New Zealand Coastal Shipping  


New Zealand's pre-eminent shipping company, the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Ltd., was formed in Dunedin in 1875 by James Mills and a group of Dunedin merchants. Operations commenced in July of that year and the company quickly expanded with services on the New Zealand coast, to Australia, the Pacific Islands and across the Pacific to North America.

Regular inter-island sailings between Wellington and Lyttelton began in April 1895 with Penguin (749grt/1864) offering at least two round trips a week between the two ports. In November 1896 this was upgraded to three round trips a week, then in November 1900 a daily service was commenced each way excluding Sundays and the winter months. October 1905 saw the commencment of a daily service year round utilising Rotomahana (1,727grt/1879) and Pateena (1,212grt/1883). The latter ship was replaced later the same month by the Mararoa (2,466grt/1885).

Continued growth in passenger traffic saw the Company build the triple screw turbine steamer Maori in 1907 with a tonnage of 3,399grt, a service speed of 19 knots and accommodation for up to 890 passengers in two classes. She entered service with a departure from Lyttelton on 19 November 1907. Initially she ran in partnership with Rotomahana until she was replaced in 1908 by Mararoa. Early in her service, Maori broke the record between Lyttelton and Wellington, making the passage from wharf to wharf in 8 hours, 23 minutes at an average speed of 20.8 knots on 27 December 1907.

Photo: From Nick Tolerton's "Below The Timeball"

In 1913, the Company built another fast steamer for the service, the Wahine of 4,436grt. With a service speed of 20 knots she entered service on 19 July 1913, at which time Maori was withdrawn for a thorough overhaul. The two ships ran in partnership from 2 October 1913. Wahine was requisitioned for war service between 1915 and 1920, her place being taken by Mararoa. From 1920 until 1931, the service was maintained by Maori and Wahine with Mararoa acting as relief ship.

Rangatira, a new turbo-electric vessel of 6,152grt built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-on-Furness, was launched on 16 April 1931 and sailed for New Zealand via Panama on 8 September 1931. Rangatira arrived at Port Chalmers on 10 October 1931 and after a quick drydocking entered service with a voyage from Lyttelton to Wellington on 3 November 1931. She was partnered by Wahine with Maori becoming the relief ship. With a top speed of 22 knots, she made the fastest passage ever from Lyttelton to Wellington, 8 hours, 8 minutes with an average speed of 21.4 knots on 6 April 1939.

tev Rangatira (I)
Photo: D. Wright Collection

In 1933, the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce suggested to the Union S.S. Company that the service be given the title "Steamer Express". The Company readily agreed and began to use the term immediately on its notice boards and publications.

Rangatira saw service as a troopship during World War II and for the periods when she was so engaged, Maori was pressed into service with occasional assistance from Tamahine and other vessels. Maori made her last voyage in the service on 5 January 1944 and was laid up in Wellington. She was sold to the United Corporation of China, Shanghai, in June 1946 and renamed Hwalien.

Immediately after World War II, the Union S.S. Company was able to secure the first licence issued under U.K. war regulations for the building of a passenger vessel. Built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-on-Furness, this ship was launched as Hinemoa on 3 May 1946. With accommodation for 914 passengers and space for 62 cars, delivery was accepted on 17 December 1946 and she sailed from Greenock on 21 December. Hinemoa arrived at Wellington on 26 January 1947 after a voyage made via Suez, Colombo and Fremantle. Her first voyage in the Steamer Express service was made on 10 February 1947.

tev Hinemoa
Photo: D. Wright Collection

A new Maori entered the service in 1953. Of 8,303grt with a capacity for 966 passengers and 70 to 80 cars, she was another product of Vickers Armstrong and was launched on 27 November 1952 at their Newcastle-on-Tyne shipyard by Princess Margaret, the first New Zealand registered ship to be launched by a member of the Royal Family. Her arrival saw the Rangatira take up the role of relief ship, but she saw regular service each summer when she relieved Tamahine on the Wellington - Picton service. Tamahine, dating from 1925 and of 1,989grt had become too small for the traffic offering and this arrangement continued until the entry into service of Rail Ferry Aramoana in 1962.

