S.S. KWINANA

 

S.S. Kwinana
S.S. Kwinana

 

 

 

 

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The ship that gave its name to the town of Kwinana was originally called the Darius.

She was built in 1892 by William Doxford and Sons at Sunderland in England for a syndicate of owners based in Melbourne, Australia. (Archibald Currie and Co.)

The 3,295 ton vessel was powered by a steam engine and had a top speed of 10 knots.

Essentially built as a cargo ship for use in the export of livestock, she spent her early years transporting horses to Imperial forces based in India.

Apart from a broken tailshaft on August 18th 1899, the ship had a fairly uneventful start to her career.

In June 1912 the ship was purchased by the West Australia government for 19,000 pounds sterling. The original plan was to change the name to Kimberley but other vessels were already using the name and the Board of Trade did not approve it.

The name Kwinana was chosen based on a sub-division in the Kimberley cattle district in the north of the state. Kwinana is an Aboriginal word meaning 'Pretty maiden'.

A partial re-fit to the stern of the ship added passenger quarters allowing for the transport of up to 24 people.

The S.S. (State Ship) Kwinana was to be used to transport cargo and people along the west coast and as she was already fitted to carry horses, she was an ideal choice to bring cattle to Perth from the north-west stations.

The ship made some trips overseas to places like China, South Africa and New Zealand but most of her duties centered on the West Australian coastal trade.

 

S.S. Kwinana wreck

 

Despite being a steady ship, Kwinana began to encounter a series of problems. On one voyage 175 of her cargo of around 780 cattle died shortly after leaving Wyndham.

Other incidents recorded included a leaking condenser, touching bottom as she crossed Success Bank, a coal fire in No. 2 lower hold, a collision with Fathom Rock in the Caimbridge Gulf, a leak in No.1 hold, and another coal fire only discovered when the ship was between Shark Bay and Geraldton.

The ship eventually made for Carnarvon where the smouldering coal was removed but by then heat has breached a bulkhead and ignited a large cargo of timber.

Although the fire was eventually brought under control, the damage to the fore part of the ship was extensive but it was determined that she could be made seaworthy enough to be taken south for further examination.

The crew disagreed and refused to sail in her unless they were paid danger money. This resulted in charges being laid against the crew for refusal of duty but after another independant assesement of the ship, the case was thrown out of court.

The original crew were dismissed and sent back to Perth and a new crew brought up to Carnarvon for the return voyage.

She collided with the S.S. Port Stevens in Gage Roads and incurred further damage. When she finally made it to port (by being towed in) an investigation found her unfit for service and unecconomical to repair.

Any fittings of value were stripped out and she was moored at Careening Bay off Garden Island to await her fate.

As it happened the weather was the thing that decided her end as on the 29th of May 1922 she broke her mororings in a storm and was grounded on the far side of Cockburn Sound where her scant remains still sit today.

In 1941, army engineers planted charges in the old hull and the resulting expolision demolished a large section of the ship. In 1959 the remaining part of the hull was cut down to the waterline and later the last part of the ship was filled with limestone and concrete.

State Shipping didn't do too badly in the end as they repaed 17,000 pounds in an insurance payout for a ship that only had a written down value of 4,500.

 

S.S. Kwinana wreck
The resting place of the old ship. (The jetty is no longer there.)

 

 

 

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