Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger / Cargo Ferry
A&J Inglis
Launch Date
shipped in sections
October 23, 1942
Nyasaland Railway Co.
270 grt
BP Length
140 feet
27 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
12 knots
Petters Standard Design 600 B.H.P.
Official No.

[The Motor Ship - January 1946]

On 30th July 1946 the Vipya sank during a terrible storm.
The Vipya was built by Harland & Wolff and shipped out to the lake in 1943 where she was reassembled and launched in 1944. She weighed 470 tons, was 140' in length and had a top speed of 12 knots. She did not begin passenger services until the end of World War Two and made her first scheduled trip on 28th June 1946. On her fourth voyage in 1946, the Vipya set out from Mbamba bay; a strong wind blew which made the ship roll enough to alarm the crew and first officer. The captain disagreed about the unsafe conditions and ordered the crew to continue on the voyage. The ship began to take in water, but the captain ignored it. Eight miles from the destination, present day Chilumba, the captain ordered the cargo hatch to be opened to prepare for disembarkation. By now the third class passengers had water at their feet. All of a sudden, a huge wave crashed onto the Vipya, capsizing the ship; most of the passengers were trapped below decks and drowned. Only three of the crew survived by climbing out of the engine room window before the ship turned over; they floated to land on wreckage. Thirty-three African passengers who were on the deck survived, none of the first class passengers did, who were mostly Europeans.
The survivors made it to Livingstonia on shore. Altogether 145 people lost their lives in the disaster; there is a simple memorial to the dead beside the clock tower in Mangochi beside the Shire River.