In 1964, the decision was taken to convert Maori into a drive-on/drive-off configuration following the success of Aramoana on the Wellington - Picton service. Up until this time all passenger cars were loaded and unloaded with the ship's derricks and stowed either in the hold or on deck, a time-consuming process. On 29 April 1965, she sailed for Hong Kong where the Taikoo Dockyard & Eng. Co. Ltd. carried out the alterations. This had the effect of reducing her gross tonnage to 7,298 and her passenger capacity to 790, but with space available for 100 cars. She arrived back in Wellington on 5 December 1965, re-entering the Steamer Express service just in time for the Christmas holidays.

tev Maori as built
Photo: D. Wright Collection

Prior to this, an order had been placed in October 1963 with the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., of Glasgow for a new roll-on/roll-off vessel to operate alongside Maori. Delivery was expected to be made in October 1965, but delay after delay was experienced and Wahine - as the new ship was named - was not launched until 14 July 1965. Worse was to follow when the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. collapsed. The British Government came to the rescue and a new company, Fairfields (Glasgow) Ltd., was formed. She finally escaped the clutches of her builders in June 1966 and arrived in Wellington on 24 July 1966, nine months late.

Wahine was the largest ship so far built for the Steamer Express service and at the time of her entry into service was the largest roll-on/roll-off ship in the world. Of 8,944grt on a length of 488 feet, she provided accommodation for 931 passengers and space for approximately 200 cars.

tev Wahine launch 14 July 1965
Photo: © Paul Strathdee

With the delays in the construction of Wahine, a somewhat lop-sided service operated with the Maori providing a roll-on/roll-off service and the Hinemoa still operating in the conventional style. This was an expensive exercise for the Union S.S. Company and it was a great relief when Wahine made her first voyage in the service on 1 August 1966.

With a new Passenger Terminal building having been erected on the No.2 Wharf at Lyttelton (opening in January 1966) and with improved facilities at the Wellington terminal along with associated linkspans for the ships, a new era for travel on the Steamer Express had begun.

tev Maori arriving at Lyttelton 23 March 1966
Photo: Courtesy of Lyttelton Port Company

Hinemoa was withdrawn from service on 23 August 1966 and laid up for sale at Wellington. She was sold in 1967 to the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania for use as an electrical power ship as a severe drought there meant the dams were too low to supply adequate electricity. Renamed George H. Evans (no doubt a politician) she left Wellington on 25 October 1967 for Bell Bay, Tasmania where her main engines were disconnected from the screws and the power generated was fed in to the grid network.

Also leaving Wellington on the 25 October was the Rangatira under tow of the tug Fuji Maru and bound for the scrapyard at Hong Kong. With the departure of these two ships, no vessel was held in reserve as had been the case, a situation that the Union S.S. Company was to regret about 6 months later.

Maori and Wahine quickly settled into service together and operated on the following timetable:

Depart Lyttelton: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Depart Wellington: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Depart Wellington: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Depart Lyttelton: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Departures were at 8.00pm with arrival alongside the Terminal scheduled for 7.00am the next morning. No sailings on Sundays. During holiday periods, a special timetable was introduced featuring daylight sailings between the two ports.

tev Wahine at Lyttelton
Photo: From Nick Tolerton's "Below The Timeball"

At 8.43pm on Tuesday 9 April 1968, the Wahine sailed from Lyttelton for Wellington under the command of one of the Union S.S. Company's senior masters, Captain H.G. Robertson. She had on board 610 passengers, a crew of 123 and one stowaway. On her vehicle deck were 74 cars, 17 seafreighters, eight trailers and four other vehicles.

As she was navigating the narrow channel into Wellington on the morning of the 10th, she was hit by the first blast of a hurricane of unprecedented ferocity. Her radar failed and she sheared off course to port failing to answer to her helm. At 6.40am her starboard quarter struck the southern end of Barrett Reef, losing all motive power a few minutes later. Bouncing clear of the Reef, she drifted through Chaffers Passage with her anchors down finally coming to a stop near Steeple Rock. The wind by this stage was gusting to 100 knots and despite the best efforts by the tug Tapuhi to get a line aboard it was decided to let her ride out the storm until she could be brought to a safe anchorage.

