The beautiful three funnelled sisters Queen of Bermuda and Monarch of Bermuda had cruised for most of the 1930s with happy holidaymakers from New York to Bermuda for the Furness Bermuda Line of Furness, Withy & Co. Ltd. They had been employed on strenuous trooping and repatriation duties from 1940 to 1946 but required very extensive overhauls before restarting their long interrupted cruises to Bermuda. The Monarch of Bermuda returned to the Tyne for renovation at the end of 1946, but suffered a disastrous fire on 24th March 1947 and was almost totally destroyed, but fortunately her turbines and electric motors suffered little damage, and she was sold to the Ministry of Transport for rebuilding at Southampton into the Australian emigrant carrier New Australia. Queen of Bermuda did however restart the New York to Bermuda service in February 1949.
A replacement was ordered immediately for the ‘Monarch’ from the Walker Naval Yard on the Tyne at a cost of £2.5 million, and was launched on 27th July 1950 as the smaller Ocean Monarch of 13,581 grt but still able to accommodate 414 First Class passengers. Parsons geared turbines drover her twin propellers on trials on 23rd March 1951 at a speed in excess of her service speed of 18 knots, and she sailed from London on 17th April 1951 for her Transatlantic positioning voyage to New York under the command of Capt. Leslie F. Banyard with nineteen passengers including the Chairman of Furness, Withy & Co. Ltd., Sir Ernest H. Murrant. She arrived at New York at noon ten days later to the usual welcome and water cannon salute from tugs, fireboats and pleasure boats. She was greeted by the flagship Queen of Bermuda, inbound from Hamilton, in a similar manner afforded to Queen of Bermuda by Monarch of Bermuda in 1933, and she tied up at Pier 95, West 55th Street.
She sailed on her maiden voyage from New York on 3rd May 1951 on an eight day cruise to Bermuda and Nassau. During her inaugural season, she also completed four twelve day cruises from New York to the Saguenay river and the St. Lawrence, as well as nine day cruises to Nassau and Havana, and several experimental cruises from Boston (Mass.). She always called at St. George’s harbour on Bermuda as she drew only 24 feet of water compared to the 39 feet draft of her running mate Queen of Bermuda, which docked at Hamilton in Bermuda.
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