- Watts Shipping Register
- Watts Shipping Register
WAIRATA & WAIRIMU - A Unique New Zealand Pair
This article appeared in MARINE NEWS Vol 47 No 3 1998
By Iain Steverson
Two C1-type vessels purchased by the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited immediately after the end of the Second World War - the Wairimu ex Cape Alava and the Wairata ex Cape Igvak.
The Wairimu was designated a C-1B and in fact was the first motor vessel of the class built, being delivered in April 1941 from her builders the Seattle Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation (Todd Pacific Shipyard IAC). The Wairata was designated a C-1A type and was built at the Pennsylvania Shipyard Inc., Beaumont, Texas, and delivered on 30 August 1943. Sawyer & Mitchell's definitive work "From America to United States",includes the following about these wartime standard ships:
"The C-1 type vessels were the smallest of the three original types designed by the United States Maritime Commission. They were intended to be efficient and economical on routes that did not call for fast ships. The original design included accommodation for eight passengers. The C-1A was a shelter deck type whilst C-1B was of full scantling design.
"The general characteristics of all ships were the same. They had raked stem and cruiser stern, superstructure amidships two masts (one between holds 1-2 and one between holds 4-5) and a kingpost between holds 2-3, 3 holds forward 2 aft the accommodation. Two complete decks extended fore and aft and a third deck was fitted forward of the machinery space.
"However there were differences, the full scantling (B) type of ship being in fact more strongly built than the shelter deckers and for 200 tons additional weight in the hull there was an extra 1500 tons deadweight capacity.
"Machinery were two engines (Nordberg) of the two stroke single acting type the drive being taken through two magnetic couplings and a reduction gear to a single propeller. Accommodation was arranged for 41 persons."
Wairata in Indonesian waters.
Wairimu working cargo at Calcutta.
Only three vessels of the C1 type sailed under the Red Ensign, the Wairimu, Wairata and La Estancia ex Cape Ducato from the same yard as Wairata, delivered June 1944.
La Estancia was purchased by Buries Markes in 1947, renamed by them as Montcalm in 1952, and sold to Wilhelmsen of_0slo as Tyr, finally scrapped in Hong Kong in 1975, three years after her sister Wairata met the same end in Kaohsiung.
The biggest overseas operators of the C1 s were the Norwegians, who took twenty seven of the forty eight disposed of, and subsequently purchased more second-hand.
The most famous C1 was Captain "Stayput" Carlsen's Flying Enterprise ex Cape Kumukaki, which foundered late in 1951 off the Atlantic Western Approaches.
Flying Enterprise shortly before sinking.
My association with the Wairata was due to the Union Company's decision to convert passenger accommodation in 1955 to house three apprenticed cadets. Disappointingly, the Wairimu was not so converted. I was fortunate enough to do two New Zealand coastal voyages and one voyage to Calcutta in the Wairata in 1958.
Whilst on board I discovered the wartime log books, and in my spare time I took the details of her wartime voyages whilst operating under the United States Maritime Commission.
Voyage 11 was missing, but in view of her trading pattern it seems probable that she crossed the Atlantic.
As cadets in the 1950s, with her speed of 14 knots she was the fastest ship we were likely to serve on, and having spent three voyages in the Waihemo on the trans-Pacific trade being passed by everything but Carpenters' Lakemba and Suva it was exciting to actually overhaul ships. For growing lads the food was excellent (she still carried passengers) which meant we managed ice cream, chicken, eggs to order (daily!) and pancakes, delicacies not experienced in the "Intercolonials", which at best could be described as "basic feeders". The run was exotic and in many respects she was a ship to be proud of. Unlike the "Intercolonials" that went on to batteries or shore power in port at night, you could actually find your ship amongst the quite magnificent "Home Boats" strung along the likes of Aotea Quay in Wellington.
It always intrigued me why the U.K. companies hadn't acquired any of this class, particularly in view of the number of Libertys, Forts and Parks that the likes of Clan, Ellerman, Blue Funnel etc. operated in the Far East liner trade.
Perhaps they were a Chief Engineer's nightmare!
Voyages under the United States Maritime Commission of m v "Cape Igvak", later "Wairata".
Beaumont, Texas - Ponci, Puerto Rico 04/10/43 - New York 20//10/43
New York - Miami 24/10/43 – New York 30/10/06
New York 17/11/43 – Balboa – Panama – Espiritu Santo 17/12/43 – Florida Island 31/12/43 – Rindova Island 02/01/44 (Holed port side No 1 hatch by naval lighter) – Pago Pago 21/01/44 – San Francisco 05/02/44.
San Francisco 12/02/44 – Berinica – Stockton 26/02/44 – Espiritu Santo 20/03/44 – Guadalcanal 26/03/44 – San Francisco 01/05/44 – Port Angeles 08/05/44 – Seattle 14/05/44.
Seattle 19/05/44 – Honolulu 26/05/44 – San Francisco 07/06/44.
San Francisco 28/06/44 – Seattle 09/07/44 – Honolulu 16/07/44 - San Francisco 03/08/44.
San Francisco 16/08/44 – Milne Bay 04/09/44 – Langemak Bay 08/09/44 – Finschafen Bay 10/09/44 – Biak 27/09/44 – Port Kembla 25/10/44 – Sydney 28/10/44 - San Francisco 18/11/44.
San Francisco 08/12/44 – Seattle 23/12/44 – Honolulu 30/12/44 – San Francisco 12/01/45.
San Francisco 07/02/45 – Eniwetok 23/02/45 – Ulitihi Atoll 09/03/45 to 15/05/45 (anchored off for 2 months 6 days with crew trouble) – Kossol Roads 17/05/45 – San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf 21/10/45 – Saipan 15/06/45 – Okinawa 07/07/45 – Seattle 15/08/45.
Seattle 30/08/45 – New Westminster/Vancouver/Nanaimo/Victoria 30/08/45 to 14/09/45 – Panama 27/09/45 - Swansea 12/10/45 - Glasgow 08/11/45 to 17/11/45 – New York 27/11/45 (whiskey cargo broached)
Voy 11 Records missing.
New York – Baltimore 20/02/46 – Jacksonville 03/03/46 – Savannah 06/03/46 – Antwerp 31/03/46 – Liverpool 07/04/46 – New York 22/04/46.
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