SS Vyner Brooke

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SS Vyner Brooke
Flag of the Kingdom of Sarawak (1870).svg Sarawak
Name:Vyner Brooke
Namesake: Sir Charles Vyner Brooke
Owner: Sarawak Steamship Co
Operator: Ritchie & Bisset
Port of registry: Flag of the Kingdom of Sarawak (1870).svg Kuching
Route: KuchingSingapore
Builder: Ramage & Ferguson Ltd, Leith, Scotland
Yard number: 264
Completed: February 1928
Fate: sunk by aircraft, 14 February 1942
General characteristics
  • 1,670  GRT
  • tonnage under deck 1,133
  • 713  NRT [1]
Length: 240.7 ft (73.4 m)
Beam: 41.3 ft (12.6 m)
Draught: 16 ft 2 34 in (4.95 m)
Depth: 16.1 ft (4.9 m)
Decks: one
Installed power: 297 NHP
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
  • 44 1st-class passengers
  • 200+ deck passengers
Notes: royal yacht

SS Vyner Brooke was a Scottish-built steamship that was both the royal yacht of Sarawak and a merchant ship frequently used between Singapore and Kuching. She was named after the 3rd Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke. At the outbreak of war with Japan the ship was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and armed.

Steamship type of steam powered vessel

A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam powered vessel, typically ocean-faring and seaworthy, that is propelled by one or more steam engines that typically move (turn) propellers or paddlewheels. The first steamships came into practical usage during the early 1800s; however, there were exceptions that came before. Steamships usually use the prefix designations of "PS" for paddle steamer or "SS" for screw steamer. As paddle steamers became less common, "SS" is assumed by many to stand for "steam ship". Ships powered by internal combustion engines use a prefix such as "MV" for motor vessel, so it is not correct to use "SS" for most modern vessels.

A royal yacht is a ship used by a monarch or a royal family. If the monarch is an emperor the proper term is imperial yacht. Most of them are financed by the government of the country of which the monarch is head. The royal yacht is most often manned by personnel from the navy and used by the monarch and his/her family on both private and official travels.

Sarawak State of Malaysia

Sarawak is a state of Malaysia. Being the largest among 13 other states with the size almost equal to West Malaysia, Sarawak is located in northwest Borneo Island, and is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Kalimantan to the south, and Brunei in the north. The capital city, Kuching, is the largest city in Sarawak, the economic centre of the state, and the seat of the Sarawak state government. Other cities and towns in Sarawak include Miri, Sibu, and Bintulu. As of the 2015 census, the population of Sarawak was 2,636,000. Sarawak has an equatorial climate with tropical rainforests and abundant animal and plant species. It has several prominent cave systems at Gunung Mulu National Park. Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia; Bakun Dam, one of the largest dams in Southeast Asia, is located on one of its tributaries, the Balui River. Mount Murud is the highest point in Sarawak.



Ship designed by naval architect F.G Ritchie OBE, of Ritchie & Bisset, Singapore. Ramage & Ferguson of Leith, Edinburgh's harbour area, built the ship, completing her in February 1928. The launch by Her Highness the Ranee was scheduled for 10 November 1927 at Leith. [2] The ship sailed from Leith for Singapore on 17 April 1928. [3]

Ramage & Ferguson

Ramage & Ferguson was a Scottish shipbuilder active from 1877 to 1934, who specialised in luxury steam-yachts usually with steel hulls and timber decks. They also made several notable windjammers including the stunning five-masted København.

Leith district and former municipal burgh in Scotland

Leith is an area to the north of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, at the mouth of the Water of Leith.

Edinburgh City and council area in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

Vyner Brooke was flush decked with 'tween decks, all steel sheathed in 2.5 in (6.4 cm) with six watertight bulkheads. The main deck was as clear as possible of structures for deck passenger use with accommodations forward for crew and aft for stewards, clerks and ship's boys. The refrigeration plant, designed to keep the cold store two degrees below freezing, was located on the main deck. Cabins amidships on the upper deck provided for 44 first-class passengers with a 40 ft (12.2 m) by 24 ft (7.3 m) saloon forward of the cabins. A staircase at the after end of the saloon led to a shade deck and two de luxe cabins and a private sitting room. The ship was equipped with wireless and carried lifeboats, rafts and lifebelts for 650 people and could carry at least 200 deck passengers. [2]

