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The Fleets

Douglas Steamship Company, Ltd., Hong Kong, 1883-1976

Douglas Lapraik (1818-1869) who started his Hong Kong career as a watchmaker's apprentice, in 1860 founded a steamship company which ran the south China coast. By the time of his death in 1869 Douglas Lapraik owned seven steamships.
In 1866, Douglas Lapraik together with Thomas Sutherland, also founded the well-known Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company, which is at the present day one of the largest concerns of the kind in the world. They built docks under arrangements with the Admiralty to admit the largest ships in the Navy, thus creating in Hong Kong an effective naval base.

In 1866 Douglas Lapraik retired from his company and his nephew J.S. Lapraik took over as a director. J.S. Lapraik took two partners and continued the company as Douglas Lapraik & Co.
The Douglas Steamship Company was formed 1883 and took over the various steamers and other assets which had been managed but only partly owned by the firm of Douglas Lapraik & Co. J.S. Lapraik died in 1893 and the firm was lead by junior partner Davis.

The cession of Taiwan to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 which ended the Sino-Japanese War, struck the company a heavy blow.
Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) placed several steamers on the Amoy Tansui Line and the Douglas Steamship Company was forced to cut down freight rates. Also, OSK opened several other lines and began to compete on the China coast with Douglas Steamship Company and the company incurred severe losses.

Fortunately, in 1900 and 1901, satisfactory earnings were made by chartering several ships to the British Government and later to the American Government due to the Boxer uprising in China. The Taiwan trade was a lost cause and the company withdrew from it.
The Company would maintain its position on the China coast, but in the late 1920s the company had run into financial difficulties and in 1932, S.T. Williamson bought a controlling interest in the Douglas Steamship Company.

The outbreak of open warfare between China and Japan in 1937 was nearly the end of shipping around the China coast and the company started trading between Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports. Also the ships were redeployed, as well as was possible.
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbour the ships were taken over by the Hong Kong Shipping Board for the Ministry Of War Transport (MOWT) service. When Japan seized Hong Kong all the staff were interned on Christmas Day 1941.
At the end of World War II the company tried to regain its old trade but when S.T. Williamson died in 1950, J.R. Mullion became Chairman of the Douglas Steamship Company and the remaining two ships were sold and the company became an investment company.
In the mid 1950s Mullion decided to reinvest in shipping again and the Douglas Steamship Company bought three Empire ships followed in 1959 with a similar ship. In 1966 Mullion & Co. formally took over as managers.
In 1969-1970 the Empire ships were replaced by other tonnage among them two tankers.
The Mullion Group decided to sell of its ships in the mid 1970s and the Douglas Steamship Company was formally wind up in 1976.

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:
    • Hong Kong-South Coast of China
    • Hong Kong- Taiwan (till 1900)

Funnel & Flag:


