port huon
Port Huon
1927 - 1961

The Port Huon was built for the Commonwealth & Dominion Line Ltd, London (later the Port Line) by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend, Newcastle during 1927. The ship was one of several built to replace those lost during World War One. The Port Huon was the third vessel to be completed in this replacement programme, following the Dunedin and Port Freemantle (a sister ship to the Port Huon).

The 'Motor Ship' commenting on her construction, says:
The Port Huon was built by Swan, Hunter, and Wigham Richardson Ltd. at their Wallsend shipyard. She is intended largely for carrying meat and fruit, having considerable refrigerated space, and in common with most up-to-date vessels of this class, is capable of maintaining a fast speed. When fully loaded she should cover the distance between Melbourne and London in 34 days, averaging about 14.5 knots. Although not primarily intended for accommodating passengers, the Port Huon has single and double-berth cabins for 12 (panelled in beech & mahogany), a comfortable smoke-room and dining saloon being provided. These are tastefully furnished, and the finish of the panelling throughout is excellent.

In certain respects the engines are of the standard Sulzer design, although minor differences are apparent. Hitherto no Sulzer engine has been built in this country with the control station below at the extreme forward end of each unit, although the arrangement is adopted in the case of the ten-cylinder engines built at Winterthur for the passenger liner Christiaan Huygens, and which, incidentally, have the same cylinder dimensions as the two six-cylinder engines for the Port Huon.

Particulars of the Port Huon
Length overall, 496ft. 6in.
Length between perpendiculars, 475ft. 6in.
Beam, 63ft.
Depth to upper deck, 43ft. 4in.
Draught, 29ft. 1in.
Corresponding deadweight, 10,730 tons.
Gross register, 8,243 tons.
Net register, 4,853 tons.
Number of holds, 5.
Insulated space, 341,629 cubic feet
Non-insulated space-Grain, 329,229 cubic feet; bales, 312,322 cubic feet.
Total engine output, 6,000 b.h.p. at 100 r.p.m.
Cylinder bore, 680 mm. (26.77in).
Piston stroke, 1,200 mm. (47.25in).
Service speed, 14.5 to 15 knots.

A departure to be observed in the case of the Port Huon is that there are four generating sets in the engine-room instead of the three installed in the two sister ships, extra current being demanded on account of the independent scavenging blowers. Each of the units consists of a 400-h.p. four-cylinder, four-cycle Diesel engine of the Burmeister and Wain type, coupled to a 250 kw. dynamo, thc speed of rotation being 250 r.p.m., and the output 1,135 amps, at 230 volts. There is also an emergency dynamo of 12 kw., driven by an Allen semi-Diesel engine, the speed being 375r.p.m.

Auxiliary Plant in Engine Room
Two electrically-driven Weir auxiliary air compressors are fitted, one on each side of the engine-room aft; they are coupled to 78 kw. motors in each case, the rating being 95 h.p. at 360 r.p.m. Salt water is used for the main cylinder jacket cooling system, and the water is supplied by a pump coupled to a 48-h.p. motor, the speed being 1,200 r.p.m. to 1,400 r.p.m. The pistons are cooled by means of fresh water, and the two pumps for this purpose are also of the Drysdale type, each driven by a 27-h.p. electric motor, running at a speed of 1,350 r.p.m. to 1,600 r.p.m.

For the supply of lubricating oil to the crossheads of the main engines a pair of pumps are fitted, the drive being taken from 8-h.p, motors. On the starboard side of the engine room, arranged on a platform adjacent to one of the turbo-blowers, is an installation comprising three centrifugal purifiers; two of these are for fuel and the third for lubricating oil. Each machine is driven by a 2.5-h.p. electric motor. The fuel capacity, based on 90 per cent, of the total, is 1,690 tons, of which 718 tons are carried in the double bottoms.

