ssMaritime.com & ssMaritime.net
With Reuben Goossens
Southern Cross a Fallen Star
ss OceanBreeze, ex
An early Shaw Savill Postcard
This is a story I did not wish to
write, however, write it I must, as the demise of the ss Southern Cross became
a personal issue after having been heavily involved with her during the final
six months of her lengthy life at sea. This article contains the whole story of
our “Save the Cross” campaign, which over six months filled us with
hope, which concluded with devastation. From the outset, I have to state that
the Southern Cross/OceanBreeze should be afloat right now and she should still
be cruising out of
Member of the HTML Writers Guild
Part One … An Encounter with the Southern Cross
Part Two … What was so Special about the Cross
Part Three … Her Years at Sea
Part Four … A New Career for the Cross
Part Five … OceanBreeze is Laid Up and Sold
Part Six … The
Part Seven … The End is Near
INDEX … 23 pages on ss Southern Cross, Calypso,
Part One - An Encounter with the Southern Cross
For me the story began in 1961,
as I stood on a wharf in
As she slowly slid back, it was the
magnificence of her sharply raked bow that really struck me, on it her name was
written in large yellow letters “Southern Cross.” I took a number
of black and white photographs, which sadly were lost whilst moving to
At the time, I was employed by Russell and
Somers, a well-known travel agency and General Sales Agent for Royal Dutch
Mails. I requested that I might visit the Southern Cross on her next visit to
The above were my first experiences with the Southern Cross, which resulted in a longstanding affinity with this remarkable liner.
I worked in the shipping industry from 1960, as
an office boy with Royal Dutch Mails, then in the stevedoring
department of the Union Steamship Company, both in Wellington New
In the early sixties I fell in love with the
Southern Cross, in the seventies I managed Shaw Savill Holidays. These were my
beginnings with the Southern Cross, the ship that in 2003 was in mint condition
and should have been saved from a lonely beach in
Besides being the first merchant
ship to be launched by a reigning British Monarch,
1… She was the first liner built with her engines and smoke stack located aft, a feature that gave her vast interior and exterior deck space, as well as a unique profile. Before, and during her construction, ship designers advised Shaw Savill that there was a serious design error in relation to the weight ratio with her machinery being located aft. This was soon proved unfounded.
2… She was the world’s first all tourist (one) class liner to be built.
3… As Southern Cross did not carry cargo, she was also the first true Passenger Liner.
4… She was one of the last surviving Harland and Wolff built passenger liners.
As the years passed, it is now obvious that all shipping & cruise companies have adopted the revolutionary standards set by the ss Southern Cross and later her ill fated sister, the Northern Star. Today 99% of passenger ships have their machinery and funnels placed aft with all cruise ships being one class, transporting passenger only.
After her trials late January 1955, ss
Southern Cross departed on March 29, for her maiden voyage for
Southern Cross departed Southampton on her
maiden voyage to
Southern Cross proudly continued on the
Southern Cross the cruise ship
In May 1971, having returned to
In January 1973, she was sold for
half a million
SS Azure Seas
She was sold to Dolphin Cruise Lines in 1991 renamed OceanBreeze. Late in 1997, Dolphin, Seawind and Premier Cruises amalgamated and OceanBreeze continued her cruise duties under a new banner. Under Premier, she received a bright new livery: a dark blue funnel and hull, which was topped with a gold ribbon. She looked very impressive indeed.
In 1999, Premier Cruises chartered the
After four years of faithful
2… For short cruises, “The cost of operating a Steam Turbine vessel was prohibitive.”
It needs to be understood that OceanBreeze was not sold because of deterioration or mechanical failures, the truth being she was in excellent condition and described as “ready for trade.” In addition, OceanBreeze was in possession of a SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) certificate valid to 2010.
Also on the 10th of October, Mr. Pollack told the author:
“We all cried together when there were no takers and she, the OceanBreeze, was sent to the breakers. We worked diligently up to and including the last week supplying information to anyone who asked in an attempt to help save the vessel.”
Where these tears genuine or crocodile tears? Let us look at the order of events, which will clarify the tearful situation.
Order of Events
(From announcement of sale to
being beached on a
22 Jun OceanBreeze departs on her final cruise.
24 Jun OceanBreeze returns to Ft Lauderdale.
27 Jun OceanBreeze is laid up in Grand Bahamas Shipyard.
03 Jul OceanBreeze is sold to Indian Breakers.
25 Aug OceanBreeze departs
03 Sep OceanBreeze arrives in Gibraltar bunkers
and departs, destination Alang
12 Sep OceanBreeze passes through the
Whilst on the
Indian Ocean, OceanBreeze is sold by the Indian breakers for a better price to
Ahmed Muztaba Steel Industries,
05 Oct OceanBreeze arrives at the outer anchorage
13 Oct Chittagong Press reported that OceanBreeze was hit by a storm, took on water, which resulted in a 20-degree list. However, she was soon upright again. The storm report turned out to be an untruth, as later it was discovered by Ian Jones (UK marine surveyor) who reported: “The list being caused by un-stability on account of all the permanent ballast being pumped out to lighten her prior to beaching, this list being accelerated by water ingress to aft engine room space by a burst pipe in a void space off the duct keel.”
