== History == May 1942. Requisitioned by R.A.N.
Dec 6th. 1943. Commisioned by the R.A.N. as "H.M.A.S. Poyang". Pennant FY 20. as a stores/supply ship. Employed in T.P.N.G., Phillipines and South Pacific waters.
Aug 1945. Returned to CNCo. However due to industrial action in Sydney it was August 1st 1946 before the vessel was returned to CNCo. in her prewar peace time condition. John Storey being 1st Mate, had the difficult job of organizing the repairs, to return the vessel to her prewar condition.
February 1963. Sold to Power Navigation Ltd. Hong Kong. Almost immediately resold to Steering Line, Hong Kong. Renamed "Bali Steer"
May 1964. Transferred to Steering line Co. S.A., Panama.
June 1965. Delivered at Pnom Penh, and became the "Rosalina" of Cia.Nav. Viento del Sur, Panama. Owners, Lam Soon Shipping Co.Ltd., Singapore.
May 1969. Laid up in Singapore due to engine defects which were not economical to repair.
April 9th.1970. Delivered to National Shipbreakers Pte. Ltd., Singapore, for scrapping.
Events / Stories
At the beginning of the 1960s, CNCo still maintained a service to North China ports, as the tail end of its important pre-war coastal trade. The ships were the veteran steamers, Poyang II, Pakhoi III , Hupeh II , and Hunan II . In the following extract from some memoirs of more than 30 years’ service with CNCo, Captain Bryan Gilbert Dixon Ward, who joined the Company in 1955, recalls his first experience of the port of Tientsin (Tianjin), as master of Poyang II in the winter of 1961-62. The Chief Engineer was the late Archibald Duncan Blue, who later published many articles on the history of the Yangtze and China coast trades.
“Archie was a very experienced Chief Engineer, and a man of very considerable wisdom. I recognised, even then, the insight of Management who appointed him to a ship which called at his home port (Hong Kong), and also happened to be commanded by more than its fair share of brand new captains.
I was recently transferred from the sunny warm waters of the South West Pacific area and I was, to say the least, intrigued when, having battled our way from Hong Kong against the North East Monsoon, we eventually arrived in the calmer waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, to find that the lock gates into the river at Taku were jammed with ice.
After entering Taku port and lightening the ship to achieve the required draught, we left the next morning for the eight-hour trip up the river to Tientsin itself. This was one of the most interesting experiences of my nautical career.
We steamed along breaking ice throughout the whole trip. Armed with Archie Blue’s experience, I was ready for this, but even he had forgotten to mention the noise a steel ship makes when breaking ice. It was quite necessary to shout to make oneself heard on the bridge.
I suppose the ice was not more than six inches thick, for it seemed not to impede the ship at all, but it was quite hard and as the ship cut a way for itself, large plates of ice would be first broken off and forced down into the water then, as the ship went past, leap out of the water astern onto the unbroken ice at the side of the channel cut by the ship.
I suppose we made about four knots or so through the ice and as we approached the villages along the riverbank it was apparent that the population regarded the ice as a convenient bridge and passing ships as a distraction that should in no way interrupt the crossing traffic.
The drill seemed to be for the pilot to start blowing the ship’s whistle as soon as he saw a buffalo hauling its rubber-tyred cart across the river ahead and continuing to do so until some result was apparent. This would cause the driver of the cart to dismount and encourage the buffalo, by means of a large bamboo pole, to make its best speed to the safety of the riverbank.
Now those who have been fortunate enough to drive along an English country lane will know that any attempt to encourage cattle of any persuasion to get out of the way quickly results in the beast stopping dead in its tracks to stare at the intrusion into its peace of mind. Of course, eventually they always move, but always at the last possible moment - as judged by the beast, not by the man charged with accounting for the mishaps of the vehicle careering towards it.