All was well until 1.00pm when she started to list to starboard - a result of water getting onto her vehicle deck. At 1.20pm, the order to abandon ship was given. Apart from a few who decided to take their chances by swimming ashore, all passengers and crew were able to get away in lifeboats and liferafts. The ship finally heeled completely over at 2.00pm, coming to rest on her starboard side with her port side showing above water. A total of 51 people lost their lives that day, rating it as one of the worst maritime disasters in New Zealand history.

As Wahine was partially blocking the main shipping channel, the Wellington Harbour Board ordered its removal. It was hoped to right the ship and tow her out into Cook Strait where she could be scuttled in deep water. Work was well advanced on this when another storm a year later split Wahine into three pieces and she had to be broken up where she lay - a job that was finally completed in September 1973.

With no relief vessel available, the Maori was left on her own to maintain the service with a combination of daylight and night sailings while a replacement could be found. With nothing available that was suitable, an order was placed on 15 May 1969 with Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., Newcastle-on-Tyne.

tev Rangatira (II)
Photo: D. Wright Collection

This was to be the Rangatira, the largest (and last) ship to be built for the Steamer Express service. Her keel was laid on 2 April 1970 and she was launched on 23 June 1971. Originally scheduled for completion in November 1971, continual shipyard delays saw Rangatira being sent from her builder's yard in Newcastle to Southampton for final fitting out. Sea trials commenced on 20 December 1971 and she was handed over to her owners in January 1972.

The Rangatira arrived in Wellington to a tumultuous welcome on 18 March 1972. As she passed the wreck of the Wahine,she gave a long blast of her whistle as a salute and lowered her stern flag. As she entered the inner harbour, the Wellington Harbour Board tugs Toia and Kupe gave her a watery welcome with their fire hoses. Rangatira was berthed at the Taranaki Street RO/RO Terminal to discharge the cargo of cars she had brought with her from England, then moved to the Inter-Island Wharf for preparations prior to entering service. Even this was not without drama, as she struck the wharf heavily while berthing and damaged her portside plating which had to be repaired before she entered service. With accommodation for 768 passengers and over 200 cars, she was fully booked for her maiden voyage which took place from Wellington on 28 March 1972. This passenger capacity was later reduced to 733 to enable all of the crew to have a single cabin.

With a gross tonnage of 9,387 on a length of 500' 4", Rangatira was well fitted out. Public rooms were spacious, well designed and featured attractive murals including a large painting of a Maori Chief which had been on the previous Rangatira. A comfortable cafeteria was provided along with a dining saloon, and (of course) a large bar.

Ship layout taken from USS Co. brochure

By this time though, it was apparent that the service required only one ship, so the Maori was laid up in Wellington and put on the sale market. The cargo-only Holmlea was retained in service with three return sailings a week. Six months later, Maori was back in service after the Rangatira developed serious engine problems. She arrived in Wellington on the 18 September 1972 with her port turbine seriously damaged. Maori had been stripped of all company equipment in preparation for sale and it was a credit to all involved to have her ready for a sailing just before noon on the 20 September. With the initial possibility that Rangatira could have been out of service for three months, it was a relief to all that she was able to re-enter service on the 16 October 1972, and the Maori once again returned to lay-up.

Although an ideal ship as a Steamer Express, growth in air travel and competition from the Rail Ferries between Picton and Wellington saw a continual decline in passenger numbers and heavy financial losses were starting to be incurred. In early 1974, the Union S.S. Company announced that it would cease the operation of the Steamer Express service on the 3 June 1974 in the face of these increasing losses. The Government stepped in and announced that it would charter the ship so that the service could be maintained until at least the 16 February 1975.

