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The Fleets

China Mail Steamship Company, San Francisco

When Pacific Mail Steamship Co. decided in 1915 to withdraw its ships from the Oriental service, leaving only the Japanese Toyo Kisen Kaisha running a regular service a group of American-Chinese businessmen in San Francisco decided to fill this gap and organized the China Mail Steamship Company and a ship the CHINA was taken over from the Atlantic Transport Company.

The future looked bright and the China Mail Steamship Company was looking for a second ship but these were not easy to obtain due to World War I, but by 1917, the Pacific Coast Steamships Co.ís steamer Congress which was burnt off the coast of Oregon could be obtained but the cost of buying and repairing the Congress caused financial problems, she was christened NANKING and came in service in 1918.
Also a third vessel the steamer NILE was purchased in 1919 from the Pacific Mail Steamship Co.

The China Mail proved to be very popular with the traveling public, especially with the Chinese. After World War I there was a growing competition on the Pacific Route and the China Mail Steamship Co. was looking for fresh capital in China and Hong Kong but to no avail. Growing debts caused China Mail to go bankrupt in 1923.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for his assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes:
    • San Francisco-Honolulu-Yokohama-Kobe-Nagasaki-Shanghai-Hong Kong

Funnel & Flag:


Funnel Flag
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
China 1889 built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Glasgow | ex- China built for Pacific Mail Steamship Co., 1915 sold to Atlantic Transport Co., and resold to China Mail Steamship Co., same name, 1923 laid up, 1925 scrapped at Kowloon. 5,060
Nanking 1913 built by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, New York | ex- Congress built for Pacific Coast Steamship Company, 1918 purchased renamed Nanking, 1923 sold to Admiral Line renamed Emma Alexander, 1926 sold to R. Dollar & Co. not renamed, 1942 to Great Britain renamed Empire Woodlark, 1946 scuttled with surplus gas ammunition. 8,262
Nile 1893 built by J. & G. Thomson, Glasgow | ex- Nile built for Royal Mail S.P. Company, 1911 sold to H. F. Carmichael, Hong Kong, 1912 Pacific Mail SS Co., Hong Kong 1919 purchased by China Mail SS Co, 1922 laid up, 1925 scrapped. 5,888

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Last updated: November 26, 2007 and maintained by and M. Kohli