Jervis Bay 1922–1939

The Jervis Bay was the last of the large passenger-cargo liners built for the Australian Government after the First World War. Named after bays in each of the five mainland Australian states, they became known as the ‘Bay’ steamers.

Like the other ships, the Jervis Bay offered mainly third class accommodation for more than 700 migrants. Large refrigerated holds provided 120,000 cubic metres of space designed to carry exports of frozen meat and dairy produce on the return voyage from Australia. On the way out from Britain the holds were fitted out with temporary and bunks to provide extra accommodation.

Although it continued as a migrant liner during the 1930s, it was the fiery demise of the Jervis Bay that secured the ship’s place in maritime history. Serving as an armed merchant cruiser on convoy escort during the Second World War, the Jervis Bay crossed paths with the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer. Although managing to hold its position while the 37 convoy ships safely scattered, the Jervis Bay was mortally struck and sunk with the loss of 180 lives.