The Palm Line was a UK-owned shipping line that was engaged in the West African trade from 1949, primarily servicing the ports along 5,000 miles of coastline from Morocco in the north to Angola in the far south. It ceased trading in 1986.
|Type||Subsidiary of United Africa Company (UAC)|
|Founded||1911, as Southern Whaling and Sealing Company Ltd|
|Successor||Ocean Transport & Trading in 1985|
|Headquarters||UAC House, Blackfriars Road, London, United Kingdom|
|Northern Europe, West Africa and Mediterranean|
|Frank Samuel (First Chairman)|
Lord Cole, Chairman 1952-55
Palm Line was a member of both UK/West Africa Lines Joint Service (UKWAL) and Continent/West Africa Conference (COWAC) together with Elder Dempster, Black Star Line, Nigerian National Shipping Line, Guinea Gulf Line and Norwegian Hoegh Line.
In the post-war period of the late 1940s, UAC decided to divest its shipping fleet to become an independent company in its own right. On 16 February 1949, an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders was held to set up the new company. This was done by reviving the dormant articles of association of the old Southern Whaling and Sealing Company, which Lever Bros. had bought in 1919 then sold to Christian Salvesen Ltd in 1941, and changing the name to Palm Line.
The name of the new company had not been decided upon without considerable discussion. At one stage the name Sun Line had been put forward. It was Mr Frank Samuel, later to become the new company's first chairman who thought of the name 'Palm'.
It is notable that all Palm Line ships, with the exception of Kano Palm and Katsina Palm, built before 1970 had to be less than 500 feet (150 m) long in order to navigate the creeks of Nigeria. Draught is another important feature. The coast of West Africa is extremely flat, and the slow-moving rivers and tidal currents have combined to build up long sand bars a mile or two off the coast. To enter most of the rivers, ships must pass over these bars; 27 feet (8.2 m) being the maximum draught to serve all ports. Even so, to enter many rivers, - for example the Escravos River which leads to Sapele - ships cannot carry more than 4,000 tons since the maximum draught to successfully make it over the Escravos Bar is limited to 17 feet (5.2 m), so vessels would often cross over the bar at the entrance to the adjacent Forcados River, then take the connecting creek to the Escravos River.
It was common practice for all vessels to call in at Freetown both south- and northbound to take on both fuel bunkers and 'Krooboys' - additional local West African crew members; their duties being mainly chipping, painting and hold cleaning. They had their own separate accommodation on deck between hatches 1 & 2, with the headman having his own cabin in the fo'c'sle.
The early 1980s spelled the beginning of the end for Palm Line. From 1982 until 1986 the dramatic drop in Europe / West Africa trade meant the increasing need to charter the vessels out to third parties. Palm Line was sold to Ocean Fleets in 1986. The last Chairman of Palm Lines was Gordon Williams of Pontypool.
The palm tree emblem had already been used on a Unilever Ltd house flag designed in 1939.
Merseyside Maritime MuseumEdit
From Jun-Dec 2018 the museum had a temporary exhibition entitled 'Palm Line - A new company for a new era', with a scale-model of MV Matadi Palm (1970) as its centrepiece.
|Ship||Built||Shipyard & Ship Number||IMO Number||Speed (knots)||Type||GRT||Notes|
|MV Africa Palm||1953||Short Brothers, Pallion - 512||5004075||11||General Cargo||5,415||Sister ship to MV Burutu Palm (1953)|
|MV Africa Palm||1971||Warnowwerft, Warnemünde - 376||7125328||14||General Cargo||10,008||ex-Joruna; purchased from Johansen & Knutsen, Oslo in 1974
In 1983 chartered and renamed Santa Barbara Pacific, then reverted to Africa Palm later in 1983
|MV Akassa Palm||1958||Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack - 870||5006712||14||General Cargo||9,000||Sold in 1972 and renamed Elenma|
Sold in 1977 and renamed Ionian Sky
|MV Andoni Palm||1958||Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack - 869||5016391||14||General Cargo||9,000||Sold in 1976 to Panama and renamed Mastro Manolis|
Scrapped in Nov 1982
|MV Apapa Palm||1973||Stocznia Szczecińska, Gdańsk, Poland - 242||7305801||16||General Cargo||9,417||ex-MV Schauenburg.
