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    SHIPS USED BY MALTESE MIGRANTS - From Malta to Australia

    Disclaimer: The number of voyages of these ships and the number of passengers may be inaccurate. Therefore, we do not take any responsibility for unintentional inaccuracies.

    Ships on Charter

    The final adieu, November 1950
    The final adieu, November 1950

    Regular shipping for migrants to Australia really began in April 1948 when the Asturias left Malta ,on April 23. In fact she had made a previous trip, on November 20, 1947, when one hundred emigrants had left on her, but many of them were returning emigrants who had paid anything from �58 to �80 to get as far as Melbourne. However from April 1948 to August 1952 the Asturias made fifteen trips to Australia thus earning for herself the sixth place among those ships which made most trips from Malta to Australia. The undisputed primacy goes to the aptly named Sydney which between December 15, 1951, and February 13, 1966, made thirty-nine trips between Malta and Australia. When the Columbia carried on her 1,075 migrants, that was considered then as the largest group ever carried to Australia in one voyage. The Columbia left on November 21, 1949. On that day Mr Cole expressed his obvious satisfaction at practically solving the problem of providing a reliable shipping service for emigrants.

    This is not to say that Mr Cole had solved the shipping problem to the satisfaction of everybody. While it was true that the Maltese Government had successfully obtained enough ships to carry those who wished to emigrate, there were complaints about some ships and about their sea worthiness and the kind of accommodation provided on board. Complaints appeared in the Maltese press about the Columbia. Although during question time in the Legislative Assembly Mr Cole had stated that the Columbia's trip was normal he did admit that during her journey three babies, only a few months old,had died at sea.

    On April 26, 1949, the ship called Misr took to Australia seven hundred Maltese passengers. The ship had been built in the U.S.A. only six years before and was now owned by the Soc. Misr de Navigation Maritime of Alexandria, Egypt. In 1947 the Misr had embarked on her first voyage to Australia carrying on board a number of passengers who had originated from the Middle East. When the Maltese arrived on the Misr and disembarked first in Melbourne then in Sydney, some sections of the Australian Press had taken them for Levantines. Once on dry land the Maltese themselves complained about the accommodation they had been given in common dormitories. Complaints reached Malta about the ship Ocean Victory which had left on February 26, 1950. On her were 1,024 emigrants and these included forty-two babies, one hundred and sixty children between the ages of one and five years, and one hundred and eighteen between five and eleven years. Three qualified nurses were in charge of the child n. Labour representatives in the Legislative Assembly asked for a discussion on the accommodation provided on some of the ships being chartered by Mr Cole's department.

    Labour politician, Mr N. Laiviera, claimed that he had received letters from emigrants he knew who had bitterly complained about conditions on board the Ocean Victoyy. Mr Laiviera did admit that better accommodation meant more expensive fares. His colleague, Mr D. Mintoff, wanted to know if there was any truth in the rumour that a child had died. Mr Mintoff quoted from the Australian newspaper, The Daily Telegraph ofapril 3, 1950, which said that customs officials had described the Ocean Victory as a hell-ship. The captain himself admitted that a baby boy of ten months had died and so did another of sixteen months. Many of the passengers claimed they had suffered from dysentery while their linen was changed only once. Mr Anthony Cassar said that rain seeped into their sleeping quarters and Mrs Mary Grech, a mother with three girls and a boy, said that they lived on boiled potatoes and spaghetti.

    Complaints were also raised about the ship Florentia which made three trips from Malta to Australia between December 15, 1950, and August 21, 1951. She had been built in Dunbarton, Scotland, in 1914. Some of those who travelled on t e ren felt that the ship was not fit to cross the Indian Ocean, especially between May and September when the monsoons were likely to occur. One particular trip created quite a stir. The Florentia was expected in Grand Harbour, Valletta, on April. She was to carry 1,039 passengers but these were kept waiting for a number of days until she finally made port eleven days later.

