58 years since`Ruahine' delivery

Yesterday was the anniversary of the delivery of the last motor, passenger-cargo liner to be built for the New Zealand Shipping Company's United Kingdom New Zealand trade.

Ruahine, third ship of the name in the fleet, was handed over at John Brown's Clydebank shipyard on May 3, 1951.

But it is now 80 years since this company pioneered the introduction of this type of vessel, powered by diesel machinery, to the same trade.

And again these notable, 16.700-ton twin-funnelled liners came from the same famous Clydebank shipyard.

First to be completed, in January 1929, was Rangitiki.

The ship was joined by Rangitata in October 1929, then by Rangitane two months later.

Designed to carry 599 passengers in three classes, this was altered to 595 passengers in two classes, during 1933.

When new, these 15-knot, twin-screw ships were modern, state-of-the-art vessels, compared to the company's other steam passenger liners on the run.

Their entry into service brought about the disposal of the 1900-built Rimutaka in 1930, and Ruapehu of 1901, a year later.

The new trio also operated alongside Ruahine of 1909 , as well as Remuera and Rotorua, both dating from 1911.

In 1938, they were joined by Rimutaka, built as Mongolia in 1923, and chartered from the P&O Steam Navigation Company.

Three of the ships were lost to enemy action within four months of each other on homeward-bound voyages from New Zealand in 1940, Remuera on August 26, and Rotorua on December 12.

Rangitane was sunk by the German raiders Orion and Komet, 515km north of East Cape on November 27, on a voyage home from Auckland.

After the war, Rangitiki and Rangitata were refitted in 1948 and 1949 respectively by their builders.

They returned to this trade with berths for just over 400 passengers in two classes.

When new, the pair were fitted with two sets of five-cylinder Sulzer diesels that had a combined output of 9300bhp and gave a speed of 15 knots.

During their refits, this machinery was replaced by two six-cylinder Doxford units whose output of 15,000bhp gave an increase of speed to 16 knots.

In 1949, the company took delivery of its two largest passenger ships, Rangitoto (21,809gt) from Vickers-Armstrongs, Walker-on-Tyne, in August, and the 21,867gt Rangitane from John Brown's four months later.

With the introduction of these 17-knot, 416 one-class ships, Ruahine was disposed of in 1949 and Rimutaka the following year.

The former went on to serve other interests until scrapped in 1957, while the latter lasted until 1965, when it suffered the same fate.

As for Rangitiki, it made its last visit here on March 11, 1961, and Rangitata on March 1, 1962.

Both were sold for demolition later that year.

Rangitoto made its last appearance here on August 30, 1961, and Rangitane on July 12, 1962.

The 17,851gt, 267-berth, one-class Ruahine visited Port Chalmers for the first time on November 22, 1951.

It called here for the last time on its 14th visit on September 13, 1967.

By then, the yellow funnel that identified NZSCo ships had been replaced by the Federal Line's colours after it had been transferred to this associated company in December 1966.

After being withdrawn from the New Zealand trade, the three post-war vessels ended up in the C. Y. Tung Group's fleet in 1968-69.

And while Ruahine, renamed Oriental Rio, was broken up in 1974, Rangitoto (Oriental Carnaval) and Rangitane (Oriental Esmeralda) both lasted for another two years.

 

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