Melbourne Steam

In 1895, this became the name of a company previously known as the Melbourne Coal Shipping & Engineering Company Limited. In earlier times this had been a private company managing several shipping groups formed in the 1850s and 1860s.

With operations based in Melbourne, it was maintaining by the late 1930s services on the eastern, southern and western coasts of Australia. The Company entered the Second World War with five ships:

Ship

BuiltGross Tons
Coolana19212197
Duntroon193510514
Ellaroo19214655
Lowana19243031
Mernoo19261926

Duntroon, perhaps the best known of these during the war, was taken over in October 1939 to be converted into an armed merchant cruiser, but this was not proceeded with and she remained for some time on the coastal trade. Requisitioned again in February 1942, she commenced duty as a troopship, operating to the Far East and South West Pacific areas. Although involved in a collision late in 1943, she fortunately suffered no damage from the enemy. Concluding her wartime activity by transporting released prisoners-of-war back to Australia in late 1945, she was returned to her owners in April of the following year, only to be taken on charter by the Royal Australian Navy from July.

Periodically serving on the Australia-Japan run supporting the British Commonwealth Occupation Force until late in 1948, she was again returned to her owners in March 1949 for resumption of peacetime coastal trading and Pacific island cruising.