Burns Philp & Co Ltd - T.S.S. Marella 1920 to 1948, then owned by an Panamanian Italian Line with the ship changing names three times from 1948 to 1954,

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer

Please Note: All ssmaritime as well as my other related maritime & cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960, but although retired and unwell, I occasionally attempt to write an article now and then, in order to bring enjoyment and pleasure to ship enthusiasts past passengers and crew.

 

Photographs are from the ssMaritime historic collection - unless stated otherwise

The T.S.S. Marella was a 7,475 GRT (Gross Registered Ton) passenger-cargo liner that was originally constructed by “Reiherstieg Co” in Hamburg for the German “Woermann Line”. This well built steel twin-screw steamship was launched on June 6, 1914, and was duly named “Hilda Woermann”. The ship was intended for the Company service between Germany and South Africa, however due to the war her completion was delayed and she remained unfinished at the builders’ fit-out berth.

Finally work was restarted and she was completed and handed over to the “Woermann Line” in November 1916, but was renamed “Wahehe” in 1917, and she was used for the next 12 months as an accommodation ship until the war ended in November 1918.

In December 1918, the S.S. Wahehe was handed over to the “Shipping Controller” in London as one of the Wartime reparations. The “Wahehe” was placed under the Management of “Shaw Savill & Albion Co” and at first she was used as a troop transport ship to return soldiers from various nearby regions.

A postcard of the S.S. Wahehe seen in her “Shaw Savill & Albion” livery

However, between May 1919 and June 1920 the S.S. Wahehe made three return voyages to Australia and New Zealand, in order to return Australian and New Zealand soldiers’ home, as well collecting British soldiers’ from various locations on the return leg and taking them home.

Finally the “Wahehe” was purchased from the Shipping Controller, London by Burns Philp & Co. Ltd and she was renamed mid “Marella” in 1920.

Burns Philp Story:

It was in 1883 that Burns Philp and Company Limited were formed by amalgamating various businesses in Sydney and Queensland that had operated in the names of “James Burns and Robert Philp & Company”. With James Burns as chairman of directors, the company expanded rapidly with a number of steamers operating from Australian ports to various Pacific Islands as well as serviced to New Zealand and South-East Asia, including calls to Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Burns Philp House Flag

Robert Philps was the Managing Director of Queensland Operations. And had diverse business interests that included Copra Plantations as well as the Pearling Industry. They had a good number of ships registered at the main ports’ of their most frequented calls. Their South Seas Division was created after a complete takeover of their subsidiary “Robbie, Kaad & Co”, being re-titled and removing area (Pacific) control from Sydney to the Fiji headquarters specific to the Islands' trades. Other subsidiaries as Hong Kong and the Papua-New Guinea Ltd also existed. The changing times during the 1960’s, especially due to the massive discounted airline competition as well as the arrival of new and advanced cargo handling, including containerisation, combined with Union demands for Australian crewing, which came together with an ageing fleet saw the Parent Company cease all Australian shipping operations by 1970. However, Burns Philp will always hold a greatly appreciated and much loved name within the Australian Passenger Shipping History, for ships like the Marella and their very last ship the famous Bulolo were outstanding ships!

T.S.S. Marella:

Having been obtained in October 1920, the now renamed T.S.S. “Marella” headed for Sydney where she was given an extensive internal refit and when completed she was placed on the lengthy Australia to Indonesia and Singapore service.

Provided by Dave Wilding

Above Dave Wilder kindly sent me the above image, the cover of the Marella’s Deck Plan, but sadly the plan section beside it was only a partial one. If anyone can assist me with a full deck plan, I will be most grateful - Email me at rg@ssmaritime.com!

As records prove, the Marella and her voyages became extreamly popular as she was such a beautiful and a luxuriously appointed liner being known for her lavish interiors as her fittings included fine marble, but also having some magnificent timbers in her main lounges and her luxuriously appointed First Class Dinning Room featuring large windows. However, as the photograph below proves her Second Class Dinning Room was also of a high standard, being spacious and certainly a light and bright venue having large windows. In addition, she was the first Passenger Liner to boast a fully fitted tilled swimming pool.

