There was a British Purser on the Isipingo who when in Durban visited, as many of us did, the Playhouse in the main Street which was an enormous and very popular Bar Lounge, Restaurant and Cinema complex. On one occasion, after a good evening there enjoying a few drinks, he pitched out into a taxi and said Isipingo and promptly fell asleep in the back of the cab.
He was awoken by the driver shaking him to find they were by a deserted beach with the surf pounding in loudly. The Purser immediately feared the worst – that he was going to be robbed and even worse – and nervously asked “why have you brought me here?”. The taxi driver replied, “you said Isipingo and here we are – Isipingo”. The Purser hadn’t realised that Isipingo was a southern suburb and beach of Durban.
He also probably didn’t know that Inchanga, the other ‘white ship’, was named after the beautiful ‘Inchanga, Valley of a thousand Hills’ in traditional Zulu country, roughly halfway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The third ship of the trio, Incomati, which was sunk by gunfire in WW2 by U508 some 200 miles south of Lagos, was named after the Incomati River which flows from South Africa into the sea near Maputo (Laurenco Marques as was).