Yard Number 263 was named DEE WHY when launched on Wednesday 28/12/1927 by Napier & Miller Old Kilpatrick for Port Jackson & Manly Steam Ship Company Sydney
Ship Type: Passenger Car Ferry
Ship's Role: Sydney - Manly passenger ferry
Tonnage: 799 grt
Length: 220 feet
Breadth: 36f feet
Draught: 12 feet 6 in
Port Jackson & Manly Steam Ship Company Sydney
1968 Stride Brothers
Her main engines were built by D&W Henderson & Co Ltd Glasgow , she was powered by triple exp 4cy 12.5 knots
This ship had an unhappy end, as she was scuttled on 25/05/1976
Additional Information: On 25 August 1927 in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company announced that two new identical steam ferries would be purchased for the Manly run. They were to be called the Curl Curl and Dee Why (named after northern Sydney suburbs) and were to be built by Napier and Miller Ltd at Old Kilpatrick, Glasgow, Scotland.
Went to Australia under her own steam, but not without mishap
Dee Why had a main deck that stretched almost the whole length of the wreck (at either end were the toilets and other non
passenger areas) as well as a promenade deck that went the whole length of the ship. There were bridges at either ends. Her gross tonnage was 799.44 tons and she was powered by an inverted direct acting triple expansion steam engine powering a single screw at either end of the ferry. The four boilers could be powered by coal, tar or oil giving a top speed of over 18 knots. Considering the Dee Why could carry 2,000 passengers, it was a bargain for £73,000.
The Dee Why left Scotland on 26 May 1928 and after an eventful voyage (during which she had to be towed into Algiers for repairs, suffered a mini mutiny and was forced to wait five weeks to enter the Suez Canal) she arrived in Sydney Harbour at 2 am on 1 November 1928.
For the next 40 years, the Dee Why gave reliable service, with only a few incidents. In November 1931 the Dee Why collided with a small ferry and her skipper, Captain Harold Riley lost his Master's Certificate for two months. On 16 November 1936 a fire started on board the ferry Bellubera at the Kurraba Point yards. The Dee Why, which was tied up nearby, was lucky to have enough steam to move away from the inferno without suffering any damage. In December 1939 a woman fell overboard while the Dee Why was crossing the Heads. She was dragged from the Harbour within five minutes but she was already dead.
At 10.05 pm on Christmas Night 1946, heavy fog caused the Dee Why to lose her way and she ran aground on rocks off Obelisk Beach opposite the Heads. The damage was considerable, with one rudder torn off, the prop and hull damaged and part of the keel buckled. I have some suspicions about what caused this incident given when it occurred (who has experienced fog in Sydney in December?!)! On the night of 16 August 1949, passengers of the Dee Why heard shouts from the water. The ferry stopped and rescued a Navy stoker who had fallen off the Bellubera 15 minutes earlier.
The Dee Why ran aground once more during its long career, ironically (as I will explain later) after an incident with the tug Himma. Near the Bridge, the two collided and the Dee Why ran aground. Similar damage to the other time she ran aground put her out of service for some time. A funny story about this incident was that a woman was in the toilet when they collided and she was locked inside. An axe was needed to smash through the door to free her. A few other times the Dee Why hit the wharf a bit hard causing a small amount of damage.
Two engineers died on duty on the Dee Why from heart attacks, but apart from the 1939 death, no other fatalities are known to have occurred on her.
In July 1951, the Dee Why and another Manly Ferry the Balgowlah were used to produce gas for the North Shore when the gas company's boilers broke down. At that time, the Dee Why was doing 6658 trips to and from Manly each year but by 1960 it was only doing 2734. The more expensive steam powered ships (the North Head, Baragoola and Bellubera were now dieselm electric) were about to come to the end of their life. In 1960, the Curl Curl was withdrawn and for the last few years the Dee Why was used only as a relief vessel.
Withdrawn from service in July 1968, the Dee Why was sold to Stride Brothers for scrapping. They presumably salvaged the engines, props, interior fittings and other bits of use. After this, she sat around the Harbour for another eight years until on 25 May 1976 two tugs pulled her out of Rozelle Bay and down the Harbour. At 9.15 the sea
cocks were opened and 45 minutes later, the Dee Why's bow (although she was double ended, there was a bow and stern) suddenly dived and the stern rose up out of the water as she slid to her resting place off Long Reef.
Today, the Dee Why is part of the Long Reef Wreck Site which was originally planned as an artificial reef. It also contains her former combatant, the Himma but there is a remarkable lack of fish on the wrecks compared to the southern wrecks of SS Tuggerah and Undola. The Dee Why lies on a sandy bottom of about 48 metres 4.25 kilometres off Narrabeen Beach. Sitting upright and with her bow facing east and stern to the west, the once proud ferry is but a mere shell of its original beauty. Stripped of her superstructure, the ferry when sunk consisted only of the hull, main and promenade decks and the boilers and some machinery.
1976 scuttled to form a fishing reef off Syney NSW in 33°41′S 151°20′E (some sources 25/08/1975)
Previous updates by Stuart Cameron, Colin Campbell, Bruce Biddulph, John Newth and David Asprey with additional information from Dr Ian Buxton and Michael McFadyen's Scuba diving website
Photo supplied by M MacFadyen