Ship Details


Twin Screw Steamer, 4,005 nhp.




20,026g 11,075n


632.0 x 75.2 x 32.9


Orient Steam Navigation Co.Ltd., Orient Line, reg. Barrow. 1939: Troopship. 1942 Nov.: Fitted out as an assault ship. Present at the North African, Sicilian & Italian landings. 1948-9: Fitted out as a one class ship at Birkenhead. 1949: Resumed Australian service. 1957 Aug. Arrived at Faslane for scrapping by British Iron & Steel Corp.



I arrived in Melbourne with my Aunt and Uncle William and Dora Shirt and their 3children on 24.4. 1955. The ship we sailed on was the 0tranto.

I arrived in Melbourne with my Aunt and Uncle William and Dora Shirt and their 3children on 24.4. 1955. The ship we sailed on was the 0tranto. My name then was Christine Carol Steele.

I sailed on the s s Otranto from Tilbury in may 1953 arriving in Sydney 13 June 1953 via Suez with my mother Violet Syms and my two brothers, Charles and William. 13 June was Charles' 4th birthday. I enjoyed the voyage and the ports of call we visited en route. Celebrating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the crossing of the line with its visit of King Neptune, hawkers selling wares from small vessels crowed around the ship, and seeing flying fish in the Indian Ocean being a few of the highlights. So many new sights to see. The ship was then painted black in what I was told were her wartime colours having been used as a troopship during WWII.

While I came to Oz as a migrant in 1949 on Ormonde , I went back to England briefly in 1955 to see my grandmother. I left Sydney on Otranto on 10th August 1955 and returned in October 1955 on Oronsay.

Christine, we were shipmates. My family, John and Anne Evans and three children, Jeffrey, Joan and Ronald were on the same voyage. I was 9 years old at the time so I remember this great adventure clearly and with great affection. I have a special memory of a day in Colombo and time ashore in Fremantle. Just a few months ago I went back to Fremantle to relive that first day in Australia. Even now, 64 years later, the memory is still strong. How time flies. Hope you are well Christine.

My father DAVID MEEK aged 19yrs sailed on board the "OTRANTO" on 7th JANUARY 1928 to the Port of FREEMANTLE AUSTRALIA.

I sailed to Australia aboard the Otranto in 1954 arriving on October the 13th with approximately 23 other children in the care of Dr Barnardos Orphanage I was 12 years old and the voyage was a great adventure. We sailed to Australia via the Suez Canal and during the voyage visited Naples Aden Colombo Fremantle Adelaide and Melbourne before arriving in Sydney we also stopped at Gibraltar and Port Said but remained on board. The trip was a great adventure one which I thoroughly enjoyed. George Hulse ACT Australia.

I left Tilbury February 1957 on the otranto go via South Africa due to the Suez closing had great memories on board arrived in Sydney the end of March I was 9years old with my mom dad sister Sandra and young brother John anyone else on its voyage

I left the UK in November 1950 on the Otranto from Tilbury docks. We were delayed by two days due to the ‘pea souper’ fog. The fog horns were sounding continually and one could not see the dockside it was so thick, the air was cold and damp. When it was safe we embarked and my life was to change for ever, i was nine years old. I never saw my grandparents again. The journey took a little over five weeks travelling through the Mediteranian past Gibralter towering over the entrance like some great gauardian. Everything to me as a child was so large and different to what i was used to having been born into a wotking class family in an industrial shipbuilding town where many of these great ships were built. Barrow in Furness whilst unknown to most of the world was in the forefront of shipbuilding as was in the sights of many bombers during WW two. I had left behind the bombed out buildings, the cold and the snow, the green pastures and hills of the ‘Lake District’. I was now on the greatest adventure of my life not realising that the opportunities that it would bring to me later. My father told me that he wanted his two boys to have a better life in a new land of hope. It certainly did. We journied past Gibralter on to the Suez canal through Egypt the land of the biblical stories of Pharoah and Joseph. Whilst in Port Said where the hawkers in their small boats crowded around the ship with the baskets which were hauled up by the potential customers an amazing meeting with on of the shipboard hawkers took place. As my father an i strolled along the deck a local Arab was selling wristlet watches, both my father and the hawker stopped and looked at each other and my father exclaimed “sidi-bish 43” The man replied “Mr Alf”. My father was in Egypt during WW two and he had know this man during his service in the british army. After some more greetings and conversation my father said to the man that was selling watches that he would like to buy one as he indicated to those displayed on his arm. This savy man said to my dad not these and opened his coat and offered one from his inner pocket and said “for you Mr Alf” with a twinkle in his eye. My father still had that watch when he died at the age of 86. It was a self winding watch that lasted many many years. After this incident and we travelled on to Bombay, Columbo, Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and on to Sydney, where we disembarked on January the first 1951. It was hot. I alway remember the quiet warves in Sydney as i remarked that the country was closed. A public holiday, new years day 1951, a new year, a new life about to begin. Being nine i can still remember much of the journey and have many stories of our journey not only from the UK to Autralia but of the journey of life as i grew and the struggles and sacrifices my parent made to come to and make a new life for their boys in this great land of opportunity. As i reflect and look back i can see how God has guided my life and provided tribulations and blessings. It is important to take these experiences and build upon them having faith that there is a greater plan for us all if we would just recognise it. Life is a journey and at the end we must not just pass on the possesions we have accumulated but the principles we have learnt. Faith in the future and family bonds are so important. To any that may read this reflect and and look forward positively if you want to leave a heritage to those that come after you. Be always thankful Carl M Kempster

I first started my merchant carrear ,at the age of 15 on the ss Orontes in 1955 . I sailed for a number years before I joined the s oronsay. The Orontes was a very good ship .i spent my 18 th and my 21st birthdays in Sydney Australia .

I believe it was the 15th of March 1951 I boarded the RMS Otranto as a member of a group of youths being managed by The Big Brother movement for immigration to Australia . A look back at it now and say it was the wisest thing I did at the time.

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My late father, Len Willis, then a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, sailed aboard the troop ship S.S. Otranto from the UK to Port Said in 1944. There he was posted to motor torpedo boats and later to minesweepers (HMS Sylvia). Dad had two stories to tell about this crossing, other than the belief that they were stalked by U-boats until through the Straits of Gibraltar. The first one: The toilets had had their doors removed and whilst seated on one an officer entered the heads on an inspection. Dad had to stand to attention with his trousers round his ankles until told to 'Carry on!' On a sad note, he said that young, fit servicemen died from disease during the overcrowded voyage.

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My parents sailed on the RMS Otranto in January 1954 arriving in Melbourne in late March 1954. My parents James & Lily arrived in Melbourne with my elder brother Jimmy, my elder sister Suzanne and myself Robert. We stayed at Fishermen's bend migration hostel before moving into our first house in Chelsea Victoria where my younger sister Patricia Kathleen was born in Chelsea hospital in September 1957. From there we eventually settled in Lilydale where my parents started their own car selling business. My parents along with my elder sister now reside at Lilydale lawn cemetery. They along with thousands of other migrants were the pioneers of building Australia.

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