SS Orford

A postcard from Grant in South Australia.

Built for Orient Lines in 1928, SS Orford was loaned to France during WW2 as a troop carrier. She ran aground in Marseilles while evacuating troops in 1940. It took seven years for her to be refloated, after which she was scrapped.

She made many journeys between Australia and England in the 1930’s. In 1934 she carried Don Bradman’s cricket team “The Invincibles” from Australia to England along with the Australian Davis Cup tennis team.

RMS Orion / SS Orion

 

23,300 GRT, and 203m in length.

A postcard from Grant in South Australia.

Built as RMS Orion by Vickers Armstrong in 1934, she was the first single-funnelled ship to be built for the Orient Line since the turn of the century. She was also the first ship to be painted in the Orient Line’s corn-colored livery, sporting a pale yellow hull.

She was the first British ship to ever have air-conditioning. In fact her entire interior design was ground-breaking in that she departed from the formal english styles found in wealthy British homes of the time, and adapted a more open-air and spacious layout that was better suited to tropical cruising. Wide promenade decks, slideing glass doors, removable walls, and chromium / bakelite fittings made her feel roomier and breezier, which was a welcome relief in the hot ahd humid tropics.

She was launched by the Duke of Gloucester. But, unusually, he was in Brisbane at the time, and the ship was in Lancashire, UK. He launched the ship by pressing a button in Brisbane, which transmitted a radio signal to the dockyards untimatley causing the ship to slide down the slipway into the water – quite revolutionary for the 1930’s.

She served as a troopship during the second world war, and was involved in a damaging collision with Battleship HMS Revenge when Revenge’s steering gear jammed.

She had an extensive fit-out after the WW2, and voyaged to Australia and the USA.

The National Archives of Australia record that she brought many immigrants to Australia during the late 1940’s, and the 1950’s, eventually being broken up fopr scrap in 1963.

What a fascinating history.

New Instant Slideshows!

I’ve upgraded ShipWatcher so you can view slideshows of recent images for any ship.

If you have a look under each image, you’ll see a new green arrow that looks like this:

The new "Play Slideshow" but for all ships

The new "Play Slideshow" but for all ships

Click on that arrow, and you’ll see slideshow of recent images from the database.

ShipWatcher keeps a photo archive of interesting photos from each webcam, but it doesn’t record ALL photos.  So if some of the photos you see in the slideshow are older than you expect, that’s because it’s been a while since ShipWatcher automatically captured any photos from it.  The best way to make sure there are more photos in the archive is to click on the Camera button () and manually take some photos.

You can run slideshows for several ships at once, but the more ships you select, the longer it will take to display a new picture.

While the SlideShow is running, the green arrow will change to a “Stop” button that looks like this:

Click on the Stop button to stop the SlideShow.  The most recent image from the camera will then be displayed.

It took me a while to work out how to do this, so if you use it, please let me know.  If I know that people are using some of these new things, I’ll add more fun toys!

Why don’t you try it out now?

New Webcams: Crystal Serenity / Crystal Symphony

Thanks to Robert Heuman for suggesting we add ships from Crystal Cruises.

Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are now available on ShipWatcher. They have three webcams each: forward, port and starboard.

Welcome to the new ShipWatcher Blog!

I’ve moved the ShipWatcher blog from Blogger to the WordPress platform, and hope you like the changes.

Please update your browser favourites, and RSS readers.

I wanted to say a special thank-you to all the photographers who made their work available under the Creative Commons license and let me use their images as banners on the site.

I’m new to WordPress, so if you’ve any suggestions about how I could improve this blog, please let me know!

Suomen Joutsen

A Postcrossing postcard from Anne in Finland.

The three masted, full rigged “Suomen Joutsen” was built in 1902. She has a steel hull and plied the trade routes between ports in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Since this was before the days of the Panama Canal, this means she frequently passed through the treacherous waters of Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.

In 1930, the Finnish Navy purchased this beautiful ship for use as a Training Vessel.

From the mid 1950’s she was a stationery seamen’s training vessel, but in 1991 she was purchased by the city of Turku and operates as a museum.

What a beautiful grand lady of the sea. And what a gorgeous painting by Håkan Sjöström.

Thanks Anne. You made my day!

Minor fixes to ShipWatcher

Some of the ShipWatcher features weren’t working when you viewed the site using the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE8), so I’ve fixed those problems.

Basically if you held your mouse over a webcam image, you were supposed to then see information about the ship. This didn’t work in IE8. While I was testing this, I found out it wasn’t working properly when you used the Firefox brower either.

ShipWatcher should work fine with these browsers now. If it doesn’t, please let me know.

I’ve also applied these fixes to VQE2.COM – the Virtual QE2 webcam site.

Something Old, Something New

Two postcards I came across this week which highlight how ocean travel has changed over 70 years.

Tegelberg PostcardDawn Princess Postcard

Tegelberg: (Info from Ronald Turner’s web page)
Dutch passenger ship
Built at Nederlandscae Sb hij in 1938
Capacity: 640 passengers.
GRT: 14140,
Length: 170.5 metres,
Width: 22 metres,
Speed: 17/18 knots
Converted to a Troopship and chartered for the Ministry of War, Liverpool, in 1942, capable of housing 2681 troops.
Broken up at Kaohsiung in 1968 after 30 years of service.

Dawn Princess: (Info from Wikipedia)
Built by Fincatieri, in Italy in 1996.
Capacity: 1950 passengers, 900 crew.
GRT: 77,500
Length: 261m
Width 32m
Speed: 21 knots

My father travelled on Tegelberg between India and the UK in 1945. He tells me he remembers being aboard the ship, and how all the children were told to stay below decks at one point during the voyage while they buried a recently deceased Italian prisoner of war at sea.

Despite having 1/5 the GRT of a modern day cruise ship like Dawn Princess, Tegelberg was required to carry over 2,000 crew during her war service. One can only imagine how crowded that must have been.

Sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge


Here’s a video of our sail-in to Sydney Harbour, past the Opera House, under the Harbour Bridge as the ship’s horn blasts a couple of times.

Sydney Harbour is spectacular, and sailing in during the day is a fantastic experience.

Video: Harbour Pilot boards Dawn Princess entering Sydney Harbour

Here’s a video from our recent cruise aboard Dawn Princess.

We arrived late into Sydney, which was fantastic, because we got to see everything in broad daylight rather than in the early hours of the morning.

As we approached “The Heads” at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, the Pilot pulled alongside our ship and jumped aboard.

If you ever get the chance on your next cruise, keep an eye out for the pilot. It’s quite spectacular watching them come aboard.