AUREOL

AUREOL

The very handsome, yacht-like AUREOL in an early company photograph. Peter Knego collection.

MV AUREOL

Some of the finest passenger ships have been the mid-sized, hardworking, but not terribly speedy intermediate "blue water" liners like Elder Dempster Line's AUREOL of 1951.

Ships like AUREOL are spared the superlatives of history books, but never leave the hearts of their loyal passengers and crew. I can think of no ship in all my years of pursuing ocean liners that has bewitched me as much as this little beauty. And I do not swoon for her alone. Scores of people from former officers to passengers have contacted me over the years to relay their tales of life onboard.

AUREOL, even though a moderate ship by North Atlantic standards, was the largest, finest member of the Elder Dempster Line's fleet. At 14,083 gt, she could carry 253 first class and 76 cabin class passengers with 74 interchangeable berths. She sailed on fortnightly voyages from Liverpool to Lagos and was named for a mountain in Sierra Leone. Her raked bow, lovely curved superstructure and tapered afterdecks earned her the well-deserved nickname, "The White Swan".

It is rumored that despite full loads and still turning a profit, the 23 year old mail ship was withdrawn in 1974 due to the brittle post war steel used in her construction. Unlike her contemporaries, she found a buyer other than the Taiwanese scrap merchants, and sailed off to Greece for oil tycoon John S. Latsis.

Renamed MARIANNA VI after one of Latsis' daughters, she served as a stationary accommodation ship at Jeddah for Moslem pilgrims and later at Rabigh for workers constructing oil refineries there. During her time in the Latsis years, she was maintained beautifully, and save for the remodeling of her forward suites and cabin class lounge, she remained very much the "empire liner" with exotic polished hardwoods, nickel, brass, and etched glass fixtures. According to past officers, every important diplomat to visit Saudi Arabia at the time managed to stay on board the MARIANNA VI, including Henry Kissinger.

In 1989, MARIANNA VI was laid up at Eleusis. For several years, she was well-maintained. But, as Mr. Latsis' health deteriorated, so did his collection of magnificent vintage British ocean liners. By 1998, when I finally got to visit the ship, she was still beautiful, but sadly decrepit. In 2001, she sailed under her own power to be beached at Alang. I salvaged many of her fixtures for my home and personal collection, but will soon be offering much of her crockery and silver, which is a cross selection of vintage Elder Dempster and P&O (moved to MARIANNA VI from the stores saved from the former STRATHEDEN and STRATHMORE, which were last owned by Latsis, as well).

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