Refrigerating Machinery and Deck Equipment
Installed in a comparatively large compartment aft of the engine-room, the refrigerating machinery comprises two electrically driven machines, built by Messrs. J. and E. Hall, Dartford, and driven direct by electric motors, no gearing being interposed. The auxiliary engine exhaust gases may be passed through a waste-heat boiler, whilst there is, in addition, an oil-fired boiler below on the starboard side of the engine-room, adjacent being the small emergency steam-engine driven Weir air compressor. Kelvin tank depth gauges are fitted for ascertaining the condition of the port and starboard gravity tanks, while other refill vents deserving of reference are pyrometers on the auxiliary engines, for registering the temperature of the exhaust gases, and distance thermometers for checking the temperatures of the insulated holds.

The deck machinery comprises 14 (Lawrence Scott) electric cargo winches, each capable of lifting six tons at 125ft. per minute, the corresponding speed for a lift of two tons being 230ft. per minute, while the light-hook speed is 450ft. per minute. The motors are 270-amp. machines taking current at 220 volts. Two Napier electrically driven capstans are aft on the port and starboard sides respectively, each being driven by a 40-h.p. motor. There is an anchor windlass driven by a 55-b.h.p. motor.

Electro-hydraulic steering gear of the four-ram (Hastie, Hele-Shaw) type is fitted in the steering compartment. The hydraulic pumps are driven by 35-h.p. motors, and one is sufficient to maintain the gear in operation at sea, the other being for standby purposes.

The culinary arrangements comprise a large galley, oil-fired. Otherwise the service is electrical, and includes a bakery; electric heaters and toasters are fitted, making the whole unusually comprehensive for a vessel built as a cargo carrier. The Port Huon and her two sister craft should do much to enhance the value of the Commonwealth and Dominion Line's fleet; her fuel consumption will probably not exceed 27 tons a day for all purposes.

The company remained profitable during the Great Depression, and between 1927 and 1932 shipped steel girders from Middlesbrough for use in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

1927 June 9th: successful sea trials were undertaken by the Port Huon.

1927 June: The maiden voyage to Australia and New Zealand commenced late in June (25th?) from London and was completed in under 37 days, arriving Melbourne on July 31st and Sydney on August 8th. En-route heavy weather was experienced east of Cape Town, on July 21st heavy seas smashed the saloon door and two inner doors causing flooding to the saloon and cabins. The ship was under the command of veteran Captain J Compton, a 33 year veteran of the sea, having held his Master's Certificate for over 18 years. Captain Compton spent six years in sailing ships and 27 years in steam ships prior to taking command of a motor ship.

1927 August 10th: Port Huon at Woolloomooloo (Sydney).

1927 August 15th: Dignataries from the port and town of Port Huon (Tasmania) welcomed Captain Compton of the motor vessel Port Huon on her maiden voyage, the vessel having recently berthed at Hobart. An impending expansion of the facilities at Port Huon would allow vessels as large as the motor vessel Port Huon to berth there for the loading/unloading of general cargo, especially the export of fruit.

1927 August 16th: The Port Huon was expected to arrive at Beauty Point (Tasmania) and discharge about 600 tons of cargo and load about 100 bales of wool for the United Kingdom. On the trip to Europe five days were taken to navigate the Suez Canal.

1927 September 3rd: departed Brisbane with a cargo of frozen & general cargo, arrived Sydney September 4th, departing there on September 10th direct to Europe.

1927 October 16th: arrived at Dunkirk after 35 day journey from Sydney, by 19th the Port Huon reached Hull with cargo including an experimental cargo of Australian chilled beef (100 hind quarters and 50 crops of beef) for distribution to markets in Leeds, Manchester, London Smithfields, Hull and others. The beef was reported in good condition, the Rayson process being used in its chilling. The log of the Port Huon's refrigerating chamber showed that the bone temperature of the beef on loading on September 2nd was 34 F. being reduced to 29.5F. by October 17th. The chamber air was kept a steady temperature of 28.5F. throughout the major portion of the voyage. The first two previous shipments of chilled beef had arrived in poor condition, the third was marketable, but not of a quality to compare with Argentinian beef exports. The Port Huon was also carrying wool, one of nine ships carrying the first of the new season's wool from Sydney to Dunkirk. Of the nine ships the first to arrive had been the steamer Meriones in a time of 33 days followed by the motorship Tricolor and then possibly the Port Huon arriving third. The Port Huon had also called at Hamburg with 12,000 cases of Tasmanian fruit and a consignment of West Australian fruit for Stockholm.

