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  MV Neptuna (Neptun, Rio Panuco, Rio Bravo)

5,952 Tons
393.3' x 51.9' x 25.3'

Ship History
Built by Frd. Krupp in Kiel, Germany. Launched in 1924. Owned by H. Schuldt of Flensburg, Germany. Named Rio Bravo (1924-1930) then renamed Rio Panuco (1930–1933). Operated as a cargo vessel in Central America. During the Great Depression, H. Schuldt went bankrupt.

In 1931 sold to Norddeutscher Lloyd Line of Bremen, Germany. In 1934, renamed Neptun and steamed for the Pacific to initiate service between Hong Kong to New Guinea.

As this route was in competition with Burns Philp & Company, they asked the Australian Government to prevent them from operating in New Guinea but the government declined and instead offered to pay the interest on any money Burns Philp borrowed to buy the competing ship.

In 1935, purchased by Burns Philp & Company and renamed Neptuna. Operated a passenger and cargo service between Australia, New Guinea, Philippines, Hong Kong and Saigon. At this time, Saigon was then the main supply source for rice to New Guinea.

On June 20, 1931, Neptuna came to the aid of MV MacDhui that suffered a fire off the north coast of New Guinea and sucessfully towed her to Salamaua.

Sinking History
On February 19, 1942 while unloading munitions at Darwin Harbor with HMAS Swan (U74) alongside attacked by Japanese Navy carrier aircraft during the first air raid against Darwin. Bombs exploded in the saloon and engine room setting her on fire. Forty five were already dead, and many seriously injured as the crew prepared to abandon her, but 200 tons of depth charges exploded before they had all reached safety, showering the harbor with debris and sending flames and smoke 100 meters into the air.

During the 1960s, the shipwreck was salvaged by the Japanese for scrap metal. The remaining wreckage remains in situ in Darwin Harbor.

NT World War II Shipwrecks
AWM PR00072 Burns Philp and Company Ltd account of the activity of three vessels

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020


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