Transvaal Castle/ Sa Vaal

Fairfield
13th August 2004, 13:32
She was completed in 1962 by John Brown at Clydebank and this shot by Hugh Lauder shows her fitting out on 28 May 1961.
In 1966 she transferred to Safmarine and became SA VAAL and the second shot shows her departing from Southampton on the Mail run on a particularly nasty day in March 1977.
She had a further long career as a cruise ship under different owners following the end of the South African Mail Service and was scrapped in India in 2003 under the inauspicious name of BIG RED BOAT III

trotterdotpom
11th June 2005, 15:53
She achieved her 15 minutes of fame when a passenger fell over the side in the vicinity of the Canaries. The ship back tracked and by some miracle found him floating in the sea, severely sunburnt, about 24 hours later (Big Red 1?).

A Second Mate I sailed with in another company who was on board at the time told me he was placed in the ship's hospital with a guard on the door - they were worried he may end up back in the water! More to that story than came out in the Daily Mirror.

John T.

RCHARLTON
11th June 2005, 16:39
As Big Red Boat III she would have been on 3 & 4 Day cruises between Cape Canaveral and the Bahamas in conjunction with Disney vacations. Following is a website which contains a lot of her history and pictures with various owners.

http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/TransvaalCastlePC3s.html

bobmarine35
27th June 2005, 08:06
I worked the Festivale (ex Transvaal Castle) for Carnival Cruise Lines for parts of 1995 and 1996 as the onboard computer officer. She was a classic ship and once in a while, in an out of the way location, a sign in Afrikaans could still be found.

Bob

fred henderson
29th June 2005, 00:17
As built she carried 728 passengers and 426 crew and a lot of cargo. She was the third ship that Carnival bought. They sent her to Kawasaki in 1977 and she joined the Carnival fleet with accommodation for 1,432 passengers and 579 crew. In those days the ideal fleet size was three ships and Carnival operated their two ex-Canadian Pacific ships on the Miami to Western or Central Caribbean routes and the Festivale on the longer haul to the Eastern Caribbean.
She was an excellent work horse for Carnival and later changed her home port to San Juan until she was chartered to Dolphin Cruises in 1996 as Island Breeze, before being sold to them a year later. She continued to operate out of San Juan for her new owners. Dolphin became Premier Cruise and Island Breeze was chartered to Thompson until the end of 1999 operating in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. In 2000 she was renamed Big Red Boat III and began operating out of Houston. She never worked for Disney as they had their own ships by this time.
This Houston period was not entirely trouble free but Premier's fate was sealed when they made the huge mistake of chartering the Edinburgh Castle as Big Red Boat II. This ship, originally the Eugenio Costa, was owned by Cammell Laird through a front Bermudan company and refitted by their Tyne yard. Delivered late in a unusable condition, obliging Premier to refund its intending passengers. Finally accepted two weeks later at the end of July 2000, she then broke down on every cruise she attempted until Premier became bankrupt in September.
This fiasco was probably the worst liner refit in living memory and I am sure was a major factor in Carnival's decission not to trust Cammell Laird to cut their newly acquired Costa Classica in two chunks. Sorry if this offends the Mersyside guys but that is the way it was.
All the Premier ships were laid up. Big Red Boat III was eventually scrapped.
Fred

bobmarine35
29th June 2005, 07:38
When I worked the Festivale (or Fest as we called her), we were doing 7 day cruises out of San Juan for Carnival. Premier Cruises had a tough time later - they were operating older ships with maintenance challenges competing against the big modern ships that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess were sailing. Those lines could cut their fares to such an extent that the smaller lines like Dolphin and Premier could not compete.

I have included a picture of the ship in dry dock in Norfolk, Virginia in 1995. The second photo has been removed.

Regards, Bob

Doug Rogers
29th June 2005, 09:34
As always very sad to see them like that, great ship in her time, shame she couldnt last a few more years.

fred henderson
29th June 2005, 16:12
With the current price of bunker fuel it is even more difficult for a steam turbine powered ship to compete with modern diesels.

