ss. Fortunatus


Official Number Date Builder Tonnage L B D Fate
101739 1901 Armstrong Whitworth &Co 3425 345 47.6 22.7 Took fire indian ocean 1907
Capt Murdoch McDonald - Master 1905-06 & 1907

Steamship built for Archibald Currie & Co, Melbourne. A flush decker, she was built as an improved version of the successful Euryalus design.

1901 Used by the authorities to deliver troops and horses to South Africa on her delivery voyage under the command of Capt Walter Frith, making the second of the Currie vessels connected to the Boer War.
  20.03.1905 - Sailed Singapore for Caulcutta, M. McDonald Master.

05.04.1907 - Ran aground on an uncharted reef off the coast of Flores Island (8 degrees 14 min. south, and 120 degrees 39 min East), after 12 days she was refloated and continued to Calcutta


30.07.1907 - ss. Fortunatus, bound for Australia from Calcutta and under the command of Captain Murdoch McDonald, mysteriously took fire in the Indian Ocean and had to be abandoned.   At 8:30pm on July 30th Fortunatus was at position 6 degrees 24 minutes South and 19 degrees 16 minutes East when smoke was noticed coming from the ventilators forward of the engine room. The vessel was put before the wind and the engines stopped. The crew and passengers started fighting the fire but it proved to be beyond their capabilities.

At 8:30 the following morning the ship was abandoned, the 4 lifeboats  staying with the burning ship for a day hoping to be seen by a passing vessel. On August 1st at 10am Capt McDonald gave orders to desert the ship. The four boats hoisted sail and made for Sumatra though, due to squally weather, became separated on the second day.  At 7pm on the 3rd of August the 3 masted sailing ship Forth picked up the passengers and crew of the first lifeboat, by 10:30pm the same day the second boat was also alongside. Concerns were held for the other two boats, however by 2 pm the following day the third boat was sighted and by 11pm the occupants of all four lifeboats were safely aboard the Forth.

Capt Matzinger pointed the Forth towards Port Louis in Mauritius where, after 11 days the passengers and crew of Fortunatus boarded the BI steamer Santhia which took them to Colombo in what was then called Ceylon.  After a lengthy stay in Colombo they boarded the RMS Orotava which arrived in Perth, Western Australia on November 26th, 1907. For a full account click "here"


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