Australasian United Steam Navigation Company

 Starting as the Hunter’s River Steam Navigation Company in the early 1840s, the “A.U.S.N” evolved through a number of smaller companies, initially focused on developing the Newcastle-Sydney maritime trade. Over the years, through good and bad times, its contribution to the nation’s passenger and cargo trade increased.

During the Great War two of its vessels spent time as Hospital Ships: Kanowna (about 7000 gt)from June 1915 (but for the first three months as Troopship (A61) and Kyarra (6953 gt) 1914 to April 1915. Kyarra then served as a Troopship (A55) until conversion back to a Hospital Ship in May 1918, but was sunk by enemy action on the 26th of that month. The smaller Suva, converted in July 1915 to an Armed Boarding Ship, served in the Middle East, while the passenger ship Indarra was requisitioned in October 1917 as a Troopship, Australia-Mediterranean. Wyreema was engaged in bringing home Australian troops and families from late 1918 to May 1919. At the start of the Second World War its fleet comprised fourteen ships:



Gross Tons

In Service

Mackarra 1919 2515 1919-1941
Macumbra 1919 2525 1919-1943
Mildura 1920 3478 1924-1951
Mareeba 1921 3663 1924-1941
Baralaba 1921 998 1925-1949
Murada 1921 3345 1926-1947
Mungana 1920 3315 1926-1951
Bingera 1935 922 1935-1948
Ormiston 1922 5832 1936-1955
Orungal 1922 5826 1936-1940
Babinda 1936 659 1936-1955
Corinda 1937 3376 1937-1961
Buranda 1918 685 1938-1946
Bulimba 1928 739 1941-1942

Bingera was taken up by the Navy early December 1939, Orungal was requisitioned in June 1940 for a single trooping voyage, Bulimba went under control of the United States Small Ships Section during 1942 and though released in 1946 did not rejoin the Company’s fleet. Baralaba, requisitioned in May 1942, was camouflaged and fitted for a special voyage, still a mystery, and was returned to her owners in February 1943. Before Australia was yet at war with Japan, Mareeba became a victim of the German commerce raider Kormoran in June 1941 while voyaging under requisition between Asian ports, with 26 crew lost and 25 captured. Macumba, part of the sea supply chain to Australia’s north, was attacked and sunk by Japanese aircraft while en route Brisbane-Darwin, on 6 August 1943. Passenger ship Ormiston was torpedoed off Coffs Harbour in May 1942, following 1940 trooping to Darwin and 1941 to Noumea voyages, and with repairs completed in early 1944, trooped on the coast until July 1946. Murada was torpedoed off Crowdy Head on 24 July 1942 but survived. Coombar (not listed above, owned by Wm.Crosby & Co, chartered to A.U.S.N. 7 November 1940) served as a minesweeper 1941 to 1946.