Sitmar Line - SS Castel Felice History - Page 1
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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!
The Sitmar Ships
Note the crew cleaning the ships funnel
Please Note: Unless marked otherwise, photographs and images on this page are from the authors’ private collection
I certainly have enjoyed writing and compiling this very special feature on a company that I greatly love and have sailed with many times!
Thus now go and read all about … The Sitmar Ships.
Castel Felice, ex
It is obvious that although at
12,150 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) Sitmar’s Castel Felice was a relatively
small liner, nut she had excellent facilities and certainly a most pleasant, if
not a somewhat classic profile, which was a pleasing one!
It is obvious that although at 12,150 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) Sitmar’s Castel Felice was a relatively small liner, nut she had excellent facilities and certainly a most pleasant, if not a somewhat classic profile, which was a pleasing one!
However, she was originally built in
1930 for the British India Company as the
She offered sixty-six berths in First Class and Hundred and twenty in Second Class both having pleasant public facilities and ample deck spaces. In addition to this, there was also space for up to 1,700 Third Class, come deck passengers. This area offered the most basic of accommodations indoors as well a deck spaces, and was only sold only to Indian as well as African passengers many who would sail on short voyages.
Seen as the British India Company - SS Kenya
In 1940 she was seconded and she was refitted as the troopship HMS Kenya, but later she was again refitted as an infantry-landing vessel, and was renamed HMS Hydra in 1941. Then she was commissioned into the Royal Navy on July 23, 1942 to became an Infantry landing ship and she was renamed HMS Keren due to a naval ship, a cruiser that was already in operation in the navy with her previous name. She was fitted with 22 anti-aircraft guns and was one six-inch and one three-inch guns, and she was able to carry 1,296 soldiers, and she would have a crew of 297. Located on each side of the ship were five landing craft that hung along the side of the HMS Keren.
HMS Keren is seen as an armed “Infantry Landing Ship”
After the war
Early in 1949 the Vlasov Group
commenced negotiations to purchase the SS Keren, ex
In 1950 she was sold and registered
On October 15 she was towed to
Here we see Sitmar Line’s first artist impression postcard of their new SS Castel Felice in 1952
Both her profile and interiors saw countless changes. Her funnel was shortened, a new shapely raked bow was fitted and her promenade deck was extended far aft. Her main masts were removed whilst a new mast atop the bridge and King posts with derricks were added. Her interiors were completely remodelled, with many new cabins added in her completely remodelled hold spaces. When the ship was complete, she was able accommodate up to 1,540 passengers, with 596 in Cabin Class and 944 in Third Class (mostly for immigrants).
With her bright new look, this gleaning white liner with her yellow funnel and the famous Sitmar blue “V” logo was finally officially renamed the SS “Castel Felice” in September 1952 and she was made ready for her maiden voyage.
SS Castle Felice departed
see the Castel Felice as she was first rebuilt and refitted in 1952 in
Forward Dinning Room
1955 air-conditioning was installed and accommodations were altered to
accommodate 28 First Class, and 1,173 Tourist Class passengers. Upon completion
the new look Sitmar Line flagship departed
gleaming white Castel Felice is seen berthed in
Castel Felice is seen arriving in the
Note that her far forward lifeboats had been removed as she was due for a refit
Photograph by & © Mark Churchman
Late in 1957 Sitmar
obtained the lucrative contract to transport assisted migrants from
A postcard of the Castle Felice after her 1957 refit
A Luncheon Menu from Thursday November 21, 1957
Provided by Mr. Robert Kenneth Williams
Mini Photo Album
The Main Social Hall
Enjoying the ships ban in the Social Hall
Forward Dinning Room
Children’s’ play room could also be used as the Cinema
The author’s item of memorabilia a cigarette lighter from the Castle Felice
From the author’s private collection
The then eleven-year-old Chris Hemmings sailed on Sitmar Line's Castel Felice with his
family early 1965 from
I wish to thank Chris Hemmings for providing this above short story of his voyage to the UK, although be it a rather sad story, yet it is part of this fine ship's long history!
A wonderful Photo of the SS Castel Felice at sea
“I sailed on the TV Castle Felice from Auckland to Southampton November/December of 1965 for 6 weeks for just NZŁ125. It was an eventful voyage starting with a storm across the Tasman. I was one of only a handful of passengers able to get up on day two and I have some wonderful memories of huge seas, empty decks but the band named Atanasio and his Happy Boys, were still playing, but mostly to an empty Belvedere Lounge for the afternoon tea dance and I recall a little lady one morning at the refreshment urn and then she had to balance her cups as the ship levelled between rolls, and then having to dash along the promenaded deck until the ship lurched the other way, it was some sight, but she got there!
The Castel Felice was a wonderfully relaxed and such a happy ship with a most imposing tall and elegant looking captain. We particularly liked 'little things' that made it different. For example at midnight in the middle of a frantic dance if you put your hand out you might likely end up with a slice of hot pizza helpfully placed in it by a passing waiter.
Passengers were allowed to erect washing lines on the ship's prow so at times it looked more like a Chinese junk. Then there would be a heavy Italian voice over the loudspeaker warning all the “Laydees” that there was a rain shower approaching and to get the washing in. This was just absolutely priceless and that sort of thing would never happen these days!
On the negative side whilst we were
Our call to
In my teens I started to use an 8mm camera and I filmed the entire six-week voyage on 8mm film, this includes lots of on-board footage which I watch with great fondness now and then.
On a final point I still have a number of menus from this wonderful and most memorable voyage, some of these are shown below.”
Steve Mercer –
remained on the Australian (including some visits to
On August 15 of that
year whilst she was berthed in
Felice is seen here during this final visit to
Photograph by & © J.K. Byass
With a reduced
number of passengers, Castel Felice departed for her final voyage for
The Wonderful, and
much loved Sitmar liner the SS Castel Felice departed
Memories of a Greatly Loved Sitmar Liner!
is the very last postcard published by Sitmar Lines of the SS Castle Felice
This is the very last postcard published by Sitmar Lines of the SS Castle Felice
There is no doubt that the SS Castel Felice will be fondly remembered, like many Italian ships of her day, for she had wonderful style and typical Italian finesse, which is remembered by thousands of her past passengers!
Built: 1930 Alexander Stephen & Sons
Nr: 162509 -
Launched: August 27, 1930.
Tonnage: 9.890 GRT.
Length: 471.3ft - 143,65m.
Beam: 64.3ft – 19.6m.
Draught: 21.11ft - 6.7m.
Machinery: 2 X SR Steam Turbines, 9,610 SHP.
Speed: 16 knots, 17 knots service speed, maximum
Tonnage: 12,150 GRT.
Length: 493ft – 150.3m.
Passengers: 596 Cabin Class & 944 Third Class.
. 1955 - 28 First Class & 1,173 Tourist Class.
1957 - 1,400 One-Class.
The Castel Felice INDEX:
Castel Felice-1 - History Page - This page.
- Cabin Plan & the Robert Brinkhuis story 1965.
- My 1957 voyage to
- The Williams family sail to
- A family’s voyage to
Or Return to:……. - For all the Other Sitmar Ships!
Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go, and I watched them die.”
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