Bought by Palm Line in 1977 from H. Schuldt (Hamburg) and renamed Apapa Palm.
She was fitted with a Sulzer two-stroke diesel engine.
She was one of a batch of six sister ships, two of which were the Shonga and Sherbro belonging to Elder Dempster Lines, part of Blue Funnel Line. The Ministry of Defence requisitioned both Shonga & Sherbro for duty in the Falklands War. At the time Apapa Palm was laid up in Antwerp.
In 1985 sold to Venezuelan owners and renamed General Salom
|MV Ashanti Palm||1947||Shipbuilders Corporation, Newcastle upon Tyne||n/a||10½||General Cargo||5,123||ex-Ashantian|
Powered by a 3-cyl engine from North-Eastern Marine Engineering Co (1938) Ltd (Wallsend).
|MV Badagry Palm||1956||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1928||5033521||14||General Cargo||5,042||Carried Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to London for the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference.|
Powered by a 4500bhp 4-cyl 2-stroke Doxford marine diesel
|MV Badagry Palm||1979||Sunderland Shipbuilders, North Sands - 741||7726873||16||General Cargo||12,279||She carried the very last Doxford ship engine ever built; the J-type.|
In 1985 she was taken over by UAC, who renamed her Badagry.
|MV Bamenda Palm||1956||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1926||5035440||14||General Cargo||5,154|
Sold in 1972 to Spetsai Shipping Co Ltd, Famagusta; renamed Lenio.
|MV Bamenda Palm||1979||Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan - 1294||7725843||16||General Cargo||11,223|
Built by Hyundai of South Korea in 1979.
In May 1984 she was chartered to Lloyd Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro and renamed Lloyd Texas, whilst in Middle Docks dry dock, South Shields. As Lloyd Texas she sailed from South Shields to Teesport, Middlesbrough to load cement for the new RAF runway in Ascension Island.
In 1985 she reverted to Bamenda Palm - from Lloyd Texas - and taken over by UAC.
The 1996 TV film Deadly Voyage was set on board MC Ruby
|SS Benin Palm||1936||Deschimag Seebeck, Bremerhaven - 896||n/a||General Cargo||5,424||ex-Ethiopian|
Sold in 1959 to Panama ( Panama) and renamed Faneromeni, but registered in Lebanon
|SS Burutu Palm||1936||General Cargo||5,424|
|MV Burutu Palm||1953||Short Brothers, Pallion||12||General Cargo||5,410||Sister ship to MV Africa Palm (1953)|
Sold in 1967 to Astrocid Naviera of Piraeus and renamed Tyhi
|SS Dahomey Palm||1937||Furness Shipbuilding Company, Haverton Hill||n/a||General Cargo||4,876||ex-Conakrian|
Sold in 1959 to Wallem & Co., Hong Kong and renamed Southern Mariner.
|MV Elmina Palm||1957||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1932||5102372||14||General Cargo||5,356||Powered by a 4500bhp 4-cyl Doxford 2-stroke marine diesel. The first British cargo ship to make extensive use of aluminium in her superstructure - which made an extra 55 tons available for cargo deadweight - and later Palm Line ships followed this design.
Unlike the other ships built during this period, she was not fitted with 'deep tanks' for the carriage of vegetable oil.
|MV Enugu Palm||1958||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1948||5104722||14||General Cargo||7,963||Sold in 1978 to Kuwait and renamed Athari|
|MV Gambia Palm||1937||Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG, Wesermünde - 571||n/a||General Cargo||5,452|
Laid down originally as MV Empire Tweed but completed as MV Gambian. Seized in 1941 by Vichy French forces at Dakar, Senegal. Renamed St Gabriel under the Vichy flag. Returned to Britain in 1943, and name returned to MV Gambian, then to MoWT and renamed Empire Tweed. Returned to United Africa Company Ltd in 1946 and again renamed Gambian. Sold in 1949 to Palm Line Ltd and renamed Gambian Palm. Sold in 1959 to E N Vernicos Shipping Co, Greece and renamed Irini’s Blessing, under the flag of Lebanon. Scrapped in July 1963 in Hong Kong.
