Dee Why

Type :
Steel screw steamer
Launched  :
23/12/1927
Builder :
Napier & Miller
Old Kirkpatrick, Scotland
Gross :
799 tons
Dimensions :
67.00 x 11.00 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
1587
Speed :
17.75 knots

Dee Why was the first of two identical ferries (the other being Curl Curl) built in Scotland in 1928 for the PJ&MSS Co.

Curl Curl, her sister Dee Why and later the South Steyne, all steamed out from Scotland under their own power - the first Manly ferries to do so since the Brighton in 1883. Since the introduction of the Baragoola, ferry traffic had been growing to such an extent that the Manly company needed to aquire faster & larger ships. The cost to build them in Australia was too high, so the company looked to Scotland for their new ships.

First of the two new ships to arrive in Sydney was the Curl Curl on the 25th of November, 1928 after a voyage of more than 20 weeks. Dee Why followed soon after on the 1st of November. During the trip of the two ferries, they encountered heavy weather in the Bay of Biscay. Curl Curl suffered the only damage - a broken window. The twins stayed at Aden for 10 days & Port Said for 5 days due to a broken steam pipe on Curl Curl.  A further two month delay was due to both ferries waiting for the pass of the Monsoon season.

Curl Curl's arrival was unexpected, she had shaved 5 days off travelling down the Queensland coast. Dee Why's arrival a few days later was in the middle of the night & because the harbour pilot refused to board her over her wide sponsons, she had to follow the pilot into the Heads & moor at Watsons Bay.

Dee Why had problems on the journey to Australia caused by troublesome crew. The captain put the troublemakers off in Aden & hired a stowaway found on board in their place.

Dee Why's first taste of trouble came in November of 1931 when she collided with the harbour ferry Kirrule off Fort Denison, the Dee Why was at fault in this collision, being that she was the faster ship & had forced Kirrule off course by coming up behind her. She then stayed out of trouble until Christmas Night in 1946 when unseasonal fog settled over the harbour (it's not usually a problem in Summer). Halfway across the Heads, city bound, a heavy fog bank loomed up unexpectedly & the ship reduced speed. Lookouts were placed on the ship & within minutes, land was spotted. Although the captain ordered full astern, Dee Why struck rocks & slid across the bottom. She was stuck fast. Two fire-fighting tugs were despatched to the scene & were joined by a naval tug. South Steyne arrived shortly after to assist, but it was deemed that because of her size, it was unwise to get her close to the Dee Why. However, around 40 passengers managed to get over onto her. Bellubera then arrived on the scene & took off the remaining passengers. After four hours, Dee Why was finally moved off the rocks where it was discovered that though she was not holed, she had lost a rudder & a propeller &  had damaged some plates.

Dee Why was to run aground once more during her career, this time on Kirribilli Point after a collision with the tug Himma. Again, three tugs were required to pull her free.

Dee Why also suffered from two deaths in her crew, both engineers & both when they were taking the ferry on her morning run. One was the brother of the engineer who had died in the 1936 Bellubera fire.

By 1951, Dee Why & Curl Curl were doing most of the work in the fleet, in that year, the two ships made a total of 13,468 trips as compared to the other four ships in service (Barrenjoey was out for a refit) who managed 14,907 trips. The two big steamers were faster than their running mates, but ultimately this would tell against them; they were costly to run. After Balgowlah was withdawn from service & Barrenjoey (as North Head), Baragoola & Bellubera had been converted to diesel, the twins were shown to be very expensive to run with their bunker oil costing far more than diesel. The writing was on the wall for both vessels & by 1960, Curl Curl had been withdrawn, Dee Why followed a few years later, in the interim she acted as a relief boat for the other four ferries.

Both ships were laid up while the company decided what to do with them. Both were ultimately sold to Stride's Shipbreakers.

The twins were both capable of doing the Manly run at speeds faster than 18 knots, despite the claims put forward for the South Steyne, this speed has never been bettered.

Dee Why was scuttled on 25/05/1976, becoming the first ship to be part of the artificial reef off Long Reef. Today she rests in one piece, upright, at a depth of 51 metres. The superstructure is starting to deteriorate and her bow has begun to collapse and has broken away from the main part of the hull.