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Southern Cross Stars

Vessel Number: HV000335
Date: 1940
Vessel Dimensions: 19.2 m x 18.29 m x 5.49 m x 2.29 m, 50.2 tonnes (63 ft x 60 ft x 18 ft x 7.5 ft, 51 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
SOUTHERN CROSS STARS is a trawler launched in 1940 by William Holmes from his McMahons Point, Sydney yard, more widely known for the construction of motor cruisers and yachts. It is an example of a typical round or canoe-sterned vessel, a seaworthy design favoured by a number of trawler builders and operators. It was requisitioned for war sevice in 1942 and operated as a survey vessel in Papua New Guinea waters.
DescriptionSOUTHERN CROSS STARS was designed by Holmes' head shipwright, Harry De Wall. The original owner was G Schark and Son and the son passed on his recollections of the vessel to the current owner in 2006. Schark paid £5,377 for the vessel then named SOUTHERN CROSS and started fishing in October 1940. Late in December 1941 Schark paid another £150 to have the wheelhouse rearranged. In February 1942 it was re-registered as SOUTHERN CROSS STARS by Phillip Schark and Biaggino Giuseppe Russo as trustees for Giuseppe Russo & Giacomo Diorio. The ship's register papers appear to show, mistakenly, that is was built in 1942.

In fact, the iron bark keel was laid in 1939. The vessel was planked in spotted gum up to the waterline, and Oregon on the topsides. The original engine was an Atlas Imperial Diesel giving 90 kw (120 hp) at 320 rpm, and a speed of 10 knots.

On 17 April 1942 the vessel was requisitioned for the war effort and from 22 April 1942 it became HMAS POLARIS with the Royal Australian Navy. The Navy paid the owners £6,300 for the vessel which operated as a survey vessel from 1942 to 1944. The navy added an open but sheltered observation deck on top of the wheelhouse along with the necessary surveying equipment. It assisted HMAS STELLA and HMAS WHYALLA in charting unsurveyed waters around New Guinea. Under the command of GD Tancred they surveyed a shorter route from Milne Bay to Ora Bay, and the Buna area through the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. It came under attack from Japanese aircraft when operating off Cape Nelson on 2 January 1943.

The following poem attributed to the Petty Officer of HMAS POLARIS suggests a hard existence aboard the craft during the war.

'The men who handle little ships have got no band to play,
and spend their lives in an endless watch, ceaselessly night and day.
The little ships turn somersaults where the cruiser only dips,
and crashing seas make music for the men in the little ships.'

After the war it was paid off on the 5th December 1945 and SOUTHERN CROSS STARS was bought back from the Navy for £4,250 by Biaggino & Guiseppe Russo. It was refitted at the cost of another £2,500. Biaggino and Russo kept the vessel until selling it to Harry Rose in 1950. He delivered it to Auckland New Zealand and operated it until around 1963 when it was sold to new owners. The vessel returned to Australia in 1968, having been renamed MARINE STAR in 1966.

In 2009 the owner had returned the vessel's name to SOUTHERN CROSS STARS, and it remained in excellent condition in private use as a large sea-going motor cruiser.

Prepared with assistance from the Register of Australian and New Zealand Ships and Boats compiled by Mori Flapan;
Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber plywood
Current status:operational
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:displacement
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Motor propulsion:motor vesselMV
ship:ships:Byzantine ships:ships:wheelhouse
Additional Titles

Previous title: HMAS Polaris

Previous title: Marine Star

Primary title: Southern Cross Stars

Previous title: Southern Cross

Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: O.N.174 687

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