The Second Class Dinning Saloon

Thus holiday travellers who enjoyed the idea of an extended ocean vacation visiting many colourful ports decided to book a full round voyage, in many ways making the T.S.S. Marella one of Australia’s first luxury cruise ships!

Sailing Schedule cover; December 1934 to November 1935 and inside cover

Her ports were as follows: Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville, Thursday Island, Darwin, Sourabaya, Samarang, Batavia (Jakarta), Singapore and return.

Sailing Schedule; December 1935 to November 1936

As of December 1935 her ports were as follows: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville (optional), Thursday Island, Darwin, Sourabaya, Samarang, Batavia & Singapore. She could also call at other Queensland and Javanese ports depending on cargo requirements.

A fine postcard of the T.S.S. Marella passing Bradley’s Heads, Sydney

A Great Ballerina Tours Queensland in 1929/1930:

T.S.S. Marella arrived in Townsville (Queensland, Australia) on the morning of March 23, 1929, on board was the world famous extraordinary passenger Ballerina Anna Pavlova. Of course it was pre-arranged that photographers and the press would be able to come on board and Miss Pavlova posed in a deckchair for a photographer after which she left this beautiful ship, and she had greatly enjoyed her voyage on her, even though there had been a last day of poor weather. As she stepped ashore Anna Pavlova was greeted by the countless locals who had gathered at the dock to greet the world’s most famous ballet dancer.

Anna Pavlova poses in a deckchair on board the T.S.S Marella

With grateful thanks to the Mitchell Library

Pavlova was accustomed to taking her art to the world for over 15 years, but this was to be the beginning of one of the strangest tours of her life. Over the next week she and her extensive troupe of dancers travelled through North Queensland on a whistle stop tour, travelling on a train that was especially provided for her by “Queensland Railways”.

The Pavlova Train supplied by Queensland Railways

With grateful thanks to the Mitchell Library

The reason why she disembarked and danced in Townsville first was as follows.

The 1929 tour should have made its official opening in the Capital City of the State of QueenslandBrisbane”; however the “Marella” had been delayed by some poor weather conditions, but also some loading problems in Singapore during Miss Pavlova’s voyage from Surabaya to Australia. In addition the ship had to stop briefly in Darwin for cargo reasons, prior to heading for Townsville, and other ports of call at the last minute was all part of the ships and passenger contract, which had been agreed upon by the passenger before departure.

However, there was also another and a greater problem, but this had been at the Brisbane end, for the first performances of the tour were scheduled for J. C. Williamsons’ newly refurbished Brisbane Theatre, “His Majesty’s” in Queen Street, in the City centre. But sadly many renovations tend to run late and this one was no exception to say the least!

Whilst the ballet troupe was still in south-east Asia, Australia had cabled Victor Dandre, Pavlova’s manager and de facto husband:

“Can you extend Eastern tour, arriving Brisbane second April. Failing this propose arranging Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Maryborough, before Brisbane”.

Early in February 1929, Dandre replied:

“Impossible extend tour must leave Surabaya March 8 arriving Townsville 19, stop. How many performances you think given in small cities. We could give two different programs composed of one ballet and two acts of divertissements. Without scenery in black curtains, stop”.

And therefore the provincial tour itinerary was settled, but they had to cancel their date at Maryborough.

In Townsville, the first show took place at the Wintergarden Theatre on March 23, the very day as the ship arrived. The performance commenced rather late, and as you can imagine there were rushed rehearsals at the theatre as the travelling trio, being a pianist, cellist and a violinist were supplemented by a locally recruited small orchestra, who were faced with the scores for “Walpurgis Night”, “The Fairy Doll”, and six divertissements, including the famous “Dying Swan”.

After a second show on March 25, the company travelled overnight to Mackay for one performance at the packed out Olympic Theatre on March 26, then on to Rockhampton the following day. The critic for The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin was so excited by the show at the local Wintergarden that they a raving review including some lines from Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis”.

