Last Orient Liner built, SS Oriana (1960 to 1986) she was then sold to
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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Author and Lecturer & Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer
From Birth to Breakers
The Oriana had the most recognised funnel in maritime history!
Please Note: The SS Oriana feature has 12 Pages with One brand new additional Page just added.
The original 12 Oriana pages have all been updated, But I am sure you will find the new page
Located in Part One, Building the Oriana and it is Page 5, containing the most amazing range of
Specifications, and facts regarding the construction of the Oriana, you may never have heard about!
This twelve page
feature will cover the remarkable history of the SS Oriana, which was a great
liner and popular cruise ship she ended her final days as a tourist attraction
Although this page covers Oriana from her conception in 1954 to being broken up in 2005, I have a separate three page feature entirely related to her design, building, launching, fitting out, sea trials and maiden voyage which I have received from the wife from one of the ships famous designers the late. Mr. Charles F Morris. The link to this feature can be found in the SS Oriana INDEX at the bottom of this page along with all other pages.
Building Orient Lines largest Liner:
Building Orient Lines largest Liner:
In 1954 Orient Line began planning to build a new liner, a ship that would be the grandest and largest Orient liner ever to be built; however, it was not until 1956 that Orient Lines made the final decision to build a new ship for the Australian trade. With the added costs of fuel consumption, as well as maintenance of their older ships, it was decided that a larger, fast and a more efficient liner would provide a profitable and a far superior facilities.
After two years of careful planning, Oriana’s keel was laid on September 18 1957. This new ship built for Orient Lines, would soon join their already sizable fleet. However, unknown at this stage, the Oriana would be the final great liner to be built for Orient Lines.
Since the Orion, built in 1935, each Orient Line ship’s name commenced with the letter ‘O’. As Orient Lines searched for a new name, an Australian P&O employee jokingly suggested naming the new ship ‘Orstralia.’ Thankfully, a unique name was decided on, one that was given to Queen Elizabeth I, by the poets of her era – “Oriana”. Orient Line ships all had their own distinctive emblem, and now a suitable emblem was required for the Oriana, the new super liner.
contract to build the Oriana was awarded to Vickers Armstrong Ltd of
SS Orsova is the proud predecessor to the SS Oriana
The contract for the £14 million “Oriana” was placed on May 12, 1954, but work on her did not commence until September 18, 1957. The official hull laying plate was numbered, 1061, which many jokingly claimed was her “Maiden Name.”
The laying of the 24½ ton section of the keel. It was decorated with the
Union jack, the Orient Line House Flag as well as a silhouette of the ship
Photograph by Vickers Armstrong Ltd
Then came the big day for on Tuesday November 3, 1959, Princess Alexandra officiated at the launching of Orient Lines super liner - SS Oriana. Countless of thousands attended the launching, including the many proud men who worked so tirelessly on her.
The Oriana seen during the launching ceremony, soon she will glide into the water for the very first time
Photograph provided by Mrs. Pauline Wakefield wife of the late Mr. Charles F. Morris
After the launching and she was majestically afloat, the Oriana was taken in tow and she proceeded to her fitting out dock in Buccleuth to complete her aluminium superstructure and her interior fit-out which were done to amazingly high standards and setting new trends for the Australasian service.
A perfect view of her unusual upper superstructure and funnel configuration
At 41,915 tonnes SS Oriana was the largest
passenger liner to be placed on the
During her speed trials carried
out on the
SS Oriana seen during her sea trials on November 16, 1960
See details regarding photo notes below
Please Note: The photograph of the SS Oriana on her deep sea trials (and others above as noted) was provided to myself to use on ssMaritime.com by Mrs. Pauline Wakefield. a wonderful lady and the wife of the late Mr. Charles F. Morris who was one of the finest Orient Line Naval Architect’s, who designed this, the last ever Orient Liner to be constructed, the much beloved - SS Oriana. Many will remember Mr. Morris’ magnificent book, “Origins, Orient and Oriana” and I have a very special edition of this book in my private collection, having been provided to me by Mrs. Pauline Wakefield.
