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King Line

History

This company is of considerable importance to the history of British merchant shipping. It was started as the first shipowning venture of the 26-year old Owen Crosby Philipps, who went on to become Lord Kylsant and to create the largest British shipping and shipbuilding empire ever seen, before it collapsed in 1931. In a case that has been compared with the recent conviction of Conrad Black, the equally arrogant Kylsant was charged and found guilty of raising fresh capital by concealing the truly shocking state of the Royal Mail Group’s finances and was sent to prison.

The King Alfred Steam Ship Co Ltd was formed in 1889 to own a ship of the same name. The business was managed by Philipps & Co. In 1893, the company name was changed to King Line Ltd and two single ship subsidiary companies were set up to buy two second-hand ships. The use of several nominal subsidiaries became the standard ship owning pattern for King Line. In the early years King Line frequently bought and sold existing ships, but the overall size of the fleet grew until it reached 10 tramp steamers by the outbreak of WW1. The company sold 2 ships and lost 6 during the war. After the war the fleet was rebuilt, mainly using war-standard ships. Philipps seems to have disposed of his interest in King Line at this time, as in 1923 the management of the firm was taken over by Dodd, Thompson & Co, led by Vernon Thompson, who was later to become chairman of Union-Castle.

King Line had 20 ships at the start of WW2, of which 14 were lost during the war. After the war the company again started to buy war-standard ships as replacements, but in 1948 King Line was bought by Union-Castle and the trading pattern changed. New, higher specification ships were bought to act as relief ships for cargo liner operations.

King Line had 11 ships in 1956, when the Clan and Union-Castle groups merged and Cayzer. Irving & Co became managers of the combined fleet. This led to the co-ordination and rationalisation of the network, which had a considerable impact on King Line. Its conventional cargo ships were sold or transferred within the Group but were gradually replaced by bulk carriers. The bulk carrier fleet peaked at 6 vessels, owned from 1975 to 1978, when one was sold, but was replaced by two tankers that were operated by another group company, Scottish Tankers Ltd. These two ships were sold in 1982 and 1985. The Cayzer family sold their last ship a year later.

Ships

King Alexander

King Alexander
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers King Line Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 1,451
Official Number 184628
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 8,255
Deadweight (DWT) 10859
Net Tonnage 5,148
Length 466 Ft 6"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 59 Ft 2"
Depth 27 Ft 11"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SA oil engine with 6 cylinders of bore 740mm and stroke 1,500mm
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 3,300 BHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Career Highlights

Date Event
14 February 1952 Launched
6 May 1952 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Clan Line Steamers Ltd 1959, change of owner to Hector Whaling Ltd 1963, change of name to Elli 2 and owner to Ilyssia Cia Naviera SA 1972, change of name to Bangkok 2 and owner to Bangkok Maritime Inc 1980. Taken to Gadani Beach 19 August 1982 for breaking by Ahmad Mercantile Ltd

King Alfred

King Alfred
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British Government
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder William Doxford & Sons Ltd,
Shipyard Sunderland
Country where built UK
Yard Number 534
Official Number 137268
Call Sign GCMX
Classification Society LLoyds Register
Gross Tonnage 5,272
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 3,188
Length 400 Ft
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft 4"
Depth 28 Ft 5"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 27", 44", 73" and stroke 48"
Engine Builder William Doxford & Sons Ltd,
Engine Builder Works Sunderland
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 3 single-ended boilers operating at 180 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 517 NHP
Maximum Speed 11

Additional Construction Information

  • 1 steel deck

Career Highlights

Date Event
26 June 1919 Launched
September 1919 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Act of War)
Service History Information Laid down for the British Government as War Azalea. Change of name to King Alfred and owner to King Line Ltd 1919. The vessel was hit on 4 August 1940 by torpedoes fired by German submarine U-52 that broke her in two. The bow section sank and the stern was later sunk by HMS Vanoc at position 56° 59' N, 17° 38' W. Details of those that lost their lives can be found on the Benjido Tower Hill website HERE.

King Charles

King Charles
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers King Line Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 1,556
Official Number 187593
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 8,224
Deadweight (DWT) 9506
Net Tonnage 5,034
Length 466 Ft 6"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 39 Ft 9"
Depth 27 Ft 11"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SA oil engine with 6 cylinders of bore 740mm and stroke 1500mm
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 3,300 BHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Career Highlights

Date Event
15 March 1957 Launched
25 June 1957 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Clan Line Steamers Ltd 1959, change of owner to Houston Line Ltd 1970, change of name to Aegis Might and owner to Cephissos Sg Co Ltd 1973, change of owner to Marmari Sg Corp Ltd 1976. Taken to Kaohsiung 27 July 1979 for breaking by Kao Yung Steel Enterprise Co.

