MV Duntroon

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MV Duntroon
Name: Duntroon
Owner: Melbourne Steamship Company
Builder: Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne
In service: 1935
Out of service: 1942
Fate: Requisitioned by Army
In service: 1942
Out of service: 1949
Fate: Returned to civilian service
  • Army control 1942–1946
  • Chartered by RAN 1946–1949
  • Duntroon (Melbourne Steamship Company)
  • Tong Hoo (Kie Hock Shipping Co.)
  • Lydia (Africa Shipping Co.)
In service:
  • 1950–60 (Melbourne Steamship Company)
  • 1961–66 (Kie Hock Shipping Co.)
  • 1966–67 (Africa Shipping Co.)
Fate: Broken up for scrap in 1973
General characteristics
Tonnage: 10,346 tons

MV Duntroon was a passenger ship built for the Melbourne Steamship Company, that saw military service as a troopship between 1942 and 1949. She was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne, and entered service in 1939.

At the start of World War II, Duntroon was requisitioned for conversion into an armed merchant cruiser, but was returned as unsuitable. In November 1940, Duntroon collided with and sank the auxiliary minesweeper HMAS Goorangai; the RAN's first loss of the war. In February 1942, Duntroon was requisitioned by the Australian Army for use as a troopship. The ship was involved in a second fatal collision in November 1943, sinking the destroyer USS Perkins. Her army service continued until 1946, when she was chartered by the RAN for transport duties with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.

Duntroon was returned to her civilian owners in 1950. In 1961, the ship was sold to Kie Hock Shipping Co. and renamed Tong Hoo. She was sold again in 1966 to Africa Shipping Co. and renamed Lydia. The ship was laid up in Singapore in 1967, and sailed to Taiwan for scrapping in 1973.


The 10,346 ton vessel was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne, in 1935 for the Melbourne Steamship Company of Australia.[1] She was designed for the East–West Australian coastal passenger service, from Melbourne to Adelaide and Fremantle.[2]

Operational history[edit]

Melbourne Steamship Company[edit]

Duntroon operated as a passenger transport until the start of World War II, when she was requisitioned for conversion into an armed merchant cruiser on 12 October 1939.[3][4] The ship was found to be unsuitable for the role, and was returned to her owners on 3 November.[3][4]

On the evening of 20 November 1940, Duntroon departed from Melbourne to begin a voyage to Port Adelaide and Fremantle.[2][5] At 20:37, while attempting to exit Port Phillip Bay, Duntroon collided with the blacked-out auxiliary minesweeper HMAS Goorangai, which was sailing to Portsea to anchor for the night.[5] The smaller ship was cut in two, and all 24 aboard were killed: the first RAN losses of World War II.[5] Duntroon attempted to recover survivors, but was only successful in finding six bodies.[5] The ship returned to Melbourne for bow repairs, which were completed on 18 December. Duntroon's captain was later exonerated of any blame for the accident.[2]

During late December 1941 and early January 1942, Duntroon was used to relocate captured officers from the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran from Fremantle to Murchison, Victoria.[6]

Military service[edit]

In February 1942, Duntroon was requisitioned by the Australian Army.[3] Duntroon was one of two Australian transports, the other being Katoomba, that were substituted for SS Mariposa to transport a U.S. Army fighter group's ground troops and equipment to India. The troops and crated P-40 pursuit aircraft had arrived in a convoy from San Francisco escorted by USS Phoenix, with Mariposa and the United States Army Transport Willard A. Holbrook intended to continue on to India; however, Mariposa was withdrawn and the Australian transports substituted. Phoenix, with Duntroon, Katoomba, and Holbrook, departed Melbourne on 12 February as convoy MS.5 bound for Colombo, Ceylon by way of Fremantle. There, USS Langley and Sea Witch joined with a cargo of aircraft for Java, and the convoy departed Fremantle on 22 February. Langley and Sea Witch left the convoy to proceed independently to Java[when?] while the remaining ships continued under Phoenix's escort until that cruiser was relieved by HMS Enterprise on 28 February, about 300 miles west of Cocos Island. The convoy arrived at Colombo on 5 March.[7]

