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Does anyone have details of the ex Shaw Savill SS Runic which was parked on the Middleton Reef between Aus and New Zealand. I was on another company ship that past her in the sixties and would be interested in seeing photo and info.

There were so many stories about how she came to be put there.
 

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Runic 13587 tons built 1950 by Harland & Wolff Belfast.539.8 x 72.2 x 40.8. 2 water tube boilers and 6 steam turbines single reduction to 2 screw shafts all by H&W.
Registered Southampton. code flags GGCS. DF, ESD, GyC, Radar.Owned by Shaw Saville & Albion.
 

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Runic & Suevic

Details as requested on Runic:-
Built by Harland and Wolff Belfast Yard number 1414 Launched 21st October 1949 delivered 24th March 1950 13587 gross tons refrigerated carge ship for Shaw Savill & Albion Co. Sister Survic yard number 1415.

Ist Runic was H&W yard number 211 Runic II yard number 332 details are available if interested.
 

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Runic (13587grt/1949) On the 19 Feb 1960 of the three the RUNIC, whilst on route from Brisbane to Auckland, went aground on Middleton Reef some 120 mile north of Lord Howe Island. The grounding took place as the RUNIC encountered bad weather in the wake of a tropical cyclone. A number of attempts were made to refloat her but a few days’ later heavy seas, from another tropical storm, drove the RUNIC another 100 feet onto the reef. Over the next few weeks’ further attempts were made but the pumps could not cope and on the 22 Mar 1961 she was declared a constructive loss. By way of a postscript, in May 1978 and 1979, the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research sent their vessel TANGAROA (Ex Harald Horn/Wellington Exporter) to Middleton Reef for the purpose of Oceanographic research. They reported that the RUNIC was still there despite many attempts at salvaging her and the ravages of the sea which had both taken their toll.
(From "Shaw Savill & Albion - The post-war fortunes of a shipping empire" by Richard P de Kerbrech)

Regards

NigelC

Sorry about the quality of the foto - didn't have time to tidy it up.
 

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I last saw the runic in November 03, all but gone with the bow ready to roll over.
Alongside her is a old Jap style fiberglass long liner not more than 150 metres away that was steaming to lay in the lagoon over night at the reef and whilst on autopilot the helmsman fell asleep and up she went.
I know of one family that was salving the Runic for valuables and they were living onboard the ship for a period of 9 months using the ships genorators for power.
About 20 or 30 miles due south of Middleton lies Elizabeth reef and my father was working aboard the salvage vessel "Oneewa" out of Numea,that salvaged a jap long liner there in fact we still have old glass fish floats of that boat.
Middleton and Elizabeth are two of the most beautiful reefs that i have seen but quite isolated to reach.
MV
 

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Back in the 1950s, my parents befriended the 4 apprentices from Runic when she was in Port Adelaide and I was away as an apprentice with Adelaide Steamship Co. They kept up the friendship for some years, to the extent that they visited their families in the UK on their "retirement tripin the early 1960s. One of the lads bought a sextant for me in the UK as it was almost impossible to obtain one in Oz.Sadly, I lost contact with them after my parents died but would be interested to hear if they are still around. My Dad was a baker in North Adelaide, named Rowland King.
 

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Re Runic on Middleton Reef.

Sometime late in '61 while between Auckland and Brisbane on the Union Steamship Co. Katea, the Old Man decided to have a look at the Runic which had recently stranded there. Unfortunately he wouldn't get any closer and the camera I had at the time wasn't very flash, hence the poor quality of the photos. The ship looked completely intact, in fact the ensign was still flying. I remember that everyone on our ship were very subdued when we left, as though we were leaving a friend behind.
Regards, John M.
 

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In 1961 I sailed with an officer who had been the officer of the watch on Runic at time of mishap, 3/o I think. I remember the stunning photos he had taken at low tide when you could clamber some way from the ship. He said that at the public enquiry the presiding officer asked the master if the radar had been on when they hit. he said, I don't know sir, whereupon he was asked what he had done during the month on the reef. the Officer when asked said no sir promptly which got a thank heavens i can get a straight answer somewhere. the officer got a passenger ship posting and the master was pensioned off

John
 

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As a SSA cadet in the '70s I was told that the grounding happened around midnight when 3/O and 2/O were in the chartroom handing over the watch. The apprentice came into the bridge to report breakers ahead and was told it was probably just moonlight on the sea, and neither officer bothered to go and have a look.
 

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I was lucky enough to see the Runic at "close quarters" when aboard the U .S. S Coy ship Karetu ,when en route to Brisbane. It was a sad sight alright.I believe the Master was Capt Sendall, who ended up as Harbourmaster ,in my home town of Oamaru N .Z. Can somebody verify this???
 

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Yes, according to The Times (London), the master was Captain C. Sendall. His wife was with him on that last voyage - she was transferred to the destroyer HMAS Vendetta, along with the wife of the chief engineer, Mrs. Gray, the only woman member of the crew, and a handful of men.

From a subequent article, the drama didn't end with the grounding:

ARMED MEN ABOARD STRANDED SHIP
Sydney, April 11.- Armed men have
claimed possession of the abandoned
British freighter Runic, which went
aground on Middleton reef, about 600
miles from here, on February 19, a
spokesman for the Botany Bay
Shipping Company said today.
He said the men boarded the Runic
several days ago, "fully armed", and
claimed the right to salve the vessel. He
refused to disclose how many were in
the party, or the name of any salvage
company for which his company might
be acting. Meanwhile unconfirmed
reports said several tugs from rival
companies were steaming towards the
Runic from Hong Kong.
The Botany Bay spokesman said:
"We have enough armed men on board
to meet any attempt to take the ship
by force. The Runic is still worth
between a quarter and half a million
pounds as scrap in Japan".
The ship belonged to the Shaw Savill
line, but the spokesman claimed that
they abandoned her on the reef, which
has no sovereign country.
The Sydney manager for Shaw
Savill, Mr. D. J. Stilwell, said tonight:
"We still own the Runic. These people
are trespassing on our property".-
Associated Press.

regards,
Martin
 

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I was on the Cretic alongside in Brisbane when word came that the Runic was aground on Middleton Reef. We loaded a large amount of equipment that it was hoped would be sufficient to pull her off the reef and sailed out to her. On arrival a tug from Sydney came alongside ( I don't remember it's name ) and we worked all night transferring anchors and other ground tackle to her. It was risky work as the ship rolled heavily at times as we drifted a mile or so of the reef and it was to no avail as we know
 
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