Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship (sometimes Steam-ship or Steamer), usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, a designation which dates back to 1840, is the ship prefix used for seagoing vessels that carry mail under contract to the British Royal Mail. Any vessel designated as RMS has the right to both fly the pennant of the Royal Mail when sailing and to include the Royal Mail "crown" logo with any identifying device and/or design for the ship.
It was used by many shipping lines, but is often associated in particular with the Cunard Line, Royal Mail Lines and Union-Castle Line, which held a number of high-profile mail contracts, and which traditionally prefixed the names of many of their ships with the initials "RMS".
While some lines in the past, particularly the Royal Mail Lines, called all their ships RMS, technically a ship would use the prefix only while contracted to carry mail, and would revert at other times to a standard designation such as "SS".
The designation "RMS" has been used since 1840. In 1850 contracts were awarded to private companies. Having the title "RMS" was seen as a mark of quality and a competitive advantage, because the mail had to be on time.
The most valuable route, with the highest volume, was between Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire), in Ireland, and Holyhead in Wales. The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company (CDSPCo) won the contract. They bought RMS St Columa and RMS Llwywllyn from the Admiralty to supplement their Prince Arthur.
The Canadian Pacific Railway's trans-Pacific Royal Mail contract required the building of the first three of a fleet of steamships: the Empress of China, Empress of India and Empress of Japan which regularly sailed between Vancouver and Asia beginning in 1891.
In recent years the shift to air transport for mail has left only four ships with the right to the prefix or its variations: RMS Segwun, which serves as a passenger vessel in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada; RMS St Helena, which serves the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic; RMV Scillonian III, which serves the Isles of Scilly; and RMS Queen Mary 2. QM2 was conferred "RMS" by Royal Mail when she entered service in 2004 on the Southampton to New York route as a gesture to Cunard's history.
The Royal Mail continues a form of this tradition on modern day airliners. The UK's flag carrier airline, British Airways, is contracted to carry mail on some of its scheduled long-distance routes. Aircraft operating these routes with the facilities to carry mail are allowed to display the Royal Mail's logo and crest on their fuselage, usually alongside their registration markings.
The less-common designations RMMV for Royal Mail Motor Vessel and RMMS for Royal Mail Motor Ship, were used for a period when RMS was restricted to steam-ships. Motor Vessel and Motor Ship indicated that propulsion was provided by diesel rather than steam.
The RMV Scillonian III carries the designation RMV for Royal Mail Vessel.
List of RMS ships
Those highlighted are still in service with the status of Royal Mail Ship.
|Name||Line||Maiden voyage||Left service||Status|
|Alaunia||Cunard||1913||1916||sunk by mine|
|Albania||Cunard||1900||1930||built in 1900 as Consuelo, bought by Cunard 1911 & renamed Albania, sold 1912 & renamed Poleric, scrapped 1930|
|Alcantara||Royal Mail Lines||1913||1916||sunk by enemy action|
|Alcantara||Royal Mail Lines||1926||1958||scrapped|
|Almanzora||Royal Mail Lines||1906||1948||scrapped|
|Amazon||Royal Mail Lines||1906||1916||sunk by enemy action|
|Andania||Cunard||1913||1918||sunk by enemy action|
|Andania||Cunard||1921||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Andes||Royal Mail Lines||1913||1929||scrapped after finishing career as the cruise ship Atlantis|
|Andes||Royal Mail Lines||1939||1959||scrapped after finishing career as a cruise ship|
|Arabia||Peninsular and Oriental||1898||1916||sunk by enemy action|
|Aragon||Royal Mail Lines||1905||1917||sunk by enemy action|
|Arlanza||Royal Mail Lines||1912||1938||scrapped|
