‘Once upon a time’

In 1891 the Union Company purchased as a going concern the business of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company, which had been established in 1852, and maintained regular service between the Mainland and Tasmania, as well as the Tasmanian Intra-State trade. The purchase brought into the Company 8 steamers and 5 coal hulks, besides valuable freehold premises in Tasmanian ports. Many will remember ‘Oonah’, ‘Talune’ and ‘Pateena’ (1). With the passage of time, cargo handling methods changed radically and the company’s new Seaway vessels to be built and introduced in 1964 would bring to the service the latest ideas incorporating drive on drive off cargo handling methods and introduce containerisation. This in turn would speed up the cargo operation and improve turn around times, so said Mr. P.E. Trevella, Manager for Australia.

“Seaway Queen”, the first of the Company’s two new ships for the Hobart-Australian mainland trade, was launched from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s shipbuilding yard at Whyalla, South Australia, on Tuesday 19th. November 1963.

A split-second after the traditional bottle of champagne broke across her stem ‘Seaway Queen’ started to move.


Then, as the hull, gleaming in it’s first coat of  green, gold and white, gathered way a burst of cheering came from the 2,000 people who were present to watch the big event. The largest cheers of all were those of the shipyard workmen who watched from the main deck of the adjacent ‘Seaway King’, under construction.

Special prayers for the ship were conducted by the Reverend C.D. Sibley which included the reading of psalm 107. On conclusion of prayers for the ship Mrs. E.E.Reece, wife of the premier of Tasmania, formally christened the ship “Seaway Queen”.

A short time after the launching, Seaway Queen was securely moored alongside the fitting out berth.

To be continued.

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