Images on this
page, unless marked otherwise they are from the Author’s private
Lurline arriving in Sydney
on her maiden visit in 1933
Matson Lines commenced
sailing from San
Francisco to Australia,
due to the takeover of the Oceanic Steamship Company in larger tonnage. In
1871, a number of smaller ships crossed the pacific, until it was decided to
build a fleet of 1928 “Mariposa Class Matson decided to build a trio of
liners for the Australian service. This series became known as the
… Mariposa was launched July
18 1931. In 1954 she became the Homes Line cruise ship Homeric.
After a major fire in July 1973 she was declared a total loss and was scrapped
in January 1974.
SS Monterey the second
liner of the trio
2 … Monterey
was also launched in 1931, renamed Matsonia in May 1957, renamed Lurline in
1963. In May 1970, she was sold and became the successful Chandris passenger
liner RHMS Britanis. She was sold in 1998, to become the ill-fated Bolofin,
which sank 20 October
2000, whilst under tow to the breakers.
3 … Lurline was
launched on July
18 1932, and was the only ship to retain her original name until
being sold in September 1963 to Chandris Lines to become the subject of this
article, RHMS Ellinis.
Dimensions Lurline - Ellinis
Built by:Bethlehem Shipyard at Quincy,
GRT – RHMS Ellinis - 24,351 GRT
m / 632 ft – RHMS Ellinis - 195.7 m /
m / 79.4 ft -
Turbines - 28,500 SHP
knots – max 22 knots
First Class – RHMS Ellinis – 1,688 one class passengers
15, 1933, SSLurline departed New York City at
for her maiden voyage, a “Circle Pacific Cruise,” bound for
Auckland New Zealand, SydneyAustralia and Asia. She sailed, via Havana, the Panama Canal, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii and a host of PacificIsland
ports. Having visited Australia
and Papua New Guinea
she then visited many Asian ports before returning to the San Francisco
on April 24, 1933. After her Circle Pacific voyage, she, together with her
older sister the Malolo, was placed on the shorter, but popular San Francisco to Honolulu
I hereby wish to thank Mr.ToddM.Curro for providing the
correct scheduling information regarding her maiden voyage as his Grandfather Robert
worked on her during this voyage and retained a copy of the schedule in his
photo book as seen below.
Grandfather - RobertPitts served
aboard the Lurline in 1933
Provided by ToddM.Curro
Schedule provided by ToddM.Curro
The troopship SSLurline
On December 7, 1941,
whilst Lurline was sailing from Honolulu to San Francisco, the Japanese air
force bombed PearlHarbour.
She set her engines at maximum speed for San Francisco.
However, on December in a convoy with her two of her sisters she returned to Hawaii
laden with troops and much needed supplies.
She proudly continued her
wartime service, including visits to Australia.
She even transported Prime Minister (Australian) JohnCurtin to America
to meet with President Roosevelt.
Mid 1946 the Lurline was
returned to Matson Lines, and underwent and extensive refit at Alameda,
during 1947/8. Estimated costs were $US 20 million. On April
15 1948, the Lurline resumed her San Francisco to Honolulu
service. As prior the war, the Lurline was christened the Pacific Ocean’s top liner.
During her career, she was also used a film set for the "Ma and Pa Kettle
Go To Hawaii" movie.
The troops set sail
In 1950, due to
incredible success of Laconia, it was decided to also
refit her sister ship, the Monterey,
which was renamed Matsonia. From this point, both liners now provided only a
first class only service between the States and Hawaii.
From time to time, cruises were also undertaken. However, as with ships around
the world Jet airliners became a serious competition and caused passenger
loadings to fall. Matsonia was laid up in September 1962.
3, 1963, Lurline arrived in Los Angeles
with serious engine trouble in her port turbine. Matson decided to place her on
the market, the repairs were considered too excessive. With the decline of the
Lurline, Matson brought the Matsonia out of the mothballs, and,
characteristically, changed her name to Lurline, as this name was loved by all.
The original Lurline was sold to Chandris Lines in 1963.
This artist impression
was the first Chandris Lines postcard of the RHMS Ellinis
SSLurline was purchased by Chandris Lines on September
3, 1963, and was refitted in North Shields. Her exterior modernised,
however, most of her Hawaiian decor and furniture remained, proving Matson
Lines classic styling was exotic and modern. Her interior beauty was renowned.
Her engines were repaired whilst she was still in the United States.
Her capacity was greatly increased to accommodate 1,668 as a one class liner.
Ellinis with her new sleek look
There was no doubt, but
Ellinis looked smart in her new Chandris livery. With her modernised
superstructure and new funnels, she embarked on her maiden voyage from Piraeus to Sydney
on December 30,
1963. Her homeward voyages were alternately routed via the Panama
Canal to Southampton
For the next 10 years,
Ellinis made regular line voyages to Australia,
as well as operating occasional cruises. For several years in the late sixties
early seventies she was employed on an eastward round-the-world service sailing
via the Suez, or South Africa, to Australia, New Zealand via the Panama to New
York to Britain or directly to Rotterdam or Bremerhaven. In August 1970 RichardZechiel
sailed on the RHMS Ellinis from New York and she sailed directly
His eleven year old brother Tim and family went
to see him off and the following two photographs were taken on the day of
departure. It was Tim
who sent me the photogtraphs.
The Ellinis is seen in New York’s Hudson River in August 1970
and is due to sail for Rotterdam
RichardZechiel on board
Photo provided by TimZechiel
At the stern of the Ellins,
standing under the flag is 11 year old TimZechiel,
his oldest brother Richard
would sail away that day on this Big Ship that day!
In April 1974, the
Ellinis was on a cruise to Japan when once again major problems developed in
one of her engines, which, we were told, was out of alignment. Ellinis returned
At the same time, her former sister-ship the Mariposa, then named Homeric, had
been sold to be broken up in Taiwan.
Chandris lines purchased one of her engines which were transported to Rotterdam,
which fitted into the Ellinis. She returned to service in March 1975 and
commenced Mediterranean cruises until early 1977.
Brochures below from the
author’s private collection
Line voyage schedules
RHMS Ellinis seen in Sydney
Ellinis Mini Photo Album
Photographs are soured from brochures and other
media from the author’s private collection or as stated
Outrigger Lounge and Bar
Waikiki Dinning Room
Good old fashioned Greek Service
Buffet, starboard on Promenade deck
Heavy sea crossing on the way to Australia
Ellinis in Southampton
towards the end of her days
Photographer unknown – *Please see photo notes at bottom
Ellinis seen in Sydney
Photographer unknown – *Please see photo notes at bottom
Ellinis’ last days
Ellinis is seen her close to her being laid up
Having been in service
for some fifty years, it was in October 1981 when RHMS Ellinis was laid up in Greece.
There were thoughts of returning this fine ship to service, even turning her
into floating hotel in San Francisco,
however these plans never eventuated. She remained laid up for another five
years when she was finally sold to Taiwanese breakers in 1986. On December
3, 1986 she departed Perma under tow bound for the breakers, however
she commenced taking on water not far from Singapore
on March 11,
1987 and slowly developed a 15 degree list to starboard. However
they managed to rectify the problem and the tow continued and she arrived in Kaohsiung
on April 15,
1987 and it is said that breaking up commenced about two months
However, many of her
fittings had been transferred to other ships within the Chandris fleet and
engine parts were kept in storage in case they were needed for her sister, the
Ellinis seen laid up in Piraeus.
Ship left of her is the Noga, ex Australis
The Ariadne (Bon Vivant) is
seen on the right
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