TS Pretoria was a ship that had a long and varied career as first a German cargo liner, then a U-boat depot ship, hospital ship, British troop ship, Muslim pilgrim ship and finally an Indonesian naval accommodation ship.
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, Germany|
|Launched:||16 July 1936|
|Maiden voyage:||19 December 1936|
|Out of service:||1984|
|Captured:||as prize ship in May 1945|
|Fate:||Scrapped in 1987|
|Class and type:||
|Length:||547 ft 8 in (166.93 m)|
|Beam:||72 ft 5 in (22.07 m)|
|Draught:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Depth:||31 ft 5 in (9.58 m)|
|Installed power:||14,000 SHP|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h)|
The ship was 547 ft 8 in (166.93 m) long, with a beam of 72 ft 5 in (22.07 m). She had a depth of 31 ft 5 in (9.58 m), with a draught of 26 ft (7.9 m). As built, she was assessed at 17,362 GRT. Following her 1958 refit, she was assessed as 17,891 GRT.
As built, the ship was powered by six steam turbines, rated at a total of 14,000 shp. These were fed by a number of small, high-pressure Benson boilers. The turbines drove twin screw propellers and could propel the ship at 18 knots (33 km/h). In 1949, the Benson boilers were replaced by convention boilers, made by Foster Wheeler, operating at 500 pounds per square inch (34 bar). In 1973, she was re-engined, being fitted with a diesel engine.
As built, the ship had accommodation for 152 first class and 338 second class passengers. In 1949, she was converted to a troopship, with accommodation for 1,491 troops. In 1959, she was refitted to carry 106 first class and 2,000 pilgrim class passengers.
Pretoria was built as yard number 536 by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, Germany. She was launched on 16 July 1936. She was one of a pair of sister ships completed that year for Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie: the other being TS Windhuk. The Code Letters DJSG were allocated.
Pretoria began her maiden voyage from Hamburg on 19 December 1936. Her destination was Lourenço Marques, Mozambique via Southampton, United Kingdom; Lisbon, Portugal; Casablanca, Morocco; Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa. On 24 December, having departed from Southampton with 470 passengers and 300 crew on board, she ran aground on the East Lepe Bank in the Solent. Although five tugs attempted to free her, she remained aground. After 900 tons of water had been discharged overboard and 400 tons of fuel oil had been transferred to a tanker, she was freed with the aid of seven tugs on 26 December, losing her port anchor in the process. Pretoria returned to Southampton for inspection, resuming her voyage the next day. As a result of the delays incurred, the calls at Lisbon and Casablanca were omitted. Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie operated her mainly between Hamburg, South-West Africa and South Africa.
On 20 May 1937, Pretoria was involved in a collision with the British tanker Hekla during foggy weather in the North Sea (53°29′N 4°49′E). Hekla was badly damaged amidships and jettisoned some of her cargo. Pretoria stood by whilst tugs were sent from Bremen, Germany to Hekla's aid.
World War II
In November 1939, Pretoria was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine and used as a U-boat depot ship. Initially based at Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, she served the 1st U-boat Flotilla, based at Neustadt, Hamburg, from January 1940. In December she was transferred to 21st U-boat Flotilla, based at Pillau, East Prussia. In 1945, she was converted to a hospital ship. Pretoria assisted in the evacuation of German civilians from the Eastern Territories towards the end of the war. In May 1945 she was in Copenhagen when Denmark was liberated, and UK forces captured her as a prize of war.
Post-war civil service
Pretoria was passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) converted to a troop ship at Newcastle upon Tyne. She was renamed Empire Doon. The MoWT placed her under the management of the Orient Steam Navigation Company. Empire Doon suffered boiler trouble in Port Said, Egypt, was towed back to Falmouth, Cornwall by the Admiralty tug Bustler. She was then laid up off Southend on Sea. Essex, Empire Doon was moved to Southampton, Hampshire in May 1947. In 1949, she was reboilered by J.I. Thorneycroft & Co of Southampton, and converted to a troopship, at a cost of £2,000,000. Trials were undertaken in November 1949, but had to be curtailed due to engine problems. Her maiden voyage as a troopship, scheduled for 10 December, was postponed. Sea trials resumed on 29 December.
The refit of Empire Doon was completed in January 1950 and she was renamed Empire Orwell to conform with the Ministry of Transport policy of ship names being prefixed "Empire" and Orient Line policy of using names beginning with "O". She had capacity for 1,491 troops in three classes. Empire Orwell departed on her maiden voyage as a troopship on 17 January 1950 bound for Tobruk, Libya and Port Said, Egypt. She served as a troopship in the 1956 Suez Crisis: landing troops in Cyprus and evacuating troops from the Suez Canal Zone.
In April 1958, Empire Orwell was damaged during storms in the Atlantic Ocean. She was towed into Lisbon, Portugal by a German tug. There were complaints about conditions on board Empire Orwell when she was returning troops from the Far East to the United Kingdom in 1958. The issue was raised in Parliament by Horace King, MP. In reply, Alfred Barnes, the Minister of Transport, stated that complaints about messing arrangements encountered in the early part of the voyage were swiftly resolved. Complaints that soldiers below the rank of sergeant were generally unable to visit their families were stated to be a matter of military discipline. Later that year, she was chartered to the Pan-Islamic Steam Ship Co of Karachi, Pakistan who used her to carry Muslim pilgrims. Alfred Holt & Co bought her in November of that year and renamed her Gunung Djati after the 16th century Javanese Wali Sanga Sunan Gunungjati. She was placed her under the management of Ocean Steam Ship Co, Liverpool, Lancashire. Gunung Djati was refitted by Barclay Curle & Co Ltd in Glasgow, Scotland. The refit increased her displacement to 17,851 GRT. She was fitted with a mosque and was fitted with indicator which would point towards Mecca. On 7 March 1959, she sailed for Djakarta, Indonesia. She could carry 106 first class passengers and 2,000 pilgrim class passengers.
In 1962 the Indonesian government bought Gunung Djati, transferred her to the Indonesian flag and continued to operate her as a pilgrim ship. In 1964 P.T. Maskapai Pelajaran "Sang Saka" of Djakarta bought her and continued to operate her in the same service. She was sold to Perusahaan Pelajaran Arafat, Djakarta. In 1973 her boilers and steam turbines were replaced with diesel engines and in 1975 she was refitted in Hong Kong.
Indonesian naval service
In 1979, the Indonesian Government bought Gunung Djati back, renamed her KRI Tanjung, with the pennant number 971. She was used by the Indonesian Navy as a troopship until 1981, and then as an accommodation ship. She had ceased to serve in this role by 1984. Tanjung was sold in 1987 to Taiwan for scrapping.
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