So our progress up the river was marked by the cacophony of the breaking ice, accompanied by the bellow of the ship’s whistle. The whole interspersed by myself trying to persuade the pilot, (at the top of my voice), to slow the ship down before we sank a buffalo, and the pilot trying to explain to yet another New Boy Captain, (at the top of his voice), that it was all quite a normal procedure.
Another cause for concern was that as we passed one village, a body of manly youth erupted onto the ice from among the houses and proceeded to leap onto the skittering plates of ice thrown up by the ship’s progress, and ride them for all the world like the surfers I was used to on the Pacific shores of Australia.
I had visions of being charged with driving a ship so as to cause danger to pedestrians, or having to explain some other complication to the Marine Superintendent when I got back to Hong Kong.
It seemed a positive recipe for a broken ankle to me, but the pilot dismissed the incident, and when the ship moved away, and no drownings or injuries to mark our progress, I regained my composure and resumed haranguing the pilot as we approached the next village using the river as bridge, and he started blowing the whistle again.
Archie Blue later expressed the opinion that while the ice might not slow the ship down, the amount of steam consumed by the whistle, as opposed to the engine, may well have done so. Of course, as Chief Engineer Officer, he was in charge of the steam, and no doubt noticed such things more readily than those of us standing on the bridge being anointed with the proceeds of the condensed steam from the top of the funnel every time the whistle was blown.
Tientsin of course is the port for Beijing, and as such figured largely in CNCo’s scheme of things prior to 1949. I was conscious as we steamed up the river that I was doing what hundreds of CNCo masters had done before me, and had I been born a few years earlier, this might have been the core of my experience with the company.
It was when we came to leave Tientsin that I discovered why so many of the China Navigation Company’s ships were around 315 feet long. This was an apparently magic number that none of my generation could account for. Theories varied from the length of the building slips at Scotts’ of Greenock, to a step in the scale of costs for anti-piracy insurance. In fact it was the maximum length of a ship that could be turned around in the Turning Basin at Tientsin.
The Turning Basin was a circular brick-built area just up river from the berth. The method employed was to move the ship ahead alongside the wall just downstream from the Turning Basin, then pass a mooring rope (the Turning Spring), from the outside of the stern, round the after end of the ship and along the wall, to be secured to a bollard upriver ahead of the ship and beyond the turning basin. When the moment was judged right, all the moorings except the turning spring were let go, and the second officer on the poop given the word to “Heave on the spring”.
The result was awe-inspiring to say the least. As soon as the weight came on the spring the stern was pulled towards the wharf and the bow was pushed out into the river current. This swept the bow away from the wharf and downriver, while the crew aft hove for all their might with the steam winch clanking away as if to burst and emitting vast clouds of steam in the cold air. The critical point was that the stern of the ship had to be pulled upstream level with the centre of the turning basin (and thus the widest part of the river), at the same time as the river current swung the bow past the same spot.
Perhaps as an engineer, the delicacy of this act of seamanship was not apparent to Archie Blue, or perhaps he had a more highly developed sense of humour than I realised. Be that as it may, he failed to warn me about this manoeuvre, and as we prepared to turn the ship, it became all too apparent that if things were not judged just right the ship would not fit into the space allocated to it. In fact it would be jammed across the downriver curves of the Turning Basin with ice piling up against the upriver side. My mind refused to consider what might develop after that.
As we left Tientsin on that cold December morning, I was convinced that in spite of all my training, a promising career was about to be cut short.
In retrospect, I see that the Tientsin harbour pilot was amusing himself, (or allowing me to amuse him), while he did a thing he had been doing in exactly the same way for years. The headlines were let go, the after-winch clanked, and the ship spun round in the allotted space without the dreadful crash of steel against masonry and the cloud of brick dust which I was expecting. In no time at all we were steaming down river, grinding our way through the ice again, and I was preparing myself for the return match with the buffaloes crossing the ice, and eight hours of whistle blowing.
My dignity was intact inasmuch as I kept my eyes open throughout the turning manoeuvre. That was a credit to my training.”