|MV Ibadan Palm||1959||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1970||5157767||14||General Cargo||5,658||Sister ship of the Ilorin Palm. She had a 4500bhp 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine.|
In 1978 she was sold to Ali Khalifa Mirchandani Shipping Co, Kuwait; renamed Hind
|MV Ikeja Palm||1961||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1982||5158553||14||General Cargo||5,816||Sister ship of Ilesha Palm. She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine generating 4500bhp.|
In 1981 she was sold to Cia Naviera Pancarib SA, Piraeus; renamed GME Palma (registered her in Panama)
|MV Ilesha Palm||1961||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1984||5158785||14||General Cargo||5,816||Sister ship of the Ikeja Palm. She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine generating 4500bhp.|
In 1979 she was handed over in Bombay & sold to Chaldeos Freighters Ltd of Greece. The new owners registered her in Liberia and renamed her Daphnemar.
|MV Ilorin Palm||1960||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1972||5159105||14||General Cargo||5,658||Sister ship of the Ibadan Palm. She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine.|
In 1979 she was sold to new owners who registered her in Liberia and renamed her Diamant Captain.
|SS Kano Palm||1936||Howaldtswerke, Hamburg||n/a||General Cargo||5,129||ex-Guinean|
Sold in 1954 to Panama and renamed St.George, but registered in Greece
|MV Kano Palm||1958||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1946||5181342||14¼||General Cargo||8,734||Sister ship of the Katsina Palm (1957). Powered by a 5600bhp Doxford 5cyl 2-stroke marine diesel|
Sold in 1979 to Shanti Shipping (Singapore) Pte Ltd; renamed Purna Shanti
|MV Katsina Palm||1957||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1938||5183883||14¼||General Cargo||8,734||Sister ship of the Kano Palm (1958). Powered by a 5600bhp Doxford 5cyl 2-stroke marine diesel|
Sold in 1978 to Nan Chiao Shipping Pte Ltd, Singapore; renamed New Dragon
|SS Kumasi Palm||1943||Furness Shipbuilding Company, Haverton Hill - 351||n/a||General Cargo||7,221||ex-Kumasian|
Sold in 1960 to Panama and renamed Flower
|SS Lagos Palm||1947||Shipbuilders Corporation, Southwick - 11||5261271||General Cargo||5,047||ex-Lagosian|
In 1960 renamed Oguta Palm then sold in 1964 to Greece and renamed Heraclitos.
|MV Lagos Palm||1961||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1980||5202275||16||General Cargo||6,256|
Sister ship of the Lobito Palm.
|MV Lagos Palm||1982||Stocznia Szczecińska - 368||7822768||16||General Cargo||15,575|
1984 chartered to Lloyd Brasileiro and renamed Lloyd Rio
|MV Lobito Palm||1960||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1978||5210143||16||General Cargo||6,256|
Sister ship of the Lagos Palm (1961).
|SS Lokoja Palm||1947||Shipbuilding Corporation Ltd, Low Walker - 21||5210973||10½||General Cargo||5,122|
Ordered as Empire Birdsay for the MOWT.
|MV Lokoja Palm||1982||Stocznia Szczecińska - 371||7822770||16||General Cargo||15,576||Spent the majority of her short life with Palm Line chartered to the German company Woermann Line and renamed Wameru|
In 1984 chartered to Lloyd Brasileiro and renamed Lloyd Australia
|MV Makeni Palm||1951||Joseph L. Thompson and Sons, North Sands - 665||5218028||BVOC||ex-British Rover bought from British Petroleum in 1961 as a replacement for MV Opobo Palm|
Sold in 1967 to Panama and renamed Kerkennah.
|MV Makurdi Palm||1953||AG Weser Seebeckwerft, Bremerhaven - 743||5218080||BVOC||See MV Tema Palm|
|MV Matadi Palm||1948||Sir James Laing & Sons, Deptford Yard - 776||BVOC||6,246||ex-Matadian|
Sold for scrap in February 1963
|MV Matadi Palm||1970||Swan Hunter, Haverton Hill - 20||7025243||16||BVOC||13,700|
A purpose-built BVOC parcel-tanker 483 ft (147 m) in length, she carried refined vegetable oils, in up to 28 separate tanks, such as rape seed oil from northern Europe to West Africa, and returned with mainly unrefined palm oil or coconut oil.