Funnel Flag
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Albay 1871 built by Dobie & Co., Glasgow | Built for E.M. de Bussche & Geo. Brown, Newcastle, 1877 purchased from D.A.T. Manger, Hong Kong by J.S. Lapraik, 24th December 1883 wrecked near Swatow in heavy weather. 541
Douglas 1881 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | Built for J.S. Lapraik, 1883 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 11th February 1886 wrecked on White Rocks with the loss of 16 lives, wreck later scrapped. 1,566
Fokien 1880 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | Built for J.S. Lapraik, 1883 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1895 sold to Francis Cass, Amoy and resold to Chinese Government at Nanking, 1896 renamed Sun Fokin, 1898 sold to Marty & d’Abbadie, Haiphong renamed Hoihao, 26th May 1904 wrecked on Hainan Head. 814
Formosa 1885 built by Wigham, Richardson & Co., Newcastle upon Tyne | 1903 sold to F. Reyes, Manilla renamed Cantabria, later sold to Urrtiua & Co., 26th September 1905 wrecked on Ticao Island in typhoon and lost with whole crew. 1,097
Hai Foong 1903 built by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Sunderland | ex- Tungus, 1922 purchased from Wilhelm Wilhelmsen, Tonsberg renamed Hai Foong, 1926 sold to San Peh S.N. Co., China renamed Wan Hsiang, 1937 sunk as a blockship in the Whampoa River. 1,825
Hai Hong 1899 built by Sir W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., Newcastle on Tyne | ex- North Lyell built for North Mount Lyell Copper Ltd, Melbourne, ex- Moura 1899, 1915 purchased from Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand renamed Hai Hong, 1928 sold to Cia. Maritima, Manila renamed Mactan, 1941 requisitioned by US Navy, 1945 returned to owners, 1955 sold for demolition, 1956 scrapped. 2,067
Hai Loong 1912 built by D. & W. Henderson & Co Ltd., Glasgow | ex- Morialta built for Adelaide Steamship Co., Adelaide, 1920 purchased from H.M.H. Nemazee, Hong Kong renamed Hai Loong, 1922 sold to Newcastle & Hunter River Steamship Co., Sydney renamed Gwydir, 14th February 1942 beached after collision and scrapped in situ. 1,929
Hai Ning 1896 built by Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Enginering Works, Chester | ex- John Englis built for Maine Steamship Co., New York, ex- Relief 1898 for US Army, ex- Repose 1918, 1923 purchased and rebuilt renamed Hai Ning, 1937 sold to Philippine owners renamed Mindanao, 1937 sold to Manila Steamship Co., Manilla renamed Lanao, 1942 sank by Japanese off Cebu. 2,104
Haiching 1898 built by D.J. Dunlop & Co., Port Glasgow | 1940 requisitioned by MOWT, 2nd October 1943 torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U.168 near Bombay with the loss of 12 lives. 2,182
Hailoong (1) 1871 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | Built for J.S. Lapraik, 1883 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1887 sold to H.E. Reynell, Hyogo, 1890 sold to Kyoyeisha K.K., Kobe renamed Genyo Maru, 1897 sold same name, 1900 sold idem, 10th January 1904 wrecked near Osaka. 446
Hailoong (2) 1888 built by Ramage & Ferguson, Leith | 1905 sold to Jebsen & Co., Hamburg for service Hong Kong Haiphong renamed Schleswig, 1907 sold to Far Eastern Steamship & Nav. Co., Vladivostovk renamed Volga, 1909 sold same name, 1917 sold to Japan renamed Ichi Maru, 1931 scrapped in Japan after being sold several times without change of name. 1,253
Haimun 1896 built by Wm. Hamilton & Co., Port Glasgow | 1916 sold to Li Po Kwai, Hong Kong, 1923 sold to Tung Tai, Panama, 1928 sold to Hong Kong renamed Wing Lee, 1931 sold same name, 1935 sold renamed Wing Hah, 1943 sank by Japanese submarine near Haiphong, raised and repaired by Japanese renamed Eika Maru, 2nd June 1945 torpedoed and sunk by American submarine USS TAMBOUR in Gulf of Tonkin. 1,311
Haiphong 1885 built by Wigham, Richardson & Co., Newcastle upon Tyne | 27th June 1892 wrecked near Ironosaki Light, Shimoda. 1,743
Haitan (1) 1887 built by Sir Raylton Dixon & Co., Middlesbrough | 1919 sold to Man Wing Steamship Co., Hong Kong not renamed, 1926 sold to Chau Fook Co., Hong Kong, 1929 sold to Chang Yin, 1929 presumed broken up. 1,856
Haitan (2) 1909 built by F. Schickau, Danzig | ex- Orel built for Russian Volunteer Fleet Association, ex- Silvia 1921 for New York, Newfoundland & Halifax Steamship Co. (C.T. Bowring & Co.), Liverpool, 1935 purchased from Williamson & Co., Hong Kong renamed Haitan, 1941 requisitioned for Liner Division, managed by British India S.N. Co., 1946 returned to her owners, 1950 scrapped. 3,554
Haiyang 1908 built by D.J. Dunlop & Co., Port Glasgow | 1940 chartered to British India Steam Nav. Co., 1942 requisitioned by MOWT, 1946 returned to owners, 1949 laid up, 1951 scrapped. 2,289
Inchdouglas 1943 built by Wm. Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland | ex- Jersey Hart built for Morel Ltd, Cardiff, ex- Stanpark 1945 for Stanhope SS Co. (J.A. Billmeir & Co.), ex- Queen Eleanor 1951 for T. Dunlop & Sons, Glasgow, 1956 purchased by Williamson & Co., Hong Kong renamed Inchdouglas, 1956 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1970 scrapped at Kaohsiung. 7,275
Inchearn 1943 built by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. Ltd, Newcastle | ex- Empire Flag built for Ministry Of War Transport, managed by New Zealand Shipping Co., London, ex- Carmia 1946 for Donaldson Line, ex- Victoria Star 1954 for Blue Star Line, 1955 purchased by Williamson & Co., Hong Kong renamed Inchearn, transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1966 scrapped at Osaka. 7,024
Inchmull 1941 built by Wm Doxford & Sons, Sunderland | ex- Empire Spray built for Ministry Of War Transport, managed by West Hartlepool S.N. Co., 1942 purchased by Dutch Government renamed Gerard Dou managed by Rotterdamsche Lloyd,1946 purchased by Stoomvaart Mij. Rotterdam, 1947 renamed Marken,1955 sold to Williamson & Co., Hong Kong renamed Inchmull, 1966 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co.,1969 scrapped at Kaohsiung. 7,308
Inchona 1960 built by Austin & Pickersgill Ltd., Sunderland | ex- Glanely, 1969 purchased from Atlantic Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd. (W.J. Tatem Ltd. managers) by Williamson & Co., Hong Kong renamed Inchona, transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1975 sold to Bardal Shipping Co., Greece and renamed Alekos K. 1978 sold to Alkistis Shipping Co. S.A., Greece and renamed Aries, 1987 broken up. 8,261
Inchstuart 1942 built by Burntisland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Burntisland | ex- Highland Prince, 1955 purchased by Williamson & Co., Hong Kong from Prince Line renamed Inchstuart, 1959 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1969 scrapped at Hong Kong. 7,043
Kwangtung 1877 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | Built for J.S. Lapraik, 1883 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 5th December 1884 wrecked in Min River. 1,056
Namoa 1872 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | Built for J.S. Lapraik, 1883 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 3rd October 1897 stranded near Brown’s Rocks entrance Haitan Strait and lost. 1,375
Quarta 1959 built by Odense Staalskips, Odense | Tanker, ex- Gudrun Maersk, 1966 renamed Lanmar, 1970 purchased renamed Quarta, 1976 scrapped Hong Kong. 16,096
Seistan 1890 built by Napier, Shanks & Bell, Glasgow | ex- Innamincka built for Adelaide Steamship Co., Adelaide, ex- Sistan 1921, 1937 purchased from Williamson & Co., Hong Kong not renamed, 27th December 1941 bombed and sunk. 2,455
Terza 1958 built by Eriksbergs, Gothenburg | Tanker, ex- Polycrest, 1970 purchased from Norwegian owners renamed Terza, 1976 scrapped San Esteban. 12,754
Thales 1864 built by Archibald Denny, Dumarton | Ordered by James Galbraith, London as a blockade runner Kentucky but laid up before completion, 1869 completed as Thales for Peter Denny, 1881 purchased from D. Gillies, Hong Kong by J.S. Lapraik, 1883 transferred to Douglas Steamship Co., 1904 sold to E. Eichwede, Tsingtao renamed Veteran (German flag), 1904 seized by Japanese warship, 1905 sold to Shimatani K.K., Tokyo renamed Yaura Maru, 1906 sold renamed Fushimi Maru, 1907 sold idem, 1909 sold to Sai Zinso, Gensan, Korea renamed Sun Chang Ho, 1912 renamed Sun Chang Maru, 1913 sold renamed Fushimi Maru, 1916 sold idem, 1920 sold, 1921 sold, 1924 sold twice, late 1930s converted to oil engine, 1941 sold to Kansai Kisen K.K., 6th April 1945 mined and sunk off Yawata. 1,199

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