After the show the dancers raced back to the station for their third overnight train journey, this time to Bundaberg on March 28, where there had been a great deal of advance publicity in the local Daily News and another greatly loved performance! It was back on the train the next day for their final journey to Brisbane.

The company opened in Brisbane on March 30 for an 11-performance run, for which locals queued from early in the morning every day in order to obtain their tickets.

It was sad that Anna Pavlova’s Australian audiences were among some the last to see the great Ballerina dance. Her long Australian tour finally ended in July 1930, as Anna Pavlova passed away on January 23, 1931, aged just 49 from Pleurisy whilst performing in The Hague, the Netherlands. But her great legacy lives on and she will never be forgotten!

I have always greatly loved Classical Music, Opera and the Ballet, Reuben Goossens.

The Marella is seen on one of her rare visits’ to Portland located south-west of Victoria

It is around 355 klm west from Melbourne

 

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A postcard of the Marella is seen in Sydney during the construction

of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on December 22, 1930

The Marella continued to be a greatly favoured ship with the public and she tended to be fully booked in both classes, both for round voyages, as well as passengers travelling one way to and from various ports.

A postcard of the T.S.S. Marella leaving Brisbane heading towards Moreton Bay and then out to sea

However, as the 30’s was coming to an end, it became obvious that War was heading our way!

World War Two:

The T.S.S. Marella was required for War duties from 1939 to 1945. At first between 1939 and 1941, the Marella transported troops and passengers from southern Australian ports to Darwin and Singapore thankfully without incident. On December 3, 1941, during a voyage to Singapore the Marella was stopped in Darwin by the Australian Naval Authorities and after she discharged her cargo, she then had to transfer all her passengers to the Burns Philp that had arrived, the 4,057 GRT, S.S. Montoro which would continue the voyage.

The S.S. Montoro 1911 to 1955

(Use the link to her feature located at the bottom of this page)

Photograph provided by Mr. David Levinson Liverpool UK

The Marella would now make 24 voyages to and from Darwin. One of these voyages included when the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion embarked in Darwin on December 30, 1941, and she headed for Port Moresby.

Later in 1942 the T.S.S Marella was taken over by the Australian Commonwealth Government, and she was taken to a shipyard where she was armed and provided with naval gunners, yet she was never officially Commissioned by the Navy.

She now sailed flying the Red Ensign and was still crewed with Burns Philp Merchant seaman, but the Navy utilised her to carry troops, guns, stores, munitions etc for forces wherever they were located in Asia and the Pacific.

She carried troops to Torokina on Bougainville, but on nearing Torokina with a US Pilot in control, believe it or not, the Marella ran aground but was soon refloated.

The Marella is seen with Troops on board

Amazingly in 1945, a New Zealand aircraft on take off mistakenly dropped a bomb, which exploded in the harbour close by the Marella and the blast bent the Marella’s propeller blades. However, she managed to limp back to Sydney where she headed into dry-dock arriving on November 12, 1945.

Her Final years with Burns Philp:

T.S.S. Marella was returned to Burns Philp in 1946, and she was also given a refit ensuring that she was her luxury old self! She returned to her original service Australian ports to Indonesia and Singapore, and she continued until late in 1948. The truth was that the old girl was now almost 35 years old, and it was decided to sell her as new ships had joined the fleet. One of these was the magnificent 6,397 GRT, T.S.M.V. Bulolo, which I have her online together with other Burns Philp ships. (Use the link to her feature located at the bottom of this page).

A final postcard of the T.S.S. Marella

It was a sad day when the still beautiful looking T.S.S. Marella departed Sydney for the very last time on Tuesday November 2, 1948, bound for Singapore, as she had been sold to an Italian owned, but Panamanian registered shipping company named, “Cia Navigation”.

