ship MV dalgoma, B I S N
1923 - 1946

A publicity view of the Dalgoma.
The Register, Adelaide dated August 3rd 1923 recorded the details of the newly built Dalgoma as follows:

New British India Boat.
British mercantile shipping interests were strongly represented at the official trials of the new motor vessel Dalgoma in the Firth of Clyde in June. Built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Limited, of Linthouse, for the British India Steam Navigation Company, Limited. The Dalgoma is a twin-screw cargo motor vessel of about 6,000 tons, propelled by Stephen-Sulzer 4 cylinder engines developing a collective shaft horsepower of 3,200 at 85 rpm. All auxiliary machinery, including the deck machinery, is electrically driven, and for this purpose two Stephen-Sulzer auxiliary Diesel engines each developing 410 b.h.p. at 200 revolutions are installed to drive the electric generators. The scavenging air for the main engines ia supplied by an electrically driven turbo-blower situated in a recess at the after end of the engine room. Two blowers are provided, one of which is sufficient to supply the necessary air. The air can be drawn either from the deck or from the engine room as required.

This is the first ship built in Great Britain in which this system of scavenging has been used. It results in a very easy regulation of the scavenging air pressure, a considerable shortening of the main engine and a lower consumption of power to produqe the necessary scavenging air. All manouevring gear for the main engine, together with the main switchboard and air control valves are arranged on the top platform, which thus becomes the starting platform, leaving the bottom platform quite clear and greatly improving the access to the crankshaft and other moving parts. Sea water is used for cooling the jackets and covers, and the cooling of the pistons can be either by salt water or fresh water, as desired.

A workshop is arranged on the 'tween decks on the port side, and a harbour lighting set driven by a two cylinder hot bulb engine is situated on the starboard 'tween decks. The other machinery situated at the top platform level includes a vertical boiler for heating the oil in the tanks and for supplying steam to the evaporator, four starting air receivers and a piston water cooler. The auxiliary machinery on the bottom platform includes two centrifugal jacket cooling pumps, two centrifugal piston cooling pumps, centrifugal bilge and sanitary pumps, a ballast pump, spare lubricating pump and piston cooling water transfer pump, two auxiliary air compressors, two oil fuel transfer pumps, and an emergency bilge pump. There is also a centrifugal oil separator for dealing with the lubricating oil and an electric heater for heating the oil before passing it through the separator. On the bridge deck there is a small emergency lighting set and emergency compressor, a small refrigerating plant and fire extinguishing plant are situated in compartments further forward. There are silencers for the main and auxiliary engines in the base of the funnel, which is also used as an upcast ventilator for the engine room.

During trials a speed of 13 knots was reached on the measured mile, and reversal from ahead to astern occupied about 12 seconds. Under dead slow conditions the engines ran steadily with two cylinders only on fuel at about 30 revolutions per minute. There was a total absence of smoke in the exhaust and a marked lack of vibration. The whole of the diesel machinery, including the two 410 b.h.p. auxiliary engines, was built by. Messrs. Alexander Stephen and Sons at their Linthouse works, the castings being supplied by Messrs. A. F. Craig and Company, Paisley.

At the time the two main engines were the largest Sulzer marine diesels built in the United Kingdom to date. The engines were of the two stroke design of which there were few in service, excepting the Dalgoma only one other large British ship had this type of engine. In place of scavenging cylinders the scavenging air (at 2lb per sq in) is supplied by electrically driven turbo blowers. Compared with the four stroke engines these Sulzer engines are said to be remarkably compact.

During January 1926 the Dalgoma made her first trip to Australia, departing Calcutta on January 5th, stopping en-route at Singapore, leaving there on January 11th for Fremantle. The ship arrived at Fremantle on January 19th, sailing the next day for Port Adelaide and arriving there on January 25th. The ship's cargo included 1,000 tons of Indian produce and gnanies (?).

The Argus, Melbourne January 30th 1926 reports: According to the pilot who brought the ship to a berth in Victoria Dock Melbourne British India Line motor ship Dalgoma waa the easiest vessel to handle of those he had brought into a berth. The Dalgoma is one her first visit to Melbourne, with pasengers and cargo from Calcutta. The ship is in charge of Captain E de G Diamond.

The February 9th 1926 issue of The Advertiser, Adelaide reported:

Interfered With Sydney, February 8th.
Smoke from the bush fires raging in Victoria and Southern New South Wales is delaying inter-State shipping, and big steamers have been compelled to alter their course. The officers of the motor ship Dalgoma, which arrived in Sydney from Calcutta to-day stated that round Gabo Island and Wilson's Promontory the smoke was so thick that the vessel had to slow down, and finally her course had to be altered to enable her to get into a clearer atmosphere. Whilst in the smoke it was possible for those on board to see only a few yards ahead. The officers considered that smoke and ashes were carried fully 50 miles out to sea. The steamers Nerbudda and Katoomba had a similar experience. Dalgoma arrived Sydney Feb 8th 1926.

On February 16th 1926 the Dalgoma departed Sydney for Newcastle, later clearing the Newcastle Customs House destined for Rangoon.

Perth, May 12th 1931: the local newspaper reported:

Shipping Delayed.
Mailboats rough trip - The movements of shipping along tbe West Australian coast have been seriously affected by the continuance of the storm. More than half a day late in her passage from the Eastern States, the mailboat Maloja reached port last night after battling against mountainous seas from Cape Leeuwin northwards. The interstate freighter Lowana was reported to be sheltering along the southern coast, and the overseas freighter Dalgoma, which was sighted off Bottnest Island on Saturday night, Sunday, and yesterday morning, put to sea again later in the day to await a moderation of the gale. An unsuccessful attempt to reach a berth in the harbour was made yesterday morning by the freighter Tuakina, which anchored in Gage Roads on Saturday. The vessel lost an anchor and portion of a length of costly cable in the Roads. When endeavouring to come alongside Victoria Quay, with the aid of two tugs, the Turakina was struck by a violent squall, and the task of manoeuvring the boat became so difficult that the pilot sought an anchorage in the Roads. Early in the afternoon the vessel was moored safely inside the harbour. The ship's officers reported that the passage from Cape Leeuwin was one of their worst experiences on the Australian coast.

