With Reuben Goossens
Ex Fair Princess, Fairsea, Fairland, built 1955 as RMS Carinthia
Written by a senior officer of the China Sea Discovery
China Sea Discovery Laid up in
Fair Princess has been a popular cruise ship
However, suddenly an announcement was made
that Fair Princess had been sold to Asian interests. We are now aware that she
was purchased by Charles Ming and associates (including Casino
The story presented on this page was sent to us by an ex crew member who witnessed the events described below. Due to language problems, there may be some minor inaccuracies in the translation.
Apparently, P&O Australia stipulated in
the contract that no one from the buyer, being Charles Ming and associates
Upon arrival in
The intentions with the project were to
operate gambling cruises during weekends out of Hong Kong and to operate
A charter company from
During her refurbishments, which sadly included changing some public rooms into casino spaces, many other problems were encountered. These, together with the Safety Certificates, saw the owner was rapidly running out of available funds.
Then, blue asbestos was found onboard thus, the owner obtained some local workers to rip it out. Obviously, these men were not professional asbestos removers, as the managers soon found out, and the work was stopped. The owners were informed about the regulations connected with asbestos handling and it was agreed that a qualified company from the UK was supposed to come in for the clean up, as this particular company had worked on her earlier and was aware the location of the asbestos present.
It was assumed by the crew that it was a done deal, for obviously, there were dangers involved for the ships crew. However, later in the night more local workers came onboard commencing to work on the removal once again. Again there was a dispute onboard.
“On site” in charge of the
conversion was Charles Ming’s son Stephen Ming, who was an obstinate
young man in the early 20’s.
During the dry docking it was discovered that another condition related
China Sea Discovery’s problems were only just beginning, for on the day of her departure, with pilot onboard, tugs with lines attached, the ship was ordered to a halt by the shipyard, as they had not received their payments.
Mr. Ming having come to an agreement, the
China Sea Discovery finally sailed for
The channel into
China Sea Discovery is a steam ship with twin screws, but she has no thrusters, this together with just one rudder, she has a reputation for being a hard case with manoeuvring.
On the way out, with the leading lights hidden
behind the funnel and only the channel buoys to relay on, the ship ran aground
twice, although both times she was inside the channel. Both times she was
freed. In due course she passed the rather shallow channel and finally was back
in deeper waters. At that stage the Master informed the company that he did not
intended to enter
Onboard during the maiden voyage, there were
three representatives of the charter company and it was discovered that they
where armed, one being the “top dog for the police in
The trip down to Halong bay went without any trouble, and I must say, overlooking the bow and watching the it going up and down in the night, brought the image back to the time when she was crossing the Atlantic.
As the ship was heavily delayed on departure,
due to the earlier grounding, she arrived in
The local tenders took passengers ashore and
shore excursions took place. Apparently, great pressure was placed on the
Master, by both from the charter and the local tourist board, to bring the ship
into the port. However, he would not endanger the ship. As I can recall the
last tender came back after
and as the crew did not have navigation equipment apart from a compass, I
believe two of tenders even went aground, such was the ridiculous situation at
As the ship headed north, the pressure on the
master became even worse, for he refused to enter
As the vessel arrived at
After the ship was stationary outside
As the vessel departed for
As the financial situation became worse and worse we were given orders that the Filipino crew could only have one ball of rice a day, and that all the grapes for the passengers had to be cut in half, so they could not eat that much and so on and on.
It is obvious from this photograph the ship suffered greatly from poor loadings.
One day the Master was ordered to use the fuel that was supposed to be as permanent ballast (a Class requirement) instead for getting fuel from a supplier. It took the Master a length of time to convince the owner what stability on a vessel meant. It was quite obvious the owners should never have bought a ship, as they had no maritime background whatsoever. The result is, a magnificent ship is now laid up rotting away as the owners are fighting amongst themselves.
As stated earlier, this tragic story of a ship that has had a fine record was sent to us by a crew member who experienced the events shown above.
PLEASE NOTE: This remarkable story was
provided by the senior officer on board the CSD, We take no responsibility for
its accuracy; however, we have done everything in our power to check the
details, before deciding to use the story as part of our feature on
Page 4 – The Fairstar the Australian connection
Page 5 – Fair Princess becomes an Aussie
Page 6 – Passenger list images
Page 7 – Albatros
ex Dawn Princess / Fairwind /
Saxonia – Passenger list images
Fair Princess Photo Album – Exteriors
Fair Princess Photo Album - Interiors
China Sea Discovery
– ex Fair Princess / Fairsea / Fairland /
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Commenced in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960
Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story
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