SS Camorta

Tom R
25th August 2008, 20:26
Has anyone any photo or arrangement drawing of the CAMORTA she was built by INGLIS on the Clyde and lost in a typhoon inthe Bay of Bengal im 1906

Bruce Carson
25th August 2008, 21:02
Tom, there is a SMALL photo of her about three quarters of the way down the following page:


Tom R
12th February 2009, 21:08
Hi Bruce,
Thank you for guiding me to the photo of Camorta. I am a marine painter. and have painted her before with info gained from Duncan Haws, Merchant Fleet Series. The book on British India which gives information and a small side elevation drawing, This photo is invaluable as I will paint her again with more accuracy.
The Camort was lost in a typhoon in 1906 in the Bay of Bengal near Rangoon with heavy loss of life. My grandfathers brother was an officer on board
Once again many thanks Tom.

Bruce Carson
12th February 2009, 22:17
Hello Tom:
It's strange, I've read that the sinking resulted in the fourth greatest loss of life of any British merchant ship disaster, but there doesn't appear to be an online photo of the ship other than that small one on the BIShips site.
That's a really fine painting and I'm glad you are sharing it with our members.
Your painting imbues her with a sense of frailty and it staggers the imagination to know that over 700 died when she went down.
I would think painting her was a more personal project than most, knowing that a relative had lost his life in the sinking.
Perhaps more detailed photos will show up before you paint her again.

tom e kelso
21st February 2009, 07:45
Hi, Tom,

Your painting of CAMORTA is most impressive and (I hope I don't sound patronising) is very accurate when compared with the small photograph featured in Laxon & Perry's authoritive fleet history "B.I.". This photograph , of her under way with awning set and many deck passengers visible, is credited to the "Laurence Dunn Collection"...I don't know to whom or where this collection passed on LD's death a few years ago, but you might find it worth pursuing. I have scanned this photograph, but am not sure how I can email it to you. It is rather grainy but gives a lead to some details when blown up.

You may be interested in the following excerpt from the history of CAMORTA as detailed in L & P:-

"In BI hands, the CAMORTA remained on the Madras-Straits service but was later transferred to other Bay of Bengal trades. On her way from Madras to Rangoon on 6th May, 1902 she encountered a cyclone and foundered on Baragua Flats, off the Irrawaddy delta, with the loss of her entire complement of 89 crew and 650 deck passengers. In those pre-radio days nothing was known at the time, except that there had been a cyclone and that CAMORTA was overdue. Other BI ships were sent out to search for her; first a lifeboat was picked up near the Krishna lightvessel and then eventually the PURNEA found the wreck with the top of her foremast just breaking the surface. Identification was made when the CAMORTA's peculiar weather vane was seen on the mast.The matter was put beyond any doubt when a Marine Superintendent measured and checked the distance between the masts. It was a sad end to a ship that had served well"

I can send the rest of CAMORTA's details and history if you so wish

This was not the only BI ship which was lost with all hands in Bay of Bengal cyclones, and there is also the case of the BI "Sir Harvey Adamson" which was lost off southern Burma in April 1947 with the loss of all 269 crew and passengers. The cause has never been explained but the one adopted at the subsequent enquiry was that she had struck a wartime mine set loose from its moorings by cyclonic weather and had gone down before any distress message could be sent out.


Tom Kelso

wireless man
6th July 2012, 13:56
Always wondered about the loss of Sir Harvey Adamson. Reading Radio Man Marconi Sahib he states that she had a devilish sideways roll in heavy monsoon seas and he was glad to get off her.