SS ORIENT 1879 The ORIENT was built in 1879 by John Elder & Co, Glasgow and the first ship built for the Orient Steam Navigation Co.Ltd, she was also the first specifically designed for the Australian mail service and built to Admiralty armed merchant cruiser specification. She was a 5,386 gross ton ship, length 460ft (140,21m) x beam 46.3ft (14,12m) x depth 35ft (10,67m) and when registered in September 1879 was the largest ship in the World apart from the 20-year-old, 19,000-ton Great Eastern. She had two funnels, four masts (rigged for sail), iron construction, single screw and a speed of 15 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 120-1st, 130-2nd, 300 steerage class, or 1,500 troops. Launched on 5th June 1879, she sailed from London on her maiden voyage to Melbourne and Sydney via the Cape on 3rd Nov.1879 and returned via Suez. (until 1883 contract voyages went out via the Cape, home via Suez).
She was the biggest ship on the Australian route, and set a London/Adelaide record of 37 days 22 hours. On her second outward voyage in 1880 she set a Plymouth/Cape Town record of 17 days 21 hours which stood for 10 years. In 1881 she had refrigeration fitted and in 1882 was chartered as transport for the Egyptian campaign, then later in 1884 she had electric lights installed. In 1898 the Orient was modernised at Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Co, Wallsend-on-Tyne, rebuilt to 5,453 tons, and fitted with 7,000ihp triple expansion engines to give her a speed of 16½ knots. Her four masts and two funnels had been replaced by two pole masts and a single taller funnel, and a forecastle and turtleback poop had been added. In Nov.1899 she became a troopship for the Boer War and on 17th July 1903 resumed commercial services to Sydney. Her last sailing on this service commenced on 23rd July 1909 and in 1910 she was sold to Italian ship breakers and renamed ORIC for her final voyage to Italy where she was scrapped.