The motor vessel Limerick was commissioned during July 1925 for the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, London.
After launching from the yard of W Hamilton & Co, Glasgow the vessel was moved to the yard of David Rowan & Co, Glasgow for the installation of the engines and other fittings. After completion Master Alan Cain took the Limerick on her maiden voyage to Australia, being operated under the auspices of the Federal Steam Navigation Line (F.S.N.).
Excluding the Aorangi, the Limerick claimed the title of having the largest set of Diesel machinery installed so far in a British vessel and to being the largest cargo-carrying motor ship afloat.
The Limerick would settle down to traditional routes - sailing between the United Kingdom & Australia and between Australia & Halifax, New York and Vancouver. Inbetween its long voyages to the UK & USA it would make visits to may Australia ports.
From Adelaide the Limerick worked its way around the East Coast ports finally arriving at Townsville on December 4th to load 2,000 bales of wool and other cargo, then onto Cairns the next day to load 600 tons of frozen meat, 1,000 dry hides, four tons of wool, 20,000 feet of sawn timber and fifteen logs for various destinations. By December 14th the ship had returned to Townsville to load further cargo.
On arrival at Port Adelaide on May 11th a cargo inspection revealed two cases of toilet soap were empty. After a police investigation two members of the crew were arrested and charged with being in the unlawful possession of toilet soap.
August 7th departed Adelaide for the United Kingdom.
May 23rd expected at Fremantle to load cargo and fuel prior to departure for Liverpool. Called at Aden on June 12th.
September 6th departed Aden, expected to arrive Fremantle on September 21st, to discharge explosives and to refuel. Arrived Sydney October 9th.
November 24th Fremantle - an overtime strike by dockside workers delayed the loading of wool into the Limerick prior to its return to the United Kingdom. Reported passing Perim on December 11th.
July 14th arrived Sydney from New York, via ports.
September 5th arrived Sydney from Queensland ports. Fremantle had been reached by September 19th - en route to the United Kingdom, wool to be loaded at Fremantle, but delayed due to waterfront troubles. On October 4th at Fremantle ship's painter David Skinner fell from a ladder into the sea and drowned whilst chipping paint. Mr Leslie Neilson, the seventh engineer witnessed the event, entered the water but could not locate Mr Skinner.
November 26th a severe weather system caused much damage and disruption in the United Kingdom and the Western Approaches. At the height of the storm the Pommern, a German training vessel with 80 cadets on board (in the English Channel?) sent out distress signals. The Cunard liner Lancastria and the Orient liner Osterley provided immediate help, whilst the Limerick, en route to London along with the Chepstow Castle stood by.
May 28th departed Adelaide for the United Kingdom, cargo carried included 24,000 boxes of dried fruit, 300 bales of sheepskins and 600 hogsheads of wine. (Wrong year?)
Whilst en route from England a cracked cylinder head was sustained, a spare carried by the ship would allow quick repairs to be made. Possibly the ship would be delayed in Port Said to effect repairs. By June 29th 380 tons of cargo had been unloaded at Port Adelaide ex-Liverpool.
December 31st arrived Brisbane from New York, expected to reach Sydney by January 5th 1930.
July 10th arrived Sydney via ports from Liverpool. Sailed for Newcastle on July 13th.
November 15th departed Liverpool, December 28th expected to arrive Port Adelaide with 350 tons of cargo, then to sail to Port Pirie to unload 220 tons of cargo and to load concentrates. Expected at Melbourne January 4th 1931, then to sail for Sydney & Brisbane.
July 27th expected to arrive Melbourne with cargo from Liverpool.
April 5th departed Adelaide for the United Kingdom.
July 9th departed Liverpool, expected to arrive Fremantle about August 16th and Melbourne August 25th.
October 5th departed Melbourne for the United Kingdom.
December 25th departed Liverpool.
July 13th due Townsville; July 17th enroute from Port Alma to Townsville, where 600 tons of frozen meat and a quantity of hides & general cargo was to be loaded before sailing for Bowen. Expected to depart Adelaide on August 11th for Fremantle, taking the Cape route to the United Kingdom.
March 24th Townsville?? cargo loaded included 1,000 tons of silver lead bullion and a quantity of general cargo. April 10th arrived Brisbane after visiting Townsville, Port Alma and Gladstone. April 13th loading at Brisbane. May 2nd expected Fremantle to load a cargo of wheat before sailing for the United Kingdom.
April 8th arrived Adelaide from Sydney to load wool & general cargo.
March 15th departed Vancouver, expected Melbourne May 16th with general cargo from Vancouver. May 28th Mort's Dock, Sydney - Huge Sutherlands was killed after falling forty feet from the ship's deck into a hold.
November 2nd, included in the cargo being unloaded at Melbourne was a 21 passenger Douglas DC3 aeroplane for Australia National Airways, reportedly the largest aircraft to arrive in Australia to date. It was scheduled to operate on the Adelaide - Perth route.
November 10th the Limerick arrived Burnie to load 1,000 tons of concentrates for Selby, California. Vessel commanded by Captain A W Creese.
April 5th Sydney - about 25 engineers on the Limerick refused to work following demands for extra payment, claiming the dirty nature of the work involving the ship's diesel engines.
World War Two
Convoy OC 43 Melbourne November 9th 1942 to Newcastle November 12th 1942, sevens ships, three escorts, Limerick was the largest.
Convoy GP 48, five merchant ships and two RAN minesweeper escorts from Sydney April 24th 1943 to Brisbane, but Limerick was sunk about 20 miles off Cape Byron NSW by I 177 on April 25th 1943, was largest ship in convoy and had engine problems require it to zig-zag to maintain position with the rest of the convoy. The attack was made after midnight, the torpedo hitting amidships on the port side. Despite a sharp list to port the Limerick took three hours to sink. The naval escorted rescued 72 of the 74 man crew, the 3rd & 4th engineers could not be located. The I-177 was not located by the escorts, but would be sunk eighteen months later by the USS Samuel S Miles on October 3rd 1944, with all hands lost.
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