In a move to reduce costs, the passenger accommodation on two decks was closed down during the off-season, reducing the capacity to 530. With extensions to the charter, Rangatira remained in service until the 15 September 1976, when she arrived in Wellington for the last time. Since entering service, she had made the crossing of Cook Strait 2,096 times, carried a total of 832,260 passengers and 139,656 vehicles. On Friday 17 September, Rangatira sailed from Wellington for the last time bound for Papeete, the Panama Canal and Falmouth where she arrived on the 17 October to lay-up to await a buyer.

A part of the New Zealand way of life had died.........

Passenger Ticket issued in the mid 1960s
Courtesy of E. Makarios

Ship Histories


3,399grt. 350.5' x 47.2' Official No. 117598
Built 1907 by Wm. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton, for Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd.

  • May 1907: Launched by Lady Ward and promptly ran aground on opposite river bank when her anchors failed to hold.
  • July 1907: Whilst departing on her trials with two tugs in attendance, she was caught by a heavy gust of wind and ran aground on Dumbarton Rock.
  • Aug 1907: Whilst running trials at Skelmorlie, she collided with and sank the steamer Kintyre. Her skipper had not realised the speed of Maori (20 knots) and crossed her bows. Kintyre was almost cut in half and Maori suffered considerable damage to her bow and bow rudder.
  • 29 Sept 1907: Sailed for New Zealand and ran aground on a sandbank in the Clyde in dense fog. Refloated 15 minutes later under her own power.
  • 19 Nov 1907: Entered service with a departure from Lyttelton.
  • 27 Dec 1907: Established a record for the service, wharf to wharf in 8 hours, 23 minutes with an average speed of 20.8 knots.
  • Apr - Oct 1923: Refit and converted from coal to oil burning.
  • 1931: Became relief vessel on entry into service of Rangatira.
  • 1939 - 1943: Maintained in a constant state of readiness as Rangatira and Wahine were frequently withdrawn for war service.
  • 6 Jan 1944: Laid up at Wellington and put on sale market.
  • June 1946: Sold to United Corporation of China Ltd., Shanghai and renamed Hwa Lien.
  • 1950: Laid up at Keelung. By this time she was owned by Chung Lien S.S. Co., Keelung.
  • 13 Jan 1951: Sank at her moorings during a cyclone.
  • May 1951: Raised and then broken up in Taiwan.
  • tss WAHINE

    4,436 grt. 375.0' x 52.2' Official No.: 127813
    Built 1913 by Wm. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton, for Union S.S. Co.

  • 25 Nov 1912: Launched by Miss Geraldine Mills, daughter of Sir James Mills.
  • Apr 1913: Completed.
  • 19 July 1913: Entered service.
  • July 1915: Requisitioned by the Admiralty for war service.
  • 13 Mar 1919: Handed back to her Owners by the Admiralty.
  • 1924: Converted from coal to oil burning.
  • 24 Dec 1924: Broke the record for the service in a time of 8 hours, 21 minutes, wharf to wharf.
  • 5 June 1936: Struck Pipitea Wharf, Wellington, head-on in thick fog, suffering a 20-foot hole in her bow.
  • 18 Aug 1936: Returned to service after repairs in the Wellington Floating Dock.
  • Nov 1941: Requisitioned for war service as a troopship in the South Pacific War Zone as required. Between War duties she remained in the Steamer Express service.
  • 19 Dec 1942: Rammed and sank the mine sweeping trawler South Seas in Wellington Harbour.
  • 1946: Refitted and accommodation altered to carry 550 passengers in one class.
  • Feb 1947: Was intended to become reserve vessel upon entry into service of Hinemoa, but placed in trans-tasman service due to grounding of Wanganella on Barrett Reef. She made a total of 26 voyages in this service, 16 in 1947 and 10 in 1948.
  • 15 Aug 1951: Wrecked on reef off Masela Island, Arafura Sea, whilst on passage Wellington to Kure, Japan, with NZ troops for Korean War.

    6,152grt. 419' x 58' x 17'. Official No.: 157646
    Built 1931 by Vickers Armstrong Ltd., Barrow-in-Furness.

