With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian


The Sitmar Ships

Part Four

SS Fairsky

At the time, Fairsky was to be Sitmar’s most ambitious rebuild


Over the years I have received hundreds of requests to do a feature on the Sitmar Ships. In this work, I will present a short history on each ship, together with a number of photographs. I hope that these pages will have you reliving your Sitmar experience. All Sitmar ships, except the Fairsky (2) were old tonnage that were given extensive rebuilds to become from austere migrant liners to quality cruise ships. Ships in this feature include; Castel Bianco, Castel Verde, Castel Felice, Fairsea (1), Fairsky (1), Fairwind, Fairsea (2). In 1984 Sitmar’s only new ship, named, Fairsky (2) was completed. Late in the eighties Sitmar ordered a 63,500 GRT cruise ship to be named Sitmar Fair Majesty, however, whilst being built, Sitmar was taken over by P&O Princess Cruises and she was completed as the Star Princess. I trust you will enjoy this feature on the Sitmar Ships.

Fairsky was one of the best conversions of a C3 Class freighter

Fairsky began life quite differently to what she would eventually become - a modern Passenger Liner. She was built as a C3 class cargo ship in 1941 by the Western Pipe & Steel Co in San Francisco. She was intended to be named Steel Artisan for Isthiam Steam Ship Co. Three month after her keel had been laid down the incomplete ship was taken over by the US Government for the use as an escort aircraft carrier the USS Barnes. She was loaned to the British Royal Navy named the HMS Attacker. She was commissioned on September 30, 1942.

HMS Attacker at sea

Being able to carry 18 aircraft she served as convoy escort in the North Atlantic. During her war time duties she also served the waters of France and the Pacific. She had a notable wartime career. After she had completed her duties, she was returned to the US in January 1946 and was laid up and placed on the market. She was sold in 1947 to a New York Company who commenced the removal of armaments and the flight deck. This was stopped when she was purchased in 1950 by Navcot Corp, a company set up by Alexander Vlasov, founder of Sitmar Lines. She was renamed Castel Forte and was laid up until 1952, when she was officially transferred to Sitmar.

After being sent to Newport for possible conversion she again laid up. In February 1957, Sitmar had her moved to the Bethlehem Shipyards in New York to commence the mammoth task in rebuilding her as a passenger liner. Here she received a new modern superstructure and a stylish funnel. She sailed to Genoa in December 1957, where she received her interior fittings including accommodations for 1,461 passengers. In 1958, she was registered in Liberia with her new name Fairsky.

By now Sitmar had obtained the lucrative migrant contract to take British migrants to Australia and she departed Southampton on June 26, 1958, with 1,430 passengers onboard. Fairsky continued on the Australian service until 1970. The ships of Sitmar Line became a popular sight in Australian and New Zealand waters.

Seen here as Fairsky, the cruise ship


The main Lounge


The Lido Lounge & Bar


Outside two berth cabin, with a sofabed


Fairsky brochure

Fairsky operated a number of cruises out of Sydney in 1967, and when Sitmar lost their migrant contract to Chandris Lines, they looked towards a venture in cruising. On June 2, 1974, Fairsky departed England for the last time. After arriving in Sydney, she became a fulltime cruise ship based in Sydney. Fairsky departed Darwin on June 12, 1977, calling at Singapore and Djakarta. However, upon departing Djakarta on June 23, the Fairsky struck the sunken the submerged wreck of an Indonesian combi-ship “Klingi”, which saw her hull badly holed. The captain decided that he would beach her on a nearby sandbank to save her from sinking. The hole was filled with concrete and on the 29th.she was refloated able to proceed under her own power to a Singapore dry-dock to investigate the damage. Although a temporary patch was placed over the hole, Sitmar decided not to repair her and they placed her on the market. She was purchased by Fuiji Marden & Co and on December 11, 1977, she departed Singapore to be broken up in Hong Kong. Again Fairsky was able to sail under her own power, however, this proved to be her final voyage under her own steam.

Upon her arrival, Fairsky was laid up awaiting demolition; but just before breaking up was due to commence, she was purchased by the Filipino firm of “Peninsula Tourist Shipping Corp” in March 1978, and she was renamed the “Philippine Tourist.” The vessel was transferred under tow to the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering yards of Manila, where she would be converted into a floating hotel and casino based in Manila. However her venture was short lived and doomed, for on November 4, 1979, with her almost having been completed, she caught fire and was totally gutted. The wreck was sold back to the Hong Kong breakers, who renamed her “Fair Sky” for the tow back to Hong Kong, and she arrived on May 24, 1979, and was broken up by the same company who was going to break her up some two years earlier.


Whilst cruising out of Australia, Sitmar had become popular with holiday makers and cruises became more and more popular. Fairsky chanced the trend in cruising, which was taken over by the companies flagship Fairstar, which became known as the Funship!

Fairsky, the ugly duckling when built became an attractive and popular ship for all that sailed on her, and she will always be fondly remembered!



Tonnage: 12,464 GRT

Length: 153m

Beam: 21.2m

Built: 1942 - Western Pipe & Steel Co. San Francisco

Machinery: Geared Turbines

Screws: Single

Speed: 17.5 knots

Passengers: 1,461 one class passengers

Previous names: Castel Forte, Attacker, Barnes, Steel Artisan.




The Sitmar Liners - INDEX:

The Early Sitmar Liners

Part One … Castel Bianco & Castel Verde - Built as a Victory VC2-S-AP2 class of freighters.

Castle Bianco - The Karlsson family’s voyage.

Part Two … Castel Felice - ex SS Kenya.

Castel Felice - Cabin Plan & the Robert Brinkhuis story 1965.

Castel Felice - My 1957 voyage to Canada by W. D. Hempel.

Castel Felice - The Williams family sail to Australia in 1957.

Castel Felice - Three articles about a family’s voyage on the Castel Felice and arrival in Australia.

Part Three … Fairsea (1) - Built as a C3 class freighter.

Fairsea – Photo Page.

Fairsea - Deck Plan.

Fairsea – The Strachan family migrates from the UK to Melbourne in December 1957.

Part Four … Fairsky (1) - Built as a C3 class freighter.

Fairsky – Deck Plan.

Fairsky – Piet Mulder sails on SS Fairsky.

Fairsky – Fairsky hits a wreck out of Djakarta – The Pamela Joyce Hansen story.

The last Sitmar Liner and Cruise Ships

Fairstar - ex Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire – Built as a Bibby Line troop ship.

Fair Princess - ex P&O & Princess, also Sitmar Fairsea (2), Fairland, Cunard Line Carinthia.

China Sea Discovery - ex Fair Princess - broken up.



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Commenced in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960 &

Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


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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 (my email address may be found on only), 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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