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Maritime Historian, Author, CruisenShip Reviewer and Maritime Lecturer
Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime & cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or travel or cruise agencies, etc! Although having been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, I am now retired but having completed features on well over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships, I trust these will continue to provide you the classic ship enthusiast the information you are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure!
The above image
shows the SS Marathon after her rebuilding in 1912
The above image shows the SS Marathon after her rebuilding in 1912
Please Note: Photographs & Images on this page are from the authors personal collection, unless mentioned otherwise!
I have had a good collection of photographs and postcard of these ships for years, but somehow I never got around to writing on them. Then I suddenly realised how neglected these two wonderful ships are, for there is really nothing about them in books, or very much online as I have been told. Thus I decided, even in my retirement to commence to slowly write on these two rather amazing passenger liners, for they were the very last of their kind, and their beauty would never be seen again!
The Aberdeen Line operated between
Their sailing vessels was soon reduced to just
one 2,093 ton ship, and she also was removed from the fleet for
the reputation of the firm would be going ahead with modern steam
passenger liners bearing time-honoured names of former ship known
as the "fliers" such as the Miltiades and Marathon!.
These two twin-screw steamers, Miltiades, 6,793 tons, and
Thus here is the story of the sail and steam
turbine engines liners between
The first postcard released by Aberdeen Line of the SS Marathon
This card was in a very poor condition, but I have carefully restored it as is now
These rather graceful passenger liners the SS
Miltiades and the
These rather graceful passenger liners the SS
Miltiades and the
With their designs complete and the Aberdeen
Line (George Thompson and Company) being totally delighted with
them, they placed an order for both the 6,795 GRT (Gross
Registered Tonnage) ships to be built by Alex Stephen & Sons
The first ship to be launched was the SS
Miltiades, which had been built in yard 401, and that occurred on
Tuesday, August 11, 1903 she was transferred to het fit-out berth
and she was very soon completed. The Miltiades departed
Newspaper clipping dated December 11, 1903
SS Miltiades seen
during her early voyages to
Next to be launched was the identical sister
the SS Marathon which was launched from yard 402 on Wednesday,
November 18, 1903. Both ships had been fitted out and completed
close together and the Marathon was delivered early in January
1904, and later that month, on January 27, she departed
The SS Marathon is seen here in 1904, but we do not know the precise date, but it could well be her maiden voyage
The Ships: The Miltiades and her sister were the very last liners of any size to be built that had that famed traditional Aberdeen Clipper Bow, which was complete with a stunning timber Figurehead. Her excellent hull was complemented by her Counter Stern! She had a black hull with red boot topping that had a thin white line above, an all white superstructure Stained timber featured on the forward superstructure of the Bridge and one deck below, being rather traditional of the day! To complete the picture she has two tall masts and a single yellow (buff) funnel making her look most elegant!
To reduce rolling in bad weather, the ships were fitted with bilge keels, and as the ships has a good beam there was ample deck space for all passengers!
First Class accommodated 90 passengers and their accommodations where located on Bridge Deck, with other cabins on Upper Deck, where the Saloon was to be found. The Drawing Room, Writing Room, and Library were located on Boat Deck, whilst the Smoking Room was on Bridge deck, and of course there was also fine Dining Room, thus there was an excellent range of public venues for First Class! Most of the accommodations were outside two-berth cabins; however there were some upper berths for of three or four. Then there were several special twin deluxe rooms that were so arranged that they could be converted into special luxury Staterooms, thus a two roomed Suite. In addition there were also a few single cabins for the solo travellers. The Captain had his quarters up on Boat deck.
Sadly to date I have not been able to locate any interior images of her public venues, or First Class cabins, etc. The same applied to Third Class public venues, but I do have one photo of a cabin, as you will see below.
Third Class was located in what was
called in those days the Poop, being the aft built up
section of the ship. It was quite spacious and it offered its
passengers a Music Room as well as a Smoking Room and a Dining
Room. Accommodation wise there was a variety of choice from two
and four berth cabins being the best available, then there were
the male and female dormitories for the Immigrants to
A Third Class four berth cabin
Cargo: Particular attention has been paid to transporting general cargo as well as frozen foods, in fact all gear used for her five holds will be the very latest and the most suitable to handle all cargos with expediency, especially the frozen food holds for those days! The refrigeration machinery was the very latest kind ever to be fitted on any ship to date, and it was be capable of maintaining a temperature as low as was required for a hold space of a 100,000 cubic feet. The smaller holds were also cooled and were be adapted for fruit, butter and chilled provisions for passengers and crew.
The SS Marathon is
seen at the Tenerife wharves
The wool stores today they have been converted into super luxury spacious apartments (condos)
An Aberdeen Line
Advertisement featuring the Miltiades and
Here we see the SS Miltiades (right) and the White Star Line SS Runic in Melbourne, both seen fully decked out
State Library of
The Days background:
Anniversary Day, is the countries official
Foundation Day and ANA Day, thus the official
National day of
Sent in by an ssMaritime supporter, but source is unknown - *Please see my Photo Notes at the bottom of the page!