|Arundel Castle||Union Castle||1921||1959||scrapped|
|Aurania||Cunard||1916||1918||sunk by enemy action|
|Atlantic||White Star||1871||1873||sunk after collision with rocks|
|Avon||Royal Mail Lines||1906|
|Ben-my-Chree||IoM Steam Packet||1927||1965||scrapped|
|Britannic||White Star||1915||1916||sunk by enemy action|
|Campania||Cunard||1891||1918||sank after collision with HMS Glorious|
|Carinthia||Cunard||1925||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Carinthia||Cunard||1956||2006||Sold 1968; renamed Fairland; scrapped 2006|
|Carnarvon Castle||Union Castle||1926|
|Carpathia||Cunard||1903||1918||sunk by enemy action|
|Caronia||Cunard White Star||1948||1974||scrapped|
|Doric||White Star||1923||1935||scrapped after collision with the Formigny|
|Dunottar Castle||Union Castle||1890||1915||sunk during bad weather|
|Durham Castle||Union Castle||1904||1940||sunk by mine|
|Ebro||Royal Mail Lines||1914||1954||scrapped after becoming the N/T Serpa Pinto|
|Empress of Asia||Canadian Pacific||1913||1942||sunk by enemy action|
|Empress of Australia||Canadian Pacific||1922||1952||scrapped|
|Empress of Australia||Canadian Pacific||1953||1956||scrapped|
|Empress of Britain||Canadian Pacific||1906||1930||scrapped|
|Empress of Britain||Canadian Pacific||1931||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Empress of Britain||Canadian Pacific||1956||1965||scrapped|
|Empress of Canada||Canadian Pacific||1922||1943||sunk by enemy action|
|Empress of Canada||Canadian Pacific||1929||1953||scrapped|
|Empress of Canada||Canadian Pacific||1961||2003||scrapped|
|Empress of China||Canadian Pacific||1891||1912||scrapped|
|Empress of England||Canadian Pacific||1957||1970||scrapped|
|Empress of France||Canadian Pacific||1914||1931||scrapped|
|Empress of India||Canadian Pacific||1891||1919||scrapped|
|Empress of India||Canadian Pacific||1908||1928||scrapped|
|Empress of Ireland||Canadian Pacific||1906||1914||sunk after collision with another ship|
|Empress of Japan||Canadian Pacific||1891||1926||scrapped|
|Empress of Japan||Canadian Pacific||1930||1966||scrapped after fire|
|Empress of Russia||Canadian Pacific||1913||1945||scrapped after fire|
|Empress of Scotland||Canadian Pacific||1906||1930||scrapped|
|Empress of Scotland||Canadian Pacific||1930||1966||scrapped after fire|
|Fenella||IoM Steam Packet||1937||1940||sunk by enemy action at the Dunkirk evacuation|
|Ivernia||Cunard||1955||2004||renamed Franconia 1963, sold 1973 and renamed Feodor Shalyapin; scrapped 2004|
|Kenya Castle||Union Castle||1951|
|King Orry||IoM Steam Packet||1911||1940||sunk by enemy action at the Dunkirk evacuation|
|Laconia||Cunard||1912||1917||sunk by enemy action|
|Laconia||Cunard||1922||1942||sunk by enemy action|
|Lady Drake||Canadian National||1928||1942||sunk by enemy action|
|Lady Hawkins||Canadian National||1928||1942||sunk by enemy action|
|Lady Nelson||Canadian National||1928|
|Lady Rodney||Canadian National||1929|
|Lady Somers||Canadian National||1929|
|Lady of Mann||IoM Steam Packet||1930||1971||scrapped|
|Lancastria||Cunard||1920||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Leinster||City of Dublin SP||1896||1918||sunk by enemy action|
|Llandovery Castle||Union Castle||1914||1918||sunk by enemy action|
|Lucania||Cunard||1893||1909||scrapped after fire|
|Lusitania||Cunard||1907||1915||sunk by enemy action|
|Maloja||Peninsular and Oriental||1923||1954||scrapped|
|Mauretania||Cunard White Star||1906||1935||scrapped|
|Mauretania||Cunard White Star||1939||1965||scrapped|
|Medina||Peninsular and Oriental||1911||1917||sunk by enemy action|
|PSS Mona's Queen||IoM Steam Packet||1885||1929||recommissioned in 1915; returned to service in 1919|
|Mona's Queen||IoM Steam Packet||1934||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Mona's Queen||IoM Steam Packet||1946||1962||scrapped in 1981|
|Mooltan||Peninsular and Oriental||1923||1953||scrapped|
|Newfoundland||Johnston Warren Lines||1925||1943||burnt out by enemy action|
|Niagara||Union Steamship Co of NZ||1912||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Nova Scotia||Johnston Warren Lines||1926||1942||sunk by enemy action|
|Peel Castle||IoM Steam Packet||1912||1939||scrapped|
