Originally Posted by Geoff Gower
However the time had come that P&O or (The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company) decided to build a new Turbine Steamer, and she was ordered to be built by Stephen Shipbuilding in Glasgow, Scotland in November 1936. Her keel was laid down in 1937 Yard in number 557.
When ready, she was launched and named Canton on April 14, 1938, by Miss Thalia Shaw, the daughter of Lord Craigmyle, being the P&O’s recently retired Chairman. One in the water, tugs towed the hull to her builder’s Fit-Out berths. Once the Canton was completed she headed out for her sea trails on September 9, 1938, which proved to be successful, after which she returned to the builders yard for some final touches. Once she was fully completed the RMS Canton was delivered on September 13, to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
P&O had just under a month before her maiden voyage from the UK to India, Hong Kong and Japan, thus they had sufficient time in preparing their new liner and take on cargo heading to various ports during her voyage, as well as manning her. There were many last special final changes on board ensuring her passengers would not just be comfortable, but also feel completely at home aboard!
The handsome 15,784 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) P&O Liner was the last ship of the company to have hull painted black and with a white ribbon, whilst her superstructure was all white. Her boot topping was painted in P&O’s traditional red and topside there was a tall slanting black funnel, as well as two tall majestic white masts as well as kingposts with derricks for cargo movements.
The Canton offered a considerable cargo capacity with six holds that had a capacity of 10,341 cubic metres or 365,248 cubic feet, including 927 cubic metres or 32,730 cubic feet of insulated space.
Her passenger capacity was as follows; 257 in First Class and 221 in Second Class. The ship had a crew of 319: These consisted of both European and Indian. The Captain and officers, Pursers were mostly European, whilst the Engineers’ department, Stewards, and Deck crew were Indian. In addition the Canton was the very first P&O liner to have a fulltime “Cinema Operator” on the ship!