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  SS Matunga (SS Zweena)

Passenger Ship / Cargo

1,618 Tons
83.21m x 11.29m x ?


Ship History
Built by Napier & Miller Ltd. in Glasgow, Scotland during 1900. Purchased by Mersey Steam Shipping Co. Ltd., in Liverpool, England as SS Zweena.

During 1909, sold to Burns, Philp & Co. Ltd. and registered in Australia as SS Matunga and operated in Australia and New Guinea as a passenger and cargo ship.

During August 1917 bound for Rabaul under the command of Captain Alex Donaldson loaded with 500 tons of coal and a month's supply of liquor. When 300 miles away, she radioed her expected time of arrival. This radio message was intercepted by German Raider SMS Wolf (Wolf IV) disguised as a steamer stalked the vessel.

Capture
On August 6, 1917 while at sea roughly 300 miles east of Riche Island, SMS Wolf fired a warning shot across her bow and SS Matunga surrendered the vessel with forty-six crew and passengers without resistance who became Prisoners Of War (POWs). Afterwards, SMS Wolf and the captured vessel steamed westward for a week until reaching Fofak Harbor (Offak Harbor) on Waigeo Island where 500 tons of coal and liquor were transferred onto SMS Wolf.

Sinking History
On August 26, 1917 explosive charges were placed in the hull with a fuse and the vessel was scuttled and sank a few miles out to sea to the north of Waigeo Island.

Search
Meanwhile, when SS Matunga failed to arrive at Rabaul, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) including HMAS Encounter searched for the missing ship unaware it had been captured. SS Matunga remained missing until in November 1918 when World War I ended.

References
WreckSite SS Matunga
Passengers In History - Matunga

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020

 

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