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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer
above image shows the SS Marathon after her rebuilding in 1912
The above image shows the SS Marathon after her rebuilding in 1912
Please Note: Photographs on this page are from the author’s personal collection, unless mentioned otherwise!
I have had a good collection of photographs and postcard of these ships for years, but somehow I never got around to writing on them. Then I suddenly realised how neglected these two wonderful ships are, for there is really nothing about them in books, or very much online as I have been told. Thus I decided, even in my retirement to commence to slowly write on these two rather amazing passenger liners, for they were the very last of their kind, and their beauty would never be seen again!
The Aberdeen Line operated
Their sailing vessels was soon reduced to just
one 2,093 ton ship, and she also was removed from the fleet for the reputation
of the firm would be going ahead with modern steam passenger liners bearing
time-honoured names of former ship known as the "fliers" such as the
Miltiades and Marathon!. These two twin-screw steamers, Miltiades, 6,793 tons,
Thus here is the story of the
sail and steam turbine engines liners between
The first postcard released by Aberdeen Line of the SS Marathon
This card was in a very poor condition, but I have carefully restored it as is now
These rather graceful
passenger liners the SS Miltiades and the
These rather graceful
passenger liners the SS Miltiades and the
With their designs complete and the Aberdeen
Line (George Thompson and Company) being totally delighted with them, they
placed an order for both the 6,795 GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) ships to be
built by Alex Stephen & Sons at
The first ship to be launched was the SS
Miltiades, which had been built in yard 401, and that occurred on Tuesday,
August 11, 1903 she was transferred to het fit-out berth and she was very soon
completed. The Miltiades departed
Newspaper clipping dated December 11, 1903
Miltiades seen during her early voyages to
Next to be launched was the
identical sister the SS Marathon which was launched from yard 402 on Wednesday,
November 18, 1903. Both ships had been fitted out and completed close together
and the Marathon was delivered early in January 1904 and later that month, on
January 27, she departed
The SS Marathon is seen here in 1904, but we do not know the precise date, but it could well be her maiden voyage
The Ships: The Miltiades and her sister were the very last liners of any size to be built that had that famed traditional “Aberdeen Clipper Bow,” which was complete with a stunning timber “Figurehead.” Her excellent hull was complemented by her Counter Stern! She had a black hull with red boot topping that had a thin white line above, an all white superstructure Stained timber featured on the forward superstructure of the Bridge and one deck below, being rather traditional of the day! To complete the picture she has two tall masts and a single yellow (buff) funnel making her look most elegant!
To reduce rolling in bad weather, the ships were fitted with bilge keels, and as the ships has a good beam there was ample deck space for all passengers!
Venues and Cabins:
First Class accommodated 90 passengers and their accommodations where located on Bridge Deck, with other cabins on Upper Deck, where the Saloon was to be found. The Drawing Room, Writing Room, and Library were located on Boat Deck, whilst the Smoking Room was on Bridge deck, and of course there was also fine Dining Room, thus there was an excellent range of public venues for First Class! Most of the accommodations were outside two berth cabins, but there were a few that could be made suitable for families of three or four berths. Then there were several special twin deluxe rooms that were so arranged that they could be converted into special luxury Staterooms, thus a two roomed Suite. In addition there were also a few single cabins for the solo travellers. The Captain had his quarters up on Boat deck.
Sadly to date I have not been able to locate any interior images of her public venues, or First Class cabins, etc. The same applied to Third Class public venues, but I do have one photo of a cabin, as you will see below.
Third Class was
located in what was called in those days the “Poop,” being the aft
built up section of the ship. It was quite spacious and it offered its
passengers a Music Room as well as a Smoking Room and a Dining Room.
Accommodation wise there was a variety of choice from two and four berth cabins
being the best available, then there were the male and female dormitories for
the Immigrants to
A Third Class four berth cabin
Cargo: Particular attention has been paid to transporting general cargo as well as frozen foods, in fact all gear used for her five holds will be the very latest and the most suitable to handle all cargos with expediency, especially the frozen food holds for those days! The refrigeration machinery was the very latest kind ever to be fitted on any ship to date, and it was be capable of maintaining a temperature as low as was required for a hold space of a 100,000 cubic feet. The smaller holds were also cooled and were be adapted for fruit, butter and chilled provisions for passengers and crew.
SS Marathon is seen at the Tenerife wharves
The wool stores today they have been converted into super luxury spacious apartments (condos)
Aberdeen Line Advertisement featuring the Miltiades and
Here we see the SS Miltiades (right) and the White Star Line SS Runic in Melbourne, both seen fully decked out
The Day’s back ground: “Anniversary Day,” is the countries official
“Foundation Day” and ANA Day, thus the official National day of
Sent in by a ssMaritime supporter, but source is unknown - *Please see my Photo Notes at the bottom pf the page!
