Royal Mail Ship

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Royal Mail Ship (sometimes Steam-ship or Steamer), usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, a designation which dates back to 1840,[1] 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 both to 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.[2][3][4]

RMS "Crown" as displayed by the Cunard liner Laconia

It was used by many shipping lines, but is often associated in particular with the White Star Line, Cunard Line,[2][5] Royal Mail Lines and Union-Castle Line, which held a number of high-profile mail contracts, and 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".[6]

The RMS Titanic departing Southampton, England, for the first and only time, in 1912

History[edit]

RMS Prince Arthur

Originally the Admiralty operated these ships.[7]

The designation "RMS" has been used since 1840.[8] 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.

In the CDSPCo contract, in 1860, there was a penalty clause of £1 1s 4d for every minute's delay.

The Canadian Pacific Railway's trans-Pacific Royal Mail contract required the building of the first three of a fleet of steamships: the RMS Empress of China, RMS Empress of India and RMS Empress of Japan which regularly sailed between Vancouver and Asia beginning in 1891.[9]

The RMS designation was also used on the ships White Star Line, P&O and the Cunard lines of the 19th and 20th century.

Modern times[edit]

Royal Mail aircraft-marking; on a British Airways Airbus A320-232 G-EUUI. (Uniform India)

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;[10] 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.[2]

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.

Other designations[edit]

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[edit]

Those highlighted are still in service with the status of Royal Mail Ship.

