BLOEMFONTEIN CASTLE was built in 1950 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 18400grt, a length of 594ft 6in, a beam of 76ft 4in and a service speed of 18.5 knots.
It was the company's intention to use her as an emigrant carrier to East Africa,and in particular Rhodesia, for the ill fated 'Ground Nut Scheme'.
However, when in 1948, the South African government of Field Marshall Smuts was ousted by Dr Malan's Nationalist Party the traffic dried up when the new government cancelled the assisted passage scheme.
Consequently, during the construction the plans were amended but she was always considered to be the 'odd man out' as far as the Union-Castle fleet was concerned. However, she entered service as the only one class ship until the Transvaal Castle, and operated from the London-Rotterdam-Cape-Beira route, the only vessel to do so.
In the mid-afternoon of 8th January 1953 she rescued the 234 passengers and crew from the Klipfontein (Vereenigde Nederlands Maats) which had struck a rock and foundered five miles off Cape Barra near Inhambane whilst on route for Beira. Ironically, when the accident occured the Klipfontein was racing the Bloemfontein Castle for the only vacant berth at Beira.
From B&C Review February 1960
From B&C Review April 1963
Profile of Bloemfontein Castle
Profile of Patris
On the left in happier times and on the right after striking the submerged object
In August 1959 a newly joined crew member was arrested for his part in a jewel robbery.
On 9th November 1959, being the odd man out, she became surplus to requirements and was sold to Chandris (England) Ltd and renamed Patris.
After a refit at North Shields ownership changed to the National Greek Australia Line and she sailed for Australia where, by 1972, she was cruising out of Sydney and then operated on the Sydney-Singapore service.
In February 1974 she became an Australian Federal Government accommodation ship for nine months after typhoon 'Tracy' had virtually destroyed Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Returning to Greece in 1976 she was converted to carry 260 cars though large side-loading doors for the Venice-Ancona-Patras service.
In 1980 she was sold to the Michail A. Karageorgis Group and renamed Mediterranean Island and in 1981 became the Mediterranean Star on the Piraeus-Alexandria run under the same owners but registered as Star Navigation Corp and was later transferred within the group to Consolidated Ocean Transports.
She was sold to St. Vincent owners for breaking up and renamed Terra pro temps.