State Shipping Service of Western Australia

The State Shipping Service of Western Australia was a state government transport entity formed in 1912,[1] in Western Australia, primarily to service the ports of North West Australia.[2][3][4][5]

Originally named the State Steamship Service,[6] it was renamed as the State Shipping Service in 1919,[7] and again in 1979 as Stateships.[8]


On 4 May 1912, the State Steamships Service was formed by the Scaddan government in response to requests for improved services along the North West Australian coast after the Adelaide Steamship Company withdrew its services.[1][3][4][6][5] It was controlled by the Fremantle Harbour Trust between 1913 and 1918.[9] In January 1919 it was renamed the State Shipping Service (SSS).[10]

In November 1965, the SSS came under the responsibility of the newly formed Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission.[11] In January 1979 the service was rebranded Stateships.[12]

In June 1995 the government announced that Stateships would cease operations, with the remaining three vessels sold.[13][14][15] The government provided a subsidy to a privately operated service from Fremantle to Port Hedland, Broome and Wyndham until it ceased in 2013.[16][17]

The Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, administered by the Department of Transport, continues to deal with ongoing former employee compensation claims.[18]

The service's former offices in Fremantle are now used by the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, and various artefacts from the service are housed in the Fremantle Maritime Museum.


The service originally provided transport for passengers, goods and stock, with passenger services ceasing in 1973.[16]

Having previously operated exclusively between Western Australian and Northern Territory ports, in 1964 the SSS began operating an irregular service that circumnavigated Australia in a clockwise direction in six weeks. The first voyage left Fremantle on 11 March 1964, calling at Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. This service ceased in July 1969 with Kangaroo, Koojara and Koolama II having collectively operated 18 voyages.[19]


A collection in the Battye Library has a set of photographs of the ships that were used by the service.[20]

The ships used by the service included:


  1. ^ a b State Shipping Service: 50th anniversary. Fremantle, W.A.: The Service, [1962] Information on the Service's 50th anniversary.
  2. ^ STATE STEAMSHIPS SERVICE - 4 May 1912 – 31 Dec 1918
  3. ^ a b c Stephens, Alan Mitchell; Eric White Associates; State Shipping Service of Western Australia (1977), The stateships story: 1912–1977, Eric White Associates, ISBN 978-0-9500952-3-3
  4. ^ a b Bennett, June; Royal Western Australian Historical Society (1968), The State Shipping Service: the adversities of operation from 1912–68, retrieved 27 December 2011 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Walker, William; University of Western Australia. History Discipline Group; University of Western Australia. School of Humanities (2005), Western Australia's coastal shipping: the struggle for control 1863–1914, retrieved 27 December 2011 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Western Australia. State Steamship Service (1912), Inauguration of the State Steamship Service : Souvenir, Governemt Printer, retrieved 26 January 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "AU WA A770 - State Steamships Service". State Records Office of WA. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  8. ^ "AU WA A771 - State Shipping Service". State Records Office of WA. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  9. ^ State Steamships Service State Records Office
  10. ^ State Shipping Service State Records Office
  11. ^ Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act 1965 State Records Office
  12. ^ Stateships State Records Office
  13. ^ State Government Closes Stateships Premier of Western Australia 3 June 1995
  14. ^ North-West residents to be consulted on services to replace Stateships Minister for Transport 5 June 1995
  15. ^ a b c d Three former Stateships sold Minister for Transport 18 July 1995
  16. ^ a b c Remembering the state ship lifeline to the North West ABC Kimberley 19 February 2014
  17. ^ Shipping firm axes service The West Australian 25 August 2013
  18. ^ Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission annual report for year ended 30 June 2016 Government of Western Australia
  19. ^ a b c d Plowman, Peter (2007). The Great Australian Coastal Liners. Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 191–193. ISBN 9781877058608.
  20. ^ Western Australian Stateships [picture] : 1912-1987, pictorial record of all the ships in Stateships service since 1912. Leederville, W.A. : Australian Souvenirs Pty Ltd, 1987. 3rd Floor Pictorial. BA1009 Vol. 367
  21. ^ Beroona - description of ship recently added to the State Shipping Service - Geraldton Guardian, 8 August 1972, p.4f-g
  22. ^
  23. ^ Delamere Leaves on Maiden Voyage Adelaide Advertiser 20 May 1946
  24. ^ "SS. EUCLA". Albany Advertiser (WA : 1897 - 1950). WA: National Library of Australia. 19 January 1918. p. 2. Retrieved 26 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ Irene Greenwood: A Voice for Peace Radio National 18 December 2006
  26. ^ Australian Station Intelligence Summary Royal Australian Navy December 1955 page 22
  27. ^ The Koolama: New State Ship Expected at Fremantle in May Northern Times 5 February 1938
  28. ^ Koolinda The Yard
  29. ^ SS Kwinana Heritage Council of WA
  30. ^ State Supply Commission Tenders Invited Western Australian Government Gazette 16 June 1995 page 2356
  31. ^ Orloff, Izzy, 1891-1983; HRRC (1916), State ship Western Australia [picture], retrieved 26 January 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) - noting the library catalogue notes: "Western Australia was the third vessel in the Stateships fleet. Originally built for the Tsar of Russia, [as Mongolia] she was a hospital vessel in the Russo-Japanese War. After serving on the W.A. coast between 1912 and 1916 she was used by the British Admiralty as a hospital ship. She was sold to shipbreakers in 1935. Information from The Stateships story: 1912-1977 by Alan M. Stephens."[3]