    The trip to Australia was uneventful, but chaos was let loose when she finally berthed at North Wharf, Melbourne, on May 31. Many relatives had been anxiously waiting for a very long time and tempers were short. On disembarking, one immigrant decided to run towards his relatives while his luggage was still being inspected by immigration officials. He was soon caught, but other waiting relatives and friends joined the fray. In the fracas that ensued three immigration officials were hurt and so were two Maltese. Five were arrested. One was accused of causing bodily to an immigration official while the other cases deferred.

    An official comment from the Maltese Department of Emigration said about the incident "The man in question was only trying to kiss his mother before customs formalities had been finished. He had been already warned to wait, but he insisted on rushing to his mother. The other Maltese were all waiting on the quay. None of the arriving immigrants were involved".

    It was obvious that the Maltese Government could not ignore the criticism in Malta and abroad about some of the chartered ships, particularly the Ocean Victory and the Ocean Triumph.. that if the decision to hire both ships had been solely on his own he would have never decided in favour of were made to him during the voyage. He had sent a telegram to Malta expressing his favourable impression about the behaviour of the Maltese and that he thought that they would make good settlers.

    Source: The Safety Valve (1997), author Fr Lawrence E. Attard, Publishers Enterprises Group



    2 VOYAGES 1970, 1972 401 Maltese Migrants


    Number of voyages - 2 1962 -63 3 Maltese Passengers


    1949-1960 Number of voyages - 15 3,288 Maltese Passengers.

    AUSTRALIA Lloyd Triestino

    1952 Number of voyages - 1 268 Maltese Migrants.


    1947 -52 Number of voyages - 18 4770 Maltese Passengers


    Sitmar Lines

    Number of voyages - 6 1955 1958 3,276 Maltese passengers.

    CASTEL VERDE - Sitmar Line

    1954 Number of voyages - 2 556 Maltese Migrants.


    1950 - 1954 Number of voyages - 6 999 Maltese Passengers.


    1954-1962 Number of voyages - 1,724 Maltese Passengers.


    HOBSONS BAY Shaw Saville line

    1934 -36 Number of voyages - 6 72 Maltese Passengers.

    LARGS BAYShaw Saville Line

    1948 - 56 Number of voyages - 28 324 Maltese Migrants


    1952 Number of voyages - 1 352 Maltse Passengers



    1939 Number of voyages - 1 Number of Maltese Passengers - 2


    1962 Number of voyages - 1 Number of Maltese Passengers - 156


    1936 - 37 Number of voyages - 3 Number of Maltese Passengers - 12


    1936 - 37 Number of voyages - 3 Number of Maltese Passengers - 4


    1958 Number of voyages - 1 Number of Maltese Passengers - 2



    Sydney - Roma Sydney and Roma were rebuilt from WW2 escort carriers in 1948-51. They carried 800 passengers on the Italy-Australia route. Roma was scrapped in 1967, and Sydney then took this name and was used on Mediterranean cruising. She was sold in 1968 and broken up in 1975.

    1959 - 65 Number of voyages - 22 Number of Maltese Passengers - 3849


    See also ANNIVERSARY OF THE SS SKAUBRYN 1958 - 2008


    Some of the Maltese male survivors of the MV Skaubryn on the wharf in Aden. The ship caught fire on its way to Australia not long after coming out of the Suez Canal and into the Indian Ocean

    1951-58 - - Number of voyages - - 4
    Number of Maltese Passengers - 2576

    The Skaubryn left Malta on the last day of March 1958, having embarked 169 men, women and children at Valletta. About 3 days out of Aden, in the Indian Ocean, fire swept the decks from the direction of the engine room and soon the vessel was engulfed in flames. Passengers were assisted to lifeboats, the ship was abandoned and soon sank. Some passengers were rescued by the 'CITY OF SYDNEY', a tanker and a tug. Returned to Aden, the passengers completed their journey to Australia in "Roma" and "Orsova!'. No one lost their life in direct consequence of the fire.

