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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer
Please Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!
front cover photo of
PLEASE NOTE: Photograph and Images on this SS America / Australis feature are from the author’s private collection or as marked
This page covers the
second stage of the SS America life, for she was sold to become the much-loved Chandris Liner SS
Australis. I will cover
her glory years as wonderful Australis, which was a ship that I was very
closely associated considering I worked with Chandris in
However, this page contains the complete story of this great ship after the days of the SS America, and I do know that countless thousands of people have countless wonderful memories of their voyage on the Australis, I know, I certainly do!
Maritime Historian, Author & Lecturer & Cruise'n'Ship Reviewer.
Working & Involved for almost 55 years in the Passenger Shipping Industry.
Australis takes to sea bound for
SS America was sold to Chandris Lines on October 5, 1964, and was
handed over 12 days later when she was transformed externally with her funnels
pained blue emblazoned with the famed Chandris large white –X-.
On the same day the
The superb grand Ballroom
A postcard provided by ex steward Amos Ramponi
The Smoke Room
A postcard provided by ex steward Amos Ramponi
wonderful photograph of the SS Australis in
In 1968 several
exterior changes were made, with her hull being painted a light grey, and her
mainmast was removed. In 1967 she was reregistered in
Australis is seen in
She is now has an aft funnel short signal mast on top of her aft funnel
SS Australis seen after the 1968 refit
1971 Chandris schedule
In 1970 Chandris
obtained the much sought after contract to bring British migrants to
One of my wonderful
long time supporters and friend,
The four photographs
below are all
The brass and glass doors with the side murals in the main Lounge as seen from the Mezzanine level above
How wonderful it is to see the *sheer of a fine classic liner, as seen here on Boat Deck
*The origin of building a sheer into large ships dates back to the era of small sailing vessels. They were built with the decks curving upwards at the bow and stern in order to increase stability by preventing the vessel from pitching up and down. This curve is called a “Sheer.”
are seen exploring the market stalls at
and without her funnel extension, thus was taken during one of her earlier cruise seasons
we Stan standing on the wharf at the side of the
In this photograph we note that she has a grey hull, thus it must have been taken well after 1968!
And must have been at a much later date as she now had a new aft funnel extension
for smoke dispersion that could be raised as required
four photographs shown above are all
She continued her
voyages and cruises until she arrived in
superb model of the
From an unknown source – Please see photo notes at bottom of page!
A sad looking Australis is seen with her name
painted out in
Venture Cruise Line
Chandris sold her
America Cruise Lines, thus, four months after her lay up
SS America, looking good, but only for a few months
On June 30, 1978, SS
Passengers stated that she was filthy and rubbish was scattered around the ship, this included old mattresses, linen and bags full of rubbish etc. But, they stated the worst was a stench that filled the ship. The bad odour was apparently due to large blocked toilets on the lower decks, but worse still much of it came from the ships galley.
There was no doubt, when Australis was sold she was in a run down state as Chandris had kept maintenance to a minimum during her last year. Tragically her decks were suffering, as no corking or sanding had been done for a number of years. Rust was to be found everywhere, especially in her forward “dummy” funnel. The list was endless. It is sad to say, but this was not exactly Chandris’ highpoint considering their past record. Obviously, Venture Shipping Line should have given her an extended refit and a complete maintenance regime at a major shipyard before commencing cruising.
Upon her return three days later, she departed for her second cruise with 640 passengers on board, but it was decided during this cruise that due to the ongoing problems, all future cruises would be cancelled. Sadly the revival of the SS America proved to be a total disaster for Venture Cruise lines who soon filed for bankruptcy.
From ashore SS America seemed to look fine
SS America was
sold at auction back to Chandris who purchased her for just $1 million, being 4
million less then what they had sold her for just four months earlier. With a
small number of crew on board she departed
Upon completion, she
was renamed Italis and she was now ready to commence Mediterranean cruises out
After her second, very short career with Chandris, this once great liner would never carry passenger again, however, unlike other vintage ships in her position, amazingly she remained afloat for well over a decade, but it has to be said, throughout those years she was in a disgusting condition.
Italis seen laid up at
The Final Years
In May 1980, she was
sold to the “Inter Commerce Corporation” for “
A sad looking Alferdoss is seen during a long lay-up
She was badly neglected that in October 1988 things had become so bad, that even one of her bilge pumps had rusted badly, her engine room flooded resulting to the ship listing to port. It was decided that she had to be beached and there she could be pumped dry. However, only patchwork was done.
