Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/877

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855
STEAMSHIP LINES


1909. New twin-screw steamships of much greater tonnage than any they had hithertofore owned were constructed for the mail service to South America, and an extension was made into the tourist and cargo trade to Morocco, Madeira and the Canary Islands by the purchase of the old-established Forwood Line. Part of the fleet of the Shire Line to the Far East was also acquired. But the great development took place at the beginning of 1910, when the directors made the startling announcement that they had purchased the whole of the share capital of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company—a business established in Liverpool only a year after the grant of their own royal charter. This absorption brought some forty ships—many of them modern twin-screw steamships of a high class—into the fleet, which was then placed amongst the big lines of the world. Another move was made when Sir Owen Philipps joined Lord Pirrie in organizing a company to take over the numerous enterprises of Sir Alfred Jones. The West India Line steamers leave Southampton for the West Indies every fort- night, and after calling at Cherbourg proceed direct to Barbadoes, thence to Jamaica and Colon, whence they proceed to Savanilla and other local ports. From Barbadoes, Trinidad, La Guaira, branch lines run to Demerara and the islands. The Brazil and River Plate Line comprises a fortnightly service of mail steamers to Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. The Shire Line steamers sail to the Far East every fortnight, as do those of the Islands service, whilst the Pacific Line despatches twin-screw passenger steamers and large cargo vessels alternate weeks from Liverpool to South American ports, besides maintaining local services up the West Coast. There are also cargo services to the West Indies and Mexico, and to the River Plate and intermediate ports.

Messageries Maritimes de France.—Originally known as the Messageries Imperiales, this company sprang from a land-transit undertaking. It received its first contract for the conveyance of oversea mails from the French government in 1851. It then extended its services to Italian, Greek, Egyptian and Syrian ports. In the following year it included Salonica in its itinerary. The occurrence of the Crimean War gave an increase to its fleet and a stimulus to its operations. For it was not only given the task of maintaining mail communication with the French forces in the Black Sea, but was largely entrusted by the government with the duty of transporting troops and stores to the seat of war. At that time it was a considerable purchaser of British tonnage. In 1857 it had the French mail contract to Algiers, as well as to the Danube and Black Sea ports, whilst in the same year a new mail contract for a service between Bordeaux and Brazil and the river Plate was granted to it. By this time it had, either afloat or under construction, a fleet of no less than fifty-four steamships of 80,875 tons. In 1 861 further employment was found for its vessels in the conveyance of the mail to India and China. By the year 1875 its fleet embraced 175,000 tons of shipping, and also employed a large number of chartered sailing vessels. It was at that time the largest steam shipping company in the world. It had already ceased to employ British shipbuilders and now constructed its own tonnage in its own yards. The extension of its services to Japan followed, and eventually it put forth branches which served Madagascar, Mauritius and Zanzibar, as well as Australian ports and the French colony of New Caledonia. Some of the steamers employed in the mail services to the Far East and South are of a very fine character. In 1909 its fleet traversed 1,019,046 marine leagues and carried 197,320 passengers and over a million tons of cargo.

Morgan Combination.—Under the head of the American Line it has been shown how a group of American capitalists acquired the Red Star, Inman and American lines, thus forming a body of shipping which embraced in the year 1901 about 167,000 tons of shipping tonnage, partly under the British and partly under the Belgian and American flags. Another company which drew its capital chiefly from the United States, though its vessels fly the red ensign, is the Atlantic Transport Company, registered under the British Limited Liability Acts in 1889. Its main service is between London and New York, and it is carried on by large and modern twin-screw steamships, several of which have been con- structed by Messrs Harland & Wolff of Belfast. These vessels range up to about 14,000 tons gross register, and though they carry large quantities of cargo and of cattle on the eastward voyage, also accommodate a number of passengers in their saloons. Through the connexion of this undertaking with Messrs Harland & Wolff as builders of their vessels, those American capitalists who were interested in the extension of United States interests on the North Atlantic and who purchased the share capital of the Leyland Line were brought into connexion with Lord Pirrie, the managing director of this ship-building firm, and through him approach was made to the managers ot the White Star Line in the year 1901. An offer for the purchase of this famous British line was put forward by the American syndicate, headed by Mr J. Pierpont Morgan. The managers of the White Star Company had not merely to consider what many experts believed to be a liberal offer. There was another factor in the situation present to their mind. The New York syndicate, besides having the control of the vessels of the American lines on the Atlantic, had, it was said, secured the management of the trunk lines of railway between the great producing districts of the Western states of America and the eastern seaboard. They were thus in a position to give to shippers from the United States the convenience of transit by a through bill of lading to embrace both the railway journey and the ocean voyage, and there was ground for the belief that if competition were allowed to ensue the British steamship companies—which from the nature of things could receive no corresponding support from the railways of the United Kingdom— might suffer very severely. The White Star Line accordingly threw in its lot with the American and Atlantic Transport Companies, and with the White Star Line went the Dominion Company—a line whose fine passenger vessels were constructed by Messrs Harland & Wolff, and whose management is largely influenced by the partners in that firm. The Dominion Line has services from Liverpool to Boston, Portland (Maine), and St Lawrence ports. The Norddeut- scher Lloyd and the Hamburg-American companies were approached by Mr Morgan with a view to their entering into the scheme; but though a working agreement was arranged, the German lines decided to preserve their separate existence. The Morgan combination was eventually incorporated at the end of September 1902 in New Jersey as "The International Mercantile Marine Company," with a capital of $120,000,000; and an agreement was come to with the British government, by which the British character of the British ships in it would be preserved. The combine controls about a million tons of steamships.

