top of page

Steamship Companies Operating
from SINGAPORE and the Straits


Blue Funnel Line/Ocean S.S. Co. Ltd/East Indian Ocean S.S. Co. Ltd and other Singapore-based feeder lines (1881)

The KPM’s Original Thirteen and the Long Afterlives in China and Japan of VAN DIEMEN, SPEELMAN and SWAERDECROON 

Marty & d'Abbadie (1893)

Norwegian Passenger-Carrying ‘China Coasters’ Trading South China/ Southeast Asia 1896-1977

Sverre Berg, Thoresen & Co. and the long-lived m.v. KURIMARAU

Chip Hwa Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd (1948)

Jebshun Shipping Co. Ltd.  捷順船務有限公司 (1950)

Singapore Harbour's Breakwater, Quarantine, Coal and Oil Hulks

'Blue Funnel Line/Ocean S.S. Co. Ltd/East Indian Ocean S.S. Co. Ltd and other Singapore-based feeder lines' contained in the PDF file at right is a detailed history of the feeder lines based in Singapore which served the mainline ships of the Blue Funnel Line operating between the U.K. and the Far East. The illustrated history and fleetlist of nearly 50 pages tells of the ships which operated on these services from GANYMEDE in 1879 until the last sailing of CENTAUR at the end of 1983. The Chinese School painting below shows HEBE built for the Deli feeder line in 1885. The list includes many rare photographs.





















The KPM’s Original Thirteen and the Long Afterlives in China and Japan of VAN DIEMEN, SPEELMAN and SWAERDECROON in the PDF file at right tells of the original 13 ships of the  Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM) which in January 1891 took over the mail contract for the Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia. This study discusses the ships' origin, design, careers and the vessels they operated with.  We have particularly focussed on the careers in China and Japan of three of the ships which lived past the age of 50 years. The photo below from the collection of Martin Lindenborn shows SPEELMAN arriving at a river port in the Netherlands East Indies in 1890.













Marty & d'Abbadie- A company based in French Indochina which developed services to China was  La Soc. Service Subventionne des Correspondences Fluviales au Tonkin, Haiphong, better known as Marty & d'Abbadie. The below image is of the HANOI, built  in Sunderland for that owner in 1893.  The image is taken from a postcard found in the Northeast of the United States about 50 years ago by the late Charles Schell, father of maritime photographer Bill (W. Schell).  It notates a voyage taken from Haiphong to Hong Kong in 1907. An illustrated fleet list is in the PDF at right.

Norwegian shipping companies were  active in the period from 1896 in building ships for charter by local rice millers, merchants and brokers to operate between South China and Southeast Asia. They developed their versions of the 'China Coasters' that had originated with British companies and were a leading force in building a succession of ships designed to carry Chinese emigrants/workers as deck passengers.  One firm, Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co., emerged as a South China-based operator, and such passenger operations continued on until air travel took over around 1970. This study is in two parts in the pdf files at right.  The first is a 19 page textual history and analysis that we have prepared, including a few photographs. The second is a detailed and well-illustrated fleet list of all the known the Norwegian passenger ships in this trade. Show below is perhaps the most developed of the pre-WWII ships, HAI LEE of 1934, depicted in Norwegian waters on completion and still not fitted with all her lifeboats.  The photograph is from the collection of H. Larsson-Feddes as presented at and we have edited it to show the Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co. company colours.

A small ship that was active in Southeast Asia for over 30 years was KURIMARAU, later known as the Thai-flag SIRIVANNICH, as shown in the Ian Ewards photograph below taken at Penang in May 1990. With a life of sixty-five years, her remarkable story and that of one of her longtime owners is told in  Sverre Berg, Thoresen & Co. and the long-lived m.v. Kurimarau in the PDF file at right. 






Chip Hwa Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd-Founded in Singapore in 1948 by Fukienese Lou Gaw Tong who owned the Aik Hong Rice Mill in Rangoon, this company initially sought to buy up surplus British military vessels and refit them to ship paddy rice down the Irrawaddy to the mills in Rangoon, and the milled rice from Rangoon to Singapore. In the mid-1950s Lou began to diversify Chip Hwa into general dry cargo shipping, including the conversion of tankers to dry cargo vessels. A subsidiary was registered in Hong Kong and after Lou's death in 1960 the fleet expanded significantly with good general cargo tonnage, all motorships and a full fleetlist is included in the PDF file at right. But by 1970 the shipowning side of the business had ended. The two vessels depicted below are converted tanker GLORY shown at Singapore in April 1963 (Dr. George Wilson) and KIAN AUN, also at Singapore, in 1968 (




Jebshun Shipping Company (Ltd) traced its origins to Jebshun & Co. formed in Swatow (Shantou) in 1931 by Teochew/ Chiuchow merchant Lam Choon-cheong (林俊璋) and began as a ship operator with a charter and the formation of Winly Navigation Co. Ltd in 1950. With further charters of Norwegian-flag tonnage and owned vessels, the comany became prominent in the South China-Straits trade including the transport of passengers. From 1959 the company also moved into the booming regional charter market and in the period 1967-70 acquired seven modern freighters. By 1969 most of the fleet was engaged on time charter to the People’s Republic of China, but after incidents of misfortune, the company applied for bankruptcy in December 1971. Show below in a photograph by Robert Gabriel at Singapore ca.1960 is Jebshun passenger ship SHUN SHING, and beneath that showing the colour scheme in a photograph by N. Brown at Hobart in 1964 is the cargo ship SHUN TAI. The PDF file at right authored by Howard Dick contains a short history followed by a detailed fleet list with many photographs.



































We have an illustrated essay by Howard entitled "Tracing Singapore Harbour's Breakwater, Quarantine, Coal and Oil Hulks" in the PDF file at right. One of the ships scuttled there was LOUDON, pictured below (

bottom of page