1928 January 21st: Port Huon due at Hobart, then sailing to Beauty Point on 24th, then sailing on 27th to Cairns to load a large quantity of sugar, then Brisbane for the February wool sales and Sydney.

1928 February 23rd: Port Huon due at Victoria Dock, Melbourne to load wool and general cargo, sailing on 27th for Suez and Europe.

1928 April 18th: Port Huon arrived at London from Australia.

1928 December 3rd: Port Huon departed London on December 3rd and reached Melbourne on January 7th. Her actual time from pilot to pilot was 34 days 9.5 hours. This is not as fast as that recorded by the motor ship Port Fremantle, but is nearly as good. Her average speed for the whole voyage was 14.25 knots, and for the stretch from the Cape to Melbourne she did 14.9 knots. It was a patch of bad weather just before she passed the Cape which slowed her down, and for four days she was ploughing against a gale. The vessel discharged about 2,000 tons of general cargo in Melbourne.

1929 January 14th: Port Huon advised as to arrive Sydney on January 14th from Europe.

1929 January 28th: Port Huon at Brisbane, crew of the ship entertained a dance for family & friends, the ship was suitably decked out.

1929 February 28th: Reported second visit of the Port Huon to Albany to load the first shipment of the season's local fruit. The vessel was under the command of Captain Compton.

1929 May 21st: Port Huon anticipated departure from Hull, full or not full via Suez for Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

1929 June 26th: Melbourne - the Port Huon was unable to reach a river berth due to being too heavily laden, some of the 4,000 tons of cargo was unloaded at Princes Pier before the ship moved to a river berth. The cargo included two Dorset rams destined for the Myuna station.

1929 July 25th: whilst departing Townsville for Wyndham the Port Huon grounded on a bank in the channel, a tug was required to refloat the ship, with several hours delay incurred.

1929 September 9th: Port Huon arrived at Antwerp from Australia.

1929 December 12th: Port Huon at Beauty Point, for loading wool in mid-January for Dunkirk, Hull, Amsterdam, Hamburg and London.

1930 January 4th: The Port Huron, under the command of Captain J E Crompton, was at Wallaroo loading wheat. From Wallaroo the ship will sail for Geelong to load a consignment of meat.

1930 March: during early March the Port Huon docked at Hull after six weeks and four days from New Zealand including cargo of polo ponies and their grooms.

1933 January 23rd: The Port Huon arrived at Sydney from London, via Melbourne, and discharged twenty-eight valuable cattle, which included Guernseys, Shorthorns, Jerseys, Red Polls, and Herefords. Only one Shorthorn bull and three Guernsey heifers were unloaded at Melbourne. The men who looked after the cattle during the voyage estimated their value at 10,000. They reported that the cattle had eaten four tons of hay, two tons of oilcake, two tons of mangel-wurzels, and half-a-ton of bran.

1933 February 22nd: whilst at Newcastle the Port Huon loaded 3,600 boxes of butter, 23 tons of tallow and between 600 & 700 bales of wool. The ship then sailed for Sydney, departing February 28th for Europe via Suez Canal. Saloon passengers fares: Single 50.00, Return 87 and 10 shillings.

1933 March 6th: departed Hobart after loading a total of 57,430 cases of fruit at Port Huon & Hobart for the United Kingdom.

1933 April 28th: Port Huon in the United Kingdom unloading fruit.

1933 July 22nd: (Perth?) The Port Huon loaded 800 tons of frozen beef for the United Kingdom. This was the third meat boat to load beef from the Wyndham Meatworks this season. Captain Compton entertained a large gathering of Wyndham residents aboard the vessel this week. The upper deck was tastefully decorated and the music was supplied by an electric gramophone with loud speaker devices, situated in various locations.

