In yesterday's post I covered small reefer ships, generally concerned with fish exports. Today it is the turn for big ships. Big reefers are generally handsome ships, built for speed, and usually painted white to reflect the sun and help to control the temperature in the holds.
In the pre-container era, there were four main reefer operators sen in Halifax, and several smaller ones. I have previously mentioned Maritime Fruit Carriers (MFC), the Israeli company founded in 1961 that became over extended and was forced into bankruptcy in 1975.
The other large carrier was Fyffes, an Irish Company primarily involved in the banana trade. Founded in the 1880s, they merged with Elder Dempster in 1901 to form Elders + Fyffes and in 1902 a 45% interest was taken up by the United Fruit Co. In 1969 Elders+Fyffes was renamed the Fyffes Group, with its primary European terminal in Southampton.
Ships returning the Caribbean particularly, often stopped in Halifax - not with bananas, but to pick up export cargo for the Caribbean, and also corrugated cardboard and box board, which was produced in Atlantic Canada. They also operated cross trades, with Mediterranean fruit direct to Halifax.
It was chartered to Ffyfes/United Brand and is wearing their colours in Halifax, likely to load paper, since it appears to be in ballast. It arrived in Brindisi December 24, 1985 to be broken up.
Transferred to the Hong Kong flag in 1984 and renamed Fleet Wave, it was sold in 1990 and renamed Mimoza, under the Bahamas flag. It arrived in Alang June 30,199 for scrap.
In this photo, the ship is outbound from pier 9C and is up to harbor speed as it heads east of George's Island. It was sold to Akbar Cold Stores of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1982 and renamed Al Zohal. On January 22, 2000 it arrived in Alang, India to ber broken up.
Sven Salén was once the largest ship owner in Sweden. Having started his first shipping company in 1915 to transport bananas, he was among the pioneers in the reefer business. The name has almost disappeared now having merged into Lauritzen's Cool Carriers. At one time however in addition to owning a large fleet, the company also managed reefers for others, including many of the MFC ships for the receivers, and several Fyffes ships. Included in this number were the world's largest reefers, mentioned here March 1, 2015 . Thus the distinctive blue funnel with white S could be seen on many ships, not just their own..
With the collapse of the Swedish shipping industry the Salén / Transatlantic partnership ended in 1978 Salén took 100% ownership of the ship, then sold it to Dearfield Co Ltd (managed by Constantinos Torridakis under the Bermuda flag) and took back a charter, renaming the ship Altcar. It is seen here at pier 9c with cargo netting in place after longshoremen had knocked off for the day. It was loading box board.
On August 21, 1983 the ship was laid up in Brunei Bay, Borneo and arrived in Kaohsiung, Tai3wan July 4, 1984 to be broken up.
Hamburg, Germany has long been a hub for refrigerated cargoes in northern Europe. It was there that Rudolf Oetker got his start in shipping in 1871, and created a family business empire. His eight children with three wives each owned 12.5% of what expanded into many divisions, the largest being the huge container enterprise Hamburg-Sud. Over the years it took over such other lines as Furness-Withy, Pacific Steam Navigation, some of Ellermans routes, Costa and many others. It also founded Columbus Line, a transpacific container line that used to call in Halifax, but which folded back into H-S in 2004. At first trading primarily with South America, H-S naturally gravitated toward refrigerated cargoes, and the expansion of dedicated reefers began in the early 1950s under the Rudolph Oetker name.
As a partner in the Lauritzen Cool pool, H-S eventually decided to concentrate on containers and sold its last reefer ship in 1999.
On May 6, 1982 it suffered a fire 4 miles off Aqaba on a voyage from Tampa to Aqaba with a cargo of eggs and food stuffs.
In 1970 it was sold to Det Bergenske D/S of Norway and renamed Crux. It carried that name until 1973 when it became Marko Polo for Mediteranska Plovidba of Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia). In this photo it is likely loading potatoes at pier 33.
It arrived in Split May 17, 1985 where it was subsequently broken up.
Also based in Hamburg, the "Flying P" line of square riggers (all had names beginning with the letter P), known for their great speed in running round Cape Horn in the nitrate trade, made the name of Ferdinand Laeisz almost a household word. Herr Laiesz was a hat maker with world wide interests, including import and export, but it was his son Carl who really got the shipping company going in 1857. Following World War I, the firm moved into refrigerated shipping, and again after World War II, having lost all its ships. Since then they have expanded into banking, insurance and real estate, but still operate a variety of shipping. Before taking delivery of the first full container reefer in 1983 they operated dedicated reefers, but have now become shareholders in the United Fruit Company and also operate autocarriers.
The impressive Persimmon was built in 1975 by Deutsche Werft, Finkenwarder and measured 6501 grt, 6560 dwt. It was powered by a 9 cylinder, 11,400 bhp MAN giving 22 knots. With conventional cargo derricks, one 3 to 8 tons and seven 3 to 5 tons, it only served Laeisz for four years when it went to Paton Shipping Corp of Panama and was renamed Grand United, with a charter back.
There were many others in the reefer business, but it must have been highly volatile since the ships changed hands a bewildering number of times. Two typical examples:
Built in 1963 by Empresa Nacional Elcano in Seville, Spain, it was a ship of 6420 grt, 5521 dwt, with a 6 cyl Sulzer-Elcano giving 18 knots. It carried eight 5 ton derricks on stylish bipod masts.
First named Northpole under the Greek flag for Liberian Refrigerated Carriers Corp it was renamed Atlantic Arrow for a time during 1966, before it was sold in 1976 to El Yam Bulk Carriers of Israel when it became Har Bashan. They sold it to Côte d'Ivoire in 1973 as Assouba, and then it was sold on in 1980 as Flamingo, then Famingo II in 1982 and finally Maraki in 1983 for a variety of Panamanian owners.
It arrived in Gadani Beach, Pakistan March 25, 1985 where it was broken up.
Soc. Courtage et Transport of Dunkirk named the ship Marsouin , transferring it to Cie de Nav Frutière in 1979. In 1980 it began its journey through various flags as Juniper (Liberia), 84: Arietta, 85: Macfrost both for Armadora Cia Frigo Linea SA.
Then in 1987 as the Greek Chios Dignity, 90: Miami Reefer, Malta 92: Bluemenau Reefer, Cambodia 97: San Nicolas.
Remarkably it lasted to June 2003 when it was broken up in Alang.
No account of reefers would be complete (in my mind) without mention again of my favorites, the Polars.
Built for Hamburg-Sudamerikanische D.G. by Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, they were not only remarkable looking ships, they were among the most modern of their time featuring many innovations. The unfortunate choice of Pielstick engines apparently resulted in major headaches including a propensity for crank explosions. Those 14,880 bhp engines drove the ships at an impressive 23 knots (20.5 knots was quoted by less impressed sources). Tonnages have been variously reported, but grt was about 5500 to 5600.
Built in 1967-68, they were all sold off in 1976-78. Only two made an appearance in Halifax that I can recall.
I try not to publish the same photo twice, so this is from a slightly different angle than the previous one:
In October of the same year, it collided with the 333 grt coaster Pelikan in Kiel Bay. The coaster did not stand a chance and was so badly damaged it was sold for scrap.Damage to Polar Ecuador was reported as minimal.
It also was not renamed after it was sold to Liberian owners in 1976, but did take the name Chios Spirit in 1982. It arrived for demolition at Gadani Beach July 31, 1985.
More reefers to come? - stay tuned............
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