MV Macdhui (1930)

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StateLibQld 1 90148 Macdhui (ship).jpg
MV Macdhui
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: Macdhui
Owner: Burns, Philp & Company, Limited
Operator: Burns, Philp Line
Port of registry: Sydney
Builder: Barclay Curle & Company, Whiteinch
Yard number: 644
Launched: 23 December 1930
Completed: March 1931
  • Official number: 157594
  • Signal: LGVM
Fate: Bombed 17 & 18 June 1942, burned, total loss
General characteristics [1][2]
Type: Passenger and Cargo ship
Tonnage: 4,561 GRT
Length: 341.9 ft (104.2 m) Registered
Beam: 51.2 ft (15.6 m)
Draught: 22 ft 0.75 in (6.7 m)
Depth: 29.1 ft (8.9 m)
Propulsion: Oil 8cyl, 653nhp
Speed: 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)

MV Macdhui was a steel hull passenger and cargo motor vessel built by Barclay Curle & Company at the Clydeholm Yard, Whiteinch, Scotland for Burns, Philp & Company, Limited, Sydney NSW, Australia.[1][2] The ship was launched on 23 December 1930 and completed during March 1931.[1] The ship operated with the company's Burns, Philp Line with service to Papua and New Guinea.[3] She was sunk in 1942, as a result of damage suffered by being hit by bombs from Japanese aircraft, near Port Moresby.


Macdhui was a three deck ship registered with Sydney as port of registry, official number 157594, signal LGVM, 4,561 GRT with registered length of 341.9 ft (104.2 m), breadth of 51.2 ft (15.6 m), 22 ft 0.75 in (6.7 m) draft with an eight cylinder engine built by J G Kincaid & Co. Ltd., Greenock.[1][2] On trials the ship attained a speed of 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h) and a wireless record establishing direct contact with Sydney from Scotland.[4] Macdhui crossed the Atlantic and after a rough voyage transited the Panama Canal, acquiring a ship's cat for luck at Balboa, on the delivery voyage to Australia.[5]

On 20 June 1937 a serious fire broke out in the ship's engine room in the early hours of the morning putting the ship in danger with passengers ordered to the boats. By four in the morning the engine room fire was out but damage was severe and the engines were disabled. The European passengers taken back aboard with some 150 islanders as deck passengers put ashore at Fortification Point. A second, minor fire broke out in the number four hold and was quickly put out. Responding to the distress call Neptuna, another of the company's ships, reached Macdhui the next day to tow the disabled ship to port.[6]

In December 1942 with Japanese threatening islands to the north the Australian government decided to begin evacuating women and children from New Guinea, Papua, and Darwin. Macdhui along with Katoomba, Neptuna, and Zealandia transported the evacuees to ports in Australia out of the way of immediate danger.[7] After Japanese landing on Rabaul some of the troops evacuated to Port Moresby were transported to Townsville aboard Macdhui in late April 1942.[8]

During June Japanese air raids continued at Darwin after the initial bombing on 19 February 1942 with a sixteenth raid on 13 June and raids continuing each night through 17 June when Port Moresby had the 61st raid where Macdhui was first hit amidships and gutted with three crew and one military working party member killed. The next day the ship was again hit, burned and became a total loss.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Scottish Built Ships: Macdhui". Caledonian Maritime Research Trust. 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Lloyds. "Lloyd's Register 1933—34" (PDF). Lloyd's Register (through PlimsollShipData). Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Dinner menu". Australian National Maritime Museum. 2 December 1938. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  4. ^ "New Burns, Philp Motorship, Macdhui". Pacific Islands Monthly. Sydney: Pacific Publications. 1 (8): 3. March 17, 1931. Retrieved 6 December 2018.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  5. ^ "Luck of the Macdhui". Pacific Islands Monthly. Sydney: Pacific Publications. 1 (11): 9. June 19, 1931. Retrieved 6 December 2018.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  6. ^ "Macdhui on Fire off N.G. Coast". Pacific Islands Monthly. Sydney: Pacific Publications. 7 (11): 4. June 23, 1937. Retrieved 6 December 2018.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  7. ^ Gill 1957, pp. 495—496.
  8. ^ Gill 1957, pp. 549—550.
  9. ^ Gill 1968, p. 88.


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