The S.S. Orient was a Russian vessel which called in at East London on 29 July 1907, sailing from South Australia with a crew of 21 and carrying a cargo of wheat.
The ship sailed that evening but ran aground on what was then known as the Sandy Beach. During the night the force of the waves slowly moved the stranded vessel further onto the shore.
By morning news of the incident had spread through East London and crowds swarmed down to the beach and out onto the pier to get a better view.
The captain took the logical decision of jettisoning his cargo in order to make the ship lighter. By noon on 30 July, the East London Stevedoring Company had gone into action with lighters.
Speed, however, was essential and soon the wheat sacks were being ripped open and the grain poured overboard into the water. By 9.30 that night, when operations ceased, nearly 400 tons of wheat had been dumped.
In the meantime, the two tugs Annie and Buffalo got hawsers attached to the vessel and took up pulling, attempting to prevent the Orient being washed further ashore, and more especially to stop her from being swept onto the nearby rocks.