SS Ophir

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Career (United Kingdom) 70px
Owner: Orient Steamship Co., London
Builder: R. Napier & Sons Ltd shipyard, Glasgow
Laid down: 11 April 1891
Launched: November 1891
Reclassified: 1915-1918 Requisitioned by the Admiralty for conversion to Armed Merchant Cruiser
Homeport: Glasgow
Fate: Scrapped in 1922, at Troon
General characteristics
Class and type: cargo/passenger liner fitted with refrigeration equipment
Tonnage: 6814 grt
Length: 465 ft (142 m)
Beam: 53 ft (16 m)
Draught: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
Propulsion: 5 coal-fired boilers.
Two four-cylinder triple-expansion engines driving twin propellers

The SS Ophir was a British steel twin-screw ocean liner owned by the Orient Steamship Co. of London, which was employed on the company's London/Aden/Colombo/Australia service from the 1890s until 1915 when she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and saw three years' service as an armed merchant cruiser. She was returned to the owners in 1918 but was never refitted, being broken up in 1922.

One appreciative passenger was "the Welsh Swagman" Joseph Jenkins who embarked at Melbourne on 24 November, 1894, bound for Tilbury Docks in a second-class cabin at the fare of £26 15s 6d.[1] When he first saw the vessel, it appeared so huge that he wrote "it is a wonder to me that it would move".[2]. Jenkins, a noted diarist, proceeded to record in detail the 103-day voyage passing through the new Suez Canal.[3]

In 1901, the Ophir conveyed the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (the future King George V, and Queen Mary) to Australia to open the Federal Parliament in Melbourne[4] A petty officer named Harry Price was with the tour from February to November 1901, and made a careful record, later published as The Royal Tour 1901, or the Cruise of H.M.S. Ophir; Being a Lower Deck Account of their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York's Voyage Around the British Empire.


  1. Evans W (ed) Diary of a Welsh Swagman 1869-1894 Macmillan, Melbourne 1975, p.214
  2. Phillips B Pity the Swagman CLCG Aberystwyth p. 370
  3. His original diary and shipboard log are held at the State Library of Victoria
  4. New York Times report, 9 Jun 1901

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