News from 1914: Brisbane is added as a call on the Australian passenger service

Mark Baber

The Brisbane Courier, 12 May 1914
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,
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The Suevic, of 12,042 tons, reached Brisbane yesterday. The vessel is the
first of the White Star line, which contains so many large steamers, to
berth at a wharf within the boundaries of the City of Brisbane.

Commander E. J. English, R. D., R.N.R., who is in charge of the vessel is a
fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. The R.D. decoration is an honour
conferred by the King for service in his Majesty's ships, and long
distinguished career in the R.N.R. Commander English was one of the first to
receive the decoration. No trouble, he said was experienced in berthing the
Suevic at Bulimba. The steamer arrived off Cape Moreton at 6.30 a.m. on
Sunday, and "picked up" Pilot Gibson, who navigated the ship through the
North-west channel to the Q.M.E. and A. Co.'s wharf at Pinkenba. Yesterday
morning Pilot Gibson moved the Suevic from Pinkenba to Dalgety's wharf, the
Greyhound towing ahead. The steamer was swung in Bulimba reach, prior to
coming to the berth.

"The outlying reef at the entrance to the port and the tortuous nature of
the river are more or less looked upon with disfavour by people who have not
been to Brisbane, but who have only heard of it," be said. There should be,
he added, a better system of locating Smith's reef, and he considered that a
buoy should be placed on Brennan's shoal, where a good anchorage might be

The commander was informed that gas buoys were to be placed at Smith's rock
and in reply he said the only difficulty he saw was in getting an anchorage.
The buoy would probably not hold in heavy weather. The rock being close to
the shore, there would be a heavy swell there in heavy weather necessitating
a strong anchorage to hold the buoys. At the present time however the
approach to the port was "rotten." There were two channels, the North and
the North-west. It would be far better if the North-west channel only were
used and the approach to the channel marked by a lightship. This would prove
safer, and would be more satisfactory to shipping. But with two channels in
use the establishment of a lightship as suggested would entail pilots being
stationed near the lightship and other pilots at a point near the North
Channel, which would probably be out of the question. If a lightship was
placed at the entrance to the North-west Channel the commander of a steamer
could keep his vessel well out to sea until in a certain safe position to
approach the light, and thus keep his vessel away from the dangers on which
the Saint Paul came to grief. The system of leads in the Bay was a good one.
The leads were carefully and scientifically placed. The only drawback was in
making the port at night time. He considered the river a safe one for
navigating in calm weather. It would readily be understood that a big
steamer like the Suevic, in light trim, going up or down the river, with a
strong breeze blowing would offer a big resistance to the wind, and would
require very careful handling in going round bends such as Bulimba Point.
Leaving Liverpool on March 12, in what is regarded is the "off" passenger
season, the Suevic had on board 240 passengers for South African and
Australian ports. A heavy storm was encountered crossing the Bay of Biscay,
but that was the only occasion the weather was unfavourable during the long
voyage to Australia. The White Star passenger liners carry only one class of
passengers, in large well-ventilated cabins and dur- [sic] the voyage all
kinds of amusements are carried on, the spacious decks allowing cricket,
football, salt water plunge baths (in baths erected on the deck), fancy
dress balls, and a regular programme of sports to be carried out under
favourable conditions.

The Suevic is 550.2ft. long, with a breadth of 63.3ft., and is fitted with
the wireless telegraphic system, and submarine signalling apparatus, a most
valuable invention of recent years, as it enables the commander to
approximately determine his position in foggy weather by the sounds of
warning bells submerged beneath lightships. The Suevic is insulated for the
carriage of frozen produce, and is armed with two 4.7 quick firers, one on
each quarter. Special navy reserve men form the gun crew, and there is gun
drill every day. The routine work on the steamer is carried out on the same
lines as in the navy.