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Hello, I'm looking for info on the SS Lakemba. She server a freight/passenger route from Australia to Vancouver and the West Coast of the US in the 50's and 60's. I believe she was ex Navy ship but not sure.

Thanks for any help
 

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Hello, I'm looking for info on the SS Lakemba. She server a freight/passenger route from Australia to Vancouver and the West Coast of the US in the 50's and 60's. I believe she was ex Navy ship but not sure.

Thanks for any help
I was a passenger on the Lakemba leaving from Vancouver to Sydney in Sept. 1965 . It carried 97 passengers ( the limit at that time without a ships Doctor ), and stopped in Hawaii for one day , Apia, E.Samoa for 2 days , and Suva and Latoka , Fiji for 5 days . Unloading a cargo of lumber including 14 feet piled over the deck. It took 5 weeks to reach Sydney. It had a 3 cylinder steam engine and cruised at 12 knots . Crew were Fijian Indian , Captain & Mates English .
Heard it ran aground on Swains Reef , some years after. It was a Liberty Ship built sometime during the war .
 

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Hello, I'm looking for info on the SS Lakemba. She server a freight/passenger route from Australia to Vancouver and the West Coast of the US in the 50's and 60's. I believe she was ex Navy ship but not sure.

Thanks for any help
She was launched 8.6.1945 by Burrard at Vancouver as the RN landing craft maintenance ship Spurn Point, commissioned at Esquimalt 22.12.1945, and arrived on the Clyde in Feb 1946. There not being much demand for landing craft in 1946, let alone ships to maintain them, she was paid off 31.7.1946 for disposal. Sold to Pacific Shipowners (WR Carpenter) 10.7.1947 and entered commercial service May 1948. Passenger accommodation was fitted at Vancouver in 1950. She was wrecked 5.10.1967 in Fiji at 18.36S 177.48E en route Suva-Lautoka; all 168 on board saved.
 

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... I served as Third Mate on the Lakemba. She actually carried 98 passengers and 64 Crew. Sailing from Sydney to the west coast it was seldom that here were more than about 20 passengers, BUT returning a full Complement. A Doctor was carried during the two years I sailed aboard ( Capt.Geoff Cleveland).... Owned by Pacific Shipowners, which was a subsidiary of WRC Carpenters ( "Would Rob Christ" ). After I left in Vancouver, the then 'Mate, John Ward was promoted Master,when Cleveland left, and shortly thereafter ran aground on a Reef ( Mbbenga Reef ? ) just off Suva, sliding off a shortly thereafter into Deep water... non Salvageable. I know I've very fond memories of the time served on the Lakemba, and the "Great Island Nights" held every Voyage for the Passengers Entertainment, usually the second night out from Honolulu, and well before Suva.' Learned to really love the Curries from the Crews Mess, when I could duck the more formal, Noon Meal in the Saloon! ...... David K ..... (S/S Lakemba, ex HMCS "Spurn Point" )
 

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My husband and I were passengers on the Lakemba departing Sydney April 16, 1958. The cargo was beer and Volkswagens for Suva. We spent eight days in Suva and Lautoka, and twelve hours in Honolulu.
There were 93 passengers, half seniors and the rest in their 20s. I think we are the only ones who did not return to Sydney to live. Peter got a job offer in Florida.
Would like to contact anyone on our voyage. Peter and Jean Roberts [email protected]
 

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Lakemba 1965 trip

I was also on the 65 trip, the lumber was piled higher than the captain's bridge it seemed to me. The Fijiian crew were first rate, the food great, and the trip very scary. Took 5 weeks, and I remember having 'land sickness' when we landed in Oz finally. Trip of a lifetime with the interesting passengers. I'd like to find out what happened to the other passengers...I was 19 years old from Edmonton. Only stayed in Oz for a couple of months then returned to Canada. There were mostly American people, a few children, a South African from Durban, an English weightlifter, a couple with their kids and a beautiful nanny (aged 17), and other Canadian young people. We all grew close in the time we were together. I remember Ward getting tossed into the pool at the Equator. And the luminous creatures of the sea, and flying fishes and the endless motion. An amazing experience.
 

