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Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author
Maiden Voyage to
With the R.M.S. Empress of England having been sold to Shaw Savill Lines on April 1, 1970, she was officially renamed S.S. Ocean Monarch on April 4, thus she had now lost the prefix R.M.S.
photograph from a
maiden arrival on May 15, 1970. Note that her aft decks have not been altered as yet!
She remained in
Rebuilding an Empress!
“The conversion is an extremely big job and has to be carried out in a comparatively short time. I would like to say that our chances on improving on the schedule are slim compared with our chances of over-running it!”
The Ocean Monarch arrived at Birkenhead on September 17, 1970 and the work commenced starting with the removal of the ships cargo holds and the major cargo handling gear, in addition there was an extensive re-design of the ship’s stern, adding new aft decks that would include a well designed Swimming Pool, including a children’s wading pool an excellent Lido Deck with a Bar.
Lounges: Directly below the new Lido Pool and Deck there was the brand new spacious “Tavern” that had a very long Bar hugging the lower pool tank. The Tavern served in the evening as a Discotheque and the ships Night Club. Whilst on the starboard side there was a Coffee Bar as well as a BBQ.
This is “The Tavern” – It had a dance floor, band stand and so much more
Obviously, this proved to be one of the most popular venues on the ships, day and night! Most of the original Empress Lounges and her dining rooms were refreshed, but remained mostly much like they were!
Internally additional cabins were added and other accommodations were refitted.
Considering that like all
Here we see one of the new built two berth cabins with private facilities
This is one of the original four berth cabins (almost unchanged), which can be sold as a twin
or a three berth as well, but it has no private facilities
For more interior and exterior photo’s go to Page Three!
Sadly, the refit took much longer
than it had originally been stated by Cammell Laird as she should have been
ready to sail in June 1971. But due to the delay the original
However, the work on the Ocean Monarch was constantly slowed down with problems, such as Union unrest and thus ongoing strikes. She was due to be ready to depart on her very first cruise on April 23, 1971, but this would not eventuate and she was finally completed and ready to sail on September 17, 1971. Tragically as a result Shaw Savill were forced to cancel seven out of the eight cruises they had planned for the UK summer and due to this they lost a massive £12 million in revenue. In addition, the final cost of the ships refit had also doubled to £4 million, and Cammell Laird had had made a loss of around £1.25 million on the job, due to their own underestimation of the refit costs, but also due to the slowing of the work due to the ongoing union strikes that impeded the work. How typically British of those days!
Thus, the Ocean Monarch was able to operate just a single cruise departing
Here we see the newly built up stern of a gleaming white Ocean Monarch ready to depart
Completion: Having returned she departed
bow of the Ocean Monarch at
For the next five months she
operated cruises out of
we see the SS Ocean Monarch at
by & © Mr. Dennis McMillan, provided by
She had been originally scheduled
to make just two long cruises from
“We were onboard during our later cruise
when the crew went on a mass strike and remained mostly on the wharf in
For this reason the Ocean Monarch could not
depart and she remained in
This is a delightful Shaw Savill Publicity poster of the SS Ocean Monarch that was sent to agents
Please respect my © Copyright as the poster is my property!
Being so large, having photographed it I have placed a slightly larger version online for you to enjoy!
Click the IMAGE to see it
When the photograph appears click on it once and it will enlarge again
the time Ocean Monarch returned to
But sadly, the
old girl began to suffer from frequent problems, mostly her with her boilers,
but also with certain other engine problems, but thankfully the ships excellent
engineers managed to keep her going, well at least for most of the time, but
with great difficulty!
Her Final Year:
occurred in May 1974 as the Ocean
Monarch departed Sydney and headed to Southampton from where she
operated another series of UK based cruises, but her schedule was again
disrupted due to further boiler problems, which as I had stated above had been
ongoing for some time, but at least this time she was close to home. But it
appeared that it had now become so bad not even the ships engineers could
handle it. These problems would finally seal her fate, yet, at first it seemed
that she had been repaired and the SS Ocean Monarch being a ship that was
really “not too well” but
Ocean Monarch back in
But she did not last
very long in
Here a sad looking Ocean Monarch is seen in Dry-Dock in 1975
The end has come for the SS Ocean Monarch!
