The history of the Chandris Lines SS Australia 1967 to her tragic end in 1994
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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.
Inside front cover photo of
PLEASE NOTE: Photograph and Images on this SS America / Australis feature are from the author’s private collection or as noted
This page covers the second stage of the SS
America life, for she was sold to become the much-loved Chandris Liner SS
Australis. I will cover her glory years as
wonderful Australis, which was a ship that I was very closely associated
considering I worked with Chandris in
However, this page contains the complete story of this great ship after the days of the SS America, and I do know that countless thousands of people have many amazing memories of their voyage on the much loved SS Australis, I know, I certainly do!
Maritime Historian, Author
& Lecturer &
Working & Involved for almost 60 years in the Passenger Shipping Industry.
SS America was
sold to Chandris Lines on October 5, 1964, and was handed over 12 days later
when she was transformed externally with her funnels pained blue emblazoned
with the famed Chandris large white –X-. On the same day
The superb grand Ballroom
A postcard provided by past steward Amos Ramponi
The Smoke Room
A postcard provided by past steward Amos Ramponi
A wonderful photograph of the
In 1968 several exterior changes were made,
with her hull being painted a light grey, and her mainmast was removed. In 1967
she was reregistered in
The Australis is seen in
She is now has an aft funnel short signal mast on top of her aft funnel
1971 Chandris schedule
In 1970 Chandris obtained the much sought
after contract to bring British migrants to
One of my wonderful long time supporters and
The four photographs below are all © Stan Evans Newcastle Australia
The brass and glass doors with the side murals in the main Lounge as seen from the Mezzanine level above
How wonderful it is to see the *sheer of a fine classic liner, as seen here on Boat Deck
*The origin of building a sheer into large ships dates back to the era of small sailing vessels. They were built with the decks curving upwards at the bow and stern in order to increase stability by preventing the vessel from pitching up and down. This curve is called a “Sheer.”
Passengers are seen exploring
the market stalls at
and without her funnel extension, thus was taken during one of her earlier cruise seasons
In this photograph we note that she has a grey hull, thus it must have been taken well after 1968!
And must have been at a much later date as she now had a new aft funnel extension
for smoke dispersion that could be raised as required
The four photographs shown above are all © Stan
She continued her voyages and cruises until
she arrived in
An excellent model of the Chandris Lines S.S. Australis
sad looking Australis is seen with her name painted out seen in
Venture Cruise Line
Chandris sold her to America Cruise Lines,
thus, four months after her lay up
Here is the SS America heading of on her first cruise on June 30, 1978, and she is looking good, but not is well on board!
On June 30, 1978, SS
Passengers stated that the
There was no doubt, that by the time the Australis was sold she certainly was in a run down state, as Chandris had kept maintenance to a minimum during her last year, as they assumed she would be sold for scrap. Thus slowly her decks had been suffering as no corking or sanding had been done for some time and rust was also adding up in certain places, mostly out of passengers sight, but her forward “dummy” funnel rust was at its worst, and the list of problems on board was just endless. It is sad to say, but this does not seem like Chandris’ highpoint considering their past record as they always maintained their ships meticulously! However the truth is that Venture Shipping Line should have given the ship a full and an extended refit and a complete maintenance regime at a major shipyard before even considering to commence cruising.
From ashore SS America seemed to look fine
Upon her return three days later, she departed for her second cruise with 640 passengers on board, but it was decided during this cruise that due to the ongoing problems, all future cruises would be cancelled. Sadly the revival of the SS America proved to be a total disaster for Venture Cruise Lines who soon filed for bankruptcy.
SS America is seen from a stern view, but she is now awaiting to be sold
SS America was sold at auction back to
Chandris who purchased her for just $1 million, being 4 million less then what
they had sold her for just four months earlier. With a small number of crew on
board she departed
Upon completion, she was renamed Italis and she was now ready to commence Mediterranean
cruises out of
After her second, very short career with Chandris, this once great liner would never carry passenger again, however, unlike other vintage ships in her position, amazingly she remained afloat for well over a decade, but it has to be said, throughout those years she was in a sad condition.
The Final Years
In May 1980, she was sold to the “Inter
Commerce Corporation” for “
A sad looking Alferdoss
is seen during a long lay-up near
She was so badly neglected that in October 1988 things had become so bad, that even one of her bilge pumps had rusted so badly, her engine room flooded resulting to the ship listing to port. It was decided that she had to be beached and there she could be pumped dry. However, only patchwork was done.