Duntroon transported elements of the Second Australian Imperial Force from the Middle East back to Australia before commencing operations in the South West Pacific and Far East.[citation needed]

Duntroon was involved in a second collision in November 1943, this time with United States Navy destroyer USS Perkins. The destroyer was sailing from Milne Bay to Buna when she was rammed portside amidships and cut in two by Duntroon just before 02:00 on 29 November, 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) from Ipoteto Island.[8] Nine Americans were killed, and one injured.[3] A court of inquiry, held in San Francisco the following month, later held the captain of Perkins accountable for the incident, along with his executive officer and officer-of-the-deck.[3]

After being repaired, Duntroon returned to service, and between 24 and 28 December 1944, she transported the 58th/59th Battalion from Julago, Queensland to Torokina, Bougainville.[9] After the war's end, Duntroon was used to repatriate prisoners of war to Australia from Singapore; throughout her wartime career she transported over 170,000 troops.[3] The ship left Army service in April 1946, but was chartered by the RAN three months later.[10] While in RAN service, Duntroon was used to transport personnel of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force between Japan and Australia until late 1948.[10]

Return to civilian service[edit]

Duntroon was returned to her owners in March 1949, and resumed coastal passenger and cruising services in August 1950. On 23 October 1950, she was damaged by fire while berthed in the Yarra River.[10] In 1960, Duntroon was sold to the Grosvenor Shipping Co. and was towed to Hong Kong by the tug Ajax. The ship's bell was removed; this was later installed on the parade ground of the Royal Military College Duntroon, in Canberra.[11] She was resold to Kie Hock Shipping Co. in 1961 and was renamed Tong Hoo and used on the Hong Kong–Indonesia passenger service.[3] Tong Hoo was sold in 1966 to the Africa Shipping Co., renamed Lydia and used for the India–Pakistan–East Africa route.[citation needed]


She was laid up in 1967 at Singapore for her last voyage Yokosuka to Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1973 where she was scrapped.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Kludas, Arnold. Great Passenger Ships of the World. 3 (1924–1935). p. [page needed]. OCLC 741730989. 
  2. ^ a b c Plowman, Peter (2007). Coast to Coast: The Great Australian Coastal Liners. Dural, New South Wales: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 124–126. ISBN 978-1-877058-60-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Howarth, Ross (May 1999). "Motor Vessel Duntroon" (PDF). The Duntroon Society (1/1999): 1–2. 
  4. ^ a b Straczek, J.H. (1996). Royal Australian Navy: A-Z Ships, Aircraft and Shore Establishments. Sydney: Navy Public Affairs. p. 60. ISBN 1876043784. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Goorangai" (PDF). Occasional Papers of the Royal Australian Naval Professional Studies Program. Royal Australian Navy. 1 (1). November 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Olson, Wesley (2000). Bitter Victory: The Death of HMAS Sydney. Nedlands, WA: University of Western Australia Press. p. 111. ISBN 1-876268-49- 2. OCLC 45722719. 
  7. ^ Gill, G. Hermon (1957). Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy. 1. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. pp. 601–602. LCCN 58037940. 
  8. ^ "Perkins". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical Center (United States Navy). Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Mathews, Russel (1961). Militia Battalion at War: The History of the 58/59th Australian Infantry Battalion in the Second World War. Sydney: 58/59th Battalion Association. pp. [page needed]. OCLC 222036875. 
  10. ^ a b c Plowman, Peter (2007). Coast to Coast: The Great Australian Coastal Liners. Dural, New South Wales: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 149–152. ISBN 978-1-877058-60-8. 
  11. ^ Coulthard-Clark, Chris (1986). Duntroon: The Royal Military College of Australia, 1911–1986. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-86861-883-8. OCLC 15053240.