SS Norwich City

The SS Norwich City was an oil-fired steam freighter powered by a triple expansion steam engine.

  • 1911-1919 Normanby
  • 1919-1929 Norwich City
  • 1911-1919 London & Northern Steamship Co Ltd (Pyman Brothers), London
  • 1919-1929 St Just Steamship Co Ltd (Sir William Reardon Smith & Sons Ltd), Cardiff
Port of registry: 1911 London
Builder: William Gray & Co. Ltd., West Hartlepool
Yard number: 792
Laid down: 9 February 1911
Launched: 12 July 1911
Completed: August 1911
Out of service: 1929
Identification: British ON 132596
Fate: Ran aground
Status: Wrecked 4°39′39″S 174°32′40″W
Notes: Ship history [1]
General characteristics
Tonnage: 4,219 GRT
Displacement: 8,730 tons
Length: 397.0 ft (121 m)
Beam: 53.5 ft (16 m)
Depth: 23.0 ft (7 m)
Installed power: 412 NHP
Propulsion: Oil-fired, triple expansion steam
Speed: 9 knots
Crew: 35
Notes: [1][2]


She was built in 1911 by William Gray & Company, Ltd., West Hartlepool, England, with engines by the company's Central Marine Engine Works.[3]

On 23 or 24 April 1928 (sources differ), the ship ran into the Second Narrows Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,[1][4] and lost her funnel and masts.[5]


In November 1929, Norwich City carrying a crew of 35 men left Melbourne bound for Vancouver via Honolulu. During a storm on 29 November 1929, the unladen freighter ran aground in darkness on the reef at the northwest end of the small central Pacific atoll known as Nikumaroro Island (then known as Gardner Island). A fire broke out in the engine room and all hands abandoned ship in darkness having to make their way across the wide and dangerous coral reef being pounded by dangerous storm waves. In total, 11 men lost their lives. The survivors camped near collapsed structures from a late-19th century coconut-planting project and were rescued after several days on the island.

The devastated wreck of the Norwich City was a prominent landmark on the reef for 70 years, though by 2007, only the ship's keel, engine, and two large tanks remained. By 2010, only the engine remained above water on the reef.[6] In 2016, storm activity washed one of the two large tanks shoreward and the two-story engine was broken off and dropped over the edge of the reef into deep water.[7][8]

See also


  1. "Normanby". Shipbuilding on the River Tees. The Shipping and Shipbuilding Research Trust. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  2. Mercantile Navy List. 1915. p. 423. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  3. "SS Norwich City [+1929]". Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  4. "The History of Metropolitan Vancouver — 1928". Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  5. "Casualty reports". The Times (44877). London. 26 April 1928. col G, p. 27.
  6. "Nikumaroro, 0530 Local Time, June 2010". Tighar Tracks. 26 (2): 17.
  7., November 15, 2016
  8. TIGHAR Earhart Project Research Bulletin #80, January 9, 2017,
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