Navigazione Generate Italiana.—The union of the Florio and Rubattino lines in the year 1882 was the origin of this company. The Rubattino Line finally made Genoa its headquarters, while the Florio Line centred its business at Palermo, and had itself been largely strengthened by the absorption of the Trinacria Company of its own port. The coasting trade of Italy and Sicily, with services to various ports of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, occupies the great part of the company's fleet. But it also runs monthly lines from Genoa through the Suez Canal to Red Sea ports, and so to India and Hong-Kong. Towards the western ocean it has a service maintained in conjunction with that of another Italian company, La Veloce, to Brazil and the River Plate, whereby weekly departures are made from Genoa. In February 1901 a new line was opened by the sailing of the Italian Generate Company's steam- ship "Liguria"—a new Italian-built vessel of upwards of 5000 tons register—for New York. The object of this line, which is maintained by steamers of the Generate Company, aided by a similar number from the fleet of La Veloce, sailing once a week from Genoa via Naples, is to attempt to retain in Italian hands some of the large traffic which is carried on from these ports in the steamers of the Norddeutscher Lloyd, the Hamburg-American Line, the Cunard and White Star lines.

New Zealand Shipping Company.—This company was established in 1872 for the purpose of maintaining a passenger and cargo service between London and New Zealand. This was before the days when steam vessels could be used with commercial success in the long sea trade. At first it depended on chartered vessels, but gradually it acquired a fleet of fast clipper iron sailing-ships which reduced the voyage to 90 days. These vessels took out a large number of government emigrants between 1874 and 1882. In 1881 one of these ships inaugurated the frozen meat trade from New Zealand, thus opening up a business which has since grown to colossal proportions. The trade increased so rapidly that it was found impossible to conduct it by means of sailing ships, and in January 1883 the company despatched from London the chartered steamship "British King," of 3559 tons. This vessel accomplished the voyage in 50 days, but it was found necessary to diminish the passage to 45 days out and 42 home. Five steamers were therefore built to fulfil the requirements of the trade. The first of these, the "Tongariro," of 4163 tons, left England in October 1883. The company about this time received the contract of the New Zealand government for a monthly mail service, with a guaranteed time .of 45 days. The managers gradually eliminated all the sailing vessels from the fleet, and more recently replaced the original single-screw mail steamers with large modern twin-screws. In addition to passenger vessels the company owns several cargo boats, some of which are among the largest afloat. In the " Otaki " triple-screw vessel, added to the fleet in 1907, the company initiated a combination of reciprocating engines for using the high-pressure steam and turbines to make use of it subsequently. The company's ships sail from London, calling at Plymouth, Teneriffe, Cape Town, Hobart, on the way out, and sometimes at Montevideo or Rio and Teneriffe on the return voyage. Communication with the different ports of New Zealand, as well as to Australian ports, is carried out by the vessels of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.

Norddeutscher Lloyd.—To the enterprise of certain citizens in the city of Bremen this large business owes its existence. The originator was Herr H. H. Meier, who brought into line the various shipping interests of Bremen, and induced them to amalgamate into one company. The associations thus brought together were the Weser Haute Steamship Company, the Unter Weser and Ober Weser Steam Tug Companies and the Ober Weser Universal Shipping Insurance Association. The statutes of the new company were approved by the senate of Bremen on the 18th of February 1857. The original capital was 4,000,000 thalers, but soon after the formation of the new company great depression set in, owing to the commercial crisis in North America. More