Palm Line

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Palm Line
Subsidiary of United Africa Company (UAC)
Industry Shipping
Successor Ocean Transport & Trading in 1985
Founded 1911, as Southern Whaling and Sealing Company Ltd
Defunct 1986
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Area served
Northern Europe, West Africa and Mediterranean
Key people
Frank Samuel (First Chairman)
Parent Unilever

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.

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.

Background[edit]

Ilesha Palm navigating the Escravos River to Sapele, Nigeria

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).

Palm Line house flag

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.

Emblem[edit]

The palm tree emblem had already been used on a Unilever Ltd house flag designed in 1939.

The Fleet[edit]

Ship Built Speed (knots) Type GRT Notes
MV Africa Palm 1953 11 General Cargo 5,415 Built by Short Bros, Sunderland. Sister ship to MV Burutu Palm (1953)

Sold in 1972 to Panama and renamed Savoydean
She suffered a fire on 24 July 1975, and was eventually scrapped in April 1976 at Bombay.

MV Africa Palm 1971 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
Sold in 1984 to Cyprus and renamed Messaria

MV Akassa Palm 1958 14 General Cargo 9,000 Built in Germany by Bremer Vulkan

Sold in 1972 and renamed Elenma
Sold in 1977 and renamed Ionian Sky
Sold in 1981 and renamed Magdalini K
Scrapped in Nov 1984

MV Andoni Palm 1958 14 General Cargo 9,000 Built in Germany by Bremer Vulkan

Sold in 1976 to Panama and renamed Mastro Manolis
Scrapped in Nov 1982

MV Apapa Palm 1973 16 General Cargo 9,417 ex-MV Schauenburg.
MV Apapa Palm (9,417 GRT). Laid up on the River Scheldt in Antwerp, May 1982

Built in 1973 by the H. Cegielski shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland as 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 General Cargo 5,123 ex-Ashantian

18 November 1962 sank in Naples harbour where she had arrived from Leghorn to load 400 tons of general cargo. She dragged her anchor in a fierce gale and drifted onto rocks surrounding the breakwater. There were no casualties.

MV Badagry Palm 1956 14 General Cargo 7,275 Carried Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to London for the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference.

Sold in 1972 to Cyprus and renamed Irene's Grace

MV Badagry Palm 1979 16 General Cargo 12,279

Built in Sunderland. 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.
In 1986 she was sold to new owners who registered her in Panama renaming her Cordigliera.
Tragically the Cordigliera sank with all (23) hands in very rough weather off Port St Johns, South Africa on 14 November 1996, after issuing out a distress to Durban radio at 10:30pm [1].

MV Bamenda Palm 1956 14 General Cargo 7,200
MV Bamenda Palm
Sold in 1972 to Cyprus and renamed Lenio.

She changed her name twice, namely Elsa S K in 1978, and Eternal Sea in 1980, before being finally scrapped in May 1983.

MV Bamenda Palm 1979 16 General Cargo 11,223
MV Bamenda Palm in Middle Docks, South Shields drydock undergoing conversion to Lloyd Texas

Built by Hyundai of South Korea in 1979.
On 18 December 1980 she appeared in a front page article of the UK Sunday Express newspaper under the headline 'Drama At Sea As Gales Sweep Coast'. Bamenda Palm had accidentally rammed a Romanian fish factory ship whilst entering Carrick Roads, Falmouth harbour during the early hours in a southerly force 9 gale. The fish-factory ship was holed just below the water-line midships on the port side by the bulbous bow of the Bamenda Palm[2]. Her Master was George Holeyman. There were no casualties.

In May 1984 she was chartered to Lloyd Brasiliero, 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.
In 1986 she was sold to Cyprus & renamed Arko Glory. She has had several name changes since then, namely, MC Ruby (Jun 1989), Medipas Tide (Jul 1989), MC Ruby (1990), Ville de Damas (Nov 1993), MC Ruby (May 1994), Runner (Sep 1994), CMBT Eagle (Oct 1994), Runner (Jan 1999), Renata (Jun 2000) and finally African Star (Apr-Dec 2005) under the Bahamian flag ( Bahamas).

