Crusader-Ugly Duckling Ship
Proves Its Usefulness !
6 SCREWS, 6 ENGINES, 4 RUDDERS
MELBOURNE waterfront- loungers really had something to gawk at when the
motorship "Crusader" sidled into North Wharf recently after a voyage from the Pacific Islands that from Sydney southwards was as slow as it was tempestuous.
Launched at Williamstown (Victoria) in 1944 as a special purpose ship for the Australian Army's campaign in the islands north of Australia, the "Crusader" is by no means the largest or fastest ship in the world but it is one of the most remarkable.
According to the present master, Captain Chestnut, a former Sydney ferry skipper, the "Crusa- der" is the most manoeuvrable ship in Australia. It should be. It has 4 rudders, 6 engines and 6 pro- pellers. Major-General C. S. Steel, who designed the craft, was at the Melbourne wharves this week to
welcome his brain-child back to home-waters.
"Most people are usually astonished at the ship," he said, "but that should not prejudice them in assessing her capabilities. She is under-powered, but only because Australia could not get diesel en- gines of greater power than 220 h.p. when she was built. Ship actu- ally needed 2000 h.p., but there was room for only 6 engines of 220 h.p. each across the width of the ship. If it had been practical to make the ship wider, more engines would have been installed."
Considering that the width of the ship is a quarter of her length, her designer was certainly not romancing when he said she could not have been built much wider.
Though something of an ugly duckling, the "Crusader" is both an expensive and useful one. Every part of her structure had to be specially designed, so it is not surprising that the vessel cost £124,000 to build. Capable of carrying 2000 tons of cargo, the holds are large enough to stow a 40ft. army workboat or the largest tank. On the ship's side, fixtures for attaching a standard military bridge were also provided for contact between shore and ship in the absence of a
Also fitted are 6 electric lifts capable of lifting a 30-ton tank. For
the crew of this seagoing juggernaut hot and cold water, refrigeration and modern fittings were installed in the houseboat-like quarters over the square stern. Practically all the steelwork, including crew hous- ings, bridge and gun turrets, were fabricated at the South Melbourne works of Australian Iron & Steel Ltd., some of these sections measur- ing 50 feet by 20 feet by 4 feet, and weighed up to 25 tons each.
During the war the "Crusader" was one of Australia's most use- ful small ships and was used extensively in the islands since after its launching in 1944.
From the point of view of Melbourne's home-seekers her most use- ful job was completed when she docked in the Yarra recently-as well as 900 tons of salved army stores, the cargo including 24 tractors and road graders for the Victorian Housing Commission.