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The Fleets

Nautilus Steam Shipping Co.

Formed in Sunderland in 1881 by F & W. Ritson to operate a tramp shipping service, but in 1899 the company inaugurated a liner service between the U.K and Chile, Peru and Ecuador. The high cost of replacing war losses beteween 1914 and 1918 and the worldwide trade depression of the 1920s caused the end of the company and it was wound up in 1931.

Many thanks to 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:
    • 1881-1899 tramping.
    • 1899-1931 U.K - Chile, Peru, Ecuador.

Black with four white bands.


Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Almond Branch 1896 ex- Ashmore, 1897 purchased from Belgian-American Maritime Co., Liverpool renamed Almond Branch, 27th Nov. 1917 torpedoed and sunk by UB.57 in English Channel. 3,461
Apple Branch 1920 laid down as War Bobtail, completed as Apple Branch, 1933 sold to Chile renamed Punta Arenas, 1957 aground and declared total loss, refloated and renamed San Patricio, 1958 scrapped. 4,452
Cedar Branch (1) 1886 1898 sold to W. S.Miller, Glasgow renamed Almida, Dec. 1898 went missing in Atlantic on voyage Hamburg - New York. 2,516
Cedar Branch (2) 1910 1932 sold to A. Lusi Ltd, London renamed Aenos, 1937 transferred to Greece, 17th Oct. 1940 torpedoed and sunk by U.38 in Atlantic on voyage Sorel, P.Q to Manchester. 3,554
Cherry Branch 1909 ex- Dunedin, 1919 purchased from Henderson & McIntosh, Leith renamed Cherry Branch, 1931 sold to A. Lusi Ltd, London renamed Zephyros, 1931 transferred to Greece, 26th Feb. 1947 wrecked off Cullercoats, Tyne. 4,796
Elder Branch 1905 ex- River Delaware, 1915 purchased from American Levant Line, London renamed Elder Branch, 1932 scrapped. 4,443
Elm Branch 1895 1919 sold to Norway, resold to Polish American Nav. Corp, New York renamed Wisla, 1922 Wisla SS Corp, N.Y, 1923 Wabash SS Corp, N.Y., 1924 sold to Jensen Line, Copenhagen renamed Ellen Jensen, 1927 sold to T. E. Evans & Co., London renamed Purley Beeches, 1928 scrapped. 3,258
Hazel Branch (1) 1889 12th Nov. 1907 wrecked in Straits of Magellan on voyage Antofagasta to Liverpool and Dunkirk. 2,573
Hazel Branch (2) 1905 ex- Belgrano, 1917 purchased from Bell Bros, Glasgow renamed Hazel Branch, 1931 sold to A. Lusi, London renamed Vagliano, 1931 transferred to Greece, 1936 scrapped. 4,734
Holly Branch 1911 1st Jan. 1917 captured and sunk by UB.39 off Ile de Bas on voyage La Plata to Le Havre. 3,568
Laurel Branch (1) 1893 28th Aug. 1903 wrecked Tierra del Fuego on voyage Guayaquil and Callao to Liverpool. 2 passengers lost. 3,308
Laurel Branch (2) 1903 ex- Berwen, 1918 purchased from W & C. T. Jones, Cardiff renamed Laurel Branch, 1930 sold to United Africa Co., Liverpool, renamed Mendian, 1933 scrapped. 3,752
Lime Branch 1902 1925 sold to Fisser und Von Dornum, Emden renamed Konsul Karl Fisser, 1933 scrapped. 5,379
Maple Branch (1) 1888 5th Jul. 1897 stranded at Barra on voyage Glasgow - Sunderland. 2,637
Maple Branch (2) 1905 ex- Den of Mains, 1913 purchased from Barrie & Son, Dundee renamed Maple Branch, 3rd Sep. 1914 captured and sunk by German cruiser KARLSRUHE near St Pauls Rocks, South Atlantic. 4,647
Maple Branch (3) 1906 ex- Oceana, 1919 purchased from Maclay & McIntyre, Glasgow renamed Maple Branch, 1932 scrapped. 4,846
Myrtle Branch (1) 1883 1895 sold to Maclay & McIntyre, Glasgow renamed Behara, 1913 sold to Norway renamed Torkel, 1921 renamed Asplund, 1929 renamed Regin, 1938 scrapped after stranding damage. 1,735
Myrtle Branch (2) 1899 ex- Isel Holme, 1907 purchased from Arecuna SS Co., Glasgow renamed Myrtle Branch, 11th Apr. 1918 torpedoed and sunk by UB.73 off Inishtrahull on voyage Newport News to U.K. ; loss of 15 lives. 3,741
Oak Branch (1) 1895 2nd Apr. 1909 sank after striking submerged wreckage in Straits of Magellan. 3,258
Oak Branch (2) 1905 ex- Den of Kelly, 1914 purchased from Barrie & Son, Dundee renamed Oak Branch, 1932 scrapped. 4,430
Olive Branch (1) 1881 5th Jun.1885 sunk in collision with s/s TUDOR PRINCE in English Channel. 1,729
Olive Branch (2) 1887 1913 sold to Italy renamed Gallia, 24th Oct. 1917 sunk by German submarine UB.40 off Portland Bill. 1,806
Olive Branch (3) 1912 ex- Bellorado, 1917 purchased from Bell Bros, Glasgow renamed Olive Branch, 2nd Sep.1917 torpedoed, shelled and sunk by U.28 off North Cape with cargo of munitions. Submarine and crew lost by explosion of ship's cargo. ; loss of 1 life. 4,649
Orange Branch 1896 ex- Bullionist, 1898 purchased from Cayzer, Irvine & Co., Glasgow renamed Orange Branch, 1919 sold to Kaye, Son & Co., London renamed Kemmel, 23rd Feb. 1920 wrecked Cape Verde Islands. 3,460
Palm Branch (1) 1881 1894 sold to Helsingorske Damps. Selsk, Elsinore, Denmark renamed Ophelia, 1906 wrecked at Lemvig. 1,706
Palm Branch (2) 1897 ex- Rangoon, 1907 purchased from British & Burmese S.N. Co. renamed Palm Branch, 1929 sold to Italy renamed Carbonavi, 1930 sold to Hungary renamed Arpad, 3rd Jan. 1934 sank in Indian Ocean on voyage Sfax to Japanese shipbreakers. 3,891
Pear Branch 1921 1933 sold to M. A. Embiricos, Athens renamed Argolikos, 1953 scrapped. 4,786
Pine Branch 1883 1895 sold to C. Rahtkens, Rostock, 29th Sep. 1915 sunk in collision with s/s FANE at Archangel, 1917 salvaged and sold to M. Buskov, Archangel renamed Ilya, 1921 seized by U.S.S.R. Government renamed Yenesei, 1921 sank after striking iceberg in Kara Sea. 1,707
Plum Branch 1921 1933 sold to Chile renamed Antofagasta, 25th Jul. 1945 ashore and subsequently sank in Gulf of Lebu. 4,798
Poplar Branch 1902 1931 scrapped. 5,387
Vine Branch 1896 ex- Clan Shaw, 1898 purchased from Cayzer, Irvine & Co., Glasgow renamed Vine Branch, 6th Apr. 1917 torpedoed and sunk by U.55, S.W of Ireland on voyage Valparaiso - Liverpool ; loss of 44 lives. 3,442
Willow Branch 1892 Jan. 1917 requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to Q-Ship. Operated as such under the names Britannia, Juggler, Vinetroe and Bombala. 24th Apr. 1918 shelled and sunk under the name Bombala off Cape Blanco, West Africa by U.153 and U.154. 3,314
    Managed Ships  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Austria 1889 1919 war reparations from Deutsche Levante Line, Hamburg, 1919-1920 managed for the Shipping Controller, 1920 sold to Yula Steamers Trading Co., Liverpool, 1923 scrapped. 2,939
Greiffenfels 1914 1919 war reparations from Hansa Line, Bremen, 1919-1920 managed for the Shipping Controller, 1920 allocated to Belgium, 1921 sold to Compagnie Royale Bego-Argentine, Antwerp renamed Flandres, 12th Feb. 1940 sunk in collision with s/s KABALO off Goodwin Sands. 5,852
Tasmania 1913 1919 war reparations from German-Australian Line, 1919-1920 managed for the Shipping Controller, 1920 management transferred to New Zealand Shipping Co., 1921 sold to N.Z.S.Co. 1936 scrapped. 7,514
War Country 1918 1918-1919 managed for the Shipping Controller, 1919 sold to French Gov't renamed Glaciere, 1933 United Baltic Corp. renamed Baltara, 1956 to Panama renamed Nifkil, 1960 scrapped. 3,099
War Highway 1918 1918-1919 managed for the Shipping Controller, 1919 sold to Hessler & Co., West Hartlepool renamed Seatonia, 1927 Murrell SS Co., West Hartlepool renamed Bracondale, 1934 sold Russia renamed Berezina, 1962 sold Romania renamed Eforie, 1978 scrapped. 3,125

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