05 Nov OceanBreeze was beached at the Ahmed
Muztaba Steel Industries yard located approximately 18 kilometres from
27 Nov Mr. Ian Jones boards the ship for a survey, with the hope of re-floating her.
01 Dec Mr. Jones’ (damning) report released.
Feb 2004 Information reached the author from
Mar 2004 Haydn Stevens (
From the above events, it becomes obvious that
“We worked diligently up to and including the last week supplying information to anyone who asked in an attempt to help save the vessel.”
The truth is, OceanBreeze never stood a chance, as a deal was signed with the Indian breakers precisely one month from the announcement to retire her. Even if she had been on the market for two months prior the announcement, this would still have been insufficient time to sell her.
Around May/June 2003,
“We were lead to believe by the broker
Mr. Arthur Pollack told the author, that
Martin Hill discovered the authors site,
MaritimeWorldOnline.com (now ssMaritime.com) and
emailed me on July 30, requesting my assistance to raise finance in
Then, on October 2, Michael Barnes joined the
Australian campaign and together, we contacted a number of well-known wealthy
Australians, several of these being, Pete Smith, Greg Norman, even the
wealthiest of them all, the media magnate Mr. Kerry Packer. Mr. Smith advised
us, through a secretary, that he had far too many projects on his plate and was
not able to assist. We appreciated the reply. However, Greg Norman and Kerry
Packer did not have the courtesy of sending a short reply, even if it had been
one from their under secretaries, which would have sufficed. We again made
several other attempts to no avail. Considering the thousands of migrants
Southern Cross and other liners brought to
During October, I communicated with Mr. Arthur
“I will be happy to buy the OceanBreeze back should you wish to put up the funds with a guarantee … etc” (October 10, 2003). This offer came with certain conditions.
This message charged us with excitement and
hope. This hope would soon be dashed on
On Sunday 25 August, OceanBreeze departed the
Michael Barnes being busy phoning around the
world finally located her in
Then, on October 13 we received disturbing
“The list being caused by un-stability on account of all the permanent ballast being pumped out to lighten her prior to beaching, this list being accelerated by water ingress to aft engine room space by a burst pipe in a void space off the duct keel.” (Ian Jones, maritime surveyor).
SS OceanBreeze on a
Apparently, she was soon righted and
OceanBreeze remained at the
With the earlier attempt to save OceanBreeze
having failed, we were delighted when a Mr. Haydn Stevens became involved mid
November. From what at first appeared to be a professional effort, again we
were to be disappointed. (Martin Hill handed over the
Whilst the OceanBreeze was at anchor, I was told that Mr Stevens was unable to obtain details of who the Bangladeshi owners (breakers) were.
“The problem we encountered was the
difficulty in locating the present owner to negotiate even going through their
London Agents Electra and people out in
In order to solve this problem and stop
wasting precious time, Michael Barnes decided to hunt the
Each day we checked the Chittagong Port
Authorities website, to see if OceanBreeze was still at anchor. Then, on November
5 we noted that she had been removed from the listing, which did not show if
she had been beached being the norm with other ships. We were told by Mr.
Stevens that OceanBreeze had been moved “from the outer anchorage to the
breakers wharf.” Again, the
By now, the
Mr. Stevens phoned me frequently with messages of the progress made. Then came the news that the breakers requested a “Goodwill Fee” of US $70,000 to stop all work on the ship. Mr. Stevens made the following request “If you can raise the Goodwill Fee of US $70,000, we will be able to save the OceanBreeze.”
Suddenly he laid the responsibility of saving the ship at my feet, whereas the proposition was obviously ridiculous. 1. The truth being, OceanBreeze had already been lost at this point. 2. Where was the finance that I was told “was in place?” However, with an ounce of hope, I continued the “Save the Cross” campaign and sought financial assistance through the Website ssMaritme.com.
Having received a positive response from Mr.
