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With Reuben Goossens\
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author
SS Ocean Monarch ~ History - 1970 to 1975
With the Empress of England
having been sold to Shaw Savill Lines on April 1, 1970, she was officially
renamed the SS Ocean Monarch on April
4, thus she had now lost the prefix RMS. Shaw Savill had decided to send
her straight to Australia without any changes, except repainting her funnel to
the traditional Shaw Savill livery and painting the broad green band white.
During this time the ship was prepared and stocked up and crewed and she
maiden arrival on May 15, 1970. Note that her aft decks have not been altered as yet!
She remained in
Shaw Savill had decided to give her this complete overhaul and turn her into a suitable cruise ship a cost of £2 million with the work done at Cammell Laird's Birkenhead Yards. The Cammell Laird project manager, Mr William Cooke, stated:
“The conversion is an extremely big job and has to be carried out in a comparatively short time. I would like to say that our chances on improving on the schedule are slim compared with our chances of over-running it!”
The Ocean Monarch arrived at Birkenhead on September 17, 1970 and the work commenced starting with the removal of the ships cargo holds and the major cargo handling gear, in addition there was an extensive re-design of the ship’s stern, adding new aft decks that would include a well designed Swimming Pool, including a children’s wading pool an excellent Lido Deck with a Bar.
Lounges: Directly below the new Lido Pool and Deck there was the brand new spacious “Tavern” that had a very long Bar hugging the lower pool tank. The Tavern served in the evening as a Discotheque and the ships Night Club. Whilst on the starboard side there was a Coffee Bar as well as a BBQ.
This is “The Tavern” – It had a dance floor, band stand and so much more
Obviously, this proved to be one of the most popular venues on the ships, day and night! Most of the original Empress Lounges and her dining rooms were refreshed, but remained mostly much like they were!
Accommodations: Internally additional cabins were added and other accommodations were refitted. Considering that like all Shaw Savill ships, the Ocean Monarch had become a One Class ship, after her refit she now accommodated 1,372 passengers whilst on line voyages, but just 1,250 whilst she was cruising.
Here we see one of the new built two berth cabins with private facilities
This is one of the original four berth cabins (almost unchanged), which can be sold as a twin
or a three berth as well, but it has no private facilities
For more interior and exterior photo’s go to Page Three!
Sadly, the refit took much longer than it had
originally been stated by Cammell Laird as she should have been ready to sail
in June 1971. But due to the delay the original
However, the work on the Ocean Monarch was constantly slowed down with problems, such as Union unrest and thus ongoing strikes. She was due to be ready to depart on her very first cruise on April 23, 1971, but this would not eventuate and she was finally completed and ready to sail on September 17, 1971. Tragically as a result Shaw Savill were forced to cancel seven out of the eight cruises they had planned for the UK summer and due to this they lost a massive £12 million in revenue. In addition, the final cost of the ships refit had also doubled to £4 million, and Cammell Laird had had made a loss of around £1.25 million on the job, due to their own underestimation of the refit costs, but also due to the slowing of the work due to the ongoing union strikes that impeded the work. How typically British of those days!
Thus, the Ocean Monarch was able to operate just a single cruise departing
Southampton on October 16, 1971, being her maiden cruise to the
Here we see the newly built up stern of a gleaming white Ocean Monarch ready to depart
Having returned she departed Southampton on November 5, 1971, sailing via
bow of the Ocean Monarch at
For the next five months she operated cruises
we see the SS Ocean Monarch at
Photograph taken by & © Mr. Dennis McMillan, provided by Scott McMillan
She had been originally scheduled to make just
two long cruises from
“We were onboard during our later cruise
when the crew went on a mass strike and remained mostly on the wharf in
For this reason the Ocean Monarch could not
depart and she remained in
This is a delightful Shaw Savill Publicity poster of the SS Ocean Monarch that was sent to agents
Please respect my © Copyright as the poster is my property!
Being so large, having photographed it I have placed a slightly larger version online for you to enjoy!
