TRAMP STEAMERS & LIBERTY GALLERY PLUS CANADIAN BUILT "FORTS"

Home
INTRODUCTION
HISTORICAL GUEST BOOK
CUNARD LINE
P & O and ORIENT LINERS
UNION-CASTLE LINE
ANCHOR LINE
BANK LINE
ELLERMAN LINES
GRAND OLD LADIES
BLUE FUNNEL
PORT LINE
CHRISTIAN SALVESEN
PUFFERS-"AULD REEKIE"
PORT OF LONDON-1962
SAGUENAY TERMINALS
"FAREWELL" UGANDA
BRITISH INDIA LINE
BULLARD KING'S NATAL DIRECT LINE
ZIM PICTORIAL
RFA TANKERS
BROCKLEBANK MEMOIRS
WHITE EMPRESSES
CLAN LINE
ELDER DEMPSTER
MANCHESTER LINERS
BLUE STAR GALLERY
ELDERS & FYFFES
CHRISTENSEN CANADIAN AFRICAN LINES (C.C.A.L.).
C.C.A.L. GALLERY
TRAMP STEAMERS & LIBERTY GALLERY PLUS CANADIAN BUILT "FORTS"
FREEDOM FREIGHTERS
TANKERS
CANADIAN NATIONAL S.S. GALLERY.
BOWATER GALLERY
HARRISON LINE (Mini Gallery)
THE THREE "DELS" & DELTA CRUISE LINES
MISC. CARGO ETC.
WEATHER SHIPS (BRITISH & NORTH AMERICAN)
RADIO OFFICER NOSTALGIA
R/O GALLERY
FOUR YEARS OF FUN WITH ANCHOR LINE by Ian Walker
"A SEAGOING SAGA" - Trevor Inman
ALAN SHARD - WARTIME MN REMINISCENCES
CAPT'N PETER ASHCROFT, EXPLOITS OF
SEA STORIES & OTHERS
AIME'S STORY & PICTORIALS
MEMOIRS OF A RADIO OFFICER
RELATED SITES

(INCLUDING 'FORT' GALLERY.)

tangistan.jpg
Courtesy Duncan Mackenzie - SM MAR/98

Based on an historical business concept that is virtually unheard of today with tight delivery schedules and limited profit margins some of Strick Line's vessels could have been considered 'tramps' in that often their next port of call would be transmitted to the vessel (in the wonderful days of the 'Radio Officer') to either deliver or pick up cargo as the trade advertisements would say 'under inducement'.
Here Strick Line's 7,400 grt steamship TANGISTAN was completed in 1950 by Readhead at North Shields.

johnholt.jpg
Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection - SM JULY/91

The counter-sterned JOHN HOLT was one of two ships of elegant design delivered to John Holt Line Ltd by Cammell Laird in 1946.

The distinction between a tramp and a cargo liner is a somewhat artificial one;  many of the ships built in post-war years for traditional tramp owners were well up to cargo liner standards, and indeed were often designed for charter to liner companies.  Equally well,  a rather basic tramp could fulfil many of the less exacting requirements of the liner company,  as was shown by the way in which such owners such as Ellerman,  Harrison and even Alfred Holt acquired war-surplus 'Liberties' and ran these on their regular services for many years.  The United States Lines used the 'American' series of Liberty ships for many years on the North Atlantic.

palmx.jpg
Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection - SM JULY/91

The United Africa Line,  predecessor of Palm Line,  took delivery of the NIGERIAN in 1948.

In the years before the First World War British ships made up well over half of the world's tonnage.   The bulk of the vessels flying the Red Ensign were ocean tramp steamers,  built in large numbers on the Clyde,  Tyne,  Tees and Wear,  and sedately plodding out to the Mediterranean,  South America or Australia with coal and bringing grain homewards.  Even though the marine internal combustion engine was begining to  mount it's challenge,  for many years it was unthinkable that a British tramp should be powered by anything but the British coal it almost invariably carried,  which was both readily and cheaply available.

registan.jpg
Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection - SM DEC/91

Effectively used as a 'tramp' for a large part of her career the REGISTAN - built by Redhead for the Strick Line- was regarded as the fastest of the Gulf traders,  achieving 19.69 knots on trials.  She became the STRATHANNA in 1978 and three years later,  the TSING LI ISLAND,  being broken up in 1987.

