R.C.S. Viti, built at Taikoo Dockyard, Hong Kong, launched 1939

IDJ has sent the following newspaper article about the launching of R.C.S. Viti, built at Taikoo Dockyard in Hong Kong.


Built To Order Of The Government Of Fiji As Administrative Vessel

Constructed by the Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering Co. of Hongkong Ltd., to the order and special requirements of the Government of Fiji as an Administrative vessel for patrol duties between the Islands of Fiji and the British Islands in the Western Pacific, the new Royal Colonial Ship Viti, with a displacement of approximately 1,000 tons and a speed of 12 knots, was launched at the Taikoo Dockyard yesterday evening.

R.C.S. Viti Image, HK Daily Press 22.11.1939 From IDJ

The R.C.S. Viti Source: The newspaper article

The ceremony was performed by Lady Northcote, wife of His Excellency the Governor, Sir Geoffrey Northcote.

There was a large gathering present and, at the reception held subsequent to the christening, His Excellency proposed the toast of “Long life and good luck to the Viti.”

In the construction pf the vessel special attention has been paid to the tropical conditions in which the Viti will be engaged and for this purpose all the rooms are spacious and airy with large sliding windows and provided with Thermo-Tank independent control punkahlouvre system of mechanical ventilation and electric fans.


His Excellency the Governor said: It is pleasant to me to recall on this occasion that one of my earliest acts in this Colony was to offer any assistant [ance?] which this government could give towards the building of an administrative vessel for the Colony of Fiji. That assistance amounted to no more than a preliminary examination of the ship’s plans and specifications and of the tender by the Taikoo Dockyard and subsequently, to supervision during the early stages of her construction: that, of course, was not a very onerous duty, considering that the Taikoo Dock Company under Mr Finnie’s very able management was to build her, but such service as we could give was very gladly offered – on, of course, the usual terms!

We naturally were gratified that the Government of Fiji had seen fit to entrust the building of their new vessel to Hongkong and I myself enjoyed a personal gleam of pleasure because the Acting Governor of Fiji, Mr. Juxon Barton, to whom the offer was made, was for years a colleague of mine in Kenya and, I am happy to think, is still numbered among my friends.


That was nigh on two years ago and here we have the Royal Colonial Ship Viti well launched on the waters of life ang being sped by the toast which I have the honour of proposing. This occasion in one way makes a new record, for I have learnt from my friend Captain Mullins, who will shortly be commanding her, that the Viti – which, as you may know is the proper rendering of the word Fiji – is the first vessel to bear title ‘Royal Colonial Ship’, I trust that she will set a good example to other of her class. I also learn from him that she is known in her future home as Fiji’s largest pocket battleship. In present circumstances we can wish her “good hunting.’

A good many of us here present would probably be happy to think that they were about to go on a cruise through the waters which the Viti will soon come to know: those waters, known to us as the Western Pacific, extend over something like five million square miles and are the lovely scene of half the best romances in the world.


From north to south along the great stretch of sea between the Solomon Islands on the west and on the east Pitcairn Island, with its descendants of the “Bounty” mutineers, how many place-names strike a thrilling string in the harp of memory? Among the British, Ocean Island, Christmas Island and the Friendly Isles; among the French, the Marquesas and Tahiti: and these are but five among a hundred of that ilk.

Well the cheapest and quickest way to travel is to take the right book out of the shelf and settle down in a comfortable, not to say stable, armchair. Prompted by my task of this evening I myself have recently made a spiritual cruise in the romantic waters of the South Seas as the contented guest of Robert Louis Stevenson in the yacht Cosco and the schooner Equator, and very delightful and reminiscent of earlier cruises aboard those two vessels my imaginary journey was.

Then with a whetted appetite, I changed for a while to another craft, whose wanderings in those Seas have been recorded by a very old friend of mine, once Resident Commissioner of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and now alas no more. The yacht’s name was the

The following telegram was received by H.E. the Governor from the Governor of Fiji:-

“On the occasion of the launching of R.C.S. Viti, I should be grateful of you would convey to Lady Northcote my warm thanks for the honour she is doing this Colony in launching this ship.”

