Event: Unveiling of the Dan Ships Memorial Plaque

Melbourne, 12 December 2023
David Dodd
(Article from Aurora Journal, Spring 2023)

Members will be aware of the move initiated by the Offshore & Specialist Ships Australia Ltd. (OSSA), to take up a suggestion by Ray ‘Gaffer’ McMahon and Rasmus Nygaard (Friends of the Nella Dan Association – FND – Denmark), to commemorate with a plaque, the ANARE Antarctic shipping service provided by the J. Lauritzen Lines with those little ‘Red’ Dan ships from Melbourne’s North Wharf dockyards during the period 1953-1981. With the relocation of ANARE to Tasmania, the Dan Ships – principally the Nella Dan – continued faithful service until scuttled off Macquarie Island in December 1987.

The re-development of the old North wharf site (Northbank), part of the City of Melbourne’s beautification of the area, will incorporate a landscaped public ‘Seafarers Rest Park’, which will become an ideal site in which the Dan Ships’ Plaque will be erected along with other maritime exhibits. The site will also retain the old Goods Shed and will feature a high-end 18-story hotel residential complex (Riverlee).

The ANARE Club was invited to join the Consortium chaired by Mr Ross Brewer of OSSA, along with the Friends of the Nella Dan Association, as major project partners, and work is now being finalised with the foundry design and details of the one-metre diameter Commemorative Plaque. (See proposed Plaque design on left).

The unveiling was originally planned for Tuesday 12 December 2023, the 70th anniversary of the date that the first Dan ship (Kista Dan) departed from North Wharf for Macquarie Island on 12 December 1953. Regrettably, delays in the construction of the site and hotel complex have now meant that the ‘Seafarers Rest Park’ will not be ready until at least August 2024.

After due consultation, the Consortium has decided that the forthcoming 70th Anniversary date of 12 December 2023 will remain the appropriate date for the unveiling, and that an ‘installation ceremony’ with the opening of the park will be held next year at a date to be fixed.

Of interest, the Kista Dan, on return, departed on 4 January 1954 for Heard Island and then Mawson where it supported the establishment of Australia’s first Post-War Antarctic station opened by Dr Phillip Law on 13 February 1954. The voyage also called in at the Vestfold Hills on 3 March 1954 to select a site for Davis Station, opened on 13 January 1957. A remarkable voyage by the smallest of the Dan ships, later followed by the Magga Dan, Thala Dan, and our beloved Nella Dan.

All members of the ANARE Club and families are invited to attend the lunchtime ceremony in December this year, along with members of the Melbourne’s Danish and Maritime Community, maritime members from Denmark and the AAD.

Where: Map The Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders St, Docklands, Vic, 3008 on Tuesday 12 December 2023 at 11:45 am for 12:00 noon

RSVP: To facilitate catering, etc please email danships@anareclub.org.au by Tuesday 5 December, 2023