She was 1,670  GRT had six corrugated furnaces with a combined grate area of 124 square feet (12 m2) that heated two single-ended Barclay, Curle & Co. boilers with a combined heating surface of 4,390 square feet (408 m2). These fed steam at 180 lbf/in2 to a three-cylinder triple expansion steam engine built by Ramage and Ferguson. The engine was rated at 297 NHP and drove twin screws. [1] [2]

Gross register tonnage or gross registered tonnage, is a ship's total internal volume expressed in "register tons", each of which is equal to 100 cubic feet (2.83 m3). Gross register tonnage uses the total permanently enclosed capacity of the vessel as its basis for volume. Typically this is used for dockage fees, canal transit fees, and similar purposes where it is appropriate to charge based on the size of the entire vessel.

Pounds per square inch unit of pressure or stress

The pound per square inch or, more accurately, pound-force per square inch is a unit of pressure or of stress based on avoirdupois units. It is the pressure resulting from a force of one pound-force applied to an area of one square inch. In SI units, 1 psi is approximately equal to 6895 N/m2.

Propeller fan that transmits rotational motion into thrust

A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blade, and a fluid is accelerated behind the blade. Propeller dynamics, like those of aircraft wings, can be modelled by Bernoulli's principle and Newton's third law. Most marine propellers are screw propellers with fixed helical blades rotating around a horizontal axis or propeller shaft.

Cargo was handled by two three ton cranes at each hatch with a heavy, twenty ton derrick. [2]

Royal Navy Requisition

At the beginning of the war in the Pacific Vyner Brooke was requisitioned by the Royal Navy, painted gray and armed with a four-inch deck gun forward, two Lewis guns aft and depth charges. [4] The ship's Australian and British officers were mostly Malay Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and had been asked to remain aboard the now HMS Vyner Brooke. [5] The ship's company, under the command of her peacetime captain, Richard E. Borton, was augmented by reservists, some survivors of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse and European and Malay professional sailors. [4]

Lewis gun light machine gun

The Lewis gun is a First World War–era light machine gun of US design that was perfected and mass-produced in the United Kingdom, and widely used by troops of the British Empire during the war. It had a distinctive barrel cooling shroud and top-mounted pan magazine. The Lewis served to the end of the Korean War. It was also widely used as an aircraft machine gun, almost always with the cooling shroud removed, during both World Wars. "The Lewis Gun is the most recognized classic light machine gun in the world."

HMS <i>Prince of Wales</i> (53) King George V class battleship

HMS Prince of Wales was a King George V-class battleship of the Royal Navy, built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England. She was involved in several key actions of the Second World War, including the May 1941 Battle of the Denmark Strait against the German battleship Bismarck, operations escorting convoys in the Mediterranean, and her final action and sinking in the Pacific in December 1941.

HMS <i>Repulse</i> (1916) ship

HMS Repulse was a Renown-class battlecruiser of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. Originally laid down as an improved version of the Revenge-class battleships, her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war because she would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart her construction as a battlecruiser that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher's requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ships in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but the ship was delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Repulse, and her sister HMS Renown, were the world's fastest capital ships upon completion.

Sinking and massacre

On 14 February 1942 in World War II, while evacuating nurses and wounded servicemen away from Singapore she was bombed by Japanese aircraft and sunk. Some of the survivors who reached Bangka Island east of Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies were massacred by the Imperial Japanese Army. Others were imprisoned in Palembang and Muntok POW camps.

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  1. 1 2 Lloyd's Register, Steamers & Motorships (PDF). London: Lloyd's Register. 1934. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "SS Vyner Brooke" (PDF). The Sarawak Gazette. 7 (1 November 1927): 278–279. 1927. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. "Notes" (PDF). The Sarawak Gazette. 8 (1 March 1928): 46. 1928. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  4. 1 2 Shaw, Ian Winton (2010). On Radji Beach. Sydney, Australia: Macmillan, Pan Macmillan Australia. ISBN   9781405040242. LCCN   2010530252 . Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  5. Smith, Colin (2005). Singapore Burning. London: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN   0670913413. LCCN   2007362297 . Retrieved 30 January 2018.

Further reading