1934 February 6th: the Port Huon departed London for Australian ports, expected to arrive at Sydney on March 19th.

1934 April 19th: scheduled at Beauty Point for fruit loading.

1934 July 10th: Port Huron scheduled to depart London for Melbourne (Aug 16), Sydney (Aug 20), Hobart (Aug 23) and Launceston (Aug 26).

1934 August 24th: (Hobart) at Ocean Pier unloading cargo from Europe.

1934 August 26th: Advice was received by the Tasmanian Woolgrowers Agency Co. Ltd. that the Port Huon, which was listed to call at Beauty Point on August 26th, will not now call as she was urgently required for loading at North Queensland ports.

1934 September 21st: the Port Huon arrived at Newcastle from Sydney, loaded 1,000 bales of wool, 2,000 boxes of butter and 172 cases of eggs. The ship then returned to Sydney, departing from there on September 25th for Europe.

1934 November 2nd: Port Huon at Dunkirk from Australia.

1934 December 11th: The Port Huon was scheduled to leave London on December 11th for Australian ports, and expected to arrive at Melbourne on January 17th, Sydney Janunary 21st, Newcastle January 23rd and Brisbane on January 25th.

1935 January 21st: The Port Huon was expected today at Sydney from London.

1935 February 27th: scheduled at Beauty Point for fruit loading (first scheduled departure for this fruit season).

1935 March 3rd: the Port Huon departed Launceston for Hobart and the United Kingdom with 41,191 cases of fruit loaded at Beauty Point. 8,302 cases of apples were destined for Hull whilst 32,889 cases of apples & pears were for London. She was the first ship of the season to load fruit at Beauty Point

1935 March 9th (Hobart) The apple and pear export season, which began on February 21st with the arrival of the s.s. Pakoha (Shaw, Saville & Albion Line), proceeded remarkably smoothly, with the Port Huon being the sixth vessel to have called at Hobart (departed March 2nd), lifting a total of 178,346 cases of apples, and the equivalent of 9,382 cases of pears.

1935 July 8th: Port Huon advised to arrive Sydney on July 8th from New York, Philadelphia and Savannah. Departed July 9th for Melbourne. Arrived July 16th at Geelong, then sailing for Adelaide, arriving July 18th before heading for New Zealand..

1936: October 13th: Port Huon departed London for Australia.

1936 November 1st: the Port Huon departed Cape Town at 11am on November 1st bound for Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart & Beauty Point. Melbourne was reached on November 19th.

1936 November 27th: at Hobart discharging cargo from Europe.

1936 December 2nd: Port Huon projected to leave Hobart for Brisbane & the United Kingdom.

1937 March: a Port Line Ltd timetable listed the Port Huon as serving Australia and/or New Zealand ports (including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and Dunedin).

1937 April 4th: the Port Huon departed Cape Town at 8am on April 4th bound for Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart & Beauty Point.

1937 April 30th: at Hobart Ocean Pier discharghing cargo from Europe.

1937 May 21st: The Commonwealth Wool & Produce Co. Ltd., Sydney, reported the importation by the Port Huon of a young Hereford bull 'Limestone' to be the top sire at the 'Bexley' Stud, New South Wales. Also shipped on the same voyage was another Hereford bull 'Weston Professor', selected for Mr K. M. Cranstone of Wanganui, New Zealand.

1937 August 7th: departed Liverpool, scheduled Auckland September 12th.

1937 September 28th: Port Huon arrived Lyttleton (via Auckland & Wellington) from Glasgow & Liverpool.

1937 November 18th: The Commonwealth and Dominion Line officially re-branded itself 'Port Line Ltd'.

1938 January 31st: the Port Huon departed Melbourne on the aftrnoon of 31st for Sydney, expected to arrive February 2nd to unload explosives at Rose Bay and general cargo at No. 9 Pyrmont wharf. By February 7th the port Huon was at Hobart, Queens Pier discharging cargo from Europe.