Name Line Maiden voyage Left service Status
Adriatic White Star 1907 1934 scrapped
Alaunia Cunard 1913 1916 sunk by mine
Alaunia Cunard 1925 1957 scrapped
Alaunia Cunard 1960
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 in 1971 after finishing career as a cruise ship
Antonia Cunard 1921 1948 scrapped
Aquitania Cunard 1914 1950 scrapped
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
Ascania Cunard 1923 1957 scrapped
Asturias Royal Mail Lines 1925 1957 scrapped
Aurania Cunard 1881 1905 scrapped
Aurania Cunard 1916 1918 sunk by enemy action
Aurania Cunard 1924 1961 scrapped
Atlantic White Star 1871 1873 sunk after collision with rocks
Ausonia Cunard 1921 1965 scrapped
Avon Royal Mail Lines 1906
Baltic White Star 1904 1933 scrapped
Ben-my-Chree IoM Steam Packet 1845 1860 wrecked
Ben-my-Chree IoM Steam Packet 1875 1906 scrapped
Ben-my-Chree IoM Steam Packet 1908 1915 sunk by enemy action
Ben-my-Chree IoM Steam Packet 1927 1965 scrapped
Ben-my-Chree IoM Steam Packet 1966 1984 scrapped
Ben-my-Chree IoM Steam Packet 1998 currently on active service as RO/PAX vessel
Berengaria Cunard 1913 1938 scrapped
Britannia Cunard 1840 1880 sunk
Britannic White Star 1915 1916 sunk by enemy action
Britannic White Star 1929 1960 scrapped
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
Carmania Cunard 1905 1932 scrapped
Carnarvon Castle Union Castle 1926
Carpathia Cunard 1903 1918 sunk by enemy action
Caronia Cunard 1905 1933 scrapped
Caronia Cunard White Star 1948 1974 scrapped
Celtic White Star 1901 1933 scrapped
Cedric White Star 1903 1932 scrapped
Doric White Star 1923 1935 scrapped after collision with the Formigny
Douglas IoM Steam Packet 1858 1862 sold to Cunard, Wilson and Co.
Douglas IoM Steam Packet 1864 1888 scrapped
Douglas IoM Steam Packet 1901 1923 sunk after collision with Artemisia
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
Ellan Vannin Castletown Steam Navigation Company 1854 1858 sold to the Government of Sardinia, renamed Archimedes
Ellan Vannin IoM Steam Packet 1883 1909 sunk during bad weather in the River Mersey, December, 1909
Empress of Asia[11] Canadian Pacific 1913 1942[11] sunk by enemy action
Empress of Australia[6] Canadian Pacific 1922 1952[12] scrapped
Empress of Australia Canadian Pacific 1953 1956 scrapped
Empress of Britain Canadian Pacific 1906 1930 scrapped
Empress of Britain Canadian Pacific 1931 1940[13] sunk by enemy action
Empress of Britain Canadian Pacific 1956 1965 scrapped
Empress of Canada Canadian Pacific 1922 1943[14] sunk by enemy action
Empress of Canada Canadian Pacific 1929 1953 scrapped
Empress of Canada[15] Canadian Pacific 1961 2003 scrapped
Empress of China[16] Canadian Pacific 1891 1912 scrapped
Empress of England[17] Canadian Pacific 1957 1970 scrapped
Empress of France Canadian Pacific 1914 1931 scrapped
Empress of India[16] 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[16] Canadian Pacific 1891 1926[18] scrapped
Empress of Japan Canadian Pacific 1930 1966 scrapped after fire
Empress of Russia[14] Canadian Pacific 1913 1945[14] scrapped after fire
Empress of Scotland Canadian Pacific 1906 1930 scrapped
Empress of Scotland Canadian Pacific 1930 1966 scrapped after fire
Empress Queen IoM Steam Packet 1897 1916 foundered on the Ring Rocks off Bembridge, Isle of Wight, February, 1916
Etruria Cunard 1885 1909 scrapped
Fenella IoM Steam Packet 1881 1929 scrapped
Fenella IoM Steam Packet 1937 1940 sunk by enemy action at the Dunkirk evacuation
Fenella IoM Steam Packet 1951 1973 sold 1973 and renamed Vasso M. Sank off Damietta, February 2, 1977
Franconia Cunard 1922 1956 scrapped
Georgic White Star 1933 1954 scrapped
Homeric White Star 1922 1935 scrapped
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 1842 1858 sold 1858
King Orry IoM Steam Packet 1871 1912 scrapped
King Orry IoM Steam Packet 1913 1940 sunk by enemy action at the Dunkirk evacuation
King Orry IoM Steam Packet 1946 1975 scrapped
King Orry IoM Steam Packet 1990 1998 sold 1998
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
Lady of Mann IoM Steam Packet 1976 2005 sold 2005
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
Majestic White Star 1922 1940 scrapped
Maloja Peninsular and Oriental 1923 1954 scrapped
Manxman IoM Steam Packet 1920 1940 scrapped
Manxman IoM Steam Packet 1955 1982 scrapped
Manx Maid IoM Steam Packet 1923 1950 scrapped
Manx Maid IoM Steam Packet 1962 1984 scrapped
Manx Viking IoM Steam Packet 1978 1987 sold 1987
Mauretania Cunard White Star 1906 1935 scrapped
Mauretania Cunard White Star 1939 1965 scrapped
Medina Peninsular and Oriental 1911 1917 sunk by enemy action
Mona IoM Steam Packet 1832 1841 sold 1841
Mona IoM Steam Packet 1878 1883 sunk in the Formby Channel, after being struck by the SS Rita
Mona IoM Steam Packet 1903 1909 scrapped
Mona IoM Steam Packet 1919 1938 scrapped
Mona's Isle IoM Steam Packet 1830 1851 scrapped
Mona's Isle IoM Steam Packet 1860 1883 (converted to screw propulsion and renamed Ellan Vannin)
Mona's Isle IoM Steam Packet 1882 1915 scrapped
Mona's Isle IoM Steam Packet 1905 1948 scrapped
Mona's Isle IoM Steam Packet 1950 1980 scrapped
Mona's Isle IoM Steam Packet 1984 1986 sold 1986 and renamed Al Fahad; wrecked off Jeddah, June 2004
Mona's Queen IoM Steam Packet 1853 1880 scrapped
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
Mona's Queen IoM Steam Packet 1972 1995 scrapped in 2008
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
Oceanic White Star 1871 1896 scrapped
Oceanic White Star 1899 1914 scrapped
Olympic White Star 1911 1935 scrapped
Orizaba Orient Line 1886 1905 wrecked off Fremantle
Ormuz Orient Line 1886 1912 sold to Cie de Nav. Sud-Atlantique, renamed Divona
Ormuz Orient Line 1920 1927 ex-Zeppelin, 1920 renamed Ormuz, 1927 sold to North German Lloyd, renamed Dresden.
Peel Castle IoM Steam Packet 1912 1939 scrapped
Pendennis Castle Union-Castle 1959 1980 scrapped
Persia Cunard 1855 1872 scrapped
Peveril IoM Steam Packet 1884 1899 sank off Douglas after a collision with SS Monarch 16 September 1899
Peveril IoM Steam Packet 1929 1964 scrapped
Port Kingston Imperial Direct West Mail Co 1904 1911 sold to Union Steamship Co of NZ; renamed Tahiti
Prince of Wales IoM Steam Packet 1888 1915 scrapped
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
Queen of the Isle IoM Steam Packet 1834 1845 sold 1845; eventually reported lost off the Falkland Islands
Queen Victoria IoM Steam Packet 1888 1915 scrapped
Quetta British-India SN Co 1881 1890 wrecked
Ramsey Town IoM Steam Packet 1904 1936 scrapped
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
Rushen Castle IoM Steam Packet 1898 1947 scrapped
Samaria Cunard 1920 1956 wrecked
Saxonia Cunard 1900 1925 scrapped
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
Scotia Cunard 1861 1904 wrecked
Scythia Cunard 1921 1958 scrapped
Segwun Muskoka Lakes Navigation Co 1887 restored and returned to service
Servia Cunard 1881 1901 scrapped
Slavonia British-India SN Co 1902 1909 wrecked
Snaefell IoM Steam Packet 1863 1875 sold 1875
Snaefell IoM Steam Packet 1876 1904 scrapped
Snaefell IoM Steam Packet 1910 1918 sunk by enemy action
Snaefell IoM Steam Packet 1920 1945 scrapped 1948
Snaefell IoM Steam Packet 1948 1978 scrapped 1978
Snaefell IoM Steam Packet 2006 2011 sold 2011
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
The Ramsey IoM Steam Packet 1895 1915 sunk by enemy action
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 1846 1886 sold 1866
Tynwald IoM Steam Packet 1886 1888 sold 1888
Tynwald IoM Steam Packet 1891 1934 sold 1934
Tynwald IoM Steam Packet 1936 1939 sunk by enemy action
Tynwald IoM Steam Packet 1947 1974 scrapped 1975
Tynwald IoM Steam Packet 1986 1990 sold 1990
Tyrconnel IoM Steam Packet 1911 1932 scrapped
Umbria Cunard 1884 1910 scrapped
Viceroy of India Peninsular and Oriental 1927 1942 sunk by enemy action
Victoria IoM Steam Packet 1907 1957 scrapped
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
Windsor Castle Union-Castle 1960 1998 scrapped