SS Oriana departed on her maiden voyage
from Southampton on Saturday December 3, 1960 and headed for
The ship simply looks utterly modern, yet still somewhat traditional Orient Line in style
we see SS Oriana “The Queen of the Sea” departing
As can be seen above, SS Oriana retained that distinctive (yet a modern) Orient Lines profile, for which the company was renowned for, yet they were now leaders in overall ship design, for the SS Oriana was unique in so many ways, for she stood out as she was very different to any other ship in the world, yet amazingly beautiful.
Oriana arrived in
and she would be a regular until her final departure in 1986
Mid 1961, SS Oriana was joined by the P&O
Peninsular’s new 45,733 GRT, SS
The author sailed on the Oriana from
the Oriana finally completed she headed for
Sadly, in 1966, what I
call the unbelievable happened, for the wonderful and historical name of
“Orient Line” or “Orient Steam Navigation Company”
hails back to 1870s, but it now this great company would disappear when they
merged and together they simply became the “P&O Line”.
Sadly, in 1966, what I call the unbelievable happened, for the wonderful and historical name of “Orient Line” or “Orient Steam Navigation Company” hails back to 1870s, but it now this great company would disappear when they merged and together they simply became the “P&O Line”.
The great and much loved SS Oriana had sailed
around the world for almost fourteen years. Bus as it was happening with ships
worldwide the late sixties proved to serve up difficult times. The truth is
that the round the world service started to become unprofitable with a decline
of passengers, being due of course to flights to
Oriana the superb looking Cruise Ship seen berthed in an unknown port
Sent by a supporter, but the photographer is unknown, Please see Photo Notes at the bottom of the page
With the Oriana having already served as a part time cruise ship, in 1973 P&O announced that she would now become a full time cruise ship. At first, she remained a two-class ship, however, in 1974, P&O decided that the class barrier would be dropped and the Oriana would become, like other P&O ships a one-class cruise ship.
A number of onboard changes were made with the
removal on the Silver Grill on A deck, which was replaced with additional
cabins, as well as name changes for some lounges. As a cruise ship, both the SS
Oriana and SS
On Thursday November 12, 1981 SS Oriana
departed Southampton for the very last time, and she headed for her new
She cruised the South
Pacific, as well as an occasional Asian itinerary’s. Over all, SS Oriana
enjoyed an eighty per cent occupancy rate. Her success had other shipping
companies enter the market, placing their ships on full and part time cruise
Sitmar, P&O and CTC cruise Companies were
the most successful these cruise operators. After successfully cruising out of
However their major competitor was Sitmar Cruises which operated the extremely popular TSS Fairstar, and she had become a major player in the Australian cruise market.
Then on August 7, 1985 it became official; SS Oriana would conclude her official cruise duties on March 27 1986. Although at the time, no decision had been made regarding her future.
SS Oriana departed
It had been announced that SS Oriana would be replaced by the 20,000 GRT Island Princess. She would cruise from Australian ports six months of the year.
However, with the massive popularity of Sitmar
Cruises in the UDA as well here in
Oriana at anchor during a Pacific cruise
The next day after her return from her final cruise, Friday March 28, Oriana was moved to Pyrmont wharf 21, were she remained laid up for two months. Then on May 7, it was announced that the Oriana had been sold to Japanese interests for the use as a floating hotel, museum, and as a restaurant venue.