    Courtesy of D. Edge

  • 16 Apr 1931: Launched by Lady Wilford, wife of NZ High Commissioner in London.
  • 8 Sept 1931: Sailed for New Zealand via Panama.
  • 10 Oct 1931: Arrived at Port Chalmers.
  • 3 Nov 1931: Maiden voyage Lyttelton - Wellington under the command of Capt. W.D. Cameron.
  • 5 Sept 1933: Whilst berthing at Lyttelton, she collided with floating crane Rapaki after engines failed.
  • 2 Feb 1936: Ran aground vicinity of Tom's Rock at 0602. Refloated after approx. 10 minutes and entered Wellington Harbour stern first and berthed at Clyde Quay wharf shortly after 0900.
  • 29 June 1936: Resumed service after spending 88 days in the Wellington Floating Dock for repairs.
  • 1 Sept 1939: Sailed from Wellington for Auckland where a 6-inch gun was fitted at her stern. After trials in the Hauraki Gulf, she arrived back in Wellington on 8 Sept.
  • 1939 - 1945: Occassional service as troopship in the Pacific.
  • 29 Dec 1940: Ran aground close to entrance of Pigeon Bay, Banks Peninsula. Refloated about 1500 with help of Karitane and Lyttelton Harbour Board tug. Sent to Port Chalmers for repairs.
  • 7 Feb 1941: Resumed service after repairs.
  • 1946: Refitted and accommodation altered to carry 794 passengers in one class.
  • Nov 1953: Became relief vessel after arrival of Maori. Also relieved Tamahine on the Wellington - Picton service from Christmas until Easter until arrival of Aramoana in 1962.
  • 25 Dec 1959: Ran aground on Wheke Rock inside the entrance to Tory Channel at 0230. Refloated at 0425 the next day and berthed in Picton at 0750.
  • 1962: Carried the King and Queen of Thailand and their party from Wellington to Lyttelton. For the first and only time in the Steamer Express service, Rangatira flew a Royal Standard.
  • Apr - Dec 1965: Re-entered regular service partnering Hinemoa while Maori went to Hong Kong for conversion to RO/RO.
  • 14 Dec 1965: Final sailing after over 3,500 crossings. Laid up at Wellington and put on the sale market.
  • 4 Sept 1967: Sold to Manners Navigation Co. Ltd., Hong Kong and sold again on the same day to Fortune & Co., Hong Kong for scrap.
  • 25 Oct 1967: Left Wellington in tow of tug Fuji Maru for Hong Kong arriving there on 27 November.
  • 1968: Broken up.
  • tev HINEMOA

    6,911grt. 419' x 58' x 17'. 914 passengers
    Built 1946 by Vickers Armstrong Ltd., Barrow-in-Furness.

    Courtesy of D. Edge

  • 30 May 1946: Launched by Mrs N.S. Falla, widow of Norrie Falla, former managing director of the Union S.S. Co.
  • 21 Dec 1946: Sailed from Greenock for Wellington via Suez, Colombo and Fremantle.
  • 26 Jan 1947: Arrived Wellington.
  • 10 Feb 1947: Maiden voyage Wellington to Lyttelton under the command of Capt. F.W. Collins.
  • 16 Feb 1947: Arrived at Lyttelton 8 hours late after encountering a severs southerly storm forcing her to reduce speed to 7 knots. A rogue wave was also encountered, damaging her forward superstructure and the bridge housing.
  • 23 Aug 1966: Laid up in Wellington.
  • 12 Oct 1966: Used as a hotel ship during the visit of US President Lyndon Johnson.
  • 19 Oct 1967: Sold to Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania for use as a floating power station at Bell Bay, Tasmania. Renamed George H. Evans.
  • 25 Oct 1967: Departed Wellington and permanently moored at Bell Bay on 30 Oct 1967.