Click the IMAGE to see it
When the photograph appears click on it once and it will enlarge again
the Ocean Monarch did remain in
This occurred in
May 1974 as the Ocean Monarch
departed Sydney and headed Southampton from where she operated another series
of UK based cruises, but her schedule was again disrupted due to boiler
problems, which as I had stated above had been ongoing for some, but at least
she was close to home. But it appeared that it had now become worse and could
not be handled by the ships engineers. It turned out that soon these very
problems would seal her fate, however after she had been repaired SS Ocean
Monarch was a ship that was really “not too well” yet Shaw Savill
returned her to
Ocean Monarch back in
Yet Shaw Savill felt that she was ready to head Down Under
Tragically she did not last very
long in Australia this time, for the truth is, those of us in the know, knew
well that it just had to happen, for sadly mechanical failures occurred again
very early in 1975, that caused a cruise to be cancelled. Obviously it was a
great disappointment to so many who had booked on her, for let’s face it;
she had become essentially a very popular ship! She went into a
Here a sad looking Ocean Monarch is seen in Dry-Dock
With emergency work completed, the once great
RMS Empress of
sad farewell to the a not such an old ship as she finally departs
Following the Ocean Monarch‘s arrival at Southampton on June 5, 1975, the ship had been sold to Taiwanese ship breakers and she departed Southampton just eight days later, on June 13, and reached Kaohsiung on July 17. Upon arrival she was handed over to “Chi Shun Hwa Steel Co Ltd,” and they commenced breaking her up on October 12, 1975.
Farewell “Great White Empress” and Ocean Monarch, for since commencing sailing to being broken up she was aged just 18 years old!
A most miserable looking Ocean Monarch seen whilst on her final legs and sadly looking a mess!
Following the Ocean Monarch‘s arrival at
Southampton on June 5, 1975, the ship was sold to Taiwanese ship breakers. She
departed Southampton on June 13, and eventually reached
Ocean Monarch had been Shaw Savill’s second last major passenger ship as the SS Southern Cross had been sold in 1973, and there was still the much newer but ailing SS Northern Star, which was sold to the breakers in the same year, in November 1975. Shaw Savill had just run out of funds to maintain their ships, between the ailing Ocean Monarch which cost a fortune, being such an old ship, thus parts were so expensive, but when Shaw Savill built the Northern Star, the made some major error in their engineering department, just to save money and that stupid decision cost them far more in the long run and destroyed their company! Some may say, “How dare you say this.” Well below you will find the proof from the horses’ mouth!
Speaking at Shaw Savill's Annual General Meeting in June 1975, Shaw Savill’s Chairman Lord Beeching spoke about the situation of having to sell the Ocean Monarch:
“Ships such as the Ocean Monarch inspire a strong sentimental attachment, and I am sure that many of our shareholders will regret her passing, just as we do. Nevertheless, it must be said that from a financial point of view the Ocean Monarch’s disposal gives rise to nothing but a sigh of relief. She has become a loss-making worry, and there can be no surer way of improving profitability than by withdrawing her from service.”
Remembering a Beautiful, but a much Troubled Cruise Ship & Liner!
SS Ocean Monarch seen in her better days!
SS Ocean Monarch Specifications:
Built as: Empress
Built at: Vickers-Armstrongs,
Launched: May 9, 1956.
Maiden Voyage: April 18, 1957.
Tonnage: 25,585 GRT (Gross Registered Tons).
“ 13,725 Net
“ 8,910 D.W. (Dead weight).
To Shaw Savill: April 1, 1970.
Renamed: Ocean Monarch on April 4.
Maiden Voyage: April
11, 1970 to
Tonnage: 25,971 after refit completed in September 1971.
Length: 640ft – 195m.
Beam: 85.3 ft – 25.9m
Draught: 29ft – 8.83m.
Engines: Six Steam D.R. Steam Turbines from the builder.
Screws: Twin 30,000 SHP.
Speed: 20 knots service speed, max speed 21 knots.
Passengers: 1,327 One Class passengers on line voyages
Z 1,250 One Class passengers during cruises.
Decks: Six passenger decks, plus two top decks for crew only.
Air: Fully Air-Conditioned.
Stabilisers: Denny-Brown stabilisers.
One: RMS Empress of
Page Two: SS Ocean Monarch - History & Photo’s - This Page.
Page Three: SS Ocean Monarch - Photo Page.
Page Four: SS Ocean Monarch - Deck Plan.
Commenced in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960
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