Shaw Savill & Albion Line
1928 - 1941

A postcard view of the Zealandic

On March 31st 1928 the newspaper 'The Argus' published in Melbourne, Australia issued the following news brief:

New Zealand Motor-ship
The Motor-ship Zealandic, built by the firm of Swan & Hunter for the Shaw, Savill & Albion Line, is the largest and fastest New Zealand trader. The vessel will cover the journey in 34 days. The refridgeration plant contains 35 miles of pipes.

The motor merchant ship Zealandic was launched from the Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle yard on November 25th 1927 and completed during March 1928 for the Shaw, Savill & Albion Co Ltd, London. The Zealandic's homeport was Southampton. It was one of a series of four large refrigerated motor ships built for Shaw Savill & Albion to carry mixed frozen meat and general cargo.

May 7th 1932 MV Zealandic recorded as travelling from New Zealand to London, embarking at Bluff and Auckland.

May 17th 1933 MV Zealandic recorded as travelling from Brisbane to Hull, embarking at Sydney.

On May 3rd 1939 the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) reported:
Freighter On Fire - Zealandic Damaged - Melbourne Mishap
A fire broke out in the engineroom of the Shaw Savill motorship Zealandic (8,443 tons) at No.6 wharf, Victoria Dock, early today, when a boiler blew back and ignited a sump of oil. Firemen got the outbreak under control after an hour's fight.
Until a more thorough inspection is made tomorrow it will not be known whether the ship will have to enter drydock. A protracted delay would mean a revision of the ship's present schedule to return to London via Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and the Panama Canal.
Acrid Fumes
Members of the Zealandic's crew fought the blaze at first with fire extinguishers, but eventually were driven up on deck by the acrid fumes. The fire brigade was called and let down two hoses through a ventilator to the engineroom. Water and chemical extinguisher mixture were poured on the flames. Another squad of firemen went to the bows of the Zealandic and struggled through the smoke along an escape tunnel to the engineroom.
The flames were brought under control when firemen equipped with smoke-proof helmets were lowered through the engineroom hatchways by lifelines.

And on May 6th 1939 The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria) reported:
Burnt Freighter
Damage to the Shaw, Savill & Albion freighter Zealandic, which caught fire in Victoria Dock early on Tuesday morning, has been assessed by a Melbourne firm of marine engineers at several thousand pounds.
The contract to repair the damage has been given to Messrs. Peacock & Smith, marine engineers. It is expected that much repair work will have to be done. Rewiring of electrical cables alone is expected to cost several hundred pounds.
To enable work to proceed on pumps sea injections will have to be sealed by a diver, who will begin work on Monday week. The engineers believe that the work will take at least a month.

Whilst en-route from Liverpool to Brisbane, Australia, via the Panama Canal carrying general cargo the unescorted Zealandic was torpedoed by the U106 under the command of Jurgen Oesten shortly before 1am on the morning of January 17th, 1941. At this stage in the war those ships with a good turn of speed would frequently travel alone, with the more northerly route being taken to avoid active U boat areas further south. The ship was about 450 miles south of Iceland at position 58.28N/20.43W when the attack took place. The Zealandic was under the command of Master Frederick James Ogilvie with a crew of 65, two gunners and six passengers. The first torpedo struck at 00.45 hours underneath the forward mast, stopping the ship for a brief time at which time distress signals were sent out. The ship got under way again but was hit amidships by two more torpedoes fired at 00.59 and 01.27 hours. The ship sank slowly allowing the crew to take to three lifeboats. The Zealandic sank and the three lifeboats and their 73 occupants were never seen again, lost no doubt in the severe weather conditions that frequent this part of the North Atlantic during the winter months.

Sister ships: Coptic, Taranaki & Karamea. The latter two ships were built by Fairfield Shipbuilding Eng. Co. Ltd. Glasgow and were slightly longer. All three of the sister ships survived the carnage of World War Two and remained in use until the 1960's when each made their way to a scrapyard.

Basic Details

Built: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1928. O/N 149300
Tonnage: 8,281 tons gross, 5,100 net tons, 10,876 DWT
Length: 482.6 feet
Breadth: 64.2 feet
Draught: 42.5 feet
Propulsion: two Sulzer (Wallsend Slipway & Eng. Co. Ltd. Wallsend) 6 cylinder 6ST78 engines each producing total of 8,000hp at 115rpm
Auxiliary engines: Four 4 cycle engines, total of 1,600bhp at 300rpm
Screws: 2
Speed: 15 knots
Passengers: six first class

The Zealandic was featured in 'The Motor Ship' February & March 1928.

Page added January 6th 2010

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