Steamship fleets based in HONG KONG Operating to Canton, Macao, Manila, Taiwan and Near-North Ports
Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. 得忌利士輸舶公司 (1854)
Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd (1863)
Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. Ltd (1865)
China & Manila S.S. Co. Ltd. (1870) and precursors (1846+)*
Pearl River Ferries 1830 to 1883
Pearl River Ferries 1884 to 1941
Pearl River Ferries 1945 to 1996
Hong Kong-Near North (from 1899) & Post-1978 Hong Kong-Shanghai
Sverre Berg, Thoresen & Co. and the long-lived m.v. KURIMARAU
Shun Cheong S. N. Co. Ltd, Hong Kong 順昌航業有限公司 (1928)
'TJI-' '芝-' Ships of the Java-China-Japan Line and Royal Interocean Lines
Historically, the first area for commercial steamship operations in China was Hong Kong and the Pearl River. The photograph below, taken at Canton in 1916, shows three steamships. At centre is the HONAM, built in 1882, of the pioneering Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. Ltd. (HCMSC). At right is the SUI-AN or the SUI-TAI, owned by the same company but originally built for a German-flag operator on the Yangtse. At left is the KWONG SAI or KWONG TUNG, operated by a rival company. These three ships and many others were owned almost entirely by Chinese shareholders in Canton or Hong Kong, but their owners chose to operate them under the British flag. KWONG SAI and KWONG TUNG continued to operate into the 1950s.
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. Illustrated below are an early Douglas steamer, thought to be the UNDINE of 1859 (Anthony J. Hardy colln) as well as a direct descendant, the HAI-MUN of 1896 (James Adamson coll., University of Glasgow).
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. The photograph shown below, from company sources, is of their tug KOWLOONDOCKS and other vessels salvaging the Dutch-flag TJIBANTJET in May 1958.
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 two ships illustrated below are HCMSC steamers in the river at central Canton. The first, taken by Sylvester Dutton and Vince Michaels in 1863, shows the New York-built wooden paddle steamer WHITE CLOUD which operated in the Pearl River delta until lost in a typhoon in 1874. The second shows the refitted FATSHAN of 1887 making a winter morning arrival in the early 20th century. The vessel is still underway but sampans are already jostling for positions alongside (SK*).
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 route was subsequently covered, amongst others, by the Transpacific ships of Dollar Line and then American President Lines. The vessel shown below in a trials photograph from the James Adamson Collection, University of Glasgow is ESMERALDA, built for CMSSC in 1891. A time line and illustrated fleet list are contained in the PDF file at right.
Pearl River ferries 1830 to 1883-This PDF is a detailed, illustrated list of Pearl River steam vessels to 1883, such as RIVER BIRD, a U.S. flag-vessel that operated in 1855-56 (FEER) and SHAMROCK, a British-flag ship which operated in the Pearl River in 1858-59, though is depicted earlier in Australia (NLA).
Pearl River ferries 1884 to 1941-The next PDF is an illustrated list with details, as far as known, of ferries in the Pearl River from 1884 until the post-August 1937 Japanese takeover of Hong Kong and South China (with the exception of Macao, which remained neutral). The rapid expansion in the early 20th century resulted in the two postcard scenes below. Shown impressively in the river at Canton is the CHARLES HARDOUIN, built in France in 1903 and one of a number of similar craft which were introduced from this time. The second image shows the Pearl River ferry wharves at Sheung Wan on the West Praya on Hong Kong island. Ferries sailed from here to Canton, the West River on the other side of Canton, and Macao. The white hulled ferry in the foreground is FOOK ON, rebuilt in 1924 from an earlier vessel. The vessel on the other side with the prominent funnel is WING ON of 1914.
Pearl River ferries 1945 to 1996-The third PDF in this consecutive coverage covers the period after World War II. At first there was a partial revival of sailing of passenger ferries from Hong Kong to Canton and other ports in Kwangtung province, but such travel was severely limited after 1949, and in the Pearl River Macao became the main destination from Hong Kong. This has developed into quite a thriving passeger trade, but all sailings are now by smaller fast ferries which we have not ventured to cover. The final sailings by larger vessels were by LO SHAN in 1992 and the two 1136 grt vessels of Hong Kong Hi-Speed Ferries in 1996. Illustrated first below is the TAKSHING, built in 1924, which lasted until 1974 (SK*). The second photo, taken in April 1966, shows the large ferry MACAU departing Hong Kong for Macao, as it is spelt in English (Noel Brown/Rex Cox). The third photo shows the Hi-Speed Ferry JU KONG which operated from 1985 until 1996 when it was sold to the Philippines (Donald Anderson).