“Ranadi” and great was my joy to find that she was under the command of no other than this very Captain Mullins, who is now waiting here for the Viti to be delivered over to him.


I wish that I had time to tell you something of the Ranadi, for she was a notable vessel in many ways, though I gather it was untrue to say of her that so great were her powers of rolling that she had been known to extinguish her fires by taking in seas through the funnel, but my duty this evening lies with Captain Mullins’ latest command. We are here to wish her “God speed” as she sails the wide and dangerous waters of the Pacific Archipelago, showing the British flag and carrying British justice throughout that vast area: that I know that we will do with all our hearts.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to drink Long Life and Good Luck to the Royal Colonial Ship Viti.


The vessel is being built to the order and special requirements of the Government of Fiji  as an Administrative vessel for patrol duties between the Islands of Fiji and the British Islands in the Western Pacific and constructed under survey of Lloyd’s Registry of Shipping Classification 100 A.1 and supervised by the staff of the Hongkong Government, Principal of Surveyor of Ships’ Department.

Her principal dimensions are:- 170′ 0″ overall length, 31′ 6″ breadth moulded, and 15′ 0″ depth moulded, with a displacement of approximately 1,000 tons and a speed of 12 knots.

When on commission, the vessel will be used for Administrative Cruises by H.E. the Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, His Honour the Chief Justice and other civil officials of the Colonial Government. Large capacity oil fuel bunkers, fresh water storage tanks, refrigerated provision chambers, domestic storage spaces have been provided for undertaking these lengthy cruises. Two heavy derricks of 10 tons lifting capacity have been provided for attending buoys, beacons and lighthouses.


Among her other duties she will be engaged in hydrographical survey work, collecting data for meteorological records and gathering specimens of marine flora, and fauna for which the necessary instruments and equipment will be provided. A hospital and dispensary will also be installed for supplying medical comforts and assistance to the inhabitants of less populated islands.

The accommodation consists of a Governor’s suite, 9 deckhouse staterooms for passengers, 6 rooms for European officers and quarters for 30 native Petty Officers and crew. The Governor’s suite, comprising office, bedroom and boudoir, the vestibule and main stairway, the Captain’s suite, dining saloon and other public rooms will be panelled with decorative woods and the furniture and electric light fittings designed to harmonize.

Special attention has been paid to the tropical conditions in which the vessel will be engaged and for this purpose all the rooms are spacious and airy with large sliding windows and provided with Thermo-Tank independent control punkah-louvre system of mechanical ventilation, and electric fans.


A long range Marconi wireless transmitting and receiving installation of the latest design will be provided, with the addition of an emergency unit and a portable set for use in ship’s motor boat or on shore. A broadcast loudspeaker with plug-in points throughout the vessel will also be installed.

An inter-cabin system of telephones will be fitted for communications between the principal cabins.

The equipment of nautical instruments is most extensive and of the most modern type including rangefinder, wireless direction finder, powerful searchlight, “Trident” electric log , Dobbie McInness sounding machine, Kents’ clear view screen and echo sounding apparatus.

The propelling machinery comprises of a twin set of Taikoo/Sulzer diesel engines, two stroke trunk piston type and develop collectively 1,000 B.H.P. at about 300 R.P.M.

Electric light and power are supplied by three 22.5 K.W. Paxman-GEC generating sets.


Hyland hydraulic gear has been adopted for power transmission to steering gear and all deck auxiliaries, the power pumps being situated in the engine room, and driven by six-cylinder Paxman diesel through a vee belt.

The engine room installation includes a diesel driven centrifugal pump adopted to both fire and salvage duties.

A stand-by dynamo with switchboard is placed above the main deck level for use in case of emergency.

The R.C.S. “Viti” is expected to be completed at the end of February 1940 and will proceed to Fiji under the command of Captain J. Mullins, with Mr. L.S. Whysall, Chief Engineer and Mr. D.T. Bentley, Second Engineer, who are now in Hongkong in connection with the construction of the hull and machinery.


  1. Further information about the R.C.S. Viti

Source: The Hong Kong Daily Press 22nd November 1939.

This article was first posted on 12th June 2021.

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