    Departed Greenock Saturday, 22 September 1883    Arrived MALTA 2 October Sailed 3 October   Arrived Port Said 7 October via Suez Canal   Arrived Aden 14 October Sailed 14 October   Arrived Colombo 23 October Sailed 25 October   Arrived Batavia I November Sailed 3 November   Arrived Thursday Is. 13 November   Arrived Cooktown 15 November   Arrived TOWNSVILLE 16 November 1883  


    1934 - 39 Number of voyages - 9 Number of Maltese Passengers - 107


    1950 Number of voyages - 1 Number of Maltese Passengers - 905



    Length: 168,7 m Beam: 21,35 m GRT: 16,755 t
    Built: 1928 John Brown & Co Ltd., Clydebank, Scotland
    Operator: New Zealand Shipping Co
    Speed: 15 kn
    Passengers: 598
    Sister ships:
    Rangitane (1), Rangitata

    She was built for England - New Zealand via Panama canal service.
    She operated as a troopship in 1940-47 and resumed New Zealand in 1948.
    She was scrapped in Spain in 1962.

    1946 Number of voyages - 1 Number of Maltese Passengers - 64

    50th Anniversary of the arrival of RANGITIKI in Australia


    1948 -59 Number of voyages - 10 Number of Maltese Passengers - 111



    1940 - 58 Number of voyages - 3 Number of Maltese Passengers - 470



    1940 - 58 Number of voyages - 3 Number of Maltese Passengers - 1732

    SS. Strathaird", 22,500 gross tons, was built by Vickers Armstrong, and launched on 18th July 1931. Her maiden voyage to Brisbane started from Tilbury on 12th February 1932. She was broken up in Hong Kong in 1961. Her main ports-of-call were Malta, Port Said, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Freemantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
    SS Strathaird's sister ships were SS Strathnaver, SS Strathmore, SS Stratheden and SS Strathallan. They still can be found on the bed of the Mediterranean Sea about 20 kilometres from the coast of North Africa. They were struck by two German torpedoes during World War 2.


    1948 - 59 Number of voyages - 5 Number of Maltese Passengers - 1732



    1949 - 1955 Number of voyages - 10 Number of Maltese Passengers - 3381

    TAHITIEN Messageries Maratimes

    1959 Number of voyages - 1 Number of Maltese Passengers - 60

    TOSCANA - Lloyd Triestino

    1948 - 57 Number of voyages - 5 Number of Maltese Passengers - 1202

    UGOLINO VIVALDI Lloyd Triestino

    1949 Number of voyages - 2 Number of Maltese Passengers - 18


    1946 The VICTORIUS carrying 1088 passengers from the United Kingdom wartime evacuees returning to Singapore, picked 15 men from Malta. These Maltese migrants completed ther voyage to Australia on the Blue Funnel Line Steamship 'GORGON"

    and arrived at Fremantle on 12 December 1946


    BUILT 1883. Gr. T. 2964 Captain James Smith.

    A passenger-cargo vessel, the "Nuddea" was built for the British Indies Steam Navigation Company by William Denny Brothers, Dumbarton, being laid down as yard number 270 on 10 October 1882, launched on 6 May 1883 and delivered on 6 July 1883. Her building cost was $570 000

    and on trials she achieved 12.9 knots. A coal burning three masted vessel, she had the following particulars:

    Length 320 feet   Beam 42 feet   Depth 28.5 feet   23.25 feet    Gross Tonnage 2964   Net Tonnage 1932   Summer Deadweight 4060 tons  

    She was fitted with accommodation for 32 First Class and 15 Second Class passengers, and also carried a large number of unberthed deck passengers, being certified for a maximum of 1695.

    On this Passenger-Cargo Vessel came the first group of migrants on contract to work on the Queensland Cane Fields

    A single screw ship, her engine was compound steam reciprocating, with an indicated horse power of 2250, giving a speed of about 12 knots, steam being provided by two boilers working at 75 lbs. per square inch. One of four sister ships she probably made one or two voyages to Australia from the UK when new, via the Torres Strait to Brisbane, but was soon transferred to her intended service in the Indian Ocean trades. She had an exemplary career with the B.I., which included service as a trooper during the Boer War. She was eventually sold in June 1911 for breaking up in Genoa.


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