Oriana’s final departure from
The much loved SS Oriana says goodbye to
Rather than sailing by her own, four tugs
moved her to Sydney Heads … “the tug leading the ship in the photo
taken off the Opera House was attached via a towing bridle made up of
Oriana's starboard anchor cable that was secured inboard and led forward
through the fore most fairleads. In harbour the bridle was shortened but at the
Heads it was lengthened to its catenary length and
The Oriana arrived in
At the Hitachi Zosen Shipyards her propellers
as well as her rudder were removed and they were placed on the fore deck by the
past crew’s swimming pool. When the renovations were completed she was
postcard of the Oriana is seen here at Beppu bay,
Although the Oriana as a well built ship, she would obviously have remained afloat, but her new role certainly would not! Soon she became a sad sight, especially when the Japanese owners painted her funnels pink a little later, to Jazz her up. It soon became obvious that the hotel venture failed.
In 1995 the Oriana was sold to a Chinese
company “Hangzhou Jiebai Group Co Ltd”,
and she was towed to Chinwangtao (
Then in November 1998, the “Hangzhou
West Lake International Tourism Culture Development Co Ltd.” purchased
the ship for US$6 million from
On November 15, she was towed by five tugs
“the ship will maintain the traditional British style and elegance of its earlier years. Original furniture, ornamental objects, and even old newspapers will be maintained in the cabins”.
She was taken once again undertow and she
arrived and was placed along the
seen in 2001 as a floating tourist attraction now located in
She was attached to her moorings, as can be seen in this photograph
Holding a 85% stake in the ship (15% was held by Hangzhou Jiebai Group Co Ltd), Hangzhou West Lake International Tourism Culture Development Co Ltd announced on August 15, 2000, that they would auction its holdings in the Oriana. Even though Oriana had more than 500,000 visitors, somehow she was not making the profits originally anticipated. Thus finally it was decided to sell their shares at auction, which took place on September 28, 2000.
In December 2001 we heard that she would be
But then I had heard that the “Hangzhou Songcheng Group”, a company from east
Oriana was towed to the
A press releases stated that: “Visitors will be able to see the ship’s original bridge, VIP hall, post office, hospital and museums, and enjoy films and artistic performances.” The Oriana was finally a actual, and I do mean a real success! “May she have many more great years” was our wish for her! BUT.
But as I said, sadly just two years later would come to a most tragic end to Oriana’s newfound success!
On Wednesday June 16, 2004
Although attempts were made to right her and the owners even considered restoring her, however
the cost proved to be far too great. All
that could be done is temporarily concrete the holes and stop the water
entering and pump out as much water as possible, which they did. It could only
have happened on Friday the 13th.of May, 2005 … SS Oriana
ex Crew member, Simon Lockyer, provided us with this excellent photograph of the Oriana
For this is how we like to remember her as a popular cruise ship
Photograph by & © Simon Lockyer
SS Oriana - Main Index
SS Oriana - Main Index:
PART ONE …
Designing & Building the Oriana - ONLY available to ssmaritime.com:
Images from the naval architect & designer of the SS Oriana:
Page 1: The building of SS Oriana
Page 5: (NEW)
PART TWO …
Oriana’s General History Pages:
Page 1: History and Images of the Oriana
Page 2: Oriana Postcards issued in 1960
Page 3: Oriana Photo Album - Page 1
Page 4: Oriana Photo Album - Page 2
Page 6b: Paul Oliver Story
Page 7: Dalian - See the sad photographs of SS Oriana damaged during a storm
Page 7b: Oriana at Zhangiagang shipyard in China - Taken 29 July & 9 September 2005, the demolition of a liner
Email the author:
This is recommended reading!
Is available for £23.50 plus p&p from “Ships in Focus”
Also Visit our Features on the following Orient Lines/P&O Ships
Where you will discover over 1,120 Classic Liners & the 1914 built MV Doulos Feature
Photographs on ssmaritime.com, & .net and associate sites are: 1. By the author. 2. From the author’s private collection. 3. Or as provided by Shipping Companies and their Publicity Companies as well as by private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided without details regarding the photographer concerned., therefore I hereby invite if owners of those images to be so kind and make them-selves known to me per email at in order that due credit may be given!
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