The Australian Rescue Attempt in 1992/93:
Amazingly, there was an excellent attempt not
to only save the Alferdoss, American Star, ex SS
Australis/America that commenced in 1992 by two well-meaning Australian
businessmen who were planning to see her permanently berthed at
Melbourne’s Station Pier as a Floating Hotel, Maritime Museum and a
“Although externally the decking was
mostly gone, but this was not a deal breaker, for replacing timber decking is
nothing unusual. Her hull and superstructure were structurally in a good
condition, and yes you could well say that she had been generally neglected. Internally
her lounges and cabins were still in an overall good condition. I also spoke
The Melbourne Port Authorities and the Victorian Government were
all keen to see the ex SS Australis, America berthed in
But tragically just before a deal could be completed by the Australian’s, plans suddenly went tragically terribly very wrong!
Considering that there had not been a buyer in sight for many years before the deal could be completed, but another company entered the scene and the Alferdoss was purchased by a Thai Company late in 1992 for just US$2 million dollars, thus Australia who had good intentions with this great liner were badly done by and had they placed their bid just a little earlier, she would be berthed at Station Pier in Melbourne today, but it was not to be!
The Final Tragic Voyage
The Company stated that the intention was to
renovate the ship to become a floating hotel in Phuket,
but in order to prepare her to be towed to
However, there were some very strange
circumstances in regard to the company and her intended destination, for the
Thai authorities did not have any knowledge of this “Thai” company
and there had been no permissions sought or given for the ship to enter any
Thai port, or for her to be berthed in
Renamed American Star she departed
But trouble struck the ill-fated ship. On
January 15, during a severe storm “she broke loose” and remained
adrift with four-salvage crew still on board. Several attempts were made to
take her undertow again, but this failed. The four-crew members were winched
off the ship by helicopter, and she was left adrift. On January 17 American
Star ran aground on the west coast off Fuerteventura in the
An excellent photograph of the stranded ex liner
Death of a Liner
As was expected soon enough the American Star suffered from the severe elements and in due course her stern section collapsed into the sea and today her bow, part of her forward superstructure and the lower section of her funnel (the top having fallen into the sea recently) remains. As can be seen from the photograph below, the bridge is also slowly collapsing, and soon the sea will finally claim her.
Due to the rocks, waves would be very constant and they would rage and over time tear and strip the ship to pieces!
Over time the poor American Star was slowly disappearing into the sea as we will see in the images below
It is now 67 years (October 2006) since SS
America was launched, and for 39 years she faithfully transported passengers on
line voyages and on cruises, as well as carrying troops during the war. In
addition she was laid up in
The end of a great liner - American Star is slowly disappearing into the sea
March 2009: As can be seen from the photo below the American Star has slowly succumbed to the sea and will soon disappear altogether. It is amazing how she has stood the forces of the ocean for this long!
The American Star, once the much-loved Australis & America is arriving at her final hours!
I am well aware that the once great SS America will remain in our memories, as thousands of Americans, English and Europeans have sailed her. Then, as the beloved Chandris flagship SS Australis she provided a service countless thousands will never forget, be it as passengers that came to Australia and New Zealand as migrants, or as holiday makers to and from the UK as well as on Pacific cruises. For 39 years she served the United States Line and Chandris Line well.
I trust that ex passengers and those who
admired her whilst she was in port have enjoyed this feature on the great SS
As stated earlier, I was the General Sales
Agent (GSA) of Chandris in Queensland Australia and was fortunate to sail on
all the Chandris liners more than once. My company (Australian Express)
operated the annual “Round the World Tours,” sailing to and from
My memories of the Australis, as well as the
Patris, Ellinis and
Cover of the official 1967 Chandris brochure
S.S. America & Australis INDEX:
Page One ……………….S.S.
…………….1940 Deck Plans.
……………….S.S. Australis History Page from 1964 to her sad end in 1994.
……………….Brochure & Photo & Page One.
………………….Brochure & Photo Page Two.
Other Chandris Ships INDEX:
………………..Ex Matson Lines liner
……………..Ex Matson Lines SS Monterey, but renamed Lurline & Matsonia.
Please Note: Not all pages have been updated and completed as yet.
“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.
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 displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!
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