MV Kanimbla, later the TSMV Oriental QueenTSMV Oriental Queen
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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 around 680 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.
Australia’s Largest and most Luxurious Coastal Liner
HMS/HMAS Kanimbla & later to become the Toyo Yusen’s TSMV Oriental Queen
The image above is a copy taken from an original painting that hung in the Chief Officer's dayroom.
What happened to the original is not known. If anyone has any info we would love to hear.
The well established
Australian coastal shipping company McIlwraith McEachern
Ltd was a company that originated in
Above left: SS
Karoola, she was sold and scrapped in
Above right: SS
Katoomba was sold in 1946 to
As SS Karoola was
due to be retired in May 1936, McIlwraith McEachern
ordered a new and larger passenger liner again to be built by the ever reliable
Harland and Wolff Limited at
The 10,856 GRT MS Manoora was completed on February 6, 1935
However the MS Kanimbla was unique for so many
reasons, but the following beat them all: she just happened to be the only
passenger liner in history to have a fully operational radio broadcasting
station built into the ship at the time of construction. The equipment was
manufactured by AWA in
Kanimbla had an extremely smart and a modern looking profile for her day, her forward mast was raked a little further aft than her aft main mast and she had a smart raked bow (yet a she had traditional cruiser stern) giving her a streamlined look. She featured a rounded forward glazed superstructure, which was a new innovation for an Australian coastal ship.
Kanimbla was and remains
Nothing was spared in fitting out the Kanimbla featuring the most luxurious accommodation of any of the previous coastal ships. She accommodated 203 passengers in First Class and 250 in Second Class. Kanimbla proved to be a huge success with the Australian public as well as with international visitors. Both classes had a fine range of lounges, dining rooms, glazed promenades and shady deck spaces, as well as ample sport decks. Cabin types varied from twin suites, to twin bedded rooms, two berth, and singles in First class, although some cabins also had upper berths available for families, these could be sold as three or four berth cabins. Second class was mostly twin, two, three and four berth as well as some small dormitories, which were suitable for an overnight voyage between “short hop” ports
The Kanimbla’s official shield
Builders: Harland and Wolff Limited at
Launched; 15 December 1935
Tonnage: 10,985 GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage)
Length: 147.6m / 484ft ft
Beam: 20.2m / 66.3ft
Draught: 6.8m / 22.2.
Engines: Burmeister & Wain Geared Diesels
Screws: Twin - 10,000 BHP
Speed: 17 knots (Max 19)
Passenger Decks: Six
Passengers: 202 First Class
250 Second Class
War Time Duties:
She continued her varied schedules along the Australian coast until the outbreak of World War II when the Australian Royal Navy who had her refitted at Garden Island Dockyard, Sydney, requisitioned her on September 5, 1939. Armaments were fitted as follows. 7 x 6-inch guns. 2 x 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and 2 x Lewis light machine guns.
She was officially commissioned into the Royal Navy as Armed Merchant Cruiser and reregistered as the HMS KANIMBLA on October 6, 1939.
Armed Merchant Cruisers were employed to operate long ocean patrols looking out for enemy raiders and blockade-runners, thus supplementing cruisers and allowing them to be released for the more arduous fleet duties.
HMS Kanimbla departed
She was Based in Hong Kong and
mostly stationed in the
They made several unsuccessful attempts to break out.
Kanimbla is seen in the
In June 1940 the HMS Kanimbla was dispatched to Singapore where she took patrol and escort duties around Malaya (Malaysia) and the East Indies (Indonesia), eventually extending out into the Indian Ocean.
On the night of August 24, 1941
HMS Kanimbla, with 300 Indian troops on board led a flotilla in a surprise
attack on the Iranian
activity in the
further work in Indian waters during the latter part of October and November,
Kanimbla proceeded to
The conversion involved the removal of her 6-inch guns and the augmentation of her anti-aircraft armament by the addition of a 4-inch gun and 2-pounder and 20mm close range weapons. Radar was also added. She was fitted to carry 16 to 24 landing craft, which were raised and lowered by davits fitted to either side of her superstructure. Scrambling nets were fitted to enable troops to quickly enter the landing craft after they had been lowered. Steel sheets replaced the ship’s interior wood panelling and all available space was converted for the carriage of 1,280 troops although more were carried on various occasions.
