The SS Wahine was a passenger ship of the Union Steam Ship Company engaged pre-war on the Wellington/Lyttelton run. It was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1915 and served first as a despatch vessel in the Mediterranean during the Gallipoli Campaign and from 1916 until the end of the war it was a minelayer in the North Sea, laying 11,378 mines.
The SS Wahine was built for the Union Steamship Company for the Wellington to Lyttelton run. It was built by the Denny Brothers of Dumbarton, Scotland and displaced 4,436 tons. In design the ship was an improved version of the earlier, Maori, one major innovation being the fitting of a bow rudder to assist in berthing at Lyttelton. Launched on 25 November 1912, the Wahine was handed over to its owners on 9 April 1913 and departed on its maiden voyage via the Suez Canal to Wellington on 5 May. On trials a top speed of 21.33 knots was achieved, greater than that of most trans-Atlantic liners. By July it was employed on the Wellington/Lyttelton overnight service.
On trials a top speed of 21.33 knots was achieved, greater than that of most trans-Atlantic liners.
In July 1915 the Wahine was requisitioned by the Imperial Government and sailed from Port Chalmers on the 15th. Built for short passages on the New Zealand coast the ship did not have a great range and the voyage to England was made with only half the boilers on-line.
After a refit on the Thames HMS Wahine was a despatch vessel, armed with two 4 inch (102mm) guns and the Captain, A.M. Edwin was given a commission in the Royal Naval Reserve, as were his officers and the ship’s company were similarly entered into the Naval Reserve. Between 13 October 1915 and 28 May 1916 Wahine was employed between Malta and Mudros, as part of the naval forces engaged in the Gallipoli campaign.