The photograph above shows the
Their Rebuilding: As the Miltiades and Marathon continued their voyages, the management began to realise that they needed either to built larger ships due to the demand for these long voyages to the land of “opportunity.” but with the situation as it was in Europe, they felt that another solution might be better and they did decide on a rather adventurous option, and it was one of the first attempted, one that became more popular in the modern days! Lengthen the ship!
Thus in 1912 she was taken to the Alex Stephen
shipyards on July 3, 1912 to be lengthened, adding accommodations and further
facilities on board. Externally she was given an additional funnel, although it
was a dummy, but it certainly made her look wonderful, as with her superb bow
and long sleek lines, she looked one of the finest liners around! Upon
Completion on September 12, 1912 her tonnage had increased to 7,848 GRT. She
soon returned to her regular duties, but World War I would in due course halt
her passenger days for five years. For interest, her sister the SS Miltiades
was also lengthened and she entered the very same yard two days after the
The ship has been cut in half, and here we look forward
Here we see a new SS Marathon on September 18, 1912
A wonderful stern view of the SS Miltiades after her rebuilding
The Shaw Savill liner SS Gothic was chartered
by the Aberdeen Line to operate four voyages whilst the
Although both ships were considered to be
extremely well built, and due to their hull configuration they were considered
as the most stable ships around, especially when it came to roiling. And that
certainly was true, but when sailing in really bad seas such as going around
dramatic photograph of the SS Marathon sailing around the Cape for
In 1915 both ships were requisitioned for trooping duties and having received the respective refurbishments to make them suitable as a troopship The HAMT Marathon - A74 headed for Australia as she transported many Australian soldiers and countless medical officers and staff to England, after which they went to the European front.
The Miltiades was leased by the Commonwealth
of Australia and she operated the following voyages: On February 7, 1916 it she
took on board mostly Medical Officers and staff from
is seen in her camouflage livery arriving in
To be able to see the many soldiers onboard click the photograph for an extra large version 1600 pixels or 22.22 inches
The Marathon was
leased by the Commonwealth of Australia from October 27, 1916 until July 28,
1917, and she operated the following voyages: On October 27, 1916 berthed at
Pinkeba wharves, she took on board the 49th Battalion, 7th Reinforcements &
Medical Officers in
This is the first official Australian departure on October 27, 1916
One of those soldiers was the 19 year old hero’s - Private William Ernest Foster
With thanks to the wonderful and must visit – the “Australian War Memorial” in Canberra Australia– H02230
Then on May 10, 1917 the 1st Infantry
Battalion, the 25th Reinforcements and Medical Officers boarded at
The Miltiades returned to the Aberdeen Line’s commercial service to Australia on June 4, 1920 and she headed for Australia once again, however as it turned out her days after her war year would sadly be rather short lived being able to operate just two voyages.
The Miltiades seen back in service and in Australian waters
Photograph from the late Allan
Green Collection -
However, when she returned from her Australian voyage toward the end of 1920 she was purchased by Royal Mail Lines and she was renamed Orcana and placed in their fleet and operated on their regular services.
Royal Mail Lines new liner SS Orcana
However, another change took
place when she was officially transferred to the Pacific Steam Navigation
Company (Pacific Line) in 1922 as a replacement for the three their
‘O’ ships that had been transferred to the
Thus on August 11, 1922 the SS Orcana commenced her intended “Round South America” service, that departed Liverpool and visited Montevideo, and Valparaiso, the Panama Canal then back to Liverpool. However the Pacific Line found that after her very first voyage she was far too expensive to operate and thus they laid her up. She was first laid up at Liverpool and then taken to Dartmouth where she remained until she was sold to Arie Rijsdijk Boss & Zonen in 1923, who had her towed to the Netherlands to be broken up at Hendrik-ido-Ambracht in 1923.
returned to Aberdeen Line's
Royal Mail new SS Oruba
following year the SS Oruba was transferred to the Pacific Steam Navigation
Company and on May 26, 1921 she commenced her South
American Round America Service. In due course. When Pacific
Line decided that both ships were proving to be far too expensive to operate
she was laid up in 1922, and again like her sister, she was first laid up at
Liverpool and then at
Built by: Alex
Stephen & Sons at
Launched: Miltiades - August 11, 1903.
Tonnage: 1903: Miltiades - 6,793 GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage).
Tonnage 1912: 7,848 GRT.
Length 1903/4: 454.10ft - 138.41m.
Length 1912: 504.10ft – 153.65m.
Beam: 55.10ft – 16.79m.
Moulded depth: 33ft – 10.05m.
Motive Power: Triple-expansion steam-engines - 6,600 IHP.
x And sails forward and aft.
Speed: 14 knots - service speed, 15.5 knots maximum.
Passengers: 90 First Class and 150 Third Class.
Memories of Two Fine Historic Liners that were the Very Last of a Kind!
A ship with the ultimate classic lines seen in Australian waters!
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Commenced in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960
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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 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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