Surprisingly,  perhaps,  the number of post-war cargo liners powered by steam reciprocating engines is equivalent to the number built for tramp owners.  Most of these were ordered after the war to replace the heavy losses which the liner companies had sustained.  Unlike the tramp companies,  liner operators could not meet all the requirements with war surplus standard ships,  most of which lacked passenger accommodation or other special features the liner trade demanded.
The decision by Harrison Line to acquire a number of 'Liberty' steamers suggests that their requirements were not arduous, and this was confirmed by their choice of steam engines for four post-war newbuildings:  CRAFTSMAN (1947/6,725 grt) and LINGUIST (1947/6,736 grt) from Lithgows and CROFTER (1951/8,377 grt) and FORESTER (1952/8,377 grt) from Redheads.

tramp3.jpg
Courtesy Laurence Dunn Collection - SM JUNE/91

The propeller of  Trader Navigation's stately SUSSEX TRADER thrashes the water as she undertakes her trials in this view dating from 1947.

Vastly different circumstances prevailed after the First World War - the rapid emergence of the Scandinavian owned motor ships as competitors,  the increased price and the difficulty of obtaining coal,  especially during the industrial unrest of the late 1920s,  and the virtual ending of the Black Sea trade following the Russian revolution.  Yet most British owners continued to behave as if nothing had changed,  particularly in the engine room.  There were honourable exceptions,  particularly Owen Phillips - later to achieve some notoriety as Lord Kylsant - whose King Line began to build up a fleet of motor tramps in 1925.   But before they would contemplate changing their ways most tramp shipowners needed another dozen years of depressed trading conditions and the promise of a diesel engine as reliable and sturdy as their beloved triple expansion engines.
This is not to say that there were no improvements made to the design of the marine steam engine:  a coal-fired tramp built towards the end of the 1930s burnt as little as half or even a third of the coal consumed by an equivalent vessel from 1914. 

tramp1.jpg
Courtesy Alan Spedding - SM DEC/91

The Panamanian registered motor vessel WAVE CREST  (1968/8,972 grt),  the oldest of the SD14 still in service at the time,  seen arriving at Falmouth for dry-docking on May 11th, 1989.

The engine that at last began to convince the British tramp owner and his advisers that diesels offered a realistic alternative emerged in the last years of the 1930s,  the Doxford three-cylinder opposed-piston two stroke.  There were,  perhaps,  just as good engines available from other manufacturers,  but Doxfords persuaded marine superintendents that here was an engine that whilst far more economical than steam - was just as robust,  reliable,  easily maintained and simple to operate.
The Second World War  undoubtedly held back the advance of the motor tramp.  Once the emergency building programme got under way the emphasis was on numbers,  not on economy,  speed or sophistication of the power plant.  The limiting factor was the capacity of marine engineering works,  which were still largely geared to building steam engines, and so of the 275 basic ocean going cargo ships built with 'Empire' names,  only 39 were motor vessels.  Across the Atlantic even more steamers were being built:  the 'Forts' and 'Parks' in Canada and the 'Oceans' in the USA,  plus,  of course,  the vast numbers of 'Liberties',  which were to a basically similar design.

tramp.jpg
Courtesy Alan Spedding - SM DEC/91

Liverpool's famous waterfront provides an impressive background to this view of the 1943-built Liberian-flag Liberty ship WHITEHORSE and local tug WILLIAM LAMEY.

With large numbers of these recently built steamers coming on the market in the early post-war years,  it is surprising that owners would need to build anew but build they certainly did,  and at least 50 tramp steamers were completed in British yards up to 1959.
British-flag companies operated by London-based Greeks were avid users of war-built steamers,  especially the Canadian 'Forts' and 'Parks',  but some also invested in new steamers.   Michalinos,  for example,  whose Maritime Shipping & Trading Company took delivery of the STRATIDORE (Grey, 1949/4,768 grt),  APPLEDORE (Grey, 1953/5,843 grt) and GEORGIDORE (Readhead, 1954/8,063 grt); and Lykiardopoulo,  whose Drake Shipping Co. Ltd took the MERCHANT DUKE  (Grey, 1951/5,891 grt).

