New Zealand Shipping Company - MS Rangitiki - Rangitata (2) – Rangitani (1)

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer

Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 690 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.

New Zealand Shipping Company

Page One

MS Rangitiki - Rangitata (2) – Rangitani (1)

 

One of the three 1929 "Rangi" Sisters

From the author’s private collection

To break the stranglehold that Shaw Savill Line and the Albion companies had on the UK to New Zealand route, the now legendary New Zealand Shipping Company was created in 1873 in Christchurch. Although passing through the days of the Federal SN Co and becoming part of the P&O group, the New Zealand Shipping Company continued to operate under their own identity, until 1965 when the remaining ships were transferred to a sister company the Federal SN Co colours.

This feature will highlight seven of the latter ships (1929 – 1967) of the NZSC liners, the five “Rangi” ships, as well as the Ruahine and the last ship of the fleet, the ex Cunard liner Parthia, renamed Remuera.

Please Note: Photographs are from the author’s private collection unless stated otherwise.

 

MS Rangitata

During the war Rangitane (1) and several other NZSC ships were lost, however, the Rangitane’s sisters, Rangitiki and Rangitata having carried thousands of British and American servicemen during the Second World War, survived and were returned service in 1949. In that same year, NZSC ordered two new “Rangi” ships, Rangitoto and Rangitane, which would replace the ships lost. Three years later another, slightly smaller ship was ordered, being the companies last new-built passenger liner, the Ruahine. These new ships together with the two original “Rangi” ships maintained a regular passenger cargo service between New Zealand and the UK. In 1962 the two older “Rangi” ships, Rangitiki and Rangitata, were replaced by a retired Cunard passenger-cargo liner Parthia, which was later renamed Remuera.

In the late 60s, air travel became the choice of travel, and passenger liners from all companies sailing to New Zealand and Australia suffered from low passenger loading, which severely affected operating costs. Three remaining liners were withdrawn and sold, whilst the Remuera was transferred to P&O. In addition all New Zealand Shipping Company cargo ships were transferred to Federal colours. In 1967 this great ninety four year old shipping company and its famed passenger services came to a sorry end.

MS Rangitata arrives at Lyttelton during her last visit to the port

The reason she is fully dressed (with flags) is that it was the Queen's Birthday weekend in 1961

Photograph by & © Dave Edge - New Zealand

I have been asked, “What was so special about these ships”? They offered an excellent service, with simple understated luxury and comforts. This was combined with old fashioned service and typical British fare. Obviously, they could net be compared with the luxury of passenger ships of today, but, then our needs were simple and a voyage, let’s say on the Rangitoto was a special event and a joyful experience. For those of my age, I am sure the many photographs contained in this feature will bring back memories of a time when ships were ships. For our younger readers, these ships will reveal their fascinating lines, the usefulness of their day transporting passengers in comfort, whilst also carrying general and frozen cargo from one end of the world to another. Passengers would look on with fascination as cargo was loaded into the holds. Those days there were no containers, everything was loaded by cranes, lifting pallets and nets. These were working ships, genuine liners that offered transport to and from ports in total comfort.

In their day, the “Rangi” ships were the supreme ships on the service, setting the standards of ocean travel. However, then Shaw Savill built the most luxurious and largest all first class Cargo Passenger ever to be built, and she somewhat took the gloss of these fine ships. Yet they continued sailing successfully until either their age caught up with them, or in the case of the younger ships, ocean travel simply collapsed and these fine ships sold to Asian interests.

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MS Rangitiki & Rangitata (2)

Here we see the MS Rangitiki

In 1925 NZSC ordered three “Rangi” ships to be built by John Brown and Co Glasgow. These were Rangitiki (1), Rangitata (2) and Rangitane (1). These were the first two funnelled ships to be built for NZSC. Each accommodated 100 first-class passengers, 86 second class and 410 third class. However, the Rangitiki and Rangitata were later converted to two class liners, accommodating 122 first and 284 tourist class passengers.