Fred

Shipbuilder
30th June 2005, 17:26
Regarding the picture of TRANSVAAL CASTLE being scrapped. I am not sure it is the same ship. TRANSVAAL CASTLE had a rounded stern as in the view of FESTIVALE next to it. The scrapping picture seems to have a flat transom and also the remains of the accommodation seem too far aft. I sailed in TRANSVAAL CASTLE in 1965 on her last voyage under that name, then I completed two voyages in the ship as S.A. VAAL before moving on to WINDSOR CASTLE for 1 1/2 years.

bobmarine35
1st July 2005, 06:11
I see what you are saying but I believe that part of the stern has already been removed at the time the picture was taken. That would explain the remains of the superstructure being too far aft, the transom rather than rounded stern, and the absence of any shafts or screws showing.

However I am certainly not an expert on shipbreaking.

Regards, Bob

Shipbuilder
1st July 2005, 07:40
As the rudder is visible, the extreme end of the stern is still there and even below water, the shape was curved and not flat. Also, the port propeller shaft is visible and there was no substantial superstructure that far aft.

Regards

Bob

bobmarine35
3rd July 2005, 01:23
Shipbuilder,
Thanks for your inputs - I have removed the photo as I am no longer sure of the vessel identity.

Regards,
Bob

Shipbuilder
3rd July 2005, 08:27
The scrapping picture tallied in most respects to the hull of the TRANSVAAL CASTLE, even to the guard over the propeller. The only thing that made me wonder was the apparent flat transom which still appeared to be painted red, and the height of the superstructure aft although this might have been an illusion after the removal of side plating. I wonder if anyone else has any views on this as I am by no means emphatic that it is not the remains of TRANSVAAL CASTLE. Here is a picture of the vessel in her prime. I took it in the tropics in 1965 on the voyage before we became S.A. VAAL.

Shipbuilder
3rd July 2005, 08:35
The picture didn't appear - too big. Here trying again.

Bob

Doug Rogers
3rd July 2005, 11:48
Well done, good picture, keep em coming.

adrianvare
12th July 2009, 12:22
Regarding the picture of TRANSVAAL CASTLE being scrapped. I am not sure it is the same ship. TRANSVAAL CASTLE had a rounded stern as in the view of FESTIVALE next to it. The scrapping picture seems to have a flat transom and also the remains of the accommodation seem too far aft. I sailed in TRANSVAAL CASTLE in 1965 on her last voyage under that name, then I completed two voyages in the ship as S.A. VAAL before moving on to WINDSOR CASTLE for 1 1/2 years.

Was on her in 1965 to 1968 as boy rating Captain Lloyd was in charge. On her when stewardess went over the side in Port Elizebeth, Liam Mccann was messman,on there when Stratford Johns from Z-cars was on there, Vincent Price,Smith the Rhodesia prime minister. Can you remember anyone else, memories a bit foged.(Cloud)

adrianvare
13th September 2009, 19:29
Was on her in 1965 to 1968 as boy rating Captain Lloyd was in charge. On her when stewardess went over the side in Port Elizebeth, Liam Mccann was messman,on there when Stratford Johns from Z-cars was on there, Vincent Price,Smith the Rhodesia prime minister. Can you remember anyone else, memories a bit foged.(Cloud)Trying to send picture. Ahhh, it works..Here you are ...SA VAAL

pegra
19th September 2009, 16:21
She achieved her 15 minutes of fame when a passenger fell over the side in the vicinity of the Canaries. The ship back tracked and by some miracle found him floating in the sea, severely sunburnt, about 24 hours later (Big Red 1?).

A Second Mate I sailed with in another company who was on board at the time told me he was placed in the ship's hospital with a guard on the door - they were worried he may end up back in the water! More to that story than came out in the Daily Mirror.

John T.

This happened northbound on my first trip on SA Vaal as a junior purser. The passenger's name was Joseph Honeywill from Johannesburg, and the date was August 28th 1970. The amazing navigation by the deck officers took into account currents and tides north of the Canaries. He was spotted as we passed within 200 yards of him - his Timex watch was still working ! Yes he was locked in the isolation hospital for fear of reprisals from other passengers.

Chris Isaac
19th September 2009, 19:05
If memory serves me right I think his name was actually William Honeyball.
He was in the water for about 13 hours.

sparkie2182
19th September 2009, 22:04
And the Master was a Captain Freel (I hope that is correct).......i was 15 at the time and remember him being interviewed on T.V. News.

i hope the memory isn't playing tricks.

Chris Isaac
20th September 2009, 09:28
The Master was Captain Freer

pegra
20th September 2009, 10:57
You're right, it was Captain Freer, and it was voyage sixty one. I have the Farewell dinner menu with the Extracts from the log printed inside.
1.30 a.m. Departed Las Palmas
10.00 a.m. Vessel put about to search for missing passenger.
4.00 p.m. Man overboard picked up by Ship's lifeboat.

