I have fond memories of the Chusan of P&O Line, built in 1949 by Vickers Armstrongs at Barrow. She was 205.1 m long x 25.6m beam, with a service speed of 22 knots and had
accommodation for about 1000 passengers. At 24, 215 tons, she was slightly smaller than the other post-war liners in the fleet; Himalaya, Iberia and Arcadia. I mentioned earlier
that my father would often take me to see the ships at Keppel Harbour in Singapore after school. For special ships we would get the free ferry to Brani Island, then covered in a jungle canopy. It is now a container port but in those days it was very tropical. But this trip in 1962 was so that my father could photograph the ship even if we blocked the view.
The Chusan was refitted in March 1960, which involved the installation of air conditioning throughout the ship. For most of her working life, she carried passengers between London, Bombay, and Japan. She was transferred to P&O-Orient Lines in May 1960. Chusan was taken off Far East passenger service and began to make cruises, before being again transferred to a regular service from Australia to Yokohama, with an intermediate port of call at Hong Kong. From 1963 she operated to Sydney, Australia from the UK, which meant that i was again able to see her in Aden. In October 1966, she was again transferred back to P&O Lines. Passenger capacity was again changed to 455 in first class and 517 in tourist class, sailing from the UK to Australia.
As aircraft were taking more and more passengers, the Chusan began P&O’s first cruises starting from Cape Town in 1971 to early 1972
In 1973, she retired from service and was sold to be scrapped at Chou’s Iron and Steel Company in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
She was known as The Happy Ship. I was once sailing on a P&O ferry from Hull and sitting in a lounge under a painting of a white P&O liner. I got talking to a pensioner who sailed as a crewmember on the Chusan. ‘Ah, The Happy Ship’ I remarked. ‘It’s not what I bl**** called it’ he replied.