The condition of Hong Kong dockyards immediately post WW2, newspaper report October 1945
IDJ has sent the newspaper article below.
Though the article’s headline refers specifically to Kowloon Dock, several other Hong Kong dockyards are covered. It’s a little confusing sometimes to understand which dockyard is being referred to.
The images included below, and on the Home page, come from our article, Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock – WW2 bombing – the aftermath, linked below, and not from the newspaper article.
Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped article.
When the Royal Navy entered Hong Kong seven weeks ago they found the port in a bad state of maintenance, damaged by bombs and neglect, but not in the hopeless condition anticipated, there were 20 visible wrecks in the harbour and a greater number of sunken wrecks away from the fairways.
The Eastern half of the Naval Dockyard was completely destroyed including the electrical shop and submarine battery charging shop. But the power house was in reasonable working order and was put into action before dusk, while the large dry dock seemed in good condition although partly fouled by wreck and debris.
Aberdeen dockyard was found in good condition and had actually been enlarged by the Japanese. A new slipway had been built capable of slipping vessels up to 500 tons.
Taikoo dockyard, Hong Kong & Whampoa dockyard and Kowloon and Cosmopolitan dockyard were almost completely destroyed.
Living accommodation in the dockyard was left in a filthy condition and it was obvious that it had been in that state for some time.
In the initial and later stages of the rehabilitation of the dockyard naval officers and dockyard officials who had who had been interned, or ex-prisoners of war gave valuable assistance. So much work was accomplished at the very start that within a few days of entering the port a signal was made that the dockyard was open and a limited amount of repairs could be undertaken. By September 12th three minesweepers had cleaned boilers alongside the dockyard.
In the Hong Kong and Whampoa dock work has actually been resumed on a 10,000 ship which was being built before the Japanese occupation.
Stonecutters island was found in fair condition but the wireless equipment was destroyed. Within a week of taking over the station, naval radio staffs had re-equipped it with the latest transmitters and contact was made with Admiralty. The station is now handling all the Hong Kong Naval traffic.
Three salvage vessels are at work in the port. The Salvictor has cleared the wreck fouling the entrance to the naval dry dock, the Salvestor is clearing wrecks in the tidal basin, and the King Salvor is raising sunken mooring buoys in the nan of war anchorage and commercial moorings.
One result of this was the opening of the naval dry dock which immediately docked an 8,000 ton oiler for screw repairs.
AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Harbour work is handicapped by the shortage of harbour craft and the scarcity of dumb lighters which makes discharging in the stream a slow business. Moreover available tugs burn wood because of the shortage of coal and this means loss of power.
Minesweeping commenced on September 10th but no positive results were obtained until 15th September when 23 moored mines were swept and sunk. Clearance continued without any further results. On September 26th H.M.A.S. Strahan was slightly damaged by a magnetic mine.
Many hundred tons of cargo, mainly food and medical supplies have already been discharged by R.N. ships in the port which is now ready to receive commercial shipments. Hong Kong’s spring clean is ahead of scheduled.
- The China Mail, Hong Kong, 26th October 1945.
This article was first posted on 21st November 2020.
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