Hong Kong-Near North is a list of the companies and ships apart from Douglas which operated from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Swatow, Amoy and Foochow. In the final part of this list, we add the colorful passenger ships which operated between Hong Kong and Shanghai in the period 1979 to about 2005. Below are three appetisers for photos included in the PDF file. The first, from a 1933 painting by Vera Southby, shows Swire's SHENGKING at Weihaiwei. Late in 1949 the ship was displaced from the Shanghai-Tientsin route and operated Hong Kong-Swatow, and then Hong Kong-Keelung until 1955. The second shows the small Honduras-flag LILY which in 1951 unsuccessfully tried to run the Nationalist blockade but was taken to Taiwan as shown, never to return. Third is HAI XING which sailed on a regular schedule between Hong Kong and Shanghai from 1981 until 1996 (Donald Anderson photo).
Sverre Berg, Thoresen & Co. and the long-lived m.v. Kurimarau-In the PDF file at right is the story of the shiping activities of Norwegian Sverre Oddmund Berg who arrived in Hong Kong in 1916. Berg became General Manager of the Hong Kong Branch of Thorsen & Co in 1920, In 1926 he became part-owner of the small passenger liner LAMA, which was completing refit at Hongkong & Whampoa Dock after conversion from turbine steamer to motor vessel. In 1928 Berg registered Berg & Co. Ltd in Hong Kong (#793) and nine months later resigned from Thoresen & Co. Shortly afterwards, the ship, now named SVALE, was transferred to Skibs A/S Nidareid under his sole management and placed on charter to inaugurate a new line between Macao and Portuguese Timor. After World War II Berg moved to Australia and, amongst other activities operated the long-lived Hong Kong-built 297-grt motorship KURIMARAU. Below, taken from the internet, is a photograph of SVALE taken at Macao.
Shun Cheong S.N. Co was an operator in the trade south from Hong Kong as far as Singapore. A short history of Shun Cheong S.N. Co. written by Howard and a fleet list with a numerous illustrations of the ships is in the PDF at right. Below are two post-World War II Shun Cheong ships. First is TAIPOOSEK, acquired in 1955 from China Navigation Co. and photographed in Hong Kong (Tom Rayner). Next, taken by John Nunn from a Macao ferry in August 1978 is TAIFOOKSHAN, formerly AGNETE MAERSK. This company's last two ships were withdrawn in 1983, in effect concluding conventional regular steamship services which had lasted ninety years (refer the fleet list of Marty and D'Abbadie in the Overseas section).
'TJI-' '芝-' ships of the Java-China-Japan Line (JCJL) and its successor Royal Interocean Lines (RIL)
In response to a request on the site's blog, we are including below a few mostly unpublished photos of TJI- ships of the JCJL and its successor, RIL, both of which served Hong Kong and other ports in China and the region during the 20th century. 'Tji' is a word for 'river' in Javanese. TJILUWAH was in its finest hour when it delivered the new Governor, Sir David Trench, to Hong Kong on 14 April 1964, and relevant photographs are included.
One of the first TJI- ships was JCJL's TJILATJAP of 1903, shown below. The ship, registered at Batavia, and of course, flying the flag of the Netherlands, was built by Sir Raylton Dixon & Co. at Middlesbrough and was equipped with a triple expansion steam engine able to propel the ship at 10 knots. This photo was taken in Japanese waters by A.J. Kentwell (b.1901) on about 6 July 1920 from the faster passenger ship ST. ALBANS. Both vessels were sailing towards the port of Kobe. The white diamond in the centre of the funnel and houseflag bear the letters 'JCJL'.
JCJL's largest vessel by tonnage was the TJITJALENGKA 芝渣連加, a passenger ship of 10,972 gross tons, completed by the Nederlands Dock & Shipbuilding Co. at Amsterdam in 1939, and powered by a Stork diesel delivering 15 knots. The vessel was initially registered at Batavia, and later at Amsterdam. After serving as a hospital ship during World War II, she became part of the Far East-Africa-South America service of RIL in 1947, after the merger with the NV Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM). The photograph below, taken at Yokohama on 12 December 1967 by Toshio Shigekawa, shows the ship a few months before it was withdrawn and the passenger service terminated. The marking at the centre of the funnel and the houseflag now bears a crown, reflecting the 'Royal' title bestowed on the owners by Queen Wilhelmina.