The ships sad final years:

Upon arrival in Singapore the Marella was handed over to her new owners who renamed her, “Captain Marcos”. She then departed Singapore and headed for Italy where she was refitted, with one of the major changes was that most of her cargo spaces were converted into the most basic of passenger accommodations, being mainly huge dormitories, for males and females, with the most basic toilet and bathing facilities. Upon completion in October 1949, she was now able to accommodate 950 passengers on a ship small ship that was designed to have no more than 250 passengers.

S.S. Captain Marcos commenced her new career by making a single voyage from Genoa to Valparaiso in Chile in October 1949, then for some reason the company renamed her Liguria”. During the summer months of 1950 she was used to transport “Holy Year” Pilgrims from the USA to Italy and they would head to Rome and enjoy all the celebrations there, after which they would return to the US.

In the meantime the company had managed to obtain an official charter from the “International Refugee Organisation” (IRO), and take displaced persons who were chosen to go to Australia on a ship that became better known as a “Hell at Sea!”

The S.S. Liquria she looks OK externally, but her interiors were not what they used to be, to say the least

Then on November 19, 1950, S.S. Liguria departed Bremerhaven, Germany bound for Newcastle, Australia with 950 IRO refugees packed on board, many were Jewish families from Hungary, Yugoslavia and Poland and others displaced persons from the same regions. This, what was considered as a small ship was so over crowded and for ladies with babies, the voyage was to say the least terrible, for they seldom managed to get out of their accommodations in order to get a breadth of fresh air, and the ship always seemed to smell so bad. Passengers did note that the ship was far slower than what she should have been, and once they had passed through the Suez Canal and entered the Indian Ocean they had no idea that there were serious problems down in the engine room, and then suddenly one day the ship came to a complete stop and they knew that they were so close to Australia, yet way out at sea.

On January 12, 1951, as the Liguria was wallowing in heavy seas in the Indian Ocean around 450 miles from the port of Fremantle (Perth), for those problems down below had suddenly come to the fore, as she there was a major engine problem and the Liguria finally broke down and could go no further. The captain radioed Perth for aid.

The first ship to arrive was another IRO ship, the 7,821-ton S.S. Florentia with 1,300 persons aboard on Saturday January 13 and she remained with Liguria for 14 hours, until a ship arrived, which was more powerful to tow her to Fremantle faster.

The S.S. Florentia was another over crowded migrant ship, which was owned by the same company as the S.S. Liquria

PS: In 1952, the Florentia was painted all white and was given the same funnel livery as the Liquria

For the record, I have added some of the News Paper articles below regarding the incident; 

“The WEST AUSTRALIAN”

Perth, Wednesday 17, 1951

MIGRANT SHIP STANDS BY THE LIGURIA FOR 14 HOURS

“After having stood by the disabled migrant ship Liguria (7,475 tons) off the West Australian coast for 14 hours during the weekend, the Italian-manned migrant vessel Florentia (7,821 tons) reached Fremantle yesterday. She was the first vessel to go to the assistance of the Liguria. The master of the Florentia (Capt. L. Vincenzo) said yesterday that arrangements were being made on Saturday for his ship to take the Liguria in tow when it was learnt that the British freighter Chandpara was going to the assistance of the crippled vessel

It was considered preferable that the Chandpara should undertake the tow because she had more speed than the Florentia, which would have had to risk the possibility of at least another few days at sea with 1,297 passengers aboard.

While he was standing by the Liguria, Capt. Vincenzo said a motor launch was sent from the Liguria requesting lubricating oil and supplies of sugar. “We were able to supply the oil, which was for her engines,” he said, “but we were not able to send her any sugar. We had 620 children aboard the Florentia and we needed what supplies of sugar we had for them.”

At the time, the Liguria's engines were stopped. He was not able to ascertain the cause or degree of seriousness of the engine trouble, but the second message he received from the Liguria on Friday asked for immediate assistance. The Florentia reached the Liguria at 12.10 p.m. on Saturday and did not resume her voyage to Fremantle until 2.20 a.m. on Sunday. By this time, the Chandpara had arrived to take the Liguria in tow”.

