top of page

Other FOREIGN steamship companies operating on the China coast in the period to October 1949

1949 年 10 月以前在中国沿海经营的其他外国轮船公司

Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. 得忌利士輸舶公司 (1854)* 

Trautmann & Co. 惇裕洋行/North China Steamer Co. (1863)

Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Co. (1863)*

Hong Kong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. (1865)*

Moller & Co. (later Mollers' Ltd) 赉赐洋行 (1866)

China & Manila S.S. Co. Ltd. (1870) and precursors (1846+)*

George McBain & Co. 麥邊洋行 (1874)

Shanghai Tug & Lighter Co.  会德丰驳船行 (1887) 

G.L. Shaw, Antung 怡隆洋 (1912)

Mollers Towages Ltd 毛拿洋行(1935)

This page introduces illustrated fleetlists of a number of foreign-owned early steamship companies in Chinese waters.  An asterisk after the company name above indicates that the list is duplicated on the "Hong Kong Local" page.


Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd-Operating northwards from Hong Kong to Swatow, Amoy and Taiwan was the Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. (DSSC).  The short history and fleet list were prepared by Howard and an early version was first published in 1973.  It has been updated by Howard and illustrations have been added by Stephen. Click on the first PDF at right for a short history (no illustrations) of the Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd.  The second PDF provides a chronological illustrated fleetlist of the Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. vessels such as HAI CHING and SEISTAN. The illustration below shows the HAIYANG of 1908 at Douglas Pier in Hong Kong in 1949 at the end of her service.  The photographic left part of the illustration by H.T. Wong is online at and we have drawn in the right part.







Trautmann & Co. was a pioneering company operating from Shanghai in the period from 1863. It was founded by a north German national, Johann Friederick Heinrich Trautmann, and its ships were registered in Shanghai, flying the British flag. The company was reformulated as the North China Steamer Co. in 1868, but was soon taken over by Jardine, Matheson & Co. The PDF at right contains an illustrated fleet list.  The albumen photograph below from Stephen's collection was taken at Tientsin around 1863-4 and is believed to show Trautmann's company's fast steamer NANZING 南京.  




The Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd was founded in 1863 with Thomas Sutherland (local P&O agent) as Chairman and Douglas Lapraik as Secretary, to continue existing dockyards and undertake towage in the port.  By registration in 1866, James Whittall (taipan of Jardine, Matheson & Co.) was Chairman. In 1902 the yard completed the salvage tug ROBER COOKE, shown in the photograph below of the 1904 launch at the dockyard of the Swire Lower Yangste steamer SHANGHAI, thereby becoming the first company to station a fully equipped salvage tug for use in the South China Sea (HKMM, donated by SK).













Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. Ltd-A study of HCMSC was undertaken by Howard Dick and first published in H.W. Dick & S.A. Kentwell, Beancaker to Boxboat: Steamship Companies in Chinese Waters (Nautical Association of Australia, Inc., 1988).  It has been updated by Howard and illustrations have been added by Stephen.  Click on the first PDF for a short history (no illustrations of ships) of the Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. Ltd. The second PDF provides a chronological illustrated fleetlist of the company's vessels. The sketch below is of the company's planned new steamer HONAM, as shown in a model at the Glasgow Exhibition in 1888 (Engineering, 9/11/88).


Moller & Co. (later Mollers' Ltd) had its origins in a Swedish national in Shanghai, Captain Nils Moller acting as an agent for ships on the China coast and in 1882 he formed a company which started acquiring ships. The family relationships were intricate and colorful, but eventually a son Eric (N.E.A. Moller) came to predominate on the shiping side concentrating on tramp steamers used on the China coast and in the region more generally.  By 1916 Eric had assembled a fleet of nine steamers. most of which were lost, but undaunted he rebuilt the fleet and between 1930 and 1934 Moller & Co. acquired no less than 22 ships at rock bottom prices which were then employed profitably until the disruption of the war in the Pacific.  In the PDF file at right, Howard starts off with a remarkably detailed but very entertaining history of the firm, followed by Part 1 of a fleet list covering the careers of the ships for the period to 1945.  Shown below in an aerial photo taken by Don Gammon at Amoy is a typical ship of this fleet, ISABEL MOLLER (coll. H. Dick).  Part 2 covering the postwar fleet will be posted here soon.  The Moller tug fleet from 1935 is  accessible by a PDF file at the foot of this page.




















China & Manila S.S. Co. Ltd. and its predecessors were established to provide a connection between Hong Kong and Manila.  The company was managed by a descendant of Russell & Co. of Shanghai Steam Nav. Co. fame, but its ships were sold in 1915.  The vessel shown below in a Chinese School painting is the RUBI, built for these owners in 1901. A time line and illustrated fleet list are contained in the PDF file at right.



George McBain & Co. operated ships on the Yangtse from 1874 and later developed a case oil trade from Sumatra. A short history by Howard and an illustrated fleet list are in the PDF file at right.  The photograph below is believed to show McBain's W. CORES DE VRIES (known in Chinese as 華利 or HUALEE) loading at Hankow. A French warship can be seen in the background.

Shanghai Tug & Lighter Co. Ltd was a development of the Shanghai Tug Boat Co. Ltd founded in 1887. It was the most prominent tug and lighter company in the Shanghai, Whangpoo and Woosung port areas up until World War II.  A brief history and illustrated fleet list and a list of other major Shanghai tugs and tenders may be found in the PDF file to the right. Shown below, the steam tug FUH-LE of 1870 served mainly in the port of Shanghai for nearly 70 years (SK coll.).




George Lewis Shaw was a British merchant based in Dandong (Antung) from around 1907 until 1938 when he moved to Foochow and continued his activities from there.  He owned a small fleet of ships which is listed in the next PDF. Shown below at Shanghai working cargo with her steam winches is Shaw's rebuilt steamer SHINYU, dating from 1894 (Malcolm Rosholt/ University of Bristol).

Mollers Towages Ltd was a major local salvage and towage company based in Shanghai prewar. Postwar it became Hong Kong Salvage & Towage Ltd. A short history and illustrated fleet list is contained in the PDF at right. Illustrated below is the CHRISTINE MOLLER, an 800 gt salvage tug originally built for the Russian Government in 1917 by the Shanghai Dockyard and Engineering Company.  The photograph was sent to us by former Imperial Japanese Navy officer Motoyoshi Hori, who supervised the taking over of this ship and other vessels in Shanghai in 1941.

bottom of page