 

And he4r sister the MS Rangitata

The first of the trio, Rangitiki, departed Southampton on February 15, 1929, on her maiden voyage to Wellington, New Zealand, sailing via Madeira and the Panama Canal. Rangitata was completed in October 1929 and commenced her maiden voyage to New Zealand on November 22, 1929.

Dimensions

Built:                                John Brown and Co., Glasgow

Rangitiki Launched:          29 August 1928

Tonnage:                          16,985 GRT

Rangitata Launched:         26 March 1929

Tonnage:                          16,929 GRT

Length:                             552ft – 168.2m

Width:                              70ft – 21.3.

Draft:                               34.1ft – 10.4m

Engines:                           Brown-Sulzer – later Doxford type diesels

Propellers:                         Two

Service speed:                   15 – later 16 knots

Passengers:                       100 first / 80 second / 400 third. Later: 122 first / 284 tourist

Passenger Decks:               6

Crew:                               Approximately 350

Livery:                              Black hull, white superstructure, red boot-topping & yellow funnel

Service:                            London-Curacao-Panama-Papeete-Wellington-Auckland

In July, 1930 a little over one year into her long career, Rangitata was in the news having rescued the crew of the cargo ship Targis, which had caught fire in the South Atlantic.

After a distinguished 33 year career, Rangitiki was sold in May 1962, to Spanish breakers, whilst the Rangitata was sold to Dutch breakers in 1962 who renamed her Rang. However, she was duly sold to a Yugoslavian Company who had her broken up at a breaker in Split. The author saw both ships off for their final departures from Wellington New Zealand. A moving experience indeed, for a 16 year old lad.

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MS Rangatani (1)

 

Rangitane in the Panama canal, heading northbound and seen in the Miraflores Locks

Photo by © Simplon - Visit www.simplonpc.co.uk

Rangitane was the last of the trio to be built by John Brown of Clydebank. She was completed in November 1929, and departed Southampton on December 20, 1929 for her maiden voyage to New Zealand. However, the youngest of the “Rangi” trio would meet disaster 11 years later during World War II.

Dimensions

Built:                                John Brown and Co., Glasgow

Launched:                         27 may 1929

Tonnage:                          16,712 GRT

Length:                             552ft – 168.2m

Width:                              70ft – 21.3.

Draft:                               34.1ft – 10.4m

Engines:                           Brown-Sulzer diesels

Propellers:                         Two

Service speed:                   15 knots

Passengers:                       100 first / 80 second / 400 third.

Passenger Decks:               6

Crew:                               Approximately 350

Livery:                              Black hull, white superstructure, red boot-topping & yellow funnel

Service:                            London-Curacao-Panama-Papeete-Wellington-Auckland

In late November 1940, Rangitane sailed for the UK via the Canal Zone. However on November 27th she was intercepted by the German merchant raiders “Komet” and “Orion,” 320 miles north of East Cape NZ. Shelled by both raiders 16 of the 312 on board were killed. The ship was eventually finished off with a torpedo. Most of the survivors from the sinking were eventually left on the small island of Emirau in the Bismark Archipelago, from where they were subsequently rescued by friendly forces.

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INDEX

Page One          Rangitiki - Rangitata (2) – Rangitani (1).

Page Two         Rangitoto, Rangitane (2), Remuera (2).

Page Two-B       Ruahine (3) - The last new built liner for NZ Shipping Co.

Page Two-C       Ruahine (3) - Her final voyage Auckland to Liverpool – The John Happs story.

Page Three        Photo Album 1 Rangitiki - Rangitata (2) – Rangitani (1).

Page Four          Photo Album 2 Rangitoto, Rangitane (2), Ruahine (3) and Remuera (2). 

Page Five          Photo Album 3 Rangitoto -1947 - in Colour.

Page Six            Photo Album 4 Rangitane (2) - 1947 in Colour.

 

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“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”

 

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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are either by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images and photographs that have been provided by Shipping Companies or private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors, however, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer or owner concerned. Therefore, I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address can be found at the bottom of the page on www.ssmaritime.com), in order that due credit may be given.

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