CRUISING THE PAST: SS CHUSAN – P&O LINES – THE LINER WAS KNOWN AS “THE HAPPY SHIP”
Indeed in some ways she was a long overdue replacement for the celebrated Viceroy of India that had been tragically lost during the Second World War.
Like her celebrated predecessor she introduced superior standards on the route to the Orient and the Far East.
Public Rooms on the “The Happy Ship”
Design & Construction (1946 – 1950):
She had been ordered in May 1946 and she was built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd, Barrow in Furness. Her keel was laid in February 1947. She was launched on the 28th June 1949 by Viscountess Bruce (wife of Viscount Bruce of Melbourne and a P&O Director) and she underwent sea trials in June 1950. She was delivered to P&O on the 14th June 1950. She was the largest and last ship built for P&O’s Far East Service and was the first ocean going passenger ship fitted with anti-roll stabilizers.
She had been scheduled to make four North Atlantic voyages on charter to Cunard Line, but was delayed, so her first voyage was to Rotterdam with British officials attending a freight conference. The Stratheden took her place on the Cunard charter.
This photo is of young officers aboard the Chusan, 1967, The UK still had a very large merchant Navy and many passengers ships.
P&O Years (1950 – 1970):
On the 1st July 1950 she sailed on her maiden commercial sailing which was a 9 day cruise from Southampton to Madeira and Lisbon. On the 15th September 1950 she then sailed on her maiden voyage from London (Tilbury) to Bombay via Suez.
On the 7th November 1950 she finally sailed on her maiden voyage on the service for which she was intended, departing London (Tilbury) bound for Hong Kong. Thereafter she continued to China and the Far East working in partnership with the Corfu, Carthage and Canton. Thus in November 1950 she had the honor of reinstating P&O’s service to Japan and made the first postwar call at Yokohama.
In May 1952 she was fitted with the Thornycroft funnel top in order to reduce smuts by R & H Green & Silley Weir Ltd at Tilbury. On the 12th June 1953 she collided with the cargo ship Prospector off the Goodwin Sands. She returned to Tilbury for two days of repairs to an 8 metre gash in her bow. In March 1955 she landed a passenger with smallpox at Port Said. On the 2nd September 1955 she received a bomb hoax during a Mediterranean cruise and as a result the ship was thoroughly searched at Naples.
In 1959 her passenger capacity was revised to 464 first class and 541 tourist class. In April 1954 she departed London (Tilbury) for a 92 day round-the-world voyage, which was P&O’s first.
Crossing the Equator Ceremony SS CHUSAN
From December 1959 to March 1960 she was refitted at Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast and fitted with air conditioning throughout the ship.
In May 1960 her management and operation was transferred to P&O-Orient Lines. In June 1963 she was transferred from the UK to Far East Service and onto the UK to Australia service. In the early 1960s the Chusan was taken off the Far East service and operated cruises before being transferred to a new regular service linking Australia and Yokohama with a call at Hong Kong.
Chusan in Sydney.
In October 1966 her management and operation transferred to P&O Lines. Her passenger capacity was revised again to 455 first class and 517 tourist class.
The Final Years (1970 – 1973):
In January 1970 she had the honor of sailing the final London to India service leaving London on the 15th Sep 1970, thus ending P&O’s long association with India. In July 1970 she suffered a fire in the funnel uptakes while docked in Southampton.
In October 1971 her management and operation was transferred to the P&O Passenger Division. From December 1971 to January 1972 she operated P&O’s first cruise program out of Cape Town.
On the 26th March 1973 she arrived back in Southampton at the end of her final commercial voyage. She was retired from service and sold to Mitsui & Co. who in turn sold her to Chou’s Iron & Steel Company Ltd for scrapping. She arrived at Kaoshiung, Taiwan on the 1st July 1973 and demolition commenced in September 1973. A sad end to a fine ship.