977 she was renamed Winchester Castle and with that change Clan Line passed into history, owning no further ships. She became the Winchester Universal under the same ownership in 1979 and in October of the following year was sold to Braganza Bay Shipping Co. of Piraeus who renamed her Lady Madonna. On 25th April 1985 she arrived at Gadani Beach where she was broken up. (Photo: Ian Lovie)

KINPURNIE CASTLE (2) was built in 1966 by Greenock Dockyard at Greenock with a tonnage of 7952grt, a length of 529ft 4ins, a beam of 68ft 11in and a service speed of 17.5 knots. She was launched as the Clan Ross and the last ship to be built by the Greenock Dockyard. When completed in March 1966 ownership was under the Houston Line, another subsidiary of the British & Commonwealth Group, but managed by Cayzer, Irvine & Co. Ownership was transferred to Union-Castle in 1976 when she was renamed Kinpurnie Castle. Although the Southampton Castle completed the last Cape mail run in 1977 the Kinpurnie Castle carried mails for the very last time on a voyage from Southampton – Ascension Island – Saint Helena -Cape Town – Port Elizabeth – East London – Durban, returning the same way. She became the Kinpurnie Universal under the same ownership in 1979 and , in December 1982, was sold to National History Cia Naviera S. A. of Piraeus who renamed her Syros Reefer. On 31st July 1984 she arrived at Chittagong where she was broken up. (Photo: Ian Lovie)

IOLAIRE was built in 1902 by Wm. Beardmore & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 999grt, a length of 224ft, and a beam of 30ft. She was built for Sir Donald Currie and used as an officer cadet training ship. Operated like a miniature Union -Castle ship it was said that she was even painted in the livery of the company at times instead of her usual white. Upon the death of Sir Donald in April 1909 she passed to Lady Currie and in August 1914 was leased to the Admiralty for a nominal sum. Equipped with guns at Portsmouth she became the flagship of the anti-submarine patrol at Stornoway and when the shore base was established it was named HMS Iolaire. In 1918 she was replaced at HMS Iolaire by the yacht HMS Amalthaea. Between the wars she reverted to Union-Castle use but in 1939 rejoined the Navy as HMS Persephone. In 1941 she was purchased by the Admiralty for use as a senior officer’s accommodation ship and remained in service until 1946 when she was decommissioned and subsequently broken up at Blythe in Northumberland during 1948.

The histories of the ships of the Union-Castle Line have been extracted from
Merchant Fleets 18: Union, Castle and Union-Castle Line by Duncan Haws
to whom we extend our grateful thanks.
Available from TCL PUBLICATIONS