With emergency work completed,
the once great RMS Empress of
sad farewell to the a not such an old ship as she finally departs
A most miserable looking Ocean Monarch seen whilst on her final legs and sadly looking a mess!
Following the Ocean Monarch‘s arrival at Southampton on June 5, 1975, the ship had been sold to Taiwanese ship breakers and she departed Southampton just eight days later, on June 13, and reached Kaohsiung on July 17. Upon arrival she was handed over to “Chi Shun Hwa Steel Co Ltd,” and they commenced breaking her up on October 12, 1975.
Farewell “Great White Empress” and Ocean Monarch, for since her original maiden voyage of the Empress of England to the Ocean Monarch being broken up the once fine, yet a sad but much loved ship was just 18 years old!
However, the SS Northern Star was much worse, as she was a disaster from the day she was built 1962 and she was sold to the breakers in November 1975 and duly broken up, aged just 16 years. More on the Northern Star in my Closing Comments below.
Amazingly the Northern Star’s earlier sister, SS Southern Cross of 1954 which Shaw Savill sold in 1973 having obtained the Ocean Monarch and the Northern Star soon to arrive, thereafter she sailed on under various names until sold to ship breakers in 2003, aged a remarkable 49 years. The truth is she could have sailed on for at least another 15 years as I had an excellent buyer for her with ample funds available, but by the time we made the offer to her owner within 24 hours, he had already signed a contact with the breakers. The ex Southern Cross was in top condition and at that time in SOLAS condition, and she would have passed her next inspection with some minor updates, as she had been fully been kept updated along the way!.
SS Ocean Monarch had been Shaw Savill’s second last major passenger liner as the SS Southern Cross, as I already stated was sold in 1973, and then there was the much newer but a sad and the ever ailing SS Northern Star, which was sold to the breakers in the same year as the Ocean Monarch, but in November of 1975. The truth is that Shaw Savill had just run out of funds to maintain their ships, between the ailing Ocean Monarch which cost them a fortune, being due to her parts being very expensive, and because when Shaw Savill had the Northern Star built, they made certain major errors in regard their engineering departments, in order to save money and did not have back up’s and used inferior pats and to be honest much worse. That stupid decision cost them far more in the long run, and this stupidity destroyed this once great company! Some may say, “How dare you say this.” Well below you will find the proof from the horses’ mouth!
“Ships such as the Ocean Monarch inspire a strong sentimental attachment, and I am sure that many of our shareholders will regret her passing, just as we do. Nevertheless, it must be said that from a financial point of view the Ocean Monarch’s disposal gives rise to nothing but a sigh of relief. She has become a loss-making worry, and there can be no surer way of improving profitability than by withdrawing her from service.”
Remembering a Beautiful, but a much Troubled Cruise Ship & Liner!
SS Ocean Monarch seen in her better days!
SS Ocean Monarch Specifications:
Built as: Empress
Built at: Vickers-Armstrongs,
Launched: May 9, 1956.
Maiden Voyage: April 18, 1957.
Tonnage: 25,585 GRT (Gross Registered Tons).
“ 13,725 Net
“ 8,910 D.W. (Dead weight).
Renamed: Ocean Monarch on April 4.
Maiden Voyage: April
11, 1970 to
Tonnage: 25,971 after refit completed in September 1971.
Length: 640ft – 195m.
Beam: 85.3 ft – 25.9m
Draught: 29ft – 8.83m.
Engines: Six Steam D.R. Steam Turbines from the builder.
Screws: Twin 30,000 SHP.
Speed: 20 knots service speed, max speed 21 knots.
Passengers: 1,327 One Class passengers on line voyages
Z 1,250 One Class passengers during cruises.
Decks: Six passenger decks, plus two top decks for crew only.
Air: Fully Air-Conditioned.
Stabilisers: Denny-Brown stabilisers.
Page Two: SS Ocean Monarch - History & Photo’s - This Page.
Page Three: SS Ocean Monarch - Photo Page.
Page Four: SS Ocean Monarch - Deck Plan.
“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
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