A vessel replacing TJITJALENGKA on a former KPM/Javalijn route was the new TJILUWAH 芝利華 of 1951. Built by Van der Giessen at Krimpen near Rotterdam, she was powered by two Werkspoor diesels delivering a service speed of 15 knots. From 1960 she and her almost identical sister TJIWANGI 芝萬宜 ceased calls in Indonesia and Singapore and now called at Australian east coast ports, as well as occasionally ports in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. The photograph below was taken at Sydney by David Kirby on 28 April 1961, and it has been provided to us by Russell Priest. The photo was previously published in shipspotting.com, and shows the ship at perhaps her most attractive angle.
One of Hong Kong's most illustrious Governors, Sir David Clive Crosbie Trench GCMG MC DL (Chinese: 戴 麟 趾) chose to travel in the now white-hulled TJILUWAH for his first arrival at Hong Kong on 14 April 1964. The vessel entered the harbour through Ly-ee-moon passage and was escorted by no less than five Royal Navy vessels. At head was 'Ton' Class minesweeper HMS DUFTON, on the forward port quarter was HMS DARTINGTON and on the starboard quarter was HMS LANTON of the same class. On the port side and starboard side respectively were 'Ham' Class inshore minesweepers HMS CARDINHAM and HMS ETCHINGHAM, crewed by the RN Reserve. The next photograph below shows DARTINGTON slowly escorting TJILUWAH. Beneath, CARDINHAM and her crew can be seen next to the press boat. The photo on the right shows the crew on the departing USS SEMINOLE also paying close attention to TJILUWAH. Two fireboats sprouted water, a helicopter was flying overhead, a live broadcast on Hong Kong radio described the progress into the harbour of TJILUWAH and a 17-gun salute was fired from the foreshore.
TJILUWAH approached buoy A1 where the waiting party included RIL harbour craft TJILEKAS and TJI, the latter towing a small pontoon for mooring on the starboard side. These ships are a little difficult to see, so posted beneath are closeup photos of TJILEKAS and TJI, found on the Internet. Although both ships were based in Hong Kong, they were flying the ensign of the Netherlands.
After TJILUWAH was moored to the buoy through the bow centre hawserhole, the pontoon was affixed alongside, and the Governor's yacht THE LADY MAURINE approached and was moored alongside the pontoon.
Sir David took his first steps to disembark from TJILUWAH, waving to passengers and saluting the senior officer aboard THE LADY MAURINE, which then unfurled the Union Jack and departed for the shore.
This is the headline in the South China Morning Post the next day
The last 'TJI-' Passenger Ship
We jump to ten years later in 1974 when containers were replacing regular cargo-handling and travel by air had become cheaper than travel by sea. TJILUWAH and TJIWANGI had been popular passenger ships, but they were now being withdrawn from RIL service. The last 'TJI-' passenger ship was TJIWANGI, and she was photographed sailing from Yokohama on 8 January 1974 for Kobe, Keelung and Hong Kong where she would be handed to new owners. (The final photo below was taken by Ritsuo Ozawa.) It was a cold and gloomy day, but the sun was trying very hard to shine though the clouds. The last voyage by her final running mate NIEUW HOLLAND a few months later would arguably end a long history of Dutch-flag passenger shipping (as distinct from cruise shipping) in Asia. The last TJI- cargo ship was the little TJITARUM which was sold the following year.
Finally, though not TJI- ships, we present two views of beautiful N.V. Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd C3-pattern cargoliners under RIL charter in the early 1970s. First is WONORATI photographed by Peter Foxley in the Straits of Malacca. The silver-hulled ship was built in 1954 by Howaldtswerke in Hamburg and equipped with a M.A.N. 8250 bhp engine built by the shipyard delivering a service speed of 16 knots. She was sold out of the fleet by the Nedlloyd group in 1976.
Next is her sister WONOSOBO completed in 1955 by the Van der Giessen yard at Krimpen a/d Ijssel with a Sulzer diesel engine, also of 8250 bhp. She is shown below at Yokohama on 31 May, 1973 in a photo by Stephen. Sold in 1977 and renamed SAUDI PRINCE.