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.. John Ward would have been Second Mate then. John Gunn , First Mate. And myself Third Mate. ...... Ward had a very serous drinking problem, one that caused a lot of problems later on, and a lot of extra work. .......... The deck Cargo was a real work of Art to load and keep track of. Cargo was loaded in reverse order, and marked off with spray cans of different colors. It used to fall to me, as well as preparing the Weather Maps, to Draw out the Cargo Plans using the Supercargoes rough Diagrams. Done usually starting the First Night out of BC ( Victoria quite often) and completed well before Honolulu. ..... The swimming Pool generally went up, Starboard Side, just below the Bridge, the First or Second day out of Honolulu. Shipboard made, of Canvas Hatch Covers and Boards, fresh Sea Water pumped in, generally, after about 2000 hours each night. ...... Reading these threads, certainly brings back long forgotten and very pleasant Memories !Ah for long lost Youth ! ....... David k
 

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an exciting trip

One interesting episode on the Lakemba happened on the 27th of February 1957. My brother and I were born to different fathers, one an American G.I and my father from Moree. My mother decided to take my brother and I to live in America. My father mounted a legal challenge but the police were too late. By the time that they boarded the Lakemba, it was just in international waters off Sydney. The Captain told the police and reporters that my family was not to be taken off the ship. We then sailed to Vancouver.
 

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Couple with kids and a beautiful nanny!

Hi Luella,
I'm pretty sure that I was on that journey, being one of the kids with the beautiful Nanny. Her name was Ginger Gordy and she was a family friend brought along to look after me and my brother and sister. I was eight at the time, but still have very vivid memories of the trip. Flying fish, seeing a hammerhead shark come along side, crossing the equator and the appearance of king Neptune, the canvas swimming pool built among the timber. What a way to travel. My parents were Mike and Mairi Naughton, both now passed away. We left Australia in 1972 and came to Scotland (by plane, how boring).
I was very happy to find this thread, ain't the internet great!
 

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SS Lakemba passenger on last voyage.

Not sure if I have enough information that you might not have.

At 17 as a passenger I didn't realize how much the SS Lakemba would effect my life.

As a family of 7 we drove from San Antonio, Texas to Vancouver, Canada. The idea was to legally migrate to Australia. My father had a job lined up and us 5 kids were to finish our education in Australia.
My mom was there to keep us all out of trouble.

We travelled to Hawaii and then Suva. Before the last leg of the trip to Australia we had to travel to the other side of Fiji to Latoka.

Night time...... bit of a storm......12 miles or so off course ( she was an old ship at this time...... actually it was her last voyage, she was to be scrapped.

Hit a reef....... there is a bit of a story as to why that happened.....

Anyway with the reef holding us and the engines and some anchors keeping us up on the reef they decided that it was safer to stay on board until someone showed up or the engine room flooded.

Next morning with lifeboats from the Retriever we abandoned the Lakemba.....

Lifeboats with motors towing lifeboats without motors.... big waves left over from the storm.... pretty girls to look brave in front of.... and with everything to look at all we could see was how good the Retriever looked from the level of a lifeboat.

The Retriever crew were great to everyone. They took the passengers from the Lakemba back to Fiji. Some passengers weren't on board because they travelled overland to Latoka.

The Latoka might have seen a lot of service...... might have looked better when she was younger........ but one thing about that ship.

It wasn't her fault.......... She stayed on the reef while some other ships might have given up....

I still have the key to my cabin........

Something I can't find is the name of the reef........ I have seen it in print. But that was a long time ago.....

Anyway.... I have a photo copy of the Zodiac magazine and a bit of film.

You should have seen the swimming pool we had.... bit rough...