The Australian Rescue Attempt in 1992/93:
Amazingly, there was an
excellent attempt not to only save the Alferdoss, American Star, ex SS
Australis/America that commenced in 1992 by two well-meaning Australian
businessmen who were planning to see her permanently berthed
“Although externally the decking was mostly gone, but this was not a deal breaker, for replacing timber decking is nothing unusual. Her hull and superstructure were structurally in a good condition, and yes you could well say that she had been generally neglected. Internally her lounges and cabins were still in an overall good condition. I also spoke with Captain Ikiadis who said that she was perfect for a hotel for obviously her engines were just shot! However, the biggest concern was the ships plumbing, as that would cost a considerable amount to fix. But, with other parts of this great ship in better shape than expected all this could be taken care off.”
Mr. Rob Stone (left) is seen holding the -
plans of Hotel SS Australis in
The Melbourne Port Authorities and the Victorian Government were all keen to see the ex SS Australis, America berthed in Melbourne at Station Pier directly opposite the famed Tasmanian Ferries the Spirit of Tasmania. For we had done our research well in advance, with proper consultation with all parties concerned such as the State Government, Port Authorities, Fire and Engineering and Environmental Departments as well as the Local Council and all was ready to go and the Australian’s were ready to make a deal.
But tragically just before a deal could be completed by the Australian’s, plans suddenly went tragically terribly very wrong!
Considering that there had not been a buyer in sight for many years before the deal could be completed, but another company entered the scene and the Alferdoss was purchased by a Thai Company late in 1992 for just US$2 million dollars, thus Australia who had good intentions with this great liner were badly done by and had they placed their bid just a little earlier, she would be berthed at Station Pier in Melbourne today, but it was not to be!
The Final Tragic Voyage
The Company stated
that the intention was to renovate the ship to become a floating hotel in Phuket,
but in order to prepare her to be towed to
However, there were
some very strange circumstances in regard to the company and her intended destination,
for the Thai authorities did not have any knowledge of this “Thai”
company and there had been no permissions sought or given for the ship to enter
any Thai port, or for her to be berthed in
American Star she departed
struck the ill-fated ship. On January 15, during a severe storm she broke loose
and remained adrift with four-salvage crew still on board. Several attempts
were made to take her undertow again, but this failed. The four-crew members
were winched off the ship by helicopter, and she was left adrift. On January 17
American Star ran aground on the west coast off Fuerteventura in the
An excellent photograph of the stranded ex liner
A Death of a Liner
As was expected soon enough the American Star suffered from the severe elements and in due course her stern section collapsed into the sea and today her bow, part of her forward superstructure and the lower section of her funnel (the top having fallen into the sea recently) remains. As can be seen from the photograph below, the bridge is also slowly collapsing, and soon the sea will finally claim her.
Due to the rocks, waves would be very constant and they would rage and over time tear and strip the ship to pieces!
Over time the poor American Star was slowly disappearing into the sea as we will see in the images below
It is now 67 years
(October 2006) since SS America was launched, and for 39 years she faithfully transported
passengers on line voyages and on cruises, as well as carrying troops during
the war. In addition she was laid up in
The end of a great liner - American Star is slowly disappearing into the sea
March 2009: As can be seen from the photo below the American Star has slowly succumbed to the sea and will soon disappear altogether. It is amazing how she has stood the forces of the ocean for this long!
The American Star, once the much-loved Australis & America is arriving at her final hours!
Photograph from an unknown source
I am well aware that the once great SS America will remain in our memories, as thousands of Americans, English and Europeans have sailed her. Then, as the beloved Chandris flagship SS Australis she provided a service countless thousands will never forget, be it as passengers that came to Australia and New Zealand as migrants, or as holiday makers to and from the UK as well as on Pacific cruises. For 39 years she served the United States Line and Chandris Line well.
I trust that ex passengers and those who admired her whilst she was in port have enjoyed this feature on the great SS America and SS Australis, a ship that will not be forgotten by all who sailed on her!
stated earlier, I was the General Sales Agent (GSA) of Chandris in Queensland
Australia and was fortunate to sail on all the Chandris liners more than once.
My company (Australian Express) operated the annual “Round the World
Tours,” sailing to and from the
My memories of the Australis, as well as the Patris, Ellinis and Britanis are memorable, especially the many friendships made with the always happy Greek crew!
Cover of the official 1967 Chandris brochure
S.S. America INDEX:
Page One … S.S. America History Page.
Page Two … Photo Page.
Page Three … 1940 Deck Plans.
S.S. Australis INDEX:
Page Four … S.S. Australis History Page from 1964 to her tragic end in 1993.
Page Five … Brochure & Photo & Page One.
Page Six … Brochure & Photo Page Two.
Page Seven … Deck Plans.
Other Chandris Ships INDEX:
SS Ellinis … Ex Matson Lines liner SS Lurline.
Patris … Ex
SS Britanis … Ex Matson Lines SS Monterey, but renamed Lurline & Matsonia.
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Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author seeks no funding or favours of any shape or form, never have and never will!
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 www.ssmaritime.com only), in order that due credit may be given.
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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