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Pacific Navigation

February 22, 1891, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Pacific Navigation.

Some Inside Facts About the Empress of India and Her Trip.
An Enterprise Which is Bellicose as Well as Commercial.
Great Britain May Monopolize the Pacific Trade as Well as the Atlantic — A Practical Plea for More Cruisers.

While the protection advocates in this country are raving against free trade and howling for the reduction of home industries to a condition of independent and innocuous imbecility, it seems to be a studiously ignored fact that Great Britain and her colonies are not only bidding, but successfully competing, for all that is worth having of the Pacific trade.

At the present time the new steamer Empress of India is making a profitable trip round the world; not that the steamer will perform the entire trip herself, but it is a certainty that every cent of the money paid for transportation will go into John Bull's pockets, even in the traversing of this continent. And this world's trip is to be the first of a long series which can be easily arranged for without putting a nickel into the pocket of a single American sailor.

History of the Canadian Pacific Line. Peter Pigott.

The Canadian and the British Governments have practically consummated a contract with the Canadian Pacific which will be quickly seen to be fraught with disastrous consequences to San Francisco as a port of entry and a menace to the existence of the American flag on the North Pacific. When the enterprise is carried to its admittedly intended conclusion, Great Britain will have three commerce-destroyers on the North Pacific Ocean, equipped for warfare while conveying merchandise and passengers, and of such speed that, combined with the saving of 300 miles on a higher parallel of latitude, the balance of trade to Japan will be thrown toVancouver and the Canadian Pacific.

Palestine, Port Said, Suez Canal. 1907.

1907 map. Palestine, Port Said, Suez Canal.

The Empress of India, the first vessel of the new service to be launched, arrived at Port Said last night with a full compliment of passengers on a world's pleasure trip. The Canadian Pacific, which owns her, is thus recouped in advance for the cost of her passage out. The vessel was built by the Barrow Shipbuilding Company, of Barrow-in-Furness, England, for service in connection with the Canadian Pacific Railway between Vancouver and the ports of Japan and China, thus forming the last link in the new route to the East through. British territory. Her sister ship, the Empress of Japan, was launched on December 13th, and the third ship, the Empress of China, is expected to be ready for sea by April. These ships all fulfill the requirements of the British Board of Trade and of the Admiralty and Lloