'NEW WAVE' Chinese Steamship Companies from 1949
In this section we present operators, including several who had commenced operations in China before 1937, who post-World War II developed fleets of major significance, operating mainly from Hong Kong and Taiwan, often under flags of convenience.
Hsu Ting Zuo/Yih Lee S.N. Co./Eddie S.S. Co. (1946)
Hwang Tiong Beng and the China Pacific Group of Hong Kong (1946)
Koo Chung-sui/Tai Chong Cheang S.S. Co./Valles S.S. Co. (1946)
Ping An S.S. Co., Shanghai 平安輪船有限公司 (1946)
Ta Hing/Ta An/Abeto and associated Eddie Wong companies (1946)
Tung Chao Yung/Chinese Maritime Trust/Island Nav. Corp./OOL/OOCL (1946)
Chip Hwa Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd (1948)
Teh Hu S.S. Co. Ltd 德和輪船公司 (1948)
Ocean Tramping Co. Ltd, Hong Kong 遠洋輪船有限公司 (1957)
Hsu Tung Zhuo was the founder in 1927 of Yih Lee S.N. Co. outlined in our "Little Yangtse" list. He was succeeded by a son who developed the company, now named Eddie S.S. Co., into a major international operator, and by the current CEO, a grandson. Eddie S.S. Co. has published a detailed illustrated list of the son's oceangoing ships in W.H. Eddie Hsu & All His Ships: The 90th Anniversary of Eddie Steamship, 1927-2017 which it has kindly made available in the PDF file at left - a heavy file which will take a while to download. Acquired in the 1960s were the former Eastern & Australian fast steamers EASTERN and NELLORE, shown below at the Taikoo Dockyard in Hong Kong in a photo by Geoff Wellstead. The ships, each over 500 feet in length, were renamed DORI and ORIANA respectively in the Eddie S.S. Co. fleet, joining other similar acquired and newly-built ships that were operating in services such as to New York and Australia. Shown in the Makassar Strait in a painting by Robert Lloyd is the bulk carrier PANAMAX UNIVERSE, built in 2012 near the Hsu ancestral home on Zhoushan (Chusan) island.
China Pacific Group-Hwang Tiong Beng/T.B. Hwang undertook ship chartering activities pre-World War II and re-emerged post-war, first in Shanghai and then in Hong Kong as one of the more successful middle-tier Hong Kong shipowners of the postwar years. A short history and detailed illustrated fleet list of these ships, researched and written by Howard, is in the PDF file at right. Two typical T.B. Hwang ships are illustrated below. AMOY was a British warbuilt, depicted at Hong Kong in 1961 in a photograph by Dr George Wilson. ATLANTIC TRADER was originally a Götaverken-built tanker converted by Hwang to a bulk carrier. Bill Schell's photo shows her at Hong Kong in 1970.
Koo Chung-sui founded the Tai Chong Cheang S.S. Co. in Shanghai in 1920 and became involved in a range of steamship company interests before 1937, many of which are described in the Koo Chung-sui and Ta Chen Nav. sections of our "Little Yangtse" list. Postwar he developed Tai Chong Cheang and the Valles S.S. Co. in Hong Kong with flag of convenience ships. In 2017 both companies commissioned Stephanie Zarach to publish a history, "To Catch a Goose if the World is Large", and the full text is in the PDF file at left. Shown below is the VALLES ex RAMONA, reconstructed in 1949 after being bombed during the war. The second photo is of one of Tai Chong Cheang S.S.'s typical bulk carriers CSK BEILIUN (Singapore-flag) having a coal cargo unloaded in at the Dutch port of Ijmuiden in 2009 (Willem Oldenburg).
Ping An S.S. Co. was one of the 'Little Yangtse' operators that later developed worldwide operations. A short history of the wider company has been researched by Howard and is in the PDF at right. The vessel below, shown in a Peter Foxley photograph in the Straits of Malacca (W. Schell coll.) is their first 7,000 g.t. size ship, SOUTHERN MARINER, acquired in 1959.
