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Port Line

History

Port Line was started in 1914 as the Commonwealth and Dominion Line Limited (CDL) by the merger of the following shipping lines:

  • James P Corry & Co – Star Line
  • Thos B Royden & Co – Indra Line
  • William Milburn & Co – Anglo-Australasian S N Co

The four companies contributed a total of 25 ships. Tyser's houseflag was adopted as the flag for the new company and Milburn’s policy of using ship names starting with the word 'Port' was applied to the entire fleet. The company's main trading routes were from the UK to Australia and New Zealand.

CDL ships were mainly employed transporting food cargoes during WW1, in the course of which, 7 were sunk by enemy action and a further 6 through collisions. Cunard bought the company in 1916 and gave it the extremely unwieldy name of Cunard Line Australasian Services, Commonwealth & Dominion Line Limited, but not surprisingly it soon became known as Port Line. (The company formally became Port Line Ltd in 1937) Cunard funnel colours were adopted in 1919.

To replace the war losses 13 steamships were ordered, of which 7 were steam-turbine powered. In 1925 the company took delivery of its first two motor ships. These were so successful that all subsequent orders were for motor ships. Over a period of 5 years, the company carried most of the material used to build Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was opened in 1932. In 1922, Port Line joined in a Conference style agreement with New Zealand Shipping Company and Shaw Savill & Albion to regularise the New Zealand trade. Blue Star Line joined later. During the 1930/32 Depression, trade was greatly reduced, but the Commonwealth Preference scheme provided a continuing baseline activity and only 2 Port Line ships were laid up. In 1936, Ellerman & Bucknall, New Zealand Shipping Company and Port Line took over the Canadian National Steamships Line's Australasian services. The three companies formed a partnership that traded as the MANZ Line (Montreal, Australia and New Zealand).

During WW2, Port Line lost 13 of its 28 ships; one of the losses was Port Napier which had been converted to a mine layer. It blew up with 400 mines on board but amazingly there was no loss of life. Another loss was Fort Stikine, one of 8 ships managed for the government by Port Line. In 1944 its cargo of 1,400 tons of explosives blew up in Bombay, with over 700 killed, 1,000 missing, about 2,500 injured and 10 other ships destroyed in the explosion.

After the war a major rebuilding programme was undertaken and by the end of the 1950s Port Line had 31 ships, plus 3 more on time-charter. Port Line, Blue Star, New Zealand Shipping Company and Shaw Savill & Albion formed Crusader Shipping Co Ltd in 1957 to trade between New Zealand, the Far East and the Pacific Coast of North America.

In 1966, Port Line, Blue Star, Ben, Harrison and Ellerman formed Associated Container Transportation Ltd and the run-down of conventional cargo services began. In 1970 Cunard Cargo Shipping Services Ltd was formed to allocate ships within the Cunard group to any trade that was suitable for non-containerised vessels.

Trafalgar House Investments Ltd took over Cunard in 1971 and in the subsequent reorganisation the Port Line fleet entered into a rapid decline. At the start of 1972, Port Line owned 18 ships, but during the year 9 ships were sold. By 1977 the fleet was down to 5 ships, but by 1979 only two ships remained and these were laid up from time-to-time in the Fiver Fal. In 1981 these final two ships were transferred to Brocklebank (a Cunard subsidiary since 1919) and Port Line came to an end. The two transferred ships were sold in 1983.