Perth May 13th 1931 : The slight moderation of the gales permitted the motor vessel Dalgoma which put to sea after being sighted off Rottnest Island at the weekend, to make an anchorage in Gage Roads yesterday. At Perth the ship would load 7,000 tons of wheat.

May 20th 1931 : The recent cyclone which devastated the sugar cane crop in Mauritius, was the worst storm which had visited the island since 1802 according to Mr L.B. Jenkin an officer of the British India fleet, who was visiting Fremantle on the motor vessel Dalgoma. Mr.Jenkin said yesterday that the cyclone lasted three days. Mauritius produced about 250,000 tons of sugar annually, and the whole of the output was absorbed by Great Britain. - The Western Australian (Perth) May 20th 1931

The Dalgoma sailed on June 4th 1931 from Fremantle for Bombay with a cargo of wheat.

The Houston Everest Flight April 1933:
Whilst the Dalgoma and the vast majority of its cargoes have long since passed into the cobwebs of history, two of the items shipped on the Dalgoma during February 9th 1933 gained historical significance two months later. The two items, a Westland PV3 biplance and a Westland Wallace biplane travelled from the United Kingdom to India, being unloaded at Karachi during March 1933. These two aircraft would form the Houston Everest Flight led by Air Commodore Fellowes, becoming the first aircraft to fly over Mount Everest, making two such flights during April 1933.

When the Dalgoma arrived in London just before Christmas in 1935 its cargo included twelve monkeys from Bombay. The monkeys escaped before disembarkation and, although most were soon recaptured, two made it into the rigging and one was still there when the ship sailed for Hull. The renegade monkey returned to the deck before the ship reached the Humber. (P&O Heritage Collection)

The Dalgoma survived World War II, being noted in quite a variety of convoys. At the start of hostilities in September 1939 the Dalgoma was active in the Mediterranean working between Port Said, Alexandria, Gibraltar and Liverpool.

During 1940 further convoys were worked to Gibralter, but no longer venturing into the Mediterranean. Much time was spent between British ports, although at least one trip is recorded as reaching Freetown, Sierra Leone during November 1940.

A trip across the North Atlantic took place during June/July 1941, with another sailing to Freetown in September as well as shorter journeys between British ports. Freetown was also visited during early 1942.

1943 & 1944 found the Dalgoma operating across the Indian Ocean, including such ports as Durban, Bandar Abbas, Bombay & Columbo. Ironically about a month after the war ended in Europe the Dalgoma suffered damage in an incident at Fremantle.

The Western Australian, Perth October 5th 1945:
Work has started on the lightening of the coal hulk Samuel Plimsoll in Fremantle harbour, preliminary to an attempt to raise the vessel. The hulk, with about 1,300 tons of coal on board, sank as the result of a collision with the British India freighter Dalgoma in June last (1945). Since then the hulk has been lying on the bottom of the harbour near the railway bridge with only her masts showing above the water. The Dalgoma arrived at Fremantle in ballast on June 17th and during a severe gale the vessel grounded on a bank (Success Bank) outside the harbour. Later the vessel lost both her anchors and was refloated under her own steam. The vessel entered the harbour the next day and while coming to a berth came into collision with the Samuel Plimsoll, which was coaling a vessel at Victoria Quay. The wind caught the hulk and she was blown into the stream and sank near the railway bridge. The Dalgoma was in port some weeks undergoing repairs. A famous sailing ship in her day, the Samuel Plimsoll has been a coal hulk in Fremantle harbour for 40 years. She was built at Aberdeen in 1869.

The Samuel Plimsoll is reported to have finally sunk on June 18th 1945 and was eventually raised in sections and dumped on the wreck site of the Lygnern, Beagle Rocks, south of the South Mole.

The Argus MELBOURNE October 9th 1945:
(reporting on the arrival from India of the Reynella, previously the Italian owned Remo)
....the vessel also brought an anchor and three lengths of anchor chain, weighing nearly 10 tons in all, belonging to the Dalgoma, which is berthed at South Wharf. The anchor and chain were lost by the Dalgoma several months ago during a gale in Fremantle harbour, and were recently recovered from the harbour floor.

The Dalgoma is recorded as still being present at Fremantle on August 17th 1945, but had reached Melbourne by at least September 10th 1945 and remained here under repair until about December 12th 1945.

On December 13th 1945 the Dalgoma sailed for Bombay.

About February 1947 the Dalgoma was sold for scrap to Belgian ship breakers for about 6,000. The ship would ber scrapped at Ghent.

Built: 1922
Launched: 1923
Tons: 8,500dwt; 5,953 gross tons, ?? net tons
Length: 430ft
Breadth: 54ft 6in
Draught: 32ft 4in
Propulsion : 2 x 4ST68 Stephens-Sulzer, Glasgow built diesel engines, each producing 1,600bhp at 85rpm.
Auxiliary engines: 2 x 4SS34, each producing 410bhp at 200rpm, 1 x 45hp at 340rpm & 1 x 30hp at 1,000rpm.
Screws: 2
Speed: 12 knots
Passengers: 6
Crew: ??

Sulzer List of Motorships approx 1933
Australia Trove Digitised newspapers and more (
Western Australia Museum ( - references to the Samuel Plimsoll and others.

Page added May 30th 2011
Last updated June 5th 2011

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