She was built without double-bottoms for the cargo tanks, so although each tank had permanent steam coils installed - in order to maintain the oil at a constant carriage temperature of 96 °F (36 °C), with the temperature being raised to 110 °F (43 °C)-120 °F (49 °C) for discharge. This did not wholly compensate for the lack of a double-bottom and made discharging the unrefined oil in N.Europe during winter time more difficult. Getting the remainder of the expensive oil from the bottom of each tank was an arduous, manual and messy job called "puddling".
She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford (Type J) engine. Only 483 feet (147 m) long, but with 28 separate tanks to carry several small parcels of oil cargo, for example, groundnut oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil may be shipped in different grades.
|SS Mendi Palm||1936||Deschimag Seebeck, Bremerhaven - 898||General Cargo||5,419||ex-Leonian|
Sold in 1959 to Panama and renamed Rio Yape
|SS Niger Palm||1948||Furness Shipbuilding Company, Haverton Hill - 441||General Cargo||5,202||ex-Nigerian|
Sold in 1966 to Panama and renamed Triana, but registered in Liberia.
|MV Oguta Palm||1943||Furness Shipbuilders, Haverton Hill - 352||General Cargo||7,221||ex-Lafian|
Sold in 1960 to Aristidis SS Co, Piraeues and renamed Aristoteles
|MV Opobo Palm||1942||Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Neptune Yard, Low Walker - 1708||BVOC||6,083||ex-Congonian|
Sold 1961 to Windward Shipping Co., Hong Kong and renamed Winwar
|MV Sapele Palm||1954||AG Weser, Bremerhaven, Germany - 744||5313775||General Cargo||Sailed under the German flag & operated by a subsidiary company Ölhandel-und Transport-Gesellschaft|
In 1960 transferred to Palm Line (British flag), then in 1966 sold to Panama and renamed Capetan Georgis
|MV Takoradi Palm||1937||Deschimag Seebeck, Wesermünde - 572||General Cargo||5,452||ex-Takoradian.|
Sold in 1959 to Panama and renamed Irini's Luck, but registered in Lebanon.
|MV Tema Palm||1953||AG Weser Seebeckwerft, Bremerhaven - 743||5218080||BVOC||6,255||Sailed under the German flag & operated by a subsidiary company Ölhandel-und Transport-Gesellschaft|
1960 transferred to Palm Line (British flag) and renamed Makurdi Palm, then in 1969 sold to Peru and renamed Santamar.
|SS Volta Palm||1936||Howaldtswerke, Hamburg - 739||General Cargo||5,129||ex-Liberian|
Sold in 1954 to Finland and renamed Hermes
- Kohn, Roger (1970). Palm Line: The Coming of Age 1949–1970. London: Raithby, Lawrence and Company Ltd.
- New, Stephen R (2000). "Regeneration & Decline of British Trade & Shipping Interests in West Africa - Factors That Influenced the Operation & Design of Ships in the West African Trade between 1960 & 1985" (PDF). John Moores University, Liverpool. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- "MV Ashanti Palm (1947)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Badagry Palm (1956)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "Motor Vessel Badagry Palm". Sunderlandships.com.
- "Ship sinks off S.African coast". UPI.
- "MV Cordigliera". wrecksite.eu. 1986. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- "MV Bamenda Palm (1956)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "The shame remains but the crime scene has disappeared" (PDF). ship-breaking.com. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
- "MV Elmina Palm (1957)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Enugu Palm (1958)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Ibadan Palm (1959)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Ikeja Palm (1961)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Ilesha Palm (1961)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Ilorin Palm (1960)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Kano Palm (1958)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Katsina Palm (1957)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Lagos Palm (1961)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Lobito Palm (1960)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.
- "MV Opobo Palm (1942)". www.tynebuiltships.co.uk.