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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author


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Author’s private collection


MS Port Sydney

Later names: Akrotiri Express, Daphne, Switzerland, Ocean Monarch

Currently cruising as the MV Princess Daphne


The John Whitehead Story


Life as an Engineer on MS Port Sydney

By John Whitehead

Page Three


Ports of Call

It would be in Aden where we would take on fuel supplies I.e. oil bunkers. This was always an interesting port of call as it was a duty free port and a favourite stopping point for a trip ashore to buy the latest cameras and watches for the crew and passengers alike.


A view from the crows nest on forward mast of the ship departing Aden


A clear wake view showing the power of the twin screws under full speed which was rated at 17 knots


Port Sydney is traversing the Suez Canal before the difficulties arose in the Middle East

The Port Said salesmen were colloquially called bum boat men. They were very enterprising and sold just about anything you could think of including radios watches cigarettes and in this picture Christmas decorations. Arriving at any port, ship security was very important. We had to ensure that all doors and portholes were closed and locked especially during the Suez Canal transit.

This is one of the Port Said salesmen who frequently came on board


The ships doctor

We had a very popular English Lady ships Doctor who was the centre of attention, especially on farewell parties. This was usually prior to passengers disembarking the ship. She would be there dressed up together with the senior officers in formal dress as was the custom on these occasions. All on board found her very attractive and easy to speak to. Unfortunately I cannot recall her name after so long.

The ships doctor and officers at one of the passenger farewell parties

We were fortunate that Port Sydney spent quite a reasonable time in port, but especially in Melbourne where the ship would discharge some of the outbound cargo, and then proceed to other Australian ports.

The ship seen in Sydney, with a chap in a typical Trilbi hat

Having been to the other ports she would return to Melbourne to load a cargo of frozen mutton as the holds were equipped with a large Co2 system which were well managed by two refrigeration engineers, for the return journey home to the UK.

Port Sydney seen in Melbourne with her derricks busily working with bales of wool

Hence Melbourne became our favourite port of call, so most of us soon became very knowledgeable of the location of all the shore delights! In those days, pubs (bars) in Melbourne were strictly controlled as to their opening hours, one of which the early evening opening of just half an hour ie. 6 from to 6.30pm so there was a rush to down as many pints as possible in the time permitted! One of the most famous pubs was the “Young & Jackson” on the corner of Swanston & Flinders Streets. It has a huge classic style painting of a naked lady named “Chloe” at the end of a very long bar, which always produced a many a caustic comment from amongst our chaps!

Some of our engineers posing in front of Chloe


Sailing Home to the UK


The work in Melbourne is almost done and she is ready to depart for the UK

Two extra “crew members” came on board as they were working their passage to the UK. They were the sons of two large sheep rearing farms in New South Wales, Australia. One of them told me that his father’s farm was larger than Wales in the UK.

These are the two who joined the ship and worked their way to the UK

Right is Peter Bishop of the “Woolton Pastorial Company Pty Ltd,” Bunnan. Scone. N.S.W.

Now on our way home to England and with the ship fully loaded with a frozen cargo from Australia, we had the occasion to pass one of the companies ships, the Port Auckland, which has been built at my old company’s shipyard at Hebburn Upon Tyne in 1950. As you can imagine, this was an important event with ships sirens two ships are saluting each other at sea!

Passing the Port Auckland at sea

I recently discovered an old letter I had written home whilst on board the ship when we were in Adelaide dated December 23, 1959, in which I wrote that the ship would be sailing for Dunkirk on December 26, 1959 arriving on January 30, 1960, after calling at Aden on the journey to take on bunkers. This would gave us Christmas day in port – A day to remember, as the dock workers would also be on holiday. The outside temperature was over 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or nearly 45 degrees centigrade). After our Christmas dinner when most were in a merry mood someone had discovered an ice machine on the quay side which for the price of a shilling coin, a block of ice could be obtained one foot cube (30 cm3). This ice seemed to go everywhere on the ship! Such was the hilarity!

Port Sydney has arrived in Europe and she is seen here in Dunkirk


We have finally returned home to Liverpool UK, the ship unloads and start the whole voyage again!



In Conclusion


MS Port Sydney seen in Sydney

I was always interested in photography, and I was fortunate in those days to own a twin lens Rolliflex and also a 35 mm Contraflex single lens reflex camera, although the processing usually had to wait until I was back in the UK. After leaving the ship for the last time in the UK I had to start studying for my chief’s diesel endorsement certificate, and thankfully I was successful, so photography had to take back stage along with my interest in astronomy. Fifty years have now passed by since I last sailed on the Port Sydney, but the ship amazingly continues to sail being converted to a passenger cruise ship, and re named MV Princess Daphne. I understand however that the original hull and engine room is in its original state. This ship is a fantastic tribute to the people who built her in the yards of the river Tyne over fifty five years ago! I would certainly like to see that old engine room again. See the short item on her at the bottom of the page.

John Whitehead - ex Senior 3rd Engineer MV Port Sydney - October 1959 to March 1960

The photograph above was taken at the time John was aboard

The author of ssMaritime wishes to thank John Whitehead for his wonderful story and excellent selection of photographs taken whilst he was on the Port Sydney. I am sure that these pages will be greatly appreciated, and if you have sailed on the ship at that time, or you would like to make contact with John, please email me.

Reuben Goossens.


Port Sydney lives on as the …

Classic International Cruises

MV Princess Daphne


The solid and classic MS Port Sydney has become an elegant cruise ship, the MV Princess Daphne

She is operated by “Classic International Cruises”

From the collection

Port Sydney - INDEX

Part One:                  Read about the history of the Port Sydney

Part Two:                  John Whitehead Story - Page One - Story & photographs by John Whitehead Snr 3rd Engineer 1959/60

                                          John Whitehead Story - Page Two – The story continues

                                          John Whitehead Story - Page Three – Online in the near future

                                  Dave James Story        Page Four – Dave an engineer sails home to Australia

Part Three:               Discover her as a modern, but classic cruise ship – (on my cruise site -

Part Four:                 Princess Daphne DECK PLAN - (on my cruise site -

“Classic Ocean Voyages”

Why not Cruise on this Ship, or one of the superb Classic Ships still sailing today

Believe me it is worth it!



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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given. I know what it is like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other sites, yet these individuals either refuse to provide credit or remove them when asked, knowing full well that there is no legal comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show these charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit where credit is due!

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!




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