King George

King George
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers King Line Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 1,557
Official Number 187694
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 8,224
Deadweight (DWT) 9506
Net Tonnage 5,034
Length 466 Ft 6"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 59 Ft 3"
Depth 39 Ft 9"
Draught 27 Ft 11"
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SA oil engine with 6 cylinders of bore 740mm and stoke 1500mm
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 3,300 BHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Career Highlights

Date Event
27 August 1957 Launched
19 December 1957 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Clan Line Steamers Ltd 1959, change of owner to Houston Line Ltd 1970, change of name to Eleni 2 and owner to Lemythou Cia Naviera SA 1972, change of name to Taichung 2 and owner to Hongkong Maritime Inc 1980. Taken to Kaohsiung 26 September 1982 for breaking by Swie Horng Steel Enterprise Co

King Henry

King Henry
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers King Line Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 1,587
Official Number 300806
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 6,119
Deadweight (DWT) 9401
Net Tonnage 3,330
Length 460 Ft 6"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 59 Ft 3"
Depth 39 Ft 9"
Draught 25 Ft 9"
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SA oil engine with 6 cylinders of bore 740mm and stroke 1500mm
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 3,300 BHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Career Highlights

Date Event
15 August 1958 Launched
5 December 1958 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Clan Line Steamers Ltd 1959, change of owner to Houston Line Ltd 1970, change of name to African Lion and owner to Grandmar Cia Naviera SA 1972, change of name to Kladitis Emmanuel and owner to Grifos Maritime Co SA 1981, change of name to Verbier and owner to Verbier Sg Ltd 1983. Taken to Gadani Beach 14 April 1983 for breaking by Amin Steel Co.

King James

King James
Click image for enlarged view

Note: The Allens classified this vessel under King Line but there is no direct evidence to confirm this. Nevertheless Theshipslist website includes King James in the King Line fleet so I have left it here.

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British Motorship Co. Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder D & W Henderson & Co.
Shipyard Glasgow
Country where built UK
Yard Number 691m
Official Number 148705
Call Sign GDZM
Classification Society Lloyds Register
Gross Tonnage 5,122
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 3,118
Length 400 Ft 3"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 59 Ft
Depth 25 Ft 9"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SCSA oil engine with 6 cylinder of bore 29 1/2" and stroke 59 1/16"
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff
Engine Builder Works Glasgow
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details Double-ended boiler operating at 100 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 489 MN
Maximum Speed 9.5

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 decks and 3rd deck in No 3 hold
  • Cruiser stern
  • Corrugated sides

Career Highlights

Date Event
8 May 1925 Launched
28 November 1925 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Peacetime)
Service History Information The vessel was originally ordered by Petersen & Co and was to be named River St. Lawrence (according to TheShipsList.com) or Ottawa River (according to Miramar) but was sold on the stocks to British Motorship Co. Ltd and completed as King James. Change of owner to Scottish SS Co Ltd 1936, change of name to Sophoclyve and owner to Constantin Atychides 1950, change of owner to Cia Oceanica de Transportes SA. The vessel foundered at approximate position 15° 57' N, 56° 09' E on 8 August 1960 whilst en route from Mormugao to the Netherlands with a cargo of ore.

King Malcolm

King Malcolm
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers King Line Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 1,450
Official Number 184575
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 8,258
Deadweight (DWT) 10876
Net Tonnage 5,138
Length 466 Ft 6"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 59 Ft 2"
Depth 27 Ft 11"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SA oil engine with 6 cylinders of bore 740mm and stroke 1500mm
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd.
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 3,300 BHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Career Highlights

Date Event
29 November 1951 Launched
29 February 1952 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Clan Line Steamers Ltd 1959, change of owner to Hector Whaling Ltd 1963, change of name to Kanaris and owner to Soloi Cia Naviera SA 1972, change of name to Dimitra K. and owner to Dimitra Sg Co 1980. Laid up at Chittagong October 1981 and taken to Faujderhat Beach for breaking July 1983.

King Robert

King Robert
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British Government
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 1,165
Official Number 168522
Call Sign BFDW
Classification Society Lloyds Register
Gross Tonnage 6,981
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 4,164
Length 432 Ft 9"
Overall Length 447 Ft
Breadth or Beam 56 Ft 3"
Depth 34 Ft 3"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Diesel Engine
Engine Details 4SCSA oil engine with 6 cylinders of bore 29 1/8" and stroke 59 1/16"
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 2 double-ended boilers operating at 150 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 490 MN
Maximum Speed 11.5

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 decks and cruiser stern
  • Fitted with radio direction finding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
23 September 1942 Launched
17 March 1943 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Completed for the British Government as Empire Grange. Change of name to King Robert and owner to King Line Ltd 1946, change of name to Ardgem and owner to Mullion & Co Ltd. 1961, change of name to Kelso and owner to Kelso Sg Co Ltd 1967. Taken to Kaohsiung for breaking 2 September 1969.


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