SHIPS DUE TODAY

“Good progress was being made with the 450-mile tow to Fremantle yesterday and, according to a report received from the Chandpara, the vessels are expected to reach Gage Roads about noon today. The tug Uco may then be called on to assist in the berthing of the Liguria at No. 8 North Wharf.

As it is possible that the Liguria will be delayed at Fremantle for some time while engine repairs are carried out, it is expected that the 930 displaced persons in the vessel will be transferred to the “Nelly”, at present at Fremantle is awaiting orders. The displaced persons are bound for Newcastle in New South Wales”.

M.S. Chandpara

“The West Australian” (Perth) reported on Monday 15, 1951:

DISABLED MIGRANT SHIP IN TOW

Aid from Freighter - After a Tug Pay Dispute & Deadlock

“After wallowing in heavy seas 450 miles north-west of Fremantle for more than two days, the disabled Panamanian migrant ship Liguria (7,475 tons), with 930 displaced persons aboard, was taken in tow yesterday by the British freighter Chandpara (7,274-tons). They are expected to reach Fremantle about Wednesday morning.

On Saturday night, after a conference with their Communist union official, crew members of the tug Uco refused to take their tug to sea to go and to the aid of the Liguria because of a deadlock over wages and conditions for the trip.

On learning of the deadlock late on Saturday, the Liguria's agent at Fremantle (Mr. R. G. Lynn) arranged for the SS Chandpara to be diverted to the vessel's assistance. The Chandpara reached the crippled migrant ship about 1 a.m. yesterday and the tow started at 8 a.m. Later in the day it was reported that a speed of six knots was being maintained and the seas, which had been rough, were moderating. The ship had one engine completely out of commission as well as other mechanical problems.

Another passenger vessel, the Florentia (7,821 tons), with 1,300 persons aboard, also altered course to go to the assistance of the Liguria early yesterday. Later in the morning when it was realised that the Chandpara had reached the disabled vessel, the Florentia resumed her voyage to Fremantle, where she is now due today instead of late yesterday.”

Although the newspaper story above stated that the Liguria “is now due today” the 16th, but she really arrived at Fremantle on Wednesday January 17.

Her passengers disembarked and thankfully her passengers were able to board another much better and far more reliable German migrant ship, the M.S. Nelly which would take them to their destination at Newcastle. Passengers noted that suddenly they received ample clean drinking water, fruit juices and ample good food, something they had not received on the Liguria as well the Nelly was spotless!

The Liguria remained in Fremantle for a huge list of repairs that would take until August to complete. Whilst she was in the shipyard for repairs, also there were number legal writs and finally a massive repair bill.

Renamed again:

After the repairs were completed in August 1951, she was immediately renamed “Corsica” and she returned to Europe to commence her next voyage from Limassol.

S.S. Corsica was “Hell at Sea”:

This now rapidly aging ship was about to undertake her next voyage, and she was sent to Limassol in Cyprus where she was to collect 761 Cypriot migrants who had paid their passage to Australia on December 12, 1951 - BUT?

The Corsica departed Limassol late with 761 Cypriot migrants for Australia, and she was the first ship to leave Cyprus with so many emigrants. She for Fremantle and Melbourne and was due to end her voyage in Sydney (BUT?). The voyage was described by a woman passenger as “Hell at Sea” for the ship was nothing more than “a floating slum, due to the horrendous conditions on this ship”.

Although the Corsica was scheduled to depart Limassol on December 12, but the truth is that she simply did not turn up on the scheduled date, but she arrived a day late, which caused her all her awaiting passengers much grief and great discomfort to say the least as you will soon discover. Thus the Corsica arrived and departed Limassol on December 13, with her ports of call being; Port Said (Egypt), then proceeding through the Suez Canal to Massawa (Eritrea), then Djibuti (French Somalie), next Colombo (Ceylon) then arriving at Fremantle (Australia) on January 25, 1952. This now miserable and very tired old ship was delayed at Fremantle for a few days by the Australian Government before it was allowed to continue its voyage to Melbourne and Sydney, although she never made it to Sydney as I will explain below. Those passengers who were due to go to Adelaide in South Australia disembarked in Melbourne and the Australian Government had arranged passage on a train to the City of Adelaide.