SS Benin Palm 1936 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 General Cargo 5,410 Built by Short Bros, Sunderland. Sister ship to MV Africa Palm (1953)

Sold in 1967 to Astrocid Naviera of Piraeus and renamed Tyhi
In 1973 she was re-sold to Globe Navigation of Singapore and renamed MV Globe Star. Later that year she struck Leven Reef sank off Mombasa [3] and sank. She had been en route from Iskenderun to Karachi.

SS Dahomey Palm 1937 General Cargo 4,876 ex-Conakrian

Sold in 1959 to Wallem & Co., Hong Kong and renamed Southern Mariner.
She was finally broken up in 1968.

MV Elmina Palm 1957 14 General Cargo 8,088

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.
Sold in 1977 to Panama and renamed Cyprus Sky

MV Enugu Palm 1958 14 General Cargo 7,963 Sold in 1978 to Kuwait and renamed Athari
MV Gambia Palm 1937 General Cargo 5,452
MV Gambia Palm (1937) on the River Mersey in front of Liverpool's Liver Building

ex-Gambian. Built in Germany
Sold in 1959 to Panama and renamed Irini's Blessing, but registered in Lebanon
Finally scrapped in July 1963 in Hong Kong.

MV Ibadan Palm 1959 14 General Cargo 8,950 Built by Swan Hunter on the Tyne, and sister ship of the Ilorin Palm. She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine.

In 1978 she was sold to Kuwaiti owners and renamed Hind

MV Ikeja Palm 1961 14 General Cargo 8,900 Built at Swan Hunter shipyard, and sister ship of Ilesha Palm. She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine.

In 1981 she was sold to new owners who registered her in Panama and renamed her GME Palma

MV Ilesha Palm 1961 14 General Cargo 8,900 Built at Swan Hunter and sister ship of the Ikeja Palm. She had a 4-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine.
MV Ilesha Palm (1961)

In 1979 she was sold to Chaldeos Freighters Ltd of Greece. The new owners registered her in Liberia and renamed her Daphnemar. She was handed over in Bombay.
Laid up at Mini Saqr in February 1982, just over two years later she was towed to Karachi for breaking, arriving in the March 1984.

MV Ilorin Palm 1960 14 General Cargo 8,950

Built by Swan Hunter and 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.
Sold in 1982 and renamed twice; first Cape Blanco then Sea Venturer
Scrapped in Dec 1982 in Chittagong

SS Kano Palm 1936 General Cargo 5,129 ex-Guinean

Sold in 1954 to Panama and renamed St.George, but registered in Greece

MV Kano Palm 1958 14¼ General Cargo 12,203 Sold in 1979 to India and renamed Purna Shanti

Sold in 1979 and renamed Island Trader
Scrapped Sep 1982 in Bombay, India

MV Katsina Palm 1957 14¼ General Cargo 12,203 Sold in 1978 to Singapore and renamed New Dragon
SS Kumasi Palm 1943 General Cargo 7,221 ex-Kumasian

Sold in 1960 to Panama and renamed Flower

SS Lagos Palm 1947 General Cargo 5,047 ex-Lagosian

In 1960 renamed Oguta Palm then sold in 1964 to Greece and renamed Heraclitos.
Then renamed Herodemos in 1969
Eventually broken up in Split in April 1973.

MV Lagos Palm 1961 16 General Cargo 8,757

Built at Swan Hunter and sister ship of the Lobito Palm.
She had a 6-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine
Sold in 1981 to Cyprus and renamed City of Lobito

MV Lagos Palm 1982 16 General Cargo 15,575
MV Lagos Palm in the English Channel southbound

1984 chartered to Lloyd Brasileiro and renamed Lloyd Rio
Sold in 1986 to USSR and renamed Boris Andreyev.
In 1996 she was re-sold and became Pearce for a short while, before becoming Nieves B until 2009 under a Spanish flag. In 2009 she was re-sold to Saint Kitts and Nevis and became Ahraf B before being broken up.