|Port Kingston||Imperial Direct West Mail Co||1904||1911||sold to Union Steamship Co of NZ; renamed Tahiti|
|Queen Elizabeth||Cunard White Star||1940||1968||scrapped after arson fire|
|Queen Mary||Cunard White Star||1936||1967||decommissioned in 1967; currently restaurant/hotel/museum in Long Beach, California|
|Queen Mary 2||Cunard||2004||currently in active service, as a transatlantic ocean liner|
|Quetta||British-India SN Co||1881||1890||wrecked|
|Remuera||New Zealand Shipping Company||1911||1940||sunk by enemy action|
|Rotorua||New Zealand Shipping Company||1910||1917||sunk by enemy action|
|Rhone||Royal Mail Lines||1865||1867||wrecked|
|Royal Adelaide||City of Dublin SP||1838||1849||sank|
|Saxonia||Cunard||1954||1999||1962 renamed Carmania; 1973 sold & renamed Leonid Sobinov|
|St Helena||HM Government||1990||currently in active service|
|Scillonian||Isles of Scilly SC||1926||1955||scrapped|
|Scillonian||Isles of Scilly SC||1955||1977||sank after owner abandoned her|
|Scillonian III||Isles of Scilly SC||1977||currently in active service|
|Segwun||Muskoka Lakes Navigation Co||1887||restored and returned to service|
|Slavonia||British-India SN Co||1902||1909||wrecked|
|Snaefell||IoM Steam Packet||1910||1918||sunk by enemy action|
|Southampton Castle||Union Castle||1965|
|Sylvania||Cunard||1957||2004||sold 1968 & renamed Fairwind; scrapped 2004|
|Tahiti||Union Steamship Co of NZ||1911||1930||hull holed by broken propeller; sank|
|Tayleur||White Star (not OSNC)||1853||1853||ran aground|
|Titanic||White Star||1912||1912||sunk after collision with iceberg|
|Transvaal Castle||Union-Castle||1961||2000||sold 1966 to Safmarine & renamed SA Vaal; left Royal Mail service 1969; scrapped 2003|
|Trent||Royal Mail SP||1841||1865||scrapped|
|Tynwald||IoM Steam Packet||1936||1939||sunk by enemy action|
|Viceroy of India||Peninsular and Oriental||1927||1942||sunk by enemy action|
|Victoria||East African Railways & Harbours||1961||1977||lost status when EAR&H was dissolved; still in service as MV Victoria|
|Victorian||Allan Line||1904||1929||World's first steam turbine ocean liner|
|Windsor Castle||Union-Castle||1922||1943||sunk by enemy action|
- The first citation in The Times is from 18 August 1840
- Royal Mails employees Courier newspaper page 20 August 2007
- United Kingdom - Royal Mail
- Maxtone-Graham, John et al. (2004). Queen Mary 2, p. 184.
- By Wireless from R.M.S. Empress of Australia. "Royal Gifts Gladden 172 On Lonely Atlantic Island" (Tristan da Cunya)," New York Times. 24 March 1935; Robinson, Samuel. (1924). Official report of Capt. S. Robinson, R.N.R.,: Commander of the Canadian Pacific S.S. "Empress of Australia", on the Japanese earthquake, the fire and subsequent relief operations.
- The Admiralty took over the Packet Service from the General Post Office in 1823.
- The first citation in the Times is from 18 August 1840
- Kennedy, John. (1903). The History of Steam Navigation, pp. 147- 151.
- Neilan, Terence P. "Q and A," New York Times. 29 October 1989.
- "Empress of Asia Sunk Last 4 Feb.; Canadian Pacific Liner Hit by Five Bombs in Flight From Singapore MOST OF TROOPS ESCAPED 16,909-Ton Ship Abandoned After Four-Day Fires Had Ruined Her Interior," New York Times. 20 May 1942.
- 40-year-old Ship Makes Last Trip; Empress of Australia, Luxury Liner and Troop Carrier, on Way to Scrap Heap," New York Times. 1 May 1952.
- "British Announce Empress Ship Loss; Admiralty Fixes Death Toll at 45 Out of 643 Aboard Canadian Pacific Liner TORPEDOES FINISH JOB U-Boat Overtakes Burning Ship in Tow and Completes Task Started by Bomber Ship Attacked Three Times Women and Children Calm," New York Times. 29 October 1940.
- "Pacific Air Routes Replace Ship Line; Canadian Company Abandons Pre-War Service of Fleet, Maps Overseas Flights," New York Times. 10 April 1949.
- "Transport News and Notes; Empress of France Will Be Retired," New York Times 27 November 1960.
- Kennedy, p. 150.
- "Lady Eden to Launch Ship," New York Times 5 May 1956.
- Kirsten Weisenburger, Kirsten and Marc Dinsdale. "First Class Warrior Empress," Pacific Rim Online Magazine (Vancouver, British Columbia). 1998.