Some quite considerable time ago I set out to write a book on RMS Orford and as a result I have over 150 pages of notes concerning this magnificent ship. Accordingly, I was most interested in the article ‘Orford and an old World Cruise’ in the August 2013 issue of Sea Breezes. However, there a few matters which I should like to raise in this regard.
With respect to Orama (p35) this ship was built by Vickers Limited, not Vickers Armstrong as also was Otranto. I must also disagree with the use of the word ‘identical’ when referring to the five 20,000 ton liners of the Orient Line. All five had structural differences and these can be seen in photographs (if you know where to look). However, when comparing the last two, Orford and Orontes to the first of class Orama these differences are quite significant. With regard to the author’s description of the cramped third class accommodation I can still remember, as a six year old, in 1932 walking along a seemingly endless passage through this part of the vessel.
Orford was ordered in February 1926 from Vickers Limited and it was while she was under construction that the merger with Armstrong Whitworth took place which made Orford the first passenger ship to be delivered by Vickers Armstrong Limited. Nevertheless it is interesting to note that Lloyd’s Register records her builder as Vickers Limited.
The statement (p37) that Orford remained in Sydney from 22 November 1928 until 8 December is incorrect. Her movements during this period were:- Depart Sydney, Saturday Nov 24, for Brisbane.
Arrived Brisbane Monday Nov 26.
Depart Brisbane Thursday Nov 29 for Sydney.
Arrived Sydney Saturday Dec 1.
On March 19, 1932 it was P&O RMS Maloja, and not Orford, which was the flagship at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and embarked the official party. Orford was second in line behind the P&O liner in the procession of ships which passed under the Bridge. With respect to the final paragraph, Captain Savage and the local agent boarded the wreck as soon as it was safe to do so with the object of ascertaining whether there was any possibility of saving the ship. It soon became apparent to them that the ship could not be salved. The French authorities then flooded No 2 hold (forward) and No 4 hold (aft) not to deny use to the Germans as the ship was a total loss but to ensure that the wreck would not move. The wreck did not remain where beached but was refloated in August 1941 and towed to La Seyne for scrapping. It would appear that work must have proceeded very slowly as by war’s end the greater part of the hull was still intact. It remained at La Seyne until July 1947 when towed to Savona arriving there on the 31st.
The gatefold in the same issue featuring ss Nomadic was also of great interest. My wife and I were visiting Paris in June 1985 and on the 10th of that month made the mandatory (for tourists) visit to the Eiffel Tower. Looking down from the viewing platform to the river far below, I noticed on the opposite bank a ship which I instantly recognised. Leaving the tower and crossing the river and, while I thought it was a real long shot, I asked if we could come on board. Not only was this permitted but we were given a very warm welcome and were actually given an apology for the condition of the ship as she was undergoing a refit. I thought these photographs showing her in a different light, including the work bench and scattered pieces of timber, may be of interest.
DAVID W FINCH
21 Third Avenue, (P.O. Box 384)
Katoomba, NSW, 2780, Australia