(Extract from This Week in History - Pretoria News)
26 August 1970 - The liner SA Vaal rescues a Johannesburg man, Joseph Honeywill, eleven hours after he fell overboard near the Canary Islands. The ship retraced 140 miles before he was found. (Pretoria News, August 26, 2002. Today in History).

There is a discrepancy with the dates as recorded by the Pretoria News

sparkie2182
20th September 2009, 12:18
I was almost right.........not bad after 40 years.

Tim Atherton
6th December 2009, 23:14
I completed 7 voyages on the SA Vaal between 1974 and 1976. The Captain at the time was Commodore Sowden and I have fond memories of him leaning over the bridge rail shouting at all of us in the Lifeboats at Lifeboat practice - usually done in Southampton and Durban because of our ineptitude at navigating them. If I am not mistaken, the picture of the Vaal supplied by Adrianvare shows her along side the quay at Las Palmas. I have very fond memories of sailing on her as 3rd Purser (Catering) especially as I met my wife when she was travelling as a passenger.

Geoff Clode
15th December 2009, 13:46
Was on her in 1965 to 1968 as boy rating Captain Lloyd was in charge. On her when stewardess went over the side in Port Elizebeth, Liam Mccann was messman,on there when Stratford Johns from Z-cars was on there, Vincent Price,Smith the Rhodesia prime minister. Can you remember anyone else, memories a bit foged.(Cloud)
We flew to San Juan about 2000 to do a o/haul on her M/E and auxillaries, We took her to Norfolk, Virginia to work on her. She was definetely the same ship! The last time I was in San Juan I nearly walked off the ship "Cardiff or London Clipper" the C/E had sailed his previous ship with a contained E/R and tried the same here,I tried warning him but to no avail!. He had all the vents closed and we burnt out No 1 unit. We couldnt jack the con-rod out of the xhead, so sailed on 8 units. I still have the data-logger sheets showing the temp rise every watch. Thought Id keep it in case he gave me a bad report or tried to sack me!

Chris Isaac
16th December 2009, 09:00
We flew to San Juan about 2000 to do a o/haul on her M/E and auxillaries, We took her to Norfolk, Virginia to work on her. She was definetely the same ship! The last time I was in San Juan I nearly walked off the ship "Cardiff or London Clipper" the C/E had sailed his previous ship with a contained E/R and tried the same here,I tried warning him but to no avail!. He had all the vents closed and we burnt out No 1 unit. We couldnt jack the con-rod out of the xhead, so sailed on 8 units. I still have the data-logger sheets showing the temp rise every watch. Thought Id keep it in case he gave me a bad report or tried to sack me!

Even as a deck officer I suspect you are talking about the main engine... The Vaal was a steam turbine propelled ship.

pegra
7th March 2010, 15:28
Here is the menu for the Farewell Dinner of voyage 61 showing the Extract from the Log, when SA Vaal put about at 10.00am on 28.08.70 to search for missing passenger.

Andy McKay
24th July 2010, 00:56
I was on the SA Vaal's last 3 trips as electricians mate, the final on was fantastic but quite sad, the SA Navy, Airforce, tug boats and hundreds of small craft gave us a great send-off from Capetown. I have the SA newspaper cuttings, I'll scan them and post them in the gallery next week when I've dug them out of the loft.

Trevane
4th June 2011, 22:11
I spent two years as an engineer with Clan Line 1958-60 which introduced me to South Africa.
At the end of 1976 My wife, 3 small children and I emigrated to South Africa on board SA Vaal. That was a wonderful cruise followed by ten wonderful years in RSA.
We returned in 1976. Regular sailings had finished, but we managed a one way cruise on the Achilly Laura (is that the right spelling?) just a few weeks after it had been hijacked in the Med.
Trevane.

Trevane
4th June 2011, 22:29
Sorry, return date should read 1986 or early 1987,I spent two years as an engineer with Clan Line 1958-60 which introduced me to South Africa.
At the end of 1976 My wife, 3 small children and I emigrated to South Africa on board SA Vaal. That was a wonderful cruise followed by ten wonderful years in RSA.
We returned in 1976. Regular sailings had finished, but we managed a one way cruise on the Achilly Laura (is that the right spelling?) just a few weeks after it had been hijacked in the Med.
Trevane.