On June 1, 1943 she was decommissioned
as the Landing Ship Infantry, and reregistered as the HMAS Kanimbla, and on
July 30 under the command of Commander N.H. Shaw RAN. HMAS Kanimbla recommenced
new duties in the Pacific and in
HMAS Kanimbla is seen here in Fremantle in 1945
the end of the war HMAS Kanimbla was employed in repatriating Australian
servicemen from the
Upon her return from the
PS: Late in 2010 I received an email from a reader who advised me that
her “grandfather was in charge of the HMAS Kanimbla when the Japanese
mini subs attacked
Post War service:
The Australian Government paid for a comprehensive refit of the war weary MS Kanimbla and having been all spruced up and once again looking absolutely splendid and ready for service she was officially returned to McIlwraith McEachern Ltd on December 13, 1950.
There had been a good number of improvements made, but also there had been a change of passenger capacities, which were now; 231 First Class and 125 Second Class for Coastal Liner services and 371 One Class for Cruises. Also, MS Kanimbla was now registered as being 11,004 GRT.
popular postcard of McIlwraith McEachern flagship MV
popular postcard of McIlwraith McEachern flagship MV
During one of her coastal voyages I December
1960, Kanimbla ran aground on a sandbank in
MV Kanimbla looking superb!
Items of Memorabilia
MV Kanimbla Silver Serviette Ring and a TSMV Manoora Silver Cheese Knife seen on an artist Impression of the Manoora
The serviette ring and the cheese knife was kindly donated to the author by Holly Whillas
The serviette ring is seen here in an artist impression of the MV Kanimbla
A close up of the serviette ring
Sadly just like passenger shipping worldwide,
Kanimbla’s passenger loadings was suffering badly as airline trade was
beginning to become the main competition and airfares were becoming cheaper and
cheaper. Thus, the once booming coastal service began to suffer to the point
that tragically had to stop most of heir services, but McIlwraith McEachern decided to at least retain their flagship MV
Kanimbla on a part time basis operating on the coastal service, whilst also
operating cruises to
seen during her final days as
However, in 1960 she was placed on the market
and a Japanese Company purchased the best
TSMV Oriental Queen:
In 1961 the ship was taken over by the Pacific
Transport Company and renamed TSMV Oriental Queen and registered in
Oriental Queen seen here whilst in operation as a Pilgrim ship
Indonesian Government who employed her for the next three years transporting
TSMV Oriental Queen during her Australian season of Cruises for Dover Pacific Cruises
then returned to
TSMV Oriental Queen began to
operate a programme of cruises between
TSMV Oriental Queen soon became
a popular sight in both
With her cruises so popular it
was decided to fit her with an outdoor pool and a Lido Deck, which enhanced her
even further as a cruise ship. She also operated a number of Pacific cruises
during 1965 and 1966. Oriental Queen was a regular visitor to both
Upon completion of the
Hawaii/USA charter, TSMV Oriental Queen resumed the Yokohama Guam service until
arriving back in
MS Kanimbla / Oriental Queen - Index
Page One … The overall history of the Kanimbla and Oriental Queen
Page Two … Oriental Queen images and menu sent by a past Purser
Page Three Stan Evans cruises on the Oriental Queen - December 1965
Credits: Some of the wartime information was kindly provided by
Alain D. Waverton whilst two photographs are from an unknown source. The
“HMAS Kanimbla photograph at
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 either by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images and photographs that have been provided by Shipping Companies or private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors, however, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer or owner concerned. Therefore, I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address can be found at the bottom of the page on www.ssmaritime.com), in order that due credit may be given.
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