Call Of The Torch — Updated

From above the saucer: MV DISCOVERY SUN outbound from Fort Lauderdale. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2008.

In the aftermath of SOLAS 2010, classic passenger ships have gone from endangered to practically extinct. Alang is still claiming what it can of the few that remain, including what is the probably the most important surviving ocean liner in the world (aside from the preserved QUEEN MARY in Long Beach and ROTTERDAM in Rotterdam).

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Sources in Manila and India confirm that the 1952-built MS PHILIPPINES (ex AUGUSTUS) has left under tow for Alang. The ship was reportedly stripped of fittings and furnishings prior to departing her Manila moorings and is in an undisclosed location awaiting the arrival of a second tug for the 4,000 nautical mile journey to the breaker’s beach. The former AUGUSTUS, which was sold to her last owners in 1975, was berthed at the Manila Hotel and used as an occasional venue for weddings and parties between 1999 and 2011 but the venture was not a success and the historic ship was finally sold for scrapping earlier this year.

Discovery Cruise Line’s DISCOVERY SUN (ex FREEPORT, FREEPORT I, CARIBE, SVEA STAR, CARIBE BREMEN, SCANDINAVIAN SUN, BALANGA QUEEN) was one of Miami’s pioneering “modern” cruise ships when she entered service as Bahama Cruise Line’s FREEPORT in 1968. Her futuristic, saucer-topped funnel was a trademark of designer Knud Hansen and used on a series of cruise ships and ferries that followed, including the 1974-built ODESSA (ex COPENHAGEN — scrapped at Alang in 2006/7). The ship wrapped up her final Ft. Lauderdale to Freeport day cruise on September 6 and has since sailed off to Freeport before embarking upon what will be a very long, eastbound journey. The mechanically-troubled, worn vessel’s next reported destination is Recife, which indicates she will be going via the Cape. She’s been sold to Dubai-based buyers but her ultimate destination is most likely the beach of Alang.

The recently-sold, still very rakish Canadian ferries JOSEPH AND CLARA SMALLWOOD (1989) and CARIBOU (1987) are also reportedly en route to Alang, having already transited Suez. Both ships are due at Bombay on October 5 (unless they stop at Alang first).

October 19, 2011 Update: Ferries SMALLWOOD (ex JOSEPH AND CLARA SMALLWOOD) and CARIBO (CARIBOU) were beached, one at a time, side by side, on October 17 and October 19. Both vessels are far out on the embankment and will need to be dragged ashore before stripping and demolition can proceed.

TELEMARK (ex PRIDE OF TELEMARK, etc.) and MS PHILIPPINES (ex AUGUSTUS) are at the Alang anchorage and will be beached within the next couple of days.

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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