  • Hinemoa at Lyttelton in the mid 1960's
    Photo: © S. Reed

  • 1969: Sold to Hammersley Iron Ore Co. Ltd., for use as a floating power station at Dampier, West Australia.
  • 7 Apr 1969: Departed Bell Bay under tow of tug Tusker and arrived at Dampier 8 May 1969.
  • 1971: Sold to Fuji Marden & Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, for scrap.
  • 12 Feb 1971: Departed Dampier under tow of tug Salvonia and arrived at Hong Kong 19 Mar 1971.
  • tev MAORI

    8,303grt. 455' 6" x 63' 6" x 17' 1". Official No.: 196280. 969 passengers, 115 crew
    Built 1953 by Vickers Armstrong Ltd., Newcastle-on-Tyne.

    Courtesy of D. Edge

  • 27 Nov 1952: Launched by H.R.H. Princess Margaret.
  • 11 Oct 1953: Departed Newcastle for Wellington via Panama and Papeete.
  • 15 Nov 1953: Arrived in Wellington.
  • 27 Nov 1953: Entered service.
  • 29 Apr 1965: Departed Wellington for Hong Kong for conversion to RO/RO operation.
  • 5 Dec 1965: Arrived back in Wellington with a cargo of 100 cars loaded at Singapore.

  • Courtesy of D. Edge

  • Mar 1972: Withdrawn from service upon arrival of Rangatira.
  • 20 Sep 1972: Re-entered service following serious machinery breakdown of Rangatira.
  • 16 Oct 1972: Laid up Wellington.
  • 21 Aug 1973: Union Co. announced that the ship had been sold to an Evangelical organisation, Youth With A Mission, to be used on missionary work around the Pacific.
  • 19 Oct 1973: The buyers were refused further access to the ship as only the deposit had been paid. Final settlement date was extended.
  • 15 Jan 1974: Union Co. announced that the projected sale had definitely fallen through and that the ship had been instead sold to Wiltopps (Asia) Ltd., of Hong Kong for cruise work in Eastern waters.
  • 19 Jan 1974: Left Wellington at 8.00pm under tow of tug Mariner for Hong Kong. It was later confirmed that the ship been on-sold to shipbreakers and she was towed direct to Kaohsiung, where she was was broken up during 1974.
  • For the record, Maori had steamed 1,082,134 nautical miles, made approximately 6,000 crossings of Cook Strait and carried 1,239,772 passengers.

    tev WAHINE

    8,944grt. 488' 9" x 72' 7" x 17' 5". Official No.: 317814. 924 passengers, 123 crew.
    Built 1966 by Fairfield (Glasgow) Ltd., Govan, Scotland.

    Courtesy of S. Reed

  • 14 Jul 1965: Launched by Mrs F.K. Macfarlane, wife of the managing director and chairman of the Union S.S. Co.
  • 27 May 1966: Embarked on sea trials, which were unsatisfactory.
  • 14 Jun 1966: Second sea trials.
  • 18 Jun 1966: Delivered to Union S.S. Co.
  • 19 Jun 1966: Sailed for New Zealand, but returned 12 hours later for engine repairs.
  • 14 Jul 1966: Arrived at Wellington after a voyage via Panama and Papeete.
  • 24 Sep 1966: After "singling up" for departure from Lyttelton, a sudden shift of the 25 knot wind from the northwest to the southeast resulted in the bow being blown 60ft off the wharf. The gangways were torn from their shore fixtures and three passengers were thrown into the harbour. All were rescued by the quick actions of 6 crew members, 1 passenger and 1 watersider.
  • 10 Apr 1968: Tragically wrecked at Wellington with the loss of 51 lives.

  • tev Wahine on her trials
    Photo courtesy of E. Makarios


    9,387grt. 500' 7" x 72' x 17' 3". Official No.: 343007. 731 passengers, 123 crew.
    Built 1972 by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders, Newcastle-on-Tyne, for Union Steam Ship Company (U.K.) Ltd.