MV Lobito Palm 1960 16 General Cargo 8,807
MV Lobito Palm

Built at Swan Hunter and sister ship of the Lagos Palm.
She had a 6-cylinder 2-stroke Doxford engine
Sold in 1979 to Cyprus and renamed Lobito Pal.
Sold in 1980 to Middle East Maritime Co Ltd. (Piraeus) and renamed Minoa.
Sold in 1980 to Minoa Maritime Enterprises Ltd. and renamed Peruvian Trader.
In 1982 renamed Richmond.
In 1983 renamed Eurco and finally scrapped at Chittagong in 1983

SS Lokoja Palm 1947 General Cargo 5,135
SS Lokoja Palm (1947)


ex-Zarian

Sold in 1966 to Panama and renamed Despina L

MV Lokoja Palm 1982 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
Sold in 1986 to USSR and renamed Mekhanik Bardetskiy

MV Makeni Palm 1951 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.
Sold in 1971 and renamed Palau
Scrapped in Jun 1978 in Brindisi

MV Makurdi Palm 1953 BVOC See MV Tema Palm
MV Matadi Palm 1948 BVOC 6,246 ex-Matadian

Sold for scrap in February 1963

MV Matadi Palm 1970 16 BVOC 13,700
MV Matadi Palm

A purpose-built BVOC, she carried refined vegetable oils 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 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.
For a long period in the 1970s, following the 1966 National Union of Seaman strike, all deck crew (not officers) were from Galicia in Spain, rather than from the British Shipping Federation.

In 1986 she was taken over by UAC and renamed Matadi.
In 1986 she was sold to Troodos Shipping & Trading Co., London and renamed Modesty.

SS Mendi Palm 1936 General Cargo 5,419 ex-Leonian

Sold in 1959 to Panama and renamed Rio Yape

SS Niger Palm 1948 General Cargo 5,202

ex-Nigerian
Sold in 1966 to Panama and renamed Triana, but registered in Liberia.
She was eventually scrapped in October 1968

MV Oguta Palm 1943 General Cargo 7,221 ex-Lafian

Sold in 1960 to Aristidis SS Co, Piraeues and renamed Aristoteles
She sank on 16 December 1962 off Funchal whilst en route from Detroit to Calcutta.

MV Opobo Palm 1942 BVOC 6,083 ex-Congonian. Built at Swan Hunters on the Tyne

Sold 1961 to Windward Shipping Co., Hong Kong and renamed Winwar
Eventually broken up in June 1963

MV Sapele Palm 1954 General Cargo Built in Bremerhaven, Germany

Sailed under the German flag & operated by a subsidiary company Ölhandel-und Transport-Gesellshaft
In 1960 transferred to Palm Line (British flag), then in 1966 sold to Panama and renamed Capetan Georgis

MV Takoradi Palm 1937 General Cargo 5,452 ex-Takoradian.

Built in Germany
Sold in 1959 to Panama and renamed Irini's Luck, but registered in Lebanon.
Scrapped in June 1963 at Santander, Spain.

MV Tema Palm 1953 BVOC 6,255 Built in Germany

Sailed under the German flag & operated by a subsidiary company Ölhandel-und Transport-Gesellshaft
1960 transferred to Palm Line (British flag) and renamed Makurdi Palm, then in 1969 sold to Peru and renamed Santamar.
Scrapped in February 1976 at Gadani Beach

SS Volta Palm 1936 General Cargo 5,129 ex-Liberian

Sold in 1954 to Finland and renamed Hermes
In 1958 renamed Noemi
Broken up in December 1960 at Yokosuka.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kohn, Roger (1970). Palm Line: The Coming of Age 1949–1970. London: Raithby, Lawrence and Company Ltd. 

External links[edit]

http://www.merchantnavyofficers.com/palm.html