If you get a chance to reply to me I might be able to tell you more.

Mike Boen
 

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Lakemba 1954

Hello Mike, and other contributors,
Your comments prompted me to add my own experiences.

Two of my close friends and I, all in our early twenties, sailed on the Lakemba in mid 1954.

We set out from Sydney in fine weather with a heavy cargo of cattle and plywood, heading for Lae, Rabaul, Hawaii, San Francisco and finally Vancouver.

The Pacific lived up to its name, where the Lakemba sailing across a millpond with a clear starry sky and bright moonlight was pure bliss. The only rough sailing occurred when the cargo-less ship was cruising up the coast to Vancouver.

The ship's crew was convivial, especially the Fijiians who offered far more assistance in all matters than we ever could need. The passengers were a mix of ages and were contented, for the most part. On this voyage there was a ship's doctor, who had no more to do than attend to a young girl's sprained ankle.

On the islands we rented a jeep and ventured into the interior over roads which were no more than muddy tracks, visiting native villages where me made ready friends and were given delicious pawpaw and more fruit than we could eat.

For currency we could supply cigarettes or newspapers which the native people rolled up and smoked instead of the scarce tobacco.

We experienced rainstorms which were like standing under a waterfall, and a few mild earthquake tremors which shook the glassware in stores we visited. We rented and rowed a small boat across the Rabaul Harbour to a tiny island near the entrance where we fished unsuccessfully, only to return to the Lakemba and find the crew pulling one fish after another from the water as fast as they could bait the hooks.

I could go on for hours listing the delights of this experience, in days which were unlike any commercial cruise where deck chairs and dining delights are favored over adventure and discovery.

Attached are a few shots of the Lakemba. The max allowed is 5, but I have more, including the final menu.

Norman V.
 

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I sailed on the Lakemba from Victoria, Vancouver Island to Fiji August 1966. There were about 60 to 70 passengers all bound for Australia, mostly Canadians and a few English and American. I was the only passenger to jump ship in Fiji. The crew were Australian, East Indian and Fijian and the cargo timber. The ships doctor a Dr. Shannon died on board about two days from Honolulu. Looking at old photographs our swimming pool was a canvas sack about 6 foot X 6 foot. I remember being covered in a sticky mess of honey and flour and dunked in it when we crossed the Equator.

I have a newspaper cutting from the New Zealand Herald dated October 6 1967 priced 4c saying the Lakemba had struck a reef known as Cakaulekaleka off Vatulele Island. The cable laying vessel Retriever took all the passengers and most of the crew to Suva.

I would like to hear from anyone that was on the Lakemba when she sailed from Victoria to Sydney August 1966.

I went from Suva to Auckland on MV Tofua. It was a very rough crossing!

Mary Tilda
 

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We were on board the Lakemba when it hit the reef

We had purchased a movie camera in Suva so chose to take the ship rather than do the overland trip with our friends to Lautoka. (saving our pennies). We had a cabin on the top deck so my husband was one of the first out on the deck. I remember the jolt when we hit the reef, he said "what was that" and I jokingly said "we hit a reef". I remember the strong Fijian crew assisting us as we climbed down the rope ladder into the Retriever. I also remember the wonderful food on the Retriever.
I remember the Boen's. I believe their volkswagon van was on deck when the ship slipped off the reef. (correct me if I'm wrong). The biggest joke even now, was that my 18 month supply of birth control pills was in the part of our luggage that followed us to Sydney several months later. I found a doctor in Sydney very soon.
 

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Ladies and gentlemen, may I congratulate you all in providing one of the most fascinating sea stories on this site, made all the more interesting by your own personal recollections of the ship, her crew, her passengers, and the voyages you sailed on.
Norman V, Mary, Marilyn, and ex-crew; I am sure it would be of great (personal and historic) interest to all if you could submit any further photographs and/or movie footage to add to the SS Lakemba`s history.
Many thanks for sharing your experiences.
 
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