The name of William Gray and Co. of West Hartlepool figures prominently amongst the builders of post-war steamers,  and one particular group from this yard is of particular interest in being the only manifestation of 'boilers-on deck'.   This type of ship was devised in Scandinavia in the early 1930s, being built in some numbers by A/S Fredrikstads M/V.   Placing the boilers above the engines saved considerabale space which could then be devoted to cargo carrying,   a gain of 6 to 10 percent being claimed.   A further benefit was felt by the firemen on coal-burners,  as ventilation and lighting could be much improved when the boilers were placed higher.  But,  as with many improvements to the design of the steamer,  British owners and builders largely disdained the 'boilers-on-deck' type.  The first British order for the design came from a relative newcomer to shipowning,  the Dene Shipping Co. Ltd., which was formed at Cardiff in 1937 to take over the assets of a number of single ship companies.

tramp4.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

John Readhead and Sons Ltd. of South Shields completed the BASKERVILLE (above) in 1954 to be principally engaged in the trans-Atlantic newsprint trade.

The Gray built ELMDALE (1939/4,853 grt) was torpedoed in June of 1941,  but following the war,  Dene Shipping returned to this builder for 5 sister ships: MARDENE and RIODENE  (both 1947/4,882 grt).  AVONDENE  (1948/4,953 grt),  EXDENE  (1951/4,908 grt) and HALLINDENE (1952/4,928 grt).  When ordering these ships Dene had in mind the South American grain trade.   For relatively light cargoes such as barley and oats,  and outward cargoes such as coke,  the high cubic capacity which a 'boilers-on-deck' ship could provide was more important than a large deadweight capacity.   Two other UK owners ordered similar ships from Grays - Metcalfe Shipping's DUNELMIA  (1952/4,907 grt) and Silver Line,  whose SILVERBURN  (1952/5,023 grt) was the last of the 'boilers-on'deck' type built in Britain.

tramp5.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

Above, the MARGAY was built by Bartram & Sons Ltd., Sunderland,  for Kaye, Son and Co Ltd. in 1946.

Another recent newcomer to shipowning notable for its loyalty to steam was Irish Shipping Ltd,  set up in 1941 in response to neutral Eire's desperate need for ocean-going ships.  The aged and war-weary survivors of the fifteen ships which made up their original fleet  (one of which had been built as long ago as 1884)  were disposed of  by 1949 and a start made in modernising.   William Gray delivered their first new ships,  the small steamers IRISH ROSE and IRISH WILLOW  (both 1948/1,923 grt) and played a large part in the subsequent programme,  which comprised  IRISH PINE (Readhead, 1948/5,048 grt), IRISH CEDAR (Grays, 1949/5,627 grt), IRISH OAK (Readhead 1949/5,077 grt),  IRISH PLANE (Grays, 1949 5,768 grt),  IRISH HAZEL (Grays, 1950 5,366 grt) and IRISH ELM (Grays, 1953 5,828 grt).
None of these steamers enjoyed a long life under the Irish flag.   The two small ships were sold to Finland in 1954,  and in 1959 and 1960 the two Redhead-built steamers were re-engined with diesels.  The four Gray-built ships were not considered suitable for conversion and after 1958,  when the IRISH CEDAR was laid up at Dublin,  they were quickly sold off.

tramp6.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

Readheads built the engines-aft RUSHWOOD for Wm. France Fenwick in 1953.

The last tramp owner to maintain faith with the steam was H. Hogarth and Son Ltd.,  an operator who had long experience in steam.   Between 1954 and 1956 four different yards built 6 steamers for the Baron Line fleet:  BARON INVERCLYDE  (Redhead, 1954/5,479 grt) and very similar to the IRISH PINE and IRISH OAK  (from the same yard),  BARON ARDROSSAN  (Pickersgill, 1954/5,254 grt),  BARON GLENCONNER (Caledon, 1955/5,468 grt),  BARON OGILVY (Readhead, 1956/5,471 grt) and BARON BERWICK (Readhead, 1956/5,471 grt).

tramp8.jpg
Courtesy Roy enton - SM JUNE/91

The Hain S.S. Co Ltd's TREGENNA was another Readhead product,  being completed in 1949,  one of three steamers delivered to the company that year.

Even these fine looking ships (which were almost identical externally to a group of seven motor vessels which succeeded them)  were not quite the swan song of the tramp steamer.   As late as May of 1959 the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., delivered the USKBRIDGE  (3,611 grt) for the North African trade of Richard Jones and Co. Ltd,  Newport.   This small company had not taken delivery of any new ships for over twenty years and saw no reason to change from the steam reciprocating engine which had served them well.   The engines were, to an extent,  innovative in that they were not triple expansion but of a four cylinder compound type (in other words, the steam expanded just twice rather than three times) designed in Germany by Christiensen and Meyer.

tramp7.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

The handsone flushed-decked steamer RAMSEY was built by Smiths Dock for the Bolton S.S. Co Ltd. in 1952.