Ships

Vessel Type Launched/Completed Tonnage DWT Builder
Port Adelaide Cargo / Passenger 700,000 G. 1919 Gross: 8400 Net: 5300 11600 Hawthorne, Leslie & Co. Ltd. Hebburn
Port Adelaide Cargo 247,080 G. May 1951. Yard No: 705 Gross: 8114 Net: 4552 10650 R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & co. Ltd. Newcastle
Port Albany Cargo 361,000 R. Nov 1965. Gross: 6081 Net: 2669 Caledon Shipbuilding & Eng Co., Dundee
Port Alfred Cargo / Passenger 241,040 G. March 1961. Yard No: 1630 Gross: 9044 Net: 5034 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port Alma Cargo 183,040 G. 17/09/1928. Yard No: 1341 Gross: 8419 Net: 4953 10859 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Auckland Cargo 571,520 G. April 1949. Yard No: 705 Gross: 11945 Net: 6817 12017 R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & co. Ltd. Newcastle
Port Bowen Cargo 386,000 R. 1919 Gross: 8267 Net: 5110 11600 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Brisbane Cargo / Passenger 750,000 G. 11/10/1923. Gross: 8315 Net: 5077 11600 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Brisbane Cargo 249,711 G. Feb 1949. Yard No: 1763 Gross: 11942 Net: 6836 11950 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Burnie Cargo 1966 Gross: 6156 Net: 2722 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Port Campbell Cargo / Passenger 815,000 G. June 1922. Gross: 8303 Net: 5123 11600 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Campbell Cargo 650,219 G. March 1960. Yard No: 1124 Gross: 7683 Net: 3949 Lithgows Ltd. Port Glasgow
Port Caroline Cargo / Passenger 700,000 G. 1919 Gross: 8400 Net: 5300 11600 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Caroline No Info
Port Chalmers Cargo / Passenger 204,030 G. Dec 1933. Gross: 8717 Net: 5171 11584 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Chalmers Cargo 250,260 G. Oct 1967. A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Port Curtis No Info April 1920. Yard No: 447 Gross: 8321 Net: 5155 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Darwin Cargo 386,000 R. Jan 1918. Gross: 8179 Net: 5137 11600 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Denison Cargo 386,000 G. June 1918. Gross: 8191 Net: 5152 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Dunedin Cargo / Passenger 213,790 G. 12/03/1925.Yard No: 477 Gross: 7585 Net: 4362 9955 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Fairy Cargo / Passenger 191,610 G. Oct 1928. Yard No: 1339 Gross: 8406 Net: 4938 10692 Swan Hunter, Wallsend
Port Fremantle Cargo / Passenger 673,000 G. 1927 Gross: 8558 Net: 4900 10900 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Gisborne Cargo / Passenger 191,600 G. 30/04/1927. Gross: 8001 Net: 4952 10692 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Halifax Cargo 534,886 G. Nov 1937. Yard No: 1539 Gross: 5925 Net: 3243 9765 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Hardy Cargo / Passenger 386,000 R. Oct 1922. Gross: 8705 Net: 5431 11600 R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & co. Ltd. Newcastle
Port Hobart Cargo 249,261 G. Aug 1946. Yard No: 1188 Gross: 11149 Net: 6516 11595 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port Huon Cargo 184,130 G. 04/03/1927. Yard No: 1293 Gross: 8524 Net: 5204 10674 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Hunter Cargo / Passenger 750,000 G. 1922 Gross: 8826 Net: 5303 11600 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Invercargill Cargo / Passenger 246,870 G. March 1958. Yard No: 1565 Gross: 8847 Net: 4924 10391 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port Jackson Cargo 235,360 G. Nov 1936. Yard No: 1515 Gross: 9827 Net: 5707 10833 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Launceston Cargo 246,800 G. 21/11/1956. Yard No: 1534 Gross: 8959 Net: 5006 10391 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port Lincoln Cargo 199,150 G. Jan 1946. Yard No: 9707? Gross: 7248 Net: 4237 10480 Swan Hunter, Wallsend
Port Lyttelton Cargo 216,393 G. March 1947. Yard No: 685 Gross: 7413 Net: 4310 11040 R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & co. Ltd. Newcastle
Port Macquarie Cargo 364,578 G. Feb 1944. Yard No: 1685 Gross: 7329 Net: 4320 10663 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Montreal Cargo 418,380 G. Feb 1954. Yard No: 1482 Gross: 7179 Net: 3794 8251 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Govan
Port Melbourne Cargo / Passenger Feb 1954. Yard No: 1482 Gross: 7179 Net: 3794 8215 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Glasgow
Port Napier Cargo / Passenger 237,250 G. Sept 1947. Yard No: 1749 Gross: 11834 Net: 6764 11930 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Nelson Cargo 304,790 G. Nov 1951. Yard No: 1437 Gross: 8950 Net: 4928 10260 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port New Plymouth Cargo / Passenger 203,580 G. 29/03/1960. Yard No: 1899 Gross: 13085 Net: 7218 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Wallsend
Port Nicholson Cargo / Passenger 386,000 R. May 1919. Gross: 8402 Net: 5338 11300 R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & co. Ltd. Newcastle
Port Nicholson Cargo 225,021 G. Nov 1962. Gross: 13847 Net: 7771 14914 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port Phillip Cargo 224,940 G. March 1942. Yard No: 1609 Gross: 9947 Net: 5835 10966 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Wallsend
Port Pirie Cargo 194,190 G. Jan 1947. Yard No: 1609 Gross: 10535 Net: 6123 11210 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Wallsend
Port Quebec Cargo / Passenger 570,950 G. Nov 1939. Yard No: 593 Gross: 6777 Net: 3824 9602 J. L. Thompson & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Port St. Lawrence Cargo / Passenger 241,040 G. Oct 1961. Yard No: 1631 Gross: 9040 Net: 5018 10454 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Port Stephens Cargo 693,320 G. June 1944. Yard No: 629 Gross: 6597 Net: 3861 10376 J. L. Thompson & Sons. Ltd. Sunderland
Port Sydney Cargo 734,000 G 1913 Gross: 9136 Net: 5835 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Sydney Cargo / Passenger 671,509 G. 29/10/1954. Yard No: 1927 Gross: 9992 Net: 5455 Swan Hunter, Wallsend
Port Townsville Cargo 457,520 R. 21/05/1935. Gross: 8661 Net: 5228 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Newcastle
Port Townsville Cargo 316,260 G. Oct 1951. Yard No: 1809 Gross: 8681 Net: 4856 1090 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Wallsend
Port Victor No Info 1910??
Port Victor No Info 1943??
Port Vindex No Info
Port Wellington Cargo 386,000 R. 08/01/1924. Gross: 7868 Net: 4784 11300 Workman, Clark Ltd. Belfast
Port Wellington Cargo / Passenger 199,796 G. Sept 1946. Yard No: 625 Gross: 10588 Net: 6119 11100 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Port Wyndham Cargo 202,940 G. Jan 1935. Yard No: 541 Gross: 8702 Net: 5151 11452 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank


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