However, this voyage was without a doubt a disgusting experience, and certainly not one that was fit for human beings, just like her passengers so clearly recorded. Apparently there were countless problems experienced throughout the voyage on the Corsica, and I have been told that this include “a cargo of rotting potatoes that stank throughout the ship, and the absence of fresh drinking water throughout the voyage as well as filthy toilets that were hardly fit for humans to use, in addition, they were permitted just one sea water shower per week,” and the list just went on.

I was advised that that once the ship departed Limassol on December 13, 1951, it became almost immediately apparent that there was a terrible smell throughout the ship. It was discovered that there were a hold full of sacks with rotten potatoes that had ruined and rotted due to the heat and humidity even prior to the ships arrival, a passenger stated the following;

“Hell at Sea”:

“For some weird reason it was not until the ship eventually docked in Colombo that was a month later, that the captain ordered the crew to dump those filthy stinking potatoes overboard into the ocean. But, even after they had been finally dumped, that terrible stink remained throughout the ship for the rest of the voyage, which we were forced to suffer. And our hell just kept on going and we could not wait to get off this hell hole! This ship from the day we boarded until we were finally got off her was like being on Hell at Sea.”

Below are just some more S.S. Corsica passengers recollections, they are sad stories indeed. All these stories were provided to me by the now; late Mr. Costas Michaelides.

Please Note: The stories below had been slightly edited for readability sake and flow, but they remain completely in context.

Our Voyage on the S.S. Corsica:

“I was only a young man when I sailed on the Corsica and I was travelling with some of the men from my village. The Corsica was due to depart Limassol on December 12, 1951, but when we arrived there with all our families, we discovered that the ship for some reason had not arrived. Thus we had no choice but to stay the night in Limassol. There were so many people stranded there, and no-one knew what was going on, or why our ship was not there. There were of those who had sufficient money and they were able to find some sleeping quarters. Then the Corsica arrived the next day and believe me, that ship looked nothing like we were told by the travel agency staff back at home. Even before we left Cyprus, the ship was a huge disappointment. When we arrived in Colombo, we were told that the ship had to stay there for four days as some repairs where required to be done and also they had to dump those stinking potatoes into the sea that had plagued us since early in the voyage. Also the ship had to refuel. The gangplank from ship to shore certainly was not very safe for I remember one poor mother and her daughter who fell into the water between the ship and the wharf as they were walking down that rickety gangplank. Luckily, some men who were able to swim jumped into the water and saved them.”

“Ship of Horrors”:

“I was a seventeen old girl when I sailed on this ship of horrors, the Corsica. I was with my brother, and we where on our way to be with our family in Australia. I remember the stench from the rotten potatoes on-board. The conditions on-board, especially the toilets were just beyond disgusting for they were cleaned on an occasional basis, if lucky, I honestly don’t know how we survived it. We were allowed to have a shower just once a week using some horrible soap that would not even lather. It was all very difficult and we thanked God when we were allowed to get off this ship.”

“A floating Prison and it was more like a Slum”:

“The truth is the ship was more like a floating prison and it was more like a slum, as we were living in conditions we had never lived in. It is not that we did not pay, almost everyone had to borrow money and to buy passage on this hell ship, but we never received a ticket, when we finally board, and that was a day late, your name had to be found on a passenger list. On board the food was so boring, day in day out we were given ‘macaroni’ by the Italian waiters who could not communicate with us, and then our food came on horrible tin plates. Nothing was ever arranged, thus not a single announcement was made, and there was not any entertainment of any kind. Many of us would end up in the kitchen and helped ourselves to any food we could find especially if there were good cooked potatoes, so we peeled then and eat it, for we were starving. Sleeping in our crowded quarters was so hot and humid and smelly because of those rotting and stinking potatoes in a hold somewhere, so often most would go out on deck and sleep there, it was far from comfortable, and not what my travel agent promised!”