Despite the great British lead in steam reciprocating engines,  German engineers had taken the design of such machinery further.   Their big express liners built immediately before the First World War had the biggest marine steam reciprocating engines ever,  designed while their British competitors were exploiting the steam turbine's greatest power potential.  High boiler pressures,  exhaust turbines,  high speeds and poppet valves were all German contributions to the refinement of the steam engine,  but like the Christiensen and Meyer engine,  these were adopted tardily and reluctantly even by those British owners whose faith in the steam engine was greatest.  It is hard to escape the conclusion that it was familiarity and tradition that kept the steam engine at sea in British tramp steamers for so long.

tramp9.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

This lively trials view of the IRISH PINE was taken in 1948,  the year of her completion by Redhead's.

tramp11.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

The Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. Ltd delivered the impressive engines-aft steamer USKBRIDGE to Richard Jones and Co. Ltd,  Newport in 1959 - the last of the British flag deep sea tramp steamers

tramp10.jpg
Courtesy Roy Fenton - SM JUNE/91

H. Hogarth & Sons Ltd took delivery of the BARON OGILVY in 1956,  almost the last of a long line of steam ships built for the Glasgow-based company.

...............ooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo...................

LIBERTY GALLERY

liberty1.jpg
Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM April/98

The ARCHANAX (1943/7198 grt ex -FINNBORG, ex-BROTT, built as A. FRANK LEVER)  was photographed above at Vancouver in June of 1959.  She was broken up in Kaohsiung in 1968 as MISTRAL

liberty2.jpg
Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM Aug/98

The SENATOR (1943/7219 grt,  built as the SAMBAY).  She was managed by Glen Line during the war years,  purchased by T & J Harrison in 1947 and renamed SENATOR.  Photographed here arriving at Durban in the early 1960s.  She became the Greek AJAX in 1964 and was broken up at Kaohsiung in 1968.

liberty3.jpg
Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM Aug/98

The ANIA (1944/7176grt, built as the  GEORGE A. MARR) is photographed above in the 1950s.  Sold to Greek owners in 1947, she became the STATHES J. YANNAGHA.  In 1964, as the GRAMMATIKI, she sank after developing leaks on a voyage from Tacoma to Taiwan with a cargo of scrap metal.

liberty4.jpg
Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM Aug/98

Above, the ALEXANDROS-KORYZIS  (1944/7207 grt) was built as the I.N.VAN NUYS and was here photographed sailing from Preston in the early 1960s.  After being laid up since 1977 she was broken up at Split, Yugoslavia,  in 1985.

liberty5.jpg
Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM Aug/98

Above, the PANAGHIA KYKKOU (1943/7199GRT, built as the JEROME K. JONES) was photographed in the Kiel Canal July 1969.  She was badly damaged by stranding as the Norwegian VINDAFJORD in 1950, and became the Greek owned GLADIATOR in the 1950s.  In 1962 she grounded off Constantza as the Yogaslav SOLTA.  In 1968 she arrived at Split for demolition, but was then sold for further trading to Troodos, as pictured, and was finally broken up at Karachi in 1972.

liberty6.jpg
Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM Aug/98

The ARANELLA (1944/7176 grt, ex SILVER FISH, SILVER WAKE, ENTERPRISE built as CHARLES DAURAY), photographed off Portishead in March of 1967.  She was broken up at La Spezia in 1969.

....................ooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo....................

SOME CANADIAN BUILT 'FORTS'. - The ultimate tramper!

fortassinaboine.jpg
FORT ASSINNIBOINE - Author's File

fortconnolly.jpg
FORT CONNOLLY - Author's File

fortgrant.jpg
FORT GRANT - Author's File

fortstfrancois.jpg
FORT ST. FRANCOIS - Author's File

fortsturgeon.jpg
FORT STURGEON - Author's File

forttremblant.jpg
FORT TREMBLANT - Author's File

hmsbeachyhead.jpg
HMS BEACHYHEAD - Author's File

xforts1.jpg
Author's File

forts2.jpg
Author's File

PLEASE SCROLL TO THE TOP FOR ANOTHER SELECTION

Enter supporting content here