See full size picture at : http://www.shipspotting.com/modules/myalbum/photo.php?lid=607944
This post looks at both the ship and the Island of Nauru for whose Local Government Council she was built.
Eigamoiya was a single screw diesel cargo vessel with special features to enable the Nauruans to import water and export phosphates as well as carrying 12 passengers in both directions.
Let’s start with a few details about her build and construction:
- Her dimensions as ordered were : 335’ x 55’ x 22’ / 30’6” and her gross tonnage was 4425.74.
- The gross steel was 1666 tonnes, the deck was made of 2½ inch Oregon pine.
- Her bunker capacity 464T oil fuel, 86T diesel, 4191 gallons lub.
- She had three holds: No. 1 hold was 81.5ft3/ton and no. 2 and 3 holds 51ft3/ton.
- She had 2 fibreglass lifeboats for 53 persons and two inflatables.
- Her keel was laid on 25.5.68.
- She was launched in calm weather on 19.12.68 which took 34 seconds from daggers down.
- Sea Trials were held on 10.4.69 in a wind force of 5/6. Eigamoiya’s speed was 16.71 knots and her SHP was 3940.
- She sailed on 19.4.69 and had a crew of 30, with a Master, 3 officers and 4 engineers.
… And so to her role and the Island of Nauru:
The story of the Eigamoiya is at once a success and a part of a tragedy. She was highly successful from the point of view of her build and meeting the functions for which she had been designed. (It was essential that the phosphate carrying did not contaminate the water to be carried on the return journeys.) Her speed was well over one and a half knots above the specification of 15 to which she had been built. She contributed to the phosphate export business which at one point meant that the tiny island of Nauru had the second highest per capita GDP in the world.
Tiny island – oh yes, definitely. Nauru is only 2 miles by 3. It lies some 42 kilometres south of the Equator in the western Pacific Ocean. There are two other major phosphate rock islands, Banaba (sometimes called Ocean Island) and Makatea.
Nauru is surrounded by a coral reef which is exposed at low tides. It has a narrow sandy beach, inward of which there is a fertile coastal strip of between 150 and 300 metres where coconut palms and pandanus trees thrive. There is an inland lagoon where bananas, pineapples, and some vegetables are grown. The remainder of the island, in the wake of the frenzy of phosphate mining which took place in the 20th century, is virtually stripped and barren, comprising prehistoric coral pinnacles up to 15 feet high. Attempts to rehabilitate these areas have been largely unsuccessful.
The earliest contact with Europeans seem to have been in the 1830s when whalers and other traders stopped off at the island and introduced alcohol and firearms both of which have caused the islanders problems since, not least an internal war in 1878 which reduced the population from 1400 to 900.
Under the Anglo-German Convention Nauru was allocated to Germany, and when phosphates were discovered ten years later Germany allowed the Pacific phosphate Company to start mining in 1906.
With the advent of WWI, Australian forces captures Nauru in 1914 and after the war the League of nations gave Britain, Australia and New Zealand a joint trustee mandate. These three established the British Phosphate Commissioners.
During WWII Japan occupied the island in August 1942 and deported the indigenous population to work as labourers on the Caroline Islands where 463 died. Those who survived returned to Nauru in January 1946. After WWII Nauru was a UN Trust Territory under Australia.
In 1967 the Nauruans purchased the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners and control passed to the Nauru Phosphate Corporation and in 1968 Naurua became an independent republic. It was at this point that the order for the Eigamoiya was placed.
1989 Nauru filed suit against Australia for damages caused by mining. Australia settled out of court in 1993, with a lump sum settlement of A$107 million and an annual stipend of the equivalent of A$2.5 million as it stood in 1993 toward environmental rehabilitation.
For most of the rest of the twentieth century this devastated island relied mostly on payments for fishing rights, for hosting Australian refugee processing camps and on huge sums in grants and development funding. In recent years it has been discovered that Nauru is not, after all, bereft of phosphates and mining has restarted on a smaller scale. One might venture to hope that those with the power to do so ensure it is carried out more sympathetically with a view to the long term future of the indigenous people.
See full size picture at : http://www.shipspotting.com/modules/myalbum/photo.php?lid=600679
As for Eigamoiya, she was renamed Chrysanthi in 1993 and Asoka II in 1997 but beyond that nobody seems to know her fate.
Perhaps you know more or have reminiscences of her build or encountering her during her working life to add to her story?
Copyright Ruth Patterson 2010