From America to Australis- The rebuilding in Piraeus
End of the year in 1964. Since the summer, there were rumors of sale of United States Lines negotiations with the Greek shipping company Chandris, after the America that was previously advertised for sale.
After several hours before the press and the unions secret content key management, Dimitrios Kaparis, the technical director of the shipping company Chandris was impressed by the magnificent ship and excellent condition. After the first rough ideas for a possible conversion was clear for the shipping company that America was the ship that they wanted to expand their growing line service between Europe and Australia. High speed, size and reliability were convincing arguments for a purchase, not to mention the fact that you would put America with the purchase of a prestigious ship of superlatives at the head of the Greek merchant navy.
After her last transatlantic crossing in the service of the U.S. Lines America was launched in November in Newport News, Virginia, awaiting a decision on their future.
Mid-November, it was official: The new owners were the Chandris Lines. The builders yard of America, the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company hoped the lucrative contract for the renovation of the ship to take over his new job, but the shipping company Chandris had other plans. So just cosmetic changes were made in Newport News. The typical United States Lines-color sequence of the chimneys was painted with a bright blue and black cap and the old name with the new name America Australis replaced. So the black Australis made ??with a minimum crew flown in from Greece on the way across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
In Greece, arrived in the harbor of Piraeus, then did the actual conversion. The Chandris Lines had the ambitious goal of rebuilding the Australis in their own shipyard, the Ambilaki shipyard in Piraeus. Such a large project was new territory for the shipping company and many experts in the United States doubted the success of the venture.
The majority of the restructuring in Piraeus was conducted at anchor. The supply of building materials was carried out on floating rafts load and many materials were hoisted with their own cranes on board the ship. The offices of senior engineers were on board the Australis. For underwater work on the hull of the dry dock in Valetta in Malta was used.
This kind of flexible and improvised reconstruction without the need for a massive manufacturing infrastructure, brought great financial benefits for the shipping company, and work for many people in the region.
First we went to the inner transformation of the Australis. Loading bays, cargo holds and former tourist class lounges were converted to cabins. Then you began to expand the superstructure of the ship. The passenger capacity was more than doubled by the conversion and air conditioning throughout the ship.
Preliminary results of the conversion mid-1965, the Australis was the largest dry dock in the Mediterranean at that time in Malta, there to make final work on the hull and bring it to radiate the white of the ship's side in a final painting.
Overall, the main modification of the Australis over 9 months went and was also part of way still continued at sea for the first passenger trips. The total cost of the renovation amounted to $ 5,500,000.
Details of the rebuild with as seen in the deck plans:
The upper deck was extended aft by additional structures. These structures allowed the installation of an open-air swimming pool (using a repurposed cargo hold), a lido deck with pool bar between aft king posts and created space for additional cabins with larger windows.
On the main deck of the former open promenade deck of the second class was closed and also used for new cabins with large windows.
- The structures of the promenade deck and sun deck were extended aft, in particular:
The promenade deck was extended aft to a 9-segment window providing space to an additional life boat row (port and starboard).
The ballroom was expanded and equipped with a bar.
The childrenplayroom was extended and a children's pool and sandpit were added.
These extensions were based heavily on the general design of America, so that the new structures fitted well with the existing ones. For the enlarged ballroom, additional chairs were even customized to match to the existing original ones.
- The front sports deck with the handball court and the kennels had to give additional structures for the crew between the two chimneys.
Clearly visible was the increased number of pipes and ventilation shafts on the upper deck around and in between the two chimneys, which required the new, full air conditioning of the ship.
- The foremost lifeboat starboard and portside was removed and cut the deck at the same location to also equip these smaller lifeboats with gravity type.
- The Covered Bridge ends were removed
- On the front main deck was open 3 Class Promenade closed and provided with portholes converted to cabins.
- The first 9 - Windows segment of the promenade deck was reduced to six shorter window, behind which from now on port and starboard of the writing room was the library.
- The rear cargo bays were converted as space for additional cabins.
- 1968, Australis was on the A-deck down gray painted to problems not well-covering with the counteract susceptible to rust and white. She was now the only non-white ship in the Chandris fleet.
- In 1969, the real chimney an "extension" in order to reduce problems with pollution of the pool.
- Short time later, the rear mast was removed and converted the remaining stub to a seating group.
- In order to replace the boom, a short mast is mounted on the rear chimney.
- The mid-70s was the chimney extension removed.
- Two of the front boom derricks were removed.
Changes visible on the exterior: yellow: added structures, blue: modified areas, red: removed bridge wing houses.
Australis leaves Malta dry dock in 1965 were she was sandblasted and painted.