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The first citation in The Times is from 18 August 1840
  2. ^ a b c Royal Mails employees Courier newspaper page 20 August 2007
  3. ^ QM2
  4. ^ United Kingdom - Royal Mail
  5. ^ Maxtone-Graham, John et al. (2004). Queen Mary 2, p. 184.
  6. ^ a b 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.
  7. ^ The Admiralty took over the Packet Service from the General Post Office in 1823.
  8. ^ The first citation in the Times is from 18 August 1840
  9. ^ Kennedy, John. (1903). The History of Steam Navigation, pp. 147- 151.
  10. ^ Neilan, Terence P. "Q and A," New York Times. 29 October 1989.
  11. ^ a b "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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ a b c "Pacific Air Routes Replace Ship Line; Canadian Company Abandons Pre-War Service of Fleet, Maps Overseas Flights," New York Times. 10 April 1949.
  15. ^ "Transport News and Notes; Empress of France Will Be Retired," New York Times 27 November 1960.
  16. ^ a b c Kennedy, p. 150.
  17. ^ "Lady Eden to Launch Ship," New York Times 5 May 1956.
  18. ^ Kirsten Weisenburger, Kirsten and Marc Dinsdale. "First Class Warrior Empress," Pacific Rim Online Magazine (Vancouver, British Columbia). 1998.

References[edit]

External links[edit]