Rover (yacht)

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United Kingdom
Name: Rover
Builder: Alexander Stephen and Sons, River Clyde, Scotland, UK
Renamed: Southern Cross, Orizaba (1939)
Fate: Scrapped c. 1960
General characteristics
Class and type: Steam yacht
Tonnage: 2,115 Thames Measurement[1]
Length: 266 ft 5 in (81.20 m)
Beam: 40 ft 4 in (12.3 m)
Draught: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Installed power: 3,000 shp (2,200 kW)
  • 2 × four crank triple expansion engines.
  • 3 × 60-kilowatt (80 hp) turbo-generators
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)

The Rover was a steam-powered yacht built in 1930 by Alexander Stephen and Sons in Glasgow, Scotland for Lord Inchcape, then chairman of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). Built as Stephen's Yard No. 527, she was 265 feet 5 inches (80.90 m) long with a beam of 40 feet 1 inch (12.22 m) and a tonnage of 2,115, and was considered "the most luxurious ever built on the Clyde".[2]


The yacht's figurehead was a likeness of Lord Inchcape's daughter, Elsie Mackay, who disappeared whilst attempting to fly the Atlantic in 1928.[3] With accommodation for up to 14 guests, she was painted green and white at launch with a predominately silver-coloured dining room.[4]

The Rover's state rooms featured en-suite marbled bathrooms. Dancing and games were staged on the open decks. Long-distance fuel tanks permitted long round-the-world voyages. During Cowes Week in August 1930, she was visited by the then King George V and Queen Mary.[5]

Later career[edit]

After Lord Inchcape's death aboard the Rover in Monte Carlo's harbour, Port Hercules in Monaco, on 23 May 1932,[6] rumours circulated that the Aga Khan would buy the yacht,[7] while a rumoured deal with King Carol II of Romania also fell through.[8] However, a year later she was bought by American business man Howard Hughes unseen and renamed Southern Cross.[2][9] She was subsequently sold to Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren, under whose ownership she helped rescue survivors from the SS Athenia, the first ship to be sunk by Nazi Germany during World War II.[10]

The vessel subsequently served in the Mexican Navy as Orizaba until she was scrapped around 1960.[8]


  1. ^ A Shipbuilding History. 1750-1932 (Alexander Stephen and Sons): Chapter 10
  2. ^ a b "Lord Inchcape's Yacht Bought By American". The Straits Times. Singapore Government. 21 December 1933. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  3. ^ "Lord Inchcape's Yacht Sold". Dundee Courier. British Newspaper Archive. 3 January 1933. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Lord Inchcape's New Yacht". Portsmouth Evening News. British Newspaper Archive. 4 July 1930. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  5. ^ Stephen, Alexander, & Sons (1932). A Shipbuilding History, 1750-1932: A Record of the Business Founded, about 1750, by Alexander Stephen at Burghead, and Subsequently Carried on at Aberdeen, Arbroath, Dundee and Glasgow. A. Stephen & Sons Limited.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Lord Inchcape". Hartlepool mail. British Newspaper Archive. 24 May 1932. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Aga Khan to Buy Inchcape Yacht?". Edinburgh Evening News. British Newspaper Archive. 1 July 1932. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  8. ^ a b Wisner, Bill (December 1975). "The Golden Age of Yachts". Motor Boating. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Film Producer Buys Yacht". Avalon, California: The Catalina Islander. 5 July 1933. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  10. ^ Francis Carroll (2012). Athenia Torpedoed: The U-Boat Attack that Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic. Naval Institute Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-61251-155-9.

External links[edit]