SS Pfalz

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Sistership Pommern 1924 as USS Rappahannock]]
Name: Pfalz
after 1914: Boorara
after 1926: Nereus
Operator: Norddeutscher Lloyd
Route: Bremerhaven - Capetown - Australia
Builder: Bremer Vulkan
Yard number: 570
Launched: 8 November 1913
Completed: 19 December 1913
Fate: Wrecked 1937
General characteristics
Class and type: Rheinland - Class
Tonnage: 6557 GT (gross tonnage)[1]
Length: 149,35 m
Beam: 18,04 m
Ramps: 4.000 PSi
Installed power: expansion steam machine
Propulsion: one screw
Speed: 12,5 knots
Crew: 55 men

The Pfalz was a 6,557-ton steamer operated by German shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd.[1] The ship became the target of the first shot fired by Australian forces in World War I, soon after departing the Port of Melbourne in Australia.[2]

The ship departed Victoria Dock in Melbourne on 5 August 1914, with Williamstown-based pilot Captain Robinson aboard. As the ship passed Portsea it was momentarily stopped by the SS Alvina but allowed to proceed.

Just before the ship approached Port Phillip heads, the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery stationed at Fort Nepean was informed of the declaration of war with Germany, and had received an order to "stop her or sink her". Signals were hoisted, commanding the ship to halt. As the warning had no effect, a shot was fired across the bow of the ship from one of the fort's six-inch Mark VII guns. These were the first Allied shots of the war.[3] The same gunnery sergeant who fired on the Pfalz also fired the opening shot for the Allies in the Second World War.

The pilot convinced the ship's master that a second round would likely be directed at the ship itself, and the ship was turned around. The ship was taken back to Portsea where the crew was placed under arrest.[2] [3]

The ship was subsequently requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy and refitted as a troop transport at Williamstown. It was rechristened HMT Boorara. Soon after it took part in the 2nd Australian convoy, with subsequent duties including the transportation of Turkish prisoners from the Dardanelles.

While serving in the Aegean Sea in July 1915 the ship collided with the French cruiser Kléber, and was beached at Moudros and subsequently taken to Naples to be repaired.

Later in the war, the ship was torpedoed twice in the English Channel. The first time, on 20 March 1918, the ship was stuck near Beachy Head and was towed to Newcastle for extensive repairs. The second time it was struck near Whitby on 23 July 1918 and was again repaired and, in 1919, was utilised for repatriation of Australian troops.[4]

After the war, the ship was used by the Commonwealth Line for the transportation of frozen cargo to the United Kingdom, utilising ports at Avonmouth, Liverpool and Glasgow.[5][6]

In 1926 the ship was purchased by a Greek shipping line (E Hadjilias, Athens), renamed Nereus and based in Syra in Greece. The ship was wrecked near Cape Beale, Vancouver Island on 8 August 1937.[6]


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