|Gross Registered Tonnage||grt.3,152 tons. nett 1780 tons.|
|Builder||A & J Inglis, Pointhouse, Glasgow. Yard No. 1353p.|
|Delivery date||Dec.18th. 1947.|
|Hull||Steel, clincher construction.|
|Engine Builder||Wm Doxford & Sons, Sunderland.|
|Engine Type||LB. Doxford, 2 stroke, single acting, opposed piston, direct reversing. 52LB3.|
|Engine cylinders||3 cyl, 520mm bore|
|Engine Power||1,800 bhp.|
|Propulsion mode||Single Screw|
|Boiler||Composite, exhaust gas/fuel oil.|
|Fuel||Diesel/Heavy Fuel Oil.|
|Generator||3 x 3 cylinder National.|
|Generator power||3 x 75 kw,|
|Generator voltage||220V d.c.|
|Launched||April 23rd. 1947.|
|Original owner||China Navigation Co.|
Soochow, built by C.N.Co.’s first Yangtze River builders, Inglis of Glasgow, was one of the Company’s last China coasters and became one of the first vessels to participate in the post-war Australian-Oriental joint service, which she joined in 1947. The three Cylinder Doxford main engine was salvaged from a ship which was sunk in the Manchester Ship Canal, during an air raid in WW2.
1960. Suffered an engine breakdown and anchored off Grafton on the N.S.W. coast while awaiting a tow to Brisbane by the steamship "Fukien" which was near by. It wasn't due to flat battery !!
1975. Sold to the Malaysian Shipping Corporation, Penang. her starboard side opening was plated in and the vessel used as a troop ship.
June 1984. Broken up at Kaohsiung.
In 1953, after modification at Taikoo Dockyard, Soochow was transferred to the Company’s new N.G.A.L. service, where she was engaged on a fortnightly turnaround from Sydney and Brisbane to Port Moresby and Samarai. In March 1954, Soochow carried N.G.A.L.’s first consignment of copra - although the line did not break Burns Philp’s monopoly of this trade, to carry copra on a regular basis, until the early 1970s. By 1960, Soochow loaded from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for the additional ports of Lae, Madang, Rabaul, Kaviang, and Honiara in the B.I.S.P.
From this time on, Soochow alternated between N.G.A.L. and the Australian “Intermediate” (Japan-Hong Kong-Australia) rota.
Soochow made her last voyage for the Company in June, 1967 - retained to ‘fill in’ for the Australia-Papua New Guinea Service, before the delayed arrival of the newly converted Papuan Chief I. She was then sold to Pacific International Lines of Singapore, and renamed Kota Ratu.
Events / Stories
When built it is interesting to note that the Doxford main engine had three cylinders, the three National generators, each having three cylinders.
1960, Main Engine breakdown. Terry Connell who was 2nd. Mate at the time, describes the incident, and this is reproduced here by his kind permission. Frank Hindle was Master, J.K.Davies 1st. Mate, Hamish Macdonald Chief Engineer.Fukien, diverted from Brisbane, to come to our aid. With a grand seaman-like manoeuvre she passed down our starboard side causing a cry to be heard from one lady passenger, "What a big tug", rounded our stern and slowly steamed along our port side whilst a flurry of ropes were flung across. The Fukien then went ahead of us and anchored, our intrepid Chief mate connected our chain to her towing wire. For the first time ever, at least when Frank Hindle was in command, the "Soochow" was berthed using tugs ( two in this case).
Captain Frank Hindle collapsed and died on the bridge of Soochow at 07:45 hours 14th March 1965 whilst berthing at Samarai, Papua New Guinea. He suffered his own engine failure; dying of a coronary occlusion at the age of 57. In accordance with his wife's wishes, Captain Hindle was buried at sea the following day, about the 100 Fathom line. The service being attended by the officers, crew and passengers.
(Before sale, Soochow was fumigated at Sydney. The catch by hatches was: No. 1- 420 mice; No.2 - 6 mice; No. 3 - 1 rat and 4 mice; No. 4 - 6 mice.)
For further information read:-
In Coral Seas Based on the manuscript by Martin Speyer with additional material by Mike Carolin, Edited by Howard Dick. Describes The History of the New guinea Australia line.
Published by The nautical Association of Australia