Pollack on October 10, I decided to contact him, asking if it was at all
“Dear Mr. Pollack … Currently a
team of surveyors are onboard the OceanBreeze, and it now seems that she will
be saved from the scrappers. This being the case, I am told that she will head
The reply was short and to the point:
“I HAVE NEVER STATED I WOULD PUT ANY
MONEY INTO THIS PROPOSITION. I AM INTERESTED IN RUNNING THE VESSEL FOR
YOU. LET ME KNOW IF THERE IS AN INTEREST. OTHER
Request upon request came for me to raise the required funds:
“I am still on a full scale rescue attempt as regards to the SS Ocean Breeze, the vessel is still in discussion with my company, Dolphin (Sea), but will go to Australian waters later next year. At this stage I could do with all the help I can get as regards to financial support to save vessel at the 12th hour. Would you kindly send a message across the spectre that this is an urgent plea following all my long hard effort to save this maritime legend of the seas.” ( Haydn Stevens December 5).
As stated earlier, Mr. Stevens
told me on a number of occasions that he had sufficient financial backing in
place to purchase the OceanBreeze. However, later I was told that these funds
would only be available after the ship had been released by the breakers. Apart
from this “financial backing” was obviously was not available. I
was led to believe, that Mr. Stevens’s “company, Dolphin
(Sea),” had no funds whatsoever. It became obvious that Mr. Stevens could
not even raise a mere US $70,000 in
By now the “Save the Cross”
campaign had some 18 WebPages online campaigning to save the OceanBreeze (ex
1… A Korean businessman who was looking to
purchase a classic ship for the use as a floating hotel. He did not require the
ship until 2009/10. For this reason, he was happy to “assist us to obtain
her” and have her cruising until 2010, when he would purchase her
outright for the as a hotel in
2… A Greek Captain & magnate of a huge shipping/crewing operation, was happy to finance OceanBreeze at 50% of her scrap value, which at the time was set at US $5 million. Thus, his offer was $2.5 million. He genuinely wished to be involved with the future of the OceanBreeze. Thus, his generous offer. (December 5)
3… Another businessman offered a loan of US $70,000 for the “Goodwill Fee.” (December 9).
What happened to these millions raised through
the Australian “Save the Cross” campaign? Tragically, it has to be
said these funds were lost due to the sheer inexperience of the leadership of
Late November, I had considerable doubt in Mr. Stevens’s capabilities, thus I urged an associate to encourage Mr. Stevens to hand the above investors over to his financiers and maritime solicitors and have them negotiate the required contracts. Instead of doing what I had requested, I was severely reprimanded for making the suggestion. Instead, Haydn Stevens decided to “negotiate” directly by phone or his ‘hotmail’ email address, which proved to be a disaster! Speaking to one of the parties concerned, I am told he said, “as soon as I have secured the ship I will be putting on my boiler suit and spend a week working on her.” Inexperience led to these unprofessional comments, which obviously discouraged the investors, several of which later contacted me saying that they could not support this “amateur attempt, no matter how sincere his desire to save the ship is.” Another wrote Mr. Stevens,
“It is impossible for me to wire $ 70,000.00 USD without an actual contract and discussion to fully understand your plan and if any risks are involved, and what would be my participation in the venture. I tried calling you today but could not get through.” (December 11).
There is another issue relating to this failed
attempt, not related to those in the
The Southern Cross was certainly not lost
because of lack of funds, but a sheer lack of expertise, by “Southern
Cross fanciers” in the
Above and below: Seen
here with her bow resting on the beach in
A tragic sight for all who love this wonderful ship
Up until February/March 2004, Mr. Stevens
continued to claim that the “Southern Cross can still be saved.”
What, without engines and most of her interior fitting including furnishings,
generators and electrical systems. Reports from
As stated earlier, in reality, November 6, was
the day a great and noble British Liner was lost and I have to say I am angry
as you the reader will have clearly seen this in this article. However, time
will heal the pain, but it is hard to forgive the lack of expertise of those
concerned in the
In conclusion, the Australian effort achieved everything that was possible. We raised US $2.740,000-00, which as you now know was lost. Southern Cross/OceanBreeze may be “a Fallen Star,” however, for us she will always be a bright and shining star living on in our memories. I hope that the tragic British comic opera will not continue, as it will only harm her sweet memory!
I hereby wish to thank my hard working associate, Michael Barnes, and all my staunch supporters from around the world who supported the “Save the Cross” campaign. You have done the ship proud. The “Save the Southern Cross/OceanBreeze” campaign does have a positive spin, as it made the “Save a Classic Liner” campaign a byword online.
I wish to conclude this article with a statement made by Michael Barnes:
Southern Cross … “did not die as a rusted hulk, but as a clean cut, fresh looking vessel. The Southern Cross finished her career going to her end as a lady!”
Below: OceanBreeze seen after being winched up on the beach. For further photographs of her beached and during her breaking up see the Southern Cross/Ocean Breeze INDEX. (Link below).
OceanBreeze may be “down and out,” but she is still looking ‘THE LADY!’
The Photograph above is © 2004 - Ian Pritchard and is NOT to be copied!
Now available - See SS OceanBreeze on Peter Knego’s Video Number 6
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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 www.ssmaritime.com 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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