SS Pfalz (1913)
Sister ship SS Pommern 1924 as USS Rappahannock
|Career (German Empire; Australia; Greece)|
|Port of registry:||Bremen (until 1914); Syra (after 1926)|
|Route:||Bremerhaven - Cape Town - Australia (for NDL)|
|Launched:||8 November 1913|
|Completed:||19 December 1913|
|Renamed:||HMT Boorara in 1914;
SS Nereus in 1926
|Identification:||Code Letters JGKW
 (from 1926)
|Class & type:||Rheinland - Class cargo ship|
|Length:||472.6 ft (144.0 m)|
|Beam:||59.2 ft (18.0 m)|
|Draught:||36.8 ft (11.2 m)|
|Installed power:||470 NHP|
|Propulsion:||triple expansion steam engine built by North East Marine Engineering Co, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; single screw|
|Speed:||12.5 knots (23.2 km/h)|
The Pfalz was a 6,557 ton cargo steamer operated by German shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd. The ship became the target of the first shot fired by Australian forces in World War I, soon after departing the Port of Melbourne in Australia.
Norddeutscher Lloyd service
The ship departed Victoria Dock in Melbourne on 5 August 1914, with Williamstown-based pilot Captain Montgomery Robinson aboard. As the ship passed Portsea it was momentarily stopped by the SS Alvina but allowed to proceed.
Just before the ship approached Port Phillip heads, the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery stationed at Fort Nepean was informed of the declaration of war with Germany, and had received an order to "stop her or sink her". Signals were hoisted, commanding the ship to halt. As the warning had no effect, a shot was fired across the bow of the ship from one of the fort's 6 inch Mk VII guns. These were the first Allied shots of the war.
The pilot convinced the ship's master that a second round would likely be directed at the ship itself, and the ship was turned around. The ship was taken back to Portsea where the crew was placed under arrest.
The ship was subsequently requisitioned for the Royal Australian Navy and refitted as a troop ship at Williamstown. It was renamed HMT Boorara. Soon after, it took part in the 2nd Australian convoy, with subsequent duties including the transportation of Turkish prisoners from the Dardanelles.
Later in the war, the ship was torpedoed twice in the English Channel. The first time, on 20 March 1918, she was stuck near Beachy Head and was towed to Newcastle for extensive repairs. The second time she was struck near Whitby on 23 July 1918 and was again repaired and, in 1919, was used to repatriate Australian troops.
Postwar civilian service
In August 1937, Nereus sailed in ballast from Moji in Japan for Port Alberni to load a cargo of lumber for the United Kingdom under charter to the Anglo-Canadian Shipping Co. On 8 August, in heavy fog, she ran aground on rocks about 1,000 feet (300 m) south-east of Cape Beale on Vancouver Island. The salvage steamer SS Salvage King from Victoria rescued her crew. Within 48 hours of grounding, Nereus broke her back and was lost.
- "Details of the Ship: Name: Pfalz". Plimsoll ShipData. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- "Norddeutsche Lloyd (NDL)". Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- "Point Nepean Forts Conservation Management Plan". Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- "Historic barrels fire up memories of battles past". The Age. 2004-08-04. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- "Coastal Defences of Colonial Victoria". Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- Cavangah, Tony. "Information on the German vessel SS Pfalz". Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "Australian Commonwealth Government Line Of Steamers". Flotilla Australia. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- McCurdy, H.W. (1966). Gordon, Newell, ed. Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Superior Publishing Co. p. 457.