M/V Monarch of Nassau, inter-island twin-engine motor boat, Bahamas Mailboat 1930s 1940s, ex-Sir Charles Orr, colorful history

Photo source: Model Shipbuilding magazine, Volume 90, with diagrams, December 1994
MAILBOAT NAME: M/V Monarch of Nassau
PAST NAMES: M/V Sir Charles Orr
DIMENSIONS: 116′ LOA, 21′ beam, 7.5′ draft, 11.5 knots
BUILDER: J. Crighton & Co. Ltd, Cheshire, England, UK
EARLY CAREER: delivered to the Bahamas from UK in fast 19 days, Fall 1930
BAHAMAS CAREER: Carried fruit Eleuthera – Miami for a British ex-military conglomerate. Carried Father John Hawes, aka Father Jerome, the Hermit of Cat Island, to Long & Cat Islands. Rescued deserters from a Californian group of Utopians from the Turks & Caicos Islands.
CAPTAINS: Capt. Roland Roberts, Eleuthera
FATE: Banana carrier from West Indies, put up for sale by Carl Sawyer Agencies, Miami, by 1951, presumably sold, renamed, broken up – no further history on that point is available. An enigmatic message confusing the Monarch of Nassau with a much larger more modern ship, was reported from Kingston Jamaica in 1956.

Author Kevin Griffin kindly shared the following excerpt from his upcoming book;

“The G W K Roberts Co, also known as the Monarch Line also operated two small vessels, the 215-ton Monarch of Nassau and 186-ton Richard Campbell, which had been used on the Miami-Nassau mail route before the war, but these two were used on longer 12-day voyages through the Out Islands and usually called at the P&O Dock in Miami. Meanwhile, the Jean Brillant would return at the end of 1942 to resume her winter passenger and cargo service, and next time it would be for a longer spell.”

NOTES: This is a rare photo of a ship, the Monarch of Nassau, which was an inter-island trader through the Bahamas from 1930 to at least 1947. Built in the UK as the Sir Charles Orr, cleverly named after the governor of the colony, by former military investors who wanted to export pineapples and other goods from Eleuthera to Florida, the ship was fitted with 16 first class and 16 second class accommodation with a state-of-the-art ventilation system.

            During its life it ran routes through the entire Bahamas, delivered “Father Jerome” John Hawes, the Hermit of Cat Island to that island, rescued a family of non conformist from California who tried to “colonize” the Turks & Caicos with their own commune (it failed), traded bananas with the Greater Antilles, rammed and damaged a passenger ship in Miami named Fire Island, and was put up for sale in Texas. Carl Sawyer of Miami and Nassau was its last owner, and one of his captains was Captain Roland Roberts.

            In mid-March 1942 the Monarch of Nassau rescued 30 Greek sailors under Captain Mamais from the Greek ship Cygnet (ex-Mirach) which was torpedoed and sunk 4 miles from Dixon Hill, San Salvador by the Italian submarine R.Smg. Enrico Tazzoli under Carlo Fecia di Cossato.