The stories above are just some of those I have was given and believe me, these are not even the worst: This was also the first time that so many Cypriots emigrated at the one time directly on a ship from Limassol; also it was the very first time, as records show that it the voyage was so “horrendous of any migrant ship previously” that for the very first time a migrant ship was discussed by ministers in the “Australian Federal Parliament”.

Although she was due to sail as far as Sydney, but whilst the Corsica was in Melbourne on February 7, she was placed under arrest, due to a passenger who was owned money for work he had done whilst he was on board. As the ship was unable to go any further, passengers who were heading for Sydney where placed on a train to reach their destination. Below is a part of a local New Paper Clipping:

*GREEK SHIP CORSICA ARRESTED

MELBOURNE. Thursday February, 7, 1952

“Greek ship Corsica was arrested at its berth at Port Melbourne today. When the ship arrived this week she was described by passengers as a “hell-ship.” A black stowaway was taken off, and the waiters demonstrated for extra money for working in what they described as “dirty and obnoxious conditions aboard.”

Today law officers boarded the ship at Princes’ Pier and tied a Supreme Court writ to her mast, as reporters began to read it, crewmen tore it down. The pressmen were then requested to leave the ship and guards were placed at the gangway.

The writ, taken out by a passenger named Mr. Vladimir’s Petrou; alleged non-payment for work carried out between January 7 and February 2, and claimed unspecified damages.

The writ may delay the ship's departure from Melbourne. In any case, she could not sail the remainder because when she moved from Station Pier to Princes Pier for bunkering today a towrope fouled the propeller. Officers who tried to free it said that it could only be cleared by divers”. (*Of course papers get things wrong, the ship was actually Italian owned).

Two weeks later the S.S. Corsica was released and she headed back to Europe making a brief call into Adelaide on February 24.

Sadly there is nothing much recorded in regard of what happened to her after her return to Italy, but record simply show that headed to Casablanca in August 1952 and she remained idle there for just over two years.

Then in October 1954, she was sold to a Belgian ship breaker who had her towed to Ghent in Belgium where she was duly scrapped aged a good 40 years.

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Ships Specifications & Details:

Owners: Woerman Line.

. Burns Philp & Co Ltd.

. Cia Navigation.

Ship: T.S.S. “Marella”.

Official Number: 143170.

Type of Ship: Passenger-Cargo Liner.

Built at: Reiherstieg Co, Hamburg Germany.

Construction: Steel.

Launched: June 6, 1914 as the “Hilda Woermann”.

Completed; November 1917, renamed “Wahehe”.

Then Named: October 1920 “Marella”.

. November 1948, “Captain Marcos”.

. October 1949, “Liquria”.

. August 1951, “Corsica”.

Tonnage: 7,475 GRT, 4,340 NET.

Length: 426 ft - 129.8 m.

Width: 55.8 ft - 17 m.

Draught: 35.2 ft - 10.71 m.

Power: Quadruple Expansion Steam Engines.

Propellers: Two.

Speed: 14 Knots.

Passengers: 1920 - 165 First & 75 Second Class.

. 1948 - 929 steerage.

. 1950 - 950 steerage

Crew: 1920 to 1948 - 125.

. 1949 to 1952 - Unknown.

Broken Up: Ghent Belgium in December 1954.

 

In Conclusion:

Even though her final five years where, to say the least pathetic and sad times for what had been a magnificent Luxury Passenger-Cargo Liner, but I believe we should always remember her as that fine Australian liner the T.S.S. Marella!

Remembering the Delightful Australian Liner

T.S.S. Marella

She served Burns Philp & Co Ltd well from 1920 to 1948

 

Other Burns Philp Features Online

 

Also visit the TSMV Bulolo Feature

 

And read about the 1911 S.S. Montoro

 

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“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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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are: by the author or from the author’s 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 on www.ssmaritime.com only), in order that due credit may be given.

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