The passenger cargo liner DARA was the third of four “D” Class ships that the British India Steam Navigation Company (B.I.) built for the Bombay to Gulf round service. She was a single screw motor vessel of 5,030 grt and built in Glasgow at Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd. She entered service in September 1948.
DARA had a refrigerated cargo capacity of 5,000 cubic feet but her primary role was to accommodate 78 berthed passengers and 948 “deck passengers”. DARA’s design, with its “tween decks”, extended deck areas and “superimposed” lifeboats, reflected this need to carry great numbers of “unberthed or deck passengers”, typically migrant labourers travelling to, from and between ports in India, Pakistan and the Gulf States.
Between Bombay and Basra, BI’s “D” class provided a weekly service calling at 17 ports in as many days. As they ferried passengers from one port to another, DARA and her sister ships were the gulf buses of the Arabian Sea.
On 8th April 1961, DARA was nearing the end of one such regular round trip. It was her 146th voyage - no one could ever imagine that it would be her last…