SS Vedic

SS Vedic was built for the International Mercantile Marine Co. – the company that owned the White Star Line at the time – to serve as an emigrant ship for one of its shipping lines. Eventually assigned to the White Star Line, Vedic was White Star’s first ship to solely be powered by turbines. Built and completed during the First World War, Vedic was completed and fitted out as a troopship.

Vedic, shipyard number 461, was launched at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard at Govan, Scotland on 18th December 1917. Her engines were fitted at Harland and Wolff’s Belfast shipyard. She was around 9000 tons, had one funnel and two masts.

Vedic started her maiden voyage on 11th July 1918, sailing from Belfast to Boston. Vedic spent the reminder of the First World War serving as a troopship.

After the fighting of the First World War had ended Vedic was used to return troops home. During one such voyage, from Brest, France and Liverpool, UK, Vedic arrived in Boston on 22 April 1919 with 2,338 returning troops aboard. Vedic was reported to have been met by a fleet of welcoming boats.

On 19th September 1919, while on a voyage returning British troops home from Russia, Vedic managed to run aground near North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Vedic was helped back to deep water by warships and tug boats.

Vedic was refitted in 1920; allowing her to start her intended career as an emigrant ship; sailing from Liverpool to Canada.

During 1921, Vedic was ending her voyages in the United States – at New York in the summer and Portland, Maine in the winter.

On 17th May 1922, Vedic began sailing from Bremen, Germany to Montréal, Canada – calling at Southampton, UK; Cherbourg, France, and Quebec, Canada.

Following being overhauled and refitted at Harland and Wolff, Belfast – Vedic was assigned to the White Star Line, Aberdeen Line and Blue Funnel Line joint service to Australia – as an emigrant ship, with passenger accommodation only for third class passengers. Under the command of Captain Kearney, she departed Liverpool for Australia for the first time on 31st October 1925, with around 750 passengers aboard, including a number of boys who were sailing under the Salvation Army settlement scheme. They were said to have received training on the Salvation Army's own farm at Hadleigh, Essex, UK.

Following calls at Tenerife on 6th November and Capetown on 23rd November, Vedic arrived at Albany, her first Australian port on 11th December. After her arrival in Albany, the newspaper, The Register, Adelaide, noted that Vedic had “recently undergone extensive internal alterations and improvements to fit her for the special requirements of the Australian trade.” It also noted that the ship had been fitted "with insulated holds for the carriage of frozen produce and fruit, in addition to general cargo, and her passenger accommodation [had] been remodeled to meet the demand for cheap yet comfortable travel.” From Albany, Vedic then proceeded to Melbourne, arriving there on 17th December.

It was reported in the press, upon Vedic arriving in Melbourne, that not all the passengers aboard Vedic were happy with the condition onboard, and that they had been complaining about it. It was said that some passengers thought they were cramped for cabin and deck space, that there were problems with ventilation, the service they received from the stewards was unsatisfactory, and, in addition, there were also complaints made about the food.

The Age newspaper, Melbourne, printed a response from Vedic's stewards about the complaints: it was said that the stewards had “declared that the passengers behaved disgracefully. They ate like pigs and rushed at their food like so many bulls at the proverbial gate.” it was also said that a steward had stated that "the passengers did nothing but complain about everything all the time [,and that] they insisted th[at] the food was not to their liking, yet judging by the way they behaved it was just possible they had never been properly fed before."

The same newspaper also reported that the captain, described as being "one of the jolliest of men," had "declared that the voyage had been excellent from every standpoint. Certainly there had been complaints, yet on the other hand there had been a great deal of praise. The food, sleeping accommodation and general lay out of the vessel had been warmly commented on by a large number of passengers.

Of the complaints made, it was reported in the Argus newspaper that the welfare officer responsible for the migrants aboard Vedic, Major G Davies, considered that many of the complaints made were ill-founded. He was reported as saying that the officers had given every assistance on the voyage, and that there had "been a certain amount of grumbling, and complaints about the food and living conditions at times [had] been fairly frequent." He is said to have considered the complaints about the food to "have little foundation, but certainly the poor ventilation and bad atmosphere down below, and the small amount of space on deck for exercise justified some comment. Many of the complaints, however, [he felt, had] been magnified.”

From Melbourne, Vedic steamed to Sydney, arriving on 22 December, before proceeding to Newcastle, arriving on 29th December, and then finally arriving in Brisbane on 2nd January, ending the outward part of her maiden voyage to Australia.

Vedic's first return journey back to Britain from Australia then began on 18th January. She arrived back in Britain and landed her passengers at Plymouth on 2nd April. It was reported that the voyage home was slowed due to Vedic experiencing machinery trouble, first encountered on her outward voyage.

Throughout her career as an emigrant ship, Vedic transported many passengers assisted by the Salvation Army. Vedic was specially charted by the Salvation Army for a number of voyages to Australia.

In 1930, it is said, Vedic was laid up at Milford Haven, Wales. There seems to be little information to find about Vedic's later years.

In February 1934, shortly before the merger between Cunard Line and White Star Line officially took place, it was reported in Australian newspapers that Vedic had been sold for about £10,400, to Metal Industries Ltd, to be broken up for scrap. Vedic was broken up at Rosyth, Scotland.

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