SS Sophocles (1921)
|Operator:||Aberdeen Line (1921-1932)
Shaw, Savill & Albion Line (1926-1957)
|Route:||UK to New Zealand|
|Builder:||Harland & Wolff, Belfast|
|Launched:||22 September 1921|
|Fate:||Breakers yard, Faslane 1957|
|Length:||500 ft 3 in (152.48 m)|
|Beam:||63 ft 1 in (19.23 m)|
|Depth of hold:||39 ft 6 in (12.04 m)|
|Installed power:||5,200 s.h.p.|
|Propulsion:||2 × Steam turbines|
|Speed:||13.5 knots (25.0 km/h; 15.5 mph)|
Sophocles was built at the Harland and Wolff yard in Belfast. She and her sister ship SS Diogenes, like other Aberdeen Line ships were conceived primarily as cargo vessels. Sophocles had accommodation for 130 first class and 420 third class passengers.
In 1926, Sophocles and Diogenes were chartered by Shaw, Savill & Albion for the New Zealand trade. The third class accommodation was greatly improved and both ships benefitted from conversion from coal burning to oil, which brought an increase in speed to 15 knots, for the cost of £70,000 each. At this time Sophocles was renamed Tamaroa and Diogenes was renamed Mataroa (fr).
During World war II both Tamaroa and her sister ship were pressed into service as troopships. Tamaroa served in the North African campaign. At the end of hostilities, both vessels were refitted for tourist class only and served on the UK-Panama canal-New Zealand route until their scrapping in 1957.
In 1945, Mataroa made two famous journeys:
- In August 1945, the Mataroa was chartered to transport from Marseille to Haifa 173 Jewish children of the Œuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE), survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp, who had family in Palestine. She later transported 1,200 survivors of Bergen-Belsen.
- In late december 1945, the Mataroa brought from Greece to Taranto in southern Italy a number of Greek artists and intellectuals Greek aiming to reach Paris, in France, in the context of the Greek civil war. The vast majority were fellows of France. This trip was organized by the then Director of the French Institute of Athens (fr), philhellene Octave Merlier, and his deputy Roger Milliex, husband of Tatiana Gritsi-Milliex. Some of the passengers became internationally recognised artists, scientists or intellectuals, including: architect George Candilis, artists Constantine Andreou & Costa Coulentianos (fr), philosophers Kostas Axelos, Cornelius Castoriadis & Kostas Papaïoannou (fr), linguist Emmanuel Kriaras, filmmaker Ado Kyrou, physician Miltiadès Papamiltiadès.
- Famous liners of the past - Belfast Built - Laurence Dunn, 1964
- Andrikopoulou, Nelly (2007). Le Voyage du " Mataroa " [The Mataroa journey] (in Greek). Athens: Hestia. Lay summary.
- Cranaki, Mimika. " Mataroa " à deux voix. Journal d'exil [Mataroa with two voices. Exile diary] (in French). Benaki. ISBN 978-960-8347-77-9.
- "L'Odyssée du Mataroa, soixante-cinq ans après..." [The Mataroa Odyssey, 65 years later...] (in French). French Institute of Athens (fr). 20 December 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Koutouzis, Michel (1 June 2010). "Les voyages du Mataroa" [The Mataroa journeys]. AgoraVox (in French). Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Bordes, François (2011). "Exil et création : des penseurs grecs dans la vie intellectuelle française" [Exile & creation : Greek thinkers in French intellectual life]. In Jollivet, Servanne; Premat, Christophe; Rosengren, Mats. Destins d'exilés [Exiled destinies] (in French). Le Manuscrit. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- Castoriadis, Cornelius. "Cornelius Castoriadis parle de son voyage sur le Mataroa dans cet entretien avec le groupe Agora International" (in French).
- "R.M.S. Mataora 1922-1957". New Zealand Maritime record. Retrieved 17 August 2011.