RMS RANGITATA

(clicking on the images will open up a
full picture offering much better detail)


A great website to visit for information on the Rangitata is accessible
here. Although the author
 erroneously claims that the 'Tata was the ship subjected to attack by the Admiral Scheer in 1940
 (it was the 'Tiki), I believe everything else to be entirely accurate including the account of the aerial
 attack and torpedoes.  It is a superb account that gives the reader a real insight into the dangers faced
by the Merchant Navy, its sailors and its passengers, during the war years.

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The following pictures and stories have been sent to me, or gathered by me, since beginning
 my search  on the Rangitiki.  I am indebted to all those who have helped me create this page.

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mm

This great photographic study of the Rangitata was sent to me by a correspondent who was a passenger on the voyage over Christmas 1959.  It was taken by his father, and an account of the trip is given further below.

Photographed by F.D.MacDonald

 

We were at sea for Christmas 1959. I was only nine at the time, but I remember after we went through the Panama Canal, the weather became very rough  I can clearly recall the crew members coming into the cabin and bolting the deadlights down, we had a flash fire in the engine room and the engines stopped, the ship went broadside on to the sea and she was hit by a very large wave and we rolled alarmingly, it felt like she was on her beam-ends, it was at dinner time, as my parents were in the dining room and I was in the cabin with my Sister who was only a couple of months old. I took her out of her cot and jammed myself in my bunk against the bulkhead, there was a lot of water in the companionways, as some of the passengers had unbolted the deadlights. My Father came back to get us and took us on deck, the decks were covered in flying fish, my Father who had briefly served in the merchant navy, noticed the red lights on the mast, we were in danger for some hours before the engines were restarted and we got steerage way. I believe we also had one of the Cunard 'Queens' standing astern of us the rest of the way across the Atlantic.

 

18 October 2005 ~ the following comments relating to the events when the Rangitata's engines stopped were received from Mr. Bill Nadin (Engine Room) by eMail.

"The account of the engine room fire is not quite an accurate account of what really happened.  It was about 2nd January 1960, about 1600 miles from UK [and] we were in bad weather when the starboard engine broke her timing chain, and that put one engine out of action.  The port engine was fine.  It took quite a time to repair the chain but in the meantime we had steerage on one engine.  The Rangitata was a top heavy ship and when she was rolling she kept on going. I don't know what would have happened if we had gone side on to the weather. 
As for one of the 'Queens' standing astern of us, that was probably romantic imagination.
I was one of the Engineers on the ship at that time"
 
An entry in the book Crossed Flags confirms the engine breakdown story.

   

Carnival Menu ~ 28 December 1959

   

                                         Boat Deck
                                          taken from a unaccredited postcard