Sitmar Line

Sitmar Line Funnel Badge

I worked at Sitmar Line's Melbourne Office as "Berthing Officer" for the M.V. "Fairsea", shown below, which was formerly a Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier, built in the USA and given to the Royal Navy as part of the Lend-Lease programme between America and Britain in World War 2. On ocassions I would help out with "Castel Felice" also.

I transferred to London for a two year working holiday with my first wife Marcia, travelling free of charge to Naples, by way of Sydney, Brisbane, Barrier Reef, Singapore, Aden and Port Said. We then travelled overland by train from Naples to Rome and stayed for a few days, then went on to Innsbruck and then finally to London. In London I worked in the Sitmar Office where this time I looked after the M.V. "Fairsky", another ex-Light Fleet Carrier.

The line, though Italian, operated from Southampton to Sydney on the "Migrant Contract", which was always worth a lot of revenue to the shipping lines that had the contract. Every passenger carried from Australia to Europe was total revenue for the line, their round voyage costs being fully covered by the Australian Government's contract.

I had considerable involvement with Australia House at the time, and having been a migrant myself was able, on occasions, to smooth out problems.

The one thing, learnt early, was not to trust what many of the officials at Australia House had to say. I had numerous arguments with them over information that was being given to migrants on the ship which just not true!.

From various bits of information that still comes my way, it appears as though 'it still goes on' even though migrants - now much restricted in numbers (at least from European areas) now travel exclusively by air!

The line was bought out, together with their ships, by P and O in 1990.

Castel Felice
"Castel Felice" was built in 1930 in Glasgow for British India S.N. Co as the "Kenya", she was subsequently requisitioned during the second war becoming "HMS Keren", then after many name changes finally became "Castel Felice" sailing on her maiden voyage to Sydney on 6th October 1952.
Crossing the Line Certificate


M.V. "Fairsea", in the colours of Sitmar Line, 1965 and taken from a "Crossing the Line" certificate dated January 1965, and issued to Michael Byard( second one),
en-route to Naples, which is shown opposite.
(Michael Byard Collection)

"Fairsky" formerly the United States Navy escort carrier "USS Barnes". She was transferred to the Royal navy under Lend-Lease becoming "HMS Attacker". Her maiden voyage under her new name took place on 26th June 1958.
I looked after her in London from 1965 to 1967.
Oxfordshire became Fairstar
The Troop carrying passenger ship "Oxfordshire" , operated by The Bibby Line, became available when the British Government decided to cease troop carrying by sea and opt, istead, for airborne trooping. Sitmar bought the ship and had her refurbished, renaming her "Fairstar". This postcard shows her in her Trooping livery.
Fairstar Model Port Bow Fairstar Model Port Stern Quarter view
Model owned, and photo supplied, by courtesy of and
thanks to Robert Stone of Melbourne, Australia.
Two port side views of a model of "Fairstar" which were made available to selected travel agents for display in their window or office. The model was internally lit.
Fairsky at Tahiti
"Fairsky at Tahiti"
These two photographs appear with thanks to and by courtesy of Miranda Verhoeff who travelled aboard with her Mother in 1970.
Fairsky Transiting Panama
Fairsky in transit through the Panama Canal.
Souvenire Plastic Lifebelt
Souvenir Lifebelt which was made out of plastic and produced in large quantity for sale aboard the company's vessels.
(Michael Byard Collection)
Promotional Milk Jug
Promotional Milk Jug that was made for Sitmar Line to give to selected travel agents in Australia.
(Michael Byard Collection)

Sitmar Line London,
vessels' arrival letter
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