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N.Z. TROOPSHIP LOST ON REEF OFF DARWIN
From The Canberra Times,Thursday 16 August 1951.
N.Z. TROOPSHIP LOST ON REEF OFF DARWIN, Wednesday
The 4,436 ton New Zea|and-troopship "Wahine," carrying 575 New Zealand troop replacements for Korea,
was 23 miles off the usual channel route when she grounded on a reef near Másela Island early this
Masela Island is 320 air miles north-north-west, of Darwin.
The tanker "Stanvac Karachi" which-answered the "Wahine's" distress call, this afternoon began, taking
aboard troops. Up until 3.30 p.m. today 250 troops had been taken aboard the tanker.
The evacuation of troops from the "Wahine" is expected to be completed by early tomorrow morning.
An R.A.A.F. Lincoln bomber from Darwin helped to guide, the "Stanvac Karachi" to the Wahine.
Lifeboats rowed by crew and troops are pushing through a heavy swell and the tanker's launch is
assisting in rescue operations.
The "Wahine" is carrying a crew of 80.
There is no danger to troops or crew, but the "Wahine's" position is described as critical.
She is stuck hard and fast on the reef. It is not expectedj that she will be able to be moved. It is thought,
that the ship will be written off except for salvage work.
Lieutenant Toulouse, commander of the naval tug H.M.A.S. "Emu" standing by in Darwin, today flew over
the "Wahine" in a Lincoln R.A.A.F bomber.
He said, "She is on the reef for a good half of her length. It will take a very strong ship to , pull her off, if it
is possible at all.
In Sydney this afternoon the Navy Minister, Mr. McMahon, said he had placed the naval officer in charge
of Darwin (Commander Arnold Green) in charge of rescue operations.
Mr. McMahon also ordered the H.M.A.S. Frigate "Barcoo" to proceed to the scene. The "Barcoo" late
this afternoon was off Cairns and still had 1,500 miles to travel.
Mr. McMahon also ordered the lighthouse vessel "Cape Otway" and the steamer "Dulberton," at pre-
sent in Darwin, to assist in operations. They will probably leave tomorrow.
The "Wahine" grounded in darkness shortly before dawn today.
The tanker "Stanvac Karachi" will leave for Datwin as soon as all troops and crew off the "Wahine"
have been taken aboard.
Emergency accommodation it being arranged for the crew at the Darwin R.A.A.F. base, and for the
troops at Larrakia barracks.
The "Wahine" left Darwin early yesterday morning for Korea It was heading for the "Banda Sea. The usual
route through the channel leading to the Banda Sea i is 25 miles west of Masela Island.
The "Wahine" hit the reef two miles from Masela Island (Indonesia) during a thick haze when visibility was
reduced to from four to five miles. The island is east of Portuguese Timor.
The "Wahine," commanded by Captain Johnston, was built in 1913 and is owned by the Union Steamship
Company of New Zealand.
An A.A.P. Reuter message from Wellington (N.Z.), says that the Defence Minister, Mr. MacDonald, has
asked Australian authorities for the fullest details of the grounding.
The "Wahine" left Wellington for Japan on August 2.
A message from the captain of the "Wahine", received in Darwin tonight, said, that he was abandoning
ship, captain Johnston said, "The salvage position is hopeless."
A later message says that the "Stanvac Karachi" will be leaving for Darwin tonight after completing the
taking aboard of troops and crew.
The crew is leaving behind salvageable cargo worth from £20,000 to £50,000. It is available to anyone
once the ship is abandoned. Twenty tons of liquor comprising beer, wines and spirits, is among her cargo.
Natives from Telalora village on Masela are expected to make use of the opportunity to enrich themselves,
The tribal, chiefs are, likely to have a lot of trouble controlling the natives, who are expected to drink and
eat anything available before the underwriters get to the ship.
They are only two miles from the ship.
Local salvage experts in Darwin are annoyed. They say that if such a disaster had to happen it should
have been nearer Darwin.