Sitmar Line - MS Fairsea 1949 to 1969
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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author
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 around 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.
The Sitmar Ships
Sitmar issued this postcard in the mid sixties
I certainly have enjoyed writing and compiling this very special feature on a company that I greatly love and have sailed with many times!
Thus now go and read all about … The Sitmar Ships.
fine view of Fairsea in Fremantle (
was another converted C3 class ship, originally named Rio de la Plato, a
passenger freighter, ordered by Moore-McCormack Lines. She was built by Sun
Shipbuilding & Drydock Co,
prior to completion she was taken over by the US Government in October and was
fitted out as an escort carrier for the US Navy. She was handed over to the
Royal Navy, named HMS Charger and was commissioned on March 3, 1942. She served
on convoy duties in the north
was released from naval service on March 15, 1946, and returned to
Moore-McCormack, who proceeded to remove her flight deck and converted her to
carry troops. This service was brief and she was soon mothballed together with
other ships of her class in the
In 1949, she was
The Fairsea was placed under contract by the
IRO - "International Refugee Organisation" and she would operate
three IRO voyages from
On May 11 Fairsea departed with 1,896 persons
onboard, including 457 children who had come out of various camps from around
MS Fairsea, now under the control of Sitmar
and Captain Stagnaro, departed from
Fairsea seen during her official maiden voyage as a “passenger liner” on 31 December 1949
A good numbers of C3 Class ships
were converted into migrant ships, including Fairsea’s
Moore-McCormack sister, Mormacmail, which became the German registered
(operated by Holland America Line) Seven Seas. She operated to
This postcard was released in January 1954
November 1953, whilst berthing in
The MS Fairsea is in seen 1954 after she received a shapely new funnel and a tripod mast on her bridge.
Note the derricks aft, these would be removed at the next refit
In December 1953 she received some cosmetic changes such as her funnel and mast. Having regularly visited Australia, it was only in February 1957 that she returned home eastward for the first time, making her Maiden call to New Zealand continuing across the Pacific, then undertook her first ever transit of the Panama Canal.
Postcard of a modernised Fairsea
Click on the post card
above for a delightful informative video of a voyage fro Europe to
With many views of the ships interiors as well as her exteriors! Or click the link below!
In 1958 Fairsea received another refit at
Above & Below: After her 1958 refit, although still very much a C3 class ship, but her lines were more pleasing
under Government contract, Fairsea continued to transport British passengers to
Being under Government contract, Fairsea continued to transport British passengers to
by: Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co,
Yard Nr: 188.
Length: 492ft / 150m.
Width: 69.2ft / 21.1m.
Engines: Doxford Geared
Diesels by the builder - 9,000
Service speed: 16 knots – 17 max.
Passengers: 1,800 One class.
First & 1400 Tourist for 6 voyages only in 1953 to
1,460 after 1958 refit.
1,212 after 1961 refit.
Former names: Rio De La Plata 1941, Charger 1942-1949.
Fairsea Fire – The Bradford Story
Please Note: The story received from Peter and Penney Bradford was in basic detail and thus I have decided to edit it to a degree to make the story flow and also clarification, etc. However, all the details are as told by Peter and Penney!
Peter and Penny Bradford and their two small
children boarded the SS Fairsea in
“As usual we all had to put on our life jacket's which was a perfect time for a photograph and I took one of my wife Penney and my three year old son Peter.”
Eleven month old Peter and Penny out on deck wearing our lifejackets
Photograph © Peter Bradford
Peter told me that although the Fairsea was
scheduled to make a call at
“Instead we headed straight for
We noted that the ship was listing
substantially and then when going down to our cabins we discovered that we
could not use our cabins to sleep for the air-conditioning no longer worked as
it was like an oven down there! Thus, it was find a place up above and try and
make yourself as comfortable as possible. After a number of days of
reasonable hardship, considering the crowd onboard, a sea-going tug reached our
ship and they proceeded to pump the diesel oil from the ship to the tug, but
they then discovered that the fuel was unsuitable for the tug and now we had
another situation, for suddenly the tug itself was left helpless and drifting. Fortunately
the sea remained calm, thus it made things a little easier for us
all. However on the 29th, six days after the fire, an
American freighter named the SS Louis Lykes, which
was on its way home from
SS Louis Lykes seen from the starboard side of the Fairsea
Photograph © Peter Bradford
As soon as the salvage arrangements had been
arranged, SS Louis Lykes took both the Fairsea and
the tug in tow. The tug being towed behind the Fairsea.
We were towed to
The story had already circulated whilst
we were still on the Fairsea that our Captain had committed suicide, however,
we were never quite sure if the story was factual. But later we realised that
sadly it was true and what a tragedy is was. It was an experience and indeed a
tragedy that we will never forget!”
The story had already circulated whilst we were still on the Fairsea that our Captain had committed suicide, however, we were never quite sure if the story was factual. But later we realised that sadly it was true and what a tragedy is was. It was an experience and indeed a tragedy that we will never forget!”
Peter and Penney have other happy memories
with Sitmar though, for Peter originally came to
I hereby wish to thank Peter and Penney Bradford for providing your story of that fateful voyage on the SS Fairsea, a simple, but a much loved ship by so many!
If you where on that fateful Fairsea voyage or you wish to communicate with Peter and Penney, you can do so per email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The name Fairsea lived on, as it
was transferred to another Sitmar ship, ex Cunard Liner RMS Carinthia, which received
a massive rebuild in
new Fairsea, built as the Cunard’s
The Fairsea (I) - INDEX:
Fairsea (1) Built as a C3 class freighter History Page - this Page.
Fairsea Photo Page.
Fairsea Menus page sent in by John Scholten.
Fairsea Deck Plan.
The Strachan family migrates from the
Barker & Family also sails to
Or Return to: The Sitmar Ships - INDEX - For all the Other Sitmar Ships!
Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
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