1938 February 23rd: departed Brisbane for Newcastle & Sydney.

1938 March 1st: Port Huon sailed Sydney for Dunkirk, Hull, Antwerp, German ports, Gdynia, London and Liverpool, via Cape of Good Hope.

1938 June 16th: due to arrive Melbourne from London, then to sail for Sydney.

1938 July 2nd: (Melbourne) the Port Huon delivered from Forfarshire, Scotland a two-year-old bull, 'Hayston Erato' for the well-known Aberdeen Angus stud of Mr. Hubert S. Docker of Bontharambo, Wangaratta.

1939 April 21st: The Port Huon arrived at Sydney from New York and will sail for Melbourne on April 24th. On May 13th the Port Huon sailed from Cairns, en route to the United Kingdom. While in Cairns the vessel took on 180 tons of frozen beef, 52,000 feet of sawn timber, and 55 cases of veneer. The vessel proceeded to Townsville, Bowen and Brisbane, where further stocks of frozen meat were loaded, after which the Port Huon will sail for Dunkirk, via Capetown, and is due to arrive at her destination on July 15th.

1940 October 11th: Port Huon enroute from Auckland to London, calls in at Pitcairn Island - Captain G W Hearn.

During World War Two Port Huon saw activity mostly in thr Atlantic and Caribbean.

1940: January 5th 1940 saw Port Huon depart Freetown for Liverpool in convoy SL.15F, later to become SL.15, arriving Liverpool on January 19th. Port Huon departed Liverpool on February 19th in convoy OB.93, dispersing on February 19th, then joining OG.19F, reaching Gibraltar on February 25th 1940. Port Huon departed Bermuda on June 8th as part of BHX.49, joining HX.49 on June 13th (from Halifax), arriving Liverpool on June 24th. Port Huon departed Liverpool on July 20th 1940 in OB.186, dispersing on July 22nd with Port Huon headed for Cape Town (for Suez?). Port Huon departed Bermuda on November 3rd in convoy BHX.86 but returned to Bermuda by November 15th. It is later recorded in HX.88 which had departed Halifax on November 14th and reached Liverpool on November 30th.

1941: Port Huon was part of convoy HX.147, departing Halifax on August 29th and arriving Liverpool on September 12th, ten passengers were carried. Convoy ON.20 departed Liverpool on September 25th and dispersed October 9th with the Port Huon headed for Montreal and sister ship Port Freemantle for Halifax.

1942: Convoy ON.83 departed Liverpool on April 4th, arriving Halifax on April 17th, with the Port Huon headed for New York City. On August 31st the Port Huon departed Cristobal in ZG.1, arriving Guantanamo on September 3rd, the Port Huon being the largest vessel in this small convoy. On September 5th convoy GN.1 sailed from Guantanamo, arriving New York City on September 12th. Convoy HX.208 departed New York City on September 17th, arriving Liverpool on October 2nd, the Port Huon carrying 16 passengers. The Port Huon departed Belfast Lough as part of BB.226 on October 2nd, arriving Milford Haven the next day. Convoy ON.141 left Liverpool on October 24th, reaching New York City on November 10th with the Port Huon and 16 passengers headed for Montevideo. The Port Huon sailed with ZG.17 departing Cristobal on December 28th 1942, arriving Guantanamo on January 1st 1943.

1943: Convoy GN.32 departed Guantanamo on January 1st, reaching New York City on January 9th, the Port Huon then joining HX.223, departing New York City on January 14th, arriving Liverpool on February 2nd, in addition to general cargo the ship was carrying mail. Convoy ON.170 departed Liverpool on March 3rd, arriving New York City on March 20th, the Port Huon conveying 15 passengers. From New York City the Port Huon sailed on April 2nd in convoy NG.353, arriving Guantanamo on April 9th, departing here on April 10th in GZ.28 to Cristobal, arriving April 14th, with engine defects. The Port Huon departed Key West on September 23rd in convoy KN.266, arriving New York City on September 28th. The Port Huon departed New York City on October 5th in HX.260, arriving Liverpool on October 20th, then departing Liverpool on December 2nd in ON.214, arriving New York City on December 20th.