The photograph above shows the
Their Rebuilding: As the Miltiades and Marathon continued their voyages, the management began to realise that they needed either to built larger ships due to the demand for these long voyages to the land of opportunity. but with the situation as it was in Europe, they felt that another solution might be better and they did decide on a rather adventurous option, and it was one of the first attempted, one that became more popular in the modern days! Lengthen the ship!
Thus in 1912 she was taken to the Alex Stephen
shipyards on July 3, 1912 to be lengthened, adding accommodations
and further facilities onboard. Externally she was given an
additional funnel, although it was a dummy, but it certainly made
her look wonderful, as with her superb bow and long sleek lines,
she looked one of the finest liners around! Upon Completion on
September 12, 1912 her tonnage had increased to 7,848 GRT. She
soon returned to her regular duties, but World War I would in due
course halt her passenger days for five years. For interest, her
sister the SS Miltiades was also lengthened and she entered the
very same yard two days after the
The ship has been cut in half, and here we look forward
Here we see a new SS Marathon on September 18, 1912
State Library of
Postcard provided by Mr. John Farthing Newport Iowa U.S.A., whose father-in-law,
Mr. Robinson sailed
to Fremantle (
A wonderful stern view of the SS Miltiades after her rebuilding
The Shaw Savill liner SS Gothic was chartered
by the Aberdeen Line to operate four voyages whilst the
Although both ships were considered to be well
built, and due to their hull configuration they were considered
as the most stable ships around, especially when it came to
roiling. And that certainly was true, but when sailing in really
bad seas such as going around the
photograph of the SS Marathon sailing around the Cape for
In 1915 both ships were requisitioned for trooping duties and having received the respective refurbishments to make them suitable as a troopship The HAMT Marathon - A74 headed for Australia as she transported many Australian soldiers and countless medical officers and staff to England, after which they went to the European front.
The Miltiades was leased by the Commonwealth of
Australia and she operated the following voyages: On February 7,
1916 it she took on board mostly Medical Officers and staff from
The Marathon is
seen in her camouflage livery arriving in
To be able to see the many soldiers onboard CLICK HERE for an extra large version 1600 pixels or 22.22 inches
State Library of
The Marathon was leased by the Commonwealth of
Australia from October 27, 1916 until July 28, 1917, and she
operated the following voyages: On October 27, 1916 berthed at
Pinkeba wharves, she took on board the 49th Battalion, 7th
Reinforcements & Medical Officers in
This is the first official Australian departure on October 27, 1916
One of those soldiers was the 19-year-old heros - Private William Ernest Foster
With thanks to the wonderful and must visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra Australia H02230
Then on May 10, 1917 the 1st Infantry
Battalion, the 25th Reinforcements, and Medical Officers boarded
The Miltiades returned to the Aberdeen Lines commercial service to Australia on June 4, 1920 and she headed for Australia once again, however as it turned out her days after her war years would be hort lived operating just two voyages.
The Miltiades seen back in service and in Australian waters
Photograph from the
late Allan Green Collection -
As when she returned from her Australian voyage toward the end of 1920 she was purchased by Royal Mail Lines and she was renamed Orcana and placed in their fleet and operated on their regular services.
Royal Mail Lines new liner SS Orcana
However, another change took place when she was
officially transferred to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company
(Pacific Line) in 1922 as a replacement for the three their
O ships that had been transferred to the
Thus on August 11, 1922 the SS Orcana commenced her intended Round South America service, that departed Liverpool and visited Montevideo, and Valparaiso, the Panama Canal then back to Liverpool. However the Pacific Line found that after her very first voyage she was far too expensive to operate and thus they laid her up. She was first laid up at Liverpool and then taken to Dartmouth where she remained until she was sold to Arie Rijsdijk Boss & Zonen in 1923, who had her towed to the Netherlands to be broken up at Hendrik-ido-Ambracht in 1923.
The Marathon returned to the Aberdeen
Line after the war, and she was again placed on the
Royal Mail new SS Oruba
In the following year the SS Oruba, was
transferred to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company and on May
26, 1921 she commenced her South American Round America Service.
In due course, when the Pacific Line decided that both ships were
proving to be too expensive to operate she was laid up in 1922,
and again like her sister, she was first laid up at Liverpool and
A delightful postcard of the SS Marathon after her rebuilding in 1912
Alex Stephen & Sons at
Miltiades 401 /
Launched: Miltiades - August 11, 1903.
Tonnage: 1903: Miltiades - 6,793 GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage).
Tonnage 1912: 7,848 GRT.
Length 1903/4: 454.10ft - 138.41m.
Length 1912: 504.10ft 153.65m.
Beam: 55.10ft 16.79m.
Moulded depth: 33ft 10.05m.
Motive Power: Triple-expansion steam-engines - 6,600 IHP.
And sails forward and aft.
Speed: 14 knots - service speed, 15.5 knots maximum.
Passengers: 90 First Class and 150 Third Class.
SS Miltiades/Orcana 1923 in the
SS Marathon/Oruba 1925 in
A ship with the ultimate classic lines seen in Australian waters!
State Library of
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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the authors private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found only on www.ssmaritime.com), in order that due credit may be given.
This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displayed on each page, that is, when a page is updated!
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