Elbe (ship)

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United Kingdom
Name: Elbe
Owner: Nourse Line
Builder: Russel & Co
Launched: July 1887
Fate: Sold, Dec. 1907
General characteristics
Class and type: Iron-hulled sailing ship
Tons burthen: 1,693 tons
Length: 257 ft (78 m)
Beam: 38.2 ft (11.6 m)
Draught: 23.1 ft (7.0 m)
Sail plan: Three masts

The Elbe, was a 1,693 ton, three-masted, iron sailing ship with a length of 257 feet, breadth of 38.2 feet and depth of 23.1 feet. She was built by Russel & Company in Glasgow for the Nourse Line, named after the River Elbe the longest river in Germany and launched in July 1887. She was primarily used for the transportation of Indian indentured labourers to the colonies. Details of some of these voyages are as follows:

Destination Date of Arrival Number of Passengers Deaths During Voyage
Suriname 23 November 1889 n/a n/a
Fiji 13 June 1896 615 n/a
Trinidad 12 November 1897 545 5
Fiji 26 July 1900 604 n/a
Trinidad 17 December 1901 613 3
Fiji 5 August 1903 590 n/a
Trinidad 19 October 1906 597 0

The Elbe's third trip to Fiji was historic because it brought the first labourers from Madras to Fiji for the first time. Most South Indians were Tamil speakers but other languages such as Telugu and Malayalam were also represented. Conditions on board were good for the time, with regular nutritious food, plenty of exercise and an on-board hospital, and as a result there was a mortality of less than one percent.

The Elbe was also used for the transportation of cargo, arriving in London from Sydney, in March 1896 with a cargo of wool. The journey took 75 days.

The Elbe was sold in December 1907.

See also[edit]


  • Lubbock, Basil (1981). Coolie ships and oil sailors. Brown, Son & Ferguson. ISBN 0-85174-111-8. 

External links[edit]