Daily Event for September 11

The Papanui was a 430 foot long passenger/cargo ship built by William Denny & Brothers in Dumbarton in 1898. Used on the London to Australia route until 1905 she was then placed into secondary service between London and New Zealand carrying cargo and emigrants. She could only make 13 knots at best and carry 80 passengers in first and second class and an undetermined number of steerage passengers. In Dec. 1909 she ran aground on some rocks after leaving Hobart and ended up in Melbourne for repairs. The owners, the New Zealand Shipping Co. decided against repairing the ship and sold her to H.C. Sleight and H.B. Blake. They made temporary repairs with plans to take her to Japan for permanent repairs. When local officials would not certify the ship as being seaworthy they transferred the ships flag to Nicaraguan registry and sailed her without a pilot to Japan.

In May of 1911 now ready for sea, she departed Melbourne full of passengers who were on the way to see the coronation of King George V. in London. Papanui departed London on Aug. 25 for her return trip to Australia. A fire was discovered in a coal bunker on Sept. 5 soon after they crossed the Equator. The crew attempted to extinguish the fire for five days but were unable to bring it under control. Finally the captain decided to head for St. Helena, there all 324 passengers and most of the crew were put ashore, following this he ran the ship aground at James Bay. The ship was allowed to burn itself out and in a few years what remained of the burned out hulk was consumed by the sea.

© 2005 Michael W. Pocock