1944: The Port Huon departed Cristobal on March 19th in convoy ZG.62, arriving at Guantanamo on March 23rd and departing the next day in convoy GN.122, arriving New York City on March 31st. The Port Huon departed New York City on April 5th in convoy HX.286, arriving Liverpool on April 20th, This convoy contained 85 merchant vessels and 21 escorts, one of the largest convoys the Port Huon had sailed in. Convoy ON.237 sailed from Liverpool on May 19th, arriving New York City on June 3rd. The Port Huon departed New York City on June 15th in convoy NG.441, arriving Guatanamo on June 21st, then sailing the same day in GZ.74, arriving Cristobal on June 25th. Convoy GN.160 departed Guantanamo on September 30th, arriving New York City on October 8th, the Port Huon visited Philadelphia en-route. Convoy HX.313 departed New York City on October 10th and arrived at Liverpool on October 24th. The cargo for Port Huon included gliders. The Port Huon departed Southend on December 14th in convoy ON.272, arriving New York City on January 1st 1945.

1945: The Port Huon departed Hollandia on March 3rd in convoy GI.14, reaching Leyte on March 10th, departing Leyte on March 25th in convoy IG.15, arriving Hollandia on April 1st.

1947 February 24th: Port Huon at Port Adelaide.

1947: March 11th: (Burnie) The chief electrician of the Port Huon, William Kavanagh died in the Spencer Hospital, Wynyard, on Sunday morning, following a fall onto rocks whilst ashore at Burnie. Whilst returning to the ship, the walk along the wharf saw Mr Kavanaugh fall through a metal grate which had missing bars, with a gap sufficient enough to cause a person to fall through, especially in the poor light of late evening. Aid from a nearby boater, the ship's doctor and local hospital staff proved insufficient. The funeral took place at Wivenhoe cemetery, the deceased being a native of Liverpool, England. Mr Kavanaugh had joined the Port Huon during May 1946. Many of the ship's crew were present led by Captain R P Fuller, with floral tributes received from many mourners.

1949 November 17th: The Port Huon was listed to call at Albany on November 17th to lift about 4,000 bales of wool for London sales.

1949 December 3rd: departed Albany after loading 5,075 bales of wool for London. The Port Huon advertised to sail from Fremantle about December 7th has limited saloon passenger accommodation for the United Kingdom via Suez.

1951 July 26th: Port Huon scheduled to sail from Perth for Europe via Suez.

1952 March 17th: Port Huon will leave Antwerp and then London on April 18th, travelling via Cape of Good Hope, being due in the Tamar, Beauty Point early in June.

1952 July 17th: Hobart - Port Huon unloading at Princes Wharf No.2.

Following more than three decades of service, primarily between the United Kingdom and Australia or New Zealand the ship arrived at the breakers yard at Yokosuka, Japan, 1961 for scrapping.

The engines of the Port Huon, from a brochure issued by the Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company Ltd.


Built: Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend, Newcastle; yard No. 1293
Laid down: 1927
Launched: March 4th 1927
Completed: June 1927
Tons: 8,243 gross, 7,980 BRT, 4,853 net
Length: 145.50m (496ft 6in)
Breadth: 19.30m (63ft 5in)
Draught: 29ft 1in
Propulsion: 2 x 6ST68 six cylinder Wallsend/Sulzer diesel engines of 3,000bhp each at 100rpm.
Screws: 2
Speed: 14.5 knots
Passengers: 12
Registered Number: 149842
Crew: 70?

Pitcairn Island as a port of call 1790 - 2010, Herbert Ford.
National Library of Australia : Trove website of archived Australian Newspapers (trove.nla.gov.au)
Wartime sailings from 'convoyweb' website
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