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 vessel depicted below at Fremantle in Hong Kong unit Hwa Aun Co. (HK) Ltd colours is WING ON, acquired in 1957 and initially registered in Singapore.
Hing Company (HK) Ltd, Ta An Co. (HK) Ltd and the colourful Abeto companies-In 1946 Edward (‘Eddie’) Wong Wing-Cheung appears in Hong Kong as one of the founders of the syndicate. Howard has prepared a history and a separate lavishly illustrated fleet list of the associated shipping companies in the PDF files at right. Two ships owned by these companies are depicted in the photographs below. The first, taken by R. Maya and held in Bill Schell's collection is MALAYA FIR, shown anchored inside the breakwater at Tanjung Priok, 26 April 1960, on charter to the Indonesian Army Transport Section. The second, by Peter Foxley and from Stephen's collection is Abeto's MALAYSIA RAYA, on charter to Great Malaysia Line in the period 1971-76.
Tung Chao-yung (C.Y. Tung) was a prewar operator in Tianjin and Shanghai who came to have an important position in private sector shipping services. After the war he sought to reinvigorate coastal, Yangtse and international shipping by consolidating assets with other owners, but with the Revolution moved to Hong Kong where he was able to use his outstanding negotiating skills with a wide range of contacts to build his fleets including the major international shipping line now known as Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL). Tung married Koo Chung-sui's daughter and their eldest son Tung Chee-hwa became the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong after it was returned to China. The details of Tung's Tientsin Nav. Co. are given in our "Pei" Ships list in the Other Chinese section, and we will be adding more material to this site. In 1970 C.Y. Tung bought the QUEEN ELIZABETH, then the largest passenger ship in the world (first photo below by Stephen Berry). In 1981 he converted a tanker to become the SEAWISE GIANT, by tonnage the largest ship of all time (second photo by Nippon Kokan). In 2019 OOCL took delivery of the OOCL HONG KONG, said at the time to be the world's largest container ship (third photo below by OOCL).
Although we lack precision on its stated prewar shipping connections, Teh Hu Steamship Company Limited was formed in Shanghai on 6 June 1948 and has endured and ultimately prospered over more than 70 years. It has managed to straddle the awkward divides between Hong Kong, China and Taiwan and today owns a small fleet of modern ‘Cape-size’ bulk carriers, a far cry from the little old trampships with which it began. A short history and detailed fleet list are in the PDF file at right. Below wearing the old and new versions of the company's funnel markings are the 3952 g.t. AMITA deploying no less than 16 derricks at Adelaide in 1970 (Chris Finney/shipspotting.com), and the bulk carrier PROSPEROUS at Ijmuiden in March 2012 (Marcel & Ruud Coster/shipspotting.com).
Ocean Tramping Co. Ltd was established in Hong Kong in 1957 as a company beneficially owned by the People's Republic of China to operate ships under flags of convenience. A principal reason was that while ships flying the Chinese flag could operate in close Chinese coastal waters, such ships operating on the high seas were liable to seizure, particularly by the authorities in Taiwan, and consequently were uninsurable. While such seizures no longer take place today, there are other rationales for the existence of such beneficially owned companies, including the continuing Ocean Tramping Co. Ltd. From 1960 Ocean Tramping and its subsidiaries began to morph into being ship operators and In 1963 Ocean Tramping started to diversify into deep-sea tramp shipping. In the late 1960s the role of Ocean Tramping further evolved with the secondhand purchase of newer, larger and faster ships, including many British and European cargoliners, for deep-sea trading. Some tankers were also acquired. This listing covers the ships acquired up to and including 1970, such as the FRANKFORD (Dr. George Wilson) and smart OCEANTRAMP (coll. M. Cranfield) depicted below. The PDF file at right details the development of the Ocean Tramping fleet. Progress from the 1970s will be the subject of a subsequent post.