    Model of Rangatira at the Wellington Maritime Museum

  • 2 Apr 1970: Keel laid.
  • 23 Jun 1971: Launched by Lady Blundell.
  • 20 Dec 1971: Sailed on trials, but mechanical problems required attention.
  • Jan 1972: Due to continued industrial unrest at the Swan Hunter yard, she was sent to Southampton for completion.
  • 16 Feb 1972: Sailed for Wellington.
  • 18 Mar 1972: Arrived Wellington and berthed at Taranaki Street Terminal to discharge a cargo of cars.
  • 20 Mar 1972: Suffered minor damage when she struck the InterIsland Wharf heavily.
  • 28 Mar 1972: Maiden voyage Wellington - Lyttelton with 768 passengers.
  • 18 Sep 1972: Arrived in Wellington 2 1/2 hours late after travelling at a reduced speed from Lyttelton. Port turbine seriously damaged. Laid up until completion of repairs and re-entered service on 16 Oct.
  • 19 Jun 1973: While berthing at Lyttelton in conditions of very low visibility she touched the edge of the reclaimed land and damaged her port rudder and propeller. Daylight sailing cancelled and sailed that evening for Wellington on one engine. Drydocked at Wellington on 20 June, repaired and resumed service on 2 July.
  • 30 Oct 1973: While on daylight passage between Lyttelton and Wellington, a thrust bearing and turbine rotor on starboard engine were damaged. Arrived over 2 hours late and taken out of service until the 2 Nov.
  • 14 Sep 1976: Final voyage in the Steamer Express Service, Lyttelton to Wellington.
  • 17 Sep 1976: Sailed from Wellington for the last time bound for Papeete, the Panama Canal and Falmouth where she arrived on 17 October to lay-up.
  • 12 Mar 1977: Sailed from Falmouth for Loch Kishorn for use as an accommodation ship.
  • 25 May 1978: Laid up at Glasgow. Surveyed.

  • tev Rangatira at Glasgow, June 1978
    Photo courtesy of Paul Strathdee

  • 2 Oct 1978: Arrived at Sullom Voe for further use as an accommodation ship.
  • July 1981: Sailed from Sullom Voe to a lay-up berth at Falmouth.
  • 15 May 1982: Chartered to the British Ministry of Defence for use as an accommodation ship at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands.
  • 19 Jun 1982: Sailed from Southampton, arriving at Port Stanley on 11 July.
  • 26 Sep 1983: Sailed from Port Stanley, arriving in Belfast in October for refitting.
  • 30 Mar 1984: Arrived at Falmouth from Belfast for lay-up.
  • 1986: Sold to P.J. Marangopoulos of Greece for use as a ferry in the Mediterranean, renamed Queen M. Operators known as Marlines Ferries.
  • 3 Nov 1986: Left Falmouth under tow of oil rig supply vessel Vigen Supplier.
  • 8 Sep 1987: Laid up Piraeus. Owners Searoyal Ferries Ltd.
  • 1988: Registry transferred to Panama.
  • 1989: Registry transferred to Valetta.
  • 1990: Sold to Alimar Shipping Co., renamed Carlo R.
  • 3 Oct 1994: Laid up Naples.
  • Jun 1995: Back in service between Bari and Igoumenitsa.
  • 16 Aug 1995: Arrived Naples for repairs and subsequently arrested.
  • Oct 2001: Sold by auction to Oberon Cruise Line, Limassol. Renamed Alexander The Great.
  • 23 Dec 2001: Arrived under tow at the Montenegro port of Bijela.
  • Jan 2004: Lying at the Adriatic Shipyard, Bijela, in very poor condition, the intended conversion to cruise ship apparently having being abandoned.

  • Alexander The Great at Bijela
    Photo: © Dr. H. Harrington

  • 12 Jan 2005: Left Bijela under tow of Greek tug Hellas for Aliaga, Turkey arriving 20 January.
  • Jan 2005: Reported that she has been onsold to Indian breakers at Alang (for a nice tidy profit).
  • 29 Jan 2005: Reported sale apparently fallen through and she has been beached at Aliaga.
  • The photo below shows demolition under way - more can be found in the Steamer Express Collection in the Photo Gallery.

    Alexander The Great at Aliaga, 2 March 2005
    Photo: © Selim San, courtesy of M. Pryce

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