SS Orcades (1947)

SS Orcades was an ocean liner serving primarily the UK – Australia – New Zealand route. She started service as a British Royal Mail Ship (RMS) carrying first and tourist class passengers. Orcades carried many migrants to Australia and New Zealand [1] and was later used as a cruise ship, and is featured in the British Pathe films "I am a passenger" on YouTube. She also made several voyages from Canada (Vancouver). "Orcades" is the Latin name[2] for the Orkney Islands.

Orcades leaving Southampton, Christmas Eve 1969
United Kingdom
  • RMS Orcades
  • SS Orcades
Port of registryUnited Kingdom London
RouteUK – Australia via Suez, later transpacific and via Panama Canal to UK (also cruises)
BuilderVickers Armstrongs, Barrow-in-Furness
Yard number950
Launched14 October 1947
Completed14 November 1948
Maiden voyage14 December 1948
Out of service13 October 1972
IdentificationIMO number5264247
FateBroken up 1973, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
General characteristics
TonnageAs built: 28,164 GRT; 1959: 28,396 GRT; 1964: 28,399 GRT
Length709ft (216.1 m)
Beam90.6ft (25.0 m)
Draught31ft (9.4 m)
Installed power34,000shp
PropulsionGeared turbines, twin screws
Speed22 knots (41 km/h) service speed
CapacityAs built, 773 1st class, 772 tourist class (1959, 631 1st class, 734 tourist class. 1964, 1,635 tourist class)
NotesOriginally corn coloured hull; white from 1964 refit

Built at the Barrow-in-Furness yard of Vickers-Armstrong, Orcades (yard no. 950) had an identical hull and machinery to P&O's Himalaya (yard no. 951), but differed in superstructure and interior layout. The vessel's near-sister ships were Oronsay and Orsova

In 1952 Orcades was fitted with a 'top hat' funnel extension to clear smoke from the after decks. On 7 May 1952, she ran aground in Port Philip Bay half a mile off Rosebud Pier, Victoria, Australia.[3][4] She was refloated and returned to service.[5]

During the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Orcades served as an accommodation ship.[1]

Orcades was refitted in 1959 and 1964. In the 1964 refit, Orcades became a single-class vessel and her hull colour changed from "Orient corn" to white.



  1. ^ a b Post World War II Migrant Ships: Orcades, Museums Victoria
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Archived 2009-07-12 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "The Orcades Aground". The Times. No. 52305. London. 7 May 1952. col C, p. 6.
  4. ^ "ORCADES RELEASED FROM SANDBAR". The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate. Vol. 41, no. 377. New South Wales, Australia. 8 May 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 23 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Orcades Refloated". The Central Queensland Herald. Vol. 21, no. 1204. Queensland, Australia. 8 May 1952. p. 7. Retrieved 23 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.

Further readingEdit

  • Latimer, David W (2002) Passenger ships of the 20th century: an illustrated encyclopedia, p. 259, Colourpoint Books ISBN 1-898392-70-6

External linksEdit