Royal Interocean Lines; MS Tjiwangi and MS Tjiluwah later known as the “The Elegant White Yachts”

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & 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 any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed well over 690 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.

Union Steam Ship Company

S.S. Waitaki

Built for: “Oamaru & Dunedin Steam Ship Co”


SS Waitaki

Author’s private collection


Many long-standing supporters may question why do you Reuben have a page on such a small, steel 412-gross ton coastal thirty five-passenger, cargo vessel online, owned by the Union Steam Ship Company (USSCo) of New Zealand. Well friends, this is for three reasons. 1. I worked for USSCo in the Wellington Head Office in the stevedoring department, and 2. I have a great love and respect for everything to do with this company. And 3. You will understand when I mention the email I received in April 2009. To date I have already written on ten other USSCo’s other fine liners - Links are provided at the bottom of the page. Best Replica Watches

SS Waitaki’s Background:

The Oamaru & Dunedin Steam Ship Company of New Zealand ordered a 412-ton all steel passenger, cargo vessel to be built by Hawes & Miramar Ship Yards at Glasgow in 1874.

On Saturday May 13, 1876 she was officially named Waitaki and was launched and taken to her fit-out berth to be completed. When completed she undertook her deep-sea trials and she sailed half way around the world to New Zealand to be delivered to her owners in Dunedin.

An advertisement from the “North Otago Times” - Volume 1654 - Issue XXVI, 8 August 1877, Page 3.


“From Oamaru. - The Oamaru and Dunedin Steam Ship Co’s SS WAITAKI, every Wednesday and Saturday at 10.80 a.m. - The Union Steamship Co’s SS SAMSON, every Monday and Thursday, at 6 p.m. From Dunedin. - The Oamaru and Dunedin Steam Ship Co’s ss WAITAKI, every Tuesday and Friday, at 7 a.m. - The Union Steamship Co.'s SS BAMBOOT every Wednesday at 9.80 p.m.


Builder:? Hawes & Miramar Ship Yards, Glasgow Scotland.

Yard Nr:?????????????????????? 200.

Launched:? Saturday, May 13, 1876.

Ship Type:?????????????????? Iron Passenger / Cargo Vessel.

Tonnage:? 412.2 GRT 228.3 Net Tons.

Length:? 164.8ft - 50.23m.

Breadth:????????????????????? 22ft - 6.71m.

Daught:? 10.25ft - 3.12m.

Propulsion:? Steam compound C2 cylinder 450 IHP - by the builder.

Screws:? Single.

Speed:???????????????????????? 10 Knots.

Passengers:????????????????? 15 First Class - 20 Steerage 1876-1879.

Passengers:????????????????? 40 Saloon Class - 20 Second 1879-1887.

Taken Over by the USSCo:

In 1979 the “OD” or the Oamaru & Dunedin Steam Ship Company was taken over by the ever-growing USSCo and she was placed on a varied coastal service until she was sold in 1883 to the Kamo Colliery Company who continued her regular coastal service, but if she carried passengers is unknown Omega Replica

Transcript from the “Otago Witness” - Saturday March 31, 1883 - Page 14.

Saturday. Arrival.”
The s.s. Waitaki arrived at Port Chalmers at 9.30 a.m. yesterday. She left Timaru at 4 p.m. on Thursday, and encountered strong S.S.W. winds and a high sea during the passage. Captain White reports that about 1 p.m. on the 22nd a strong S.S.W. squall passed over Timaru, and did considerable damage to the shipping there. The stern mooring of the Waitaki first gave way, and she swung on to the ship Ugglan's moorings, doing considerable damage to the Waitaki's rail. Next the barque Rewa broke adrift from her moorings and fouled the Ugglan, carrying away that vessel's rudder, spanker-boom, and steering gear, doing at the same time considerable damage to her own head-gear. An attempt was made by the steamers Titan and Waitaki to tow the Ugglan closer in, but owing to the strong gale and heavy sea the attempt was given up, as the ship was riding steadily; while the Waitaki was compelled to slip her anchor with 75 fathoms chain, together with her rope moorings, and stand to sea as above.

The wrecking of the SS Waitaki.

The above tragic event occurred whilst the Waitaki was under charter to the ships master, Captain Thomas John Bendall. In the very early hours of the morning of April 23, 1887 the Waitaki was still on a voyage from Napier to Wellington when due to a variety of reasons she ran ashore at Black Head. She lay in a “singular position” having run inside a sand-spit, which was an effectual protection from the southerly seas. The crew left the ship after she was stranded and whilst some sat on the beach around a camp fire the remainder went to White Rock Station to report the accident.

SS Mana arrived at the scene several days later, however heavy southerly seas were running, thus on April 26 it was officially decided to abandon the Waitaki to the underwriters.

When several of the officers reached Wellington they reported that the weather had been fine until the night of April 22, until the weather suddenly had become poor. Then powerful winds sprung up from the south-east. When the master consulted the log it was found that the steamer must have passed Cape Palliser, and her course was accordingly altered to eastward. The weather at this time had become extremely bad including heavy rain squalls; in addition there was no sign of land.

It seemed that very little time had elapsed since the course had been altered until the Waitaki suddenly shuddered grinded to a loud halt as her bow heaved up high onto the beach. The master immediately engaged the engines to full speed astern, but it had no effect as the ship had run up on the beach at full speed ahead in the first place and thus had run up a considerable way. With her bow stuck in the sand and her aft section in the ocean, it was within fifteen minutes that both the stokehold and the engine room filled up with sea water and both had to be abandoned. Apparently large rock had penetrated the port bilge and acted as a pivot, the aft of the ship was swinging with the sea.

The master reported at the inquest that it had been an extremely dark night and the regular course had been maintained until the log gave 68 miles, which should have brought the Waitaki off Cape Palliser. He saw the loom of the land, but sailed on four miles further.

The captain credited the accident to an alteration in the log and an easterly swell setting the ship ashore, which could not be seen owing to the darkness of the night.

Newspaper report of the Inquest:


Continued: Below left then right


However the court inquest into the loss of the Waitaki finally concluded that the wrecking of the ship was attributable to the “over-confidence in the log, and running the ship at full speed during thick and foggy weather in a dark night.” The court considered the master, “Captain Thomas John Bendall accountable for taking no steps to verify his position,” and held him fully responsible for the loss of the ship. His Masters certificate was suspended for three months, which seems a rather light sentence.

Also view the many other Union Steamship Ships online


TS Loongana / SS Moeraki & Manuka / SS Marama & Maheno / RMS Aorangi


TSS Monowai / TSS Awatea / MV Matua / MV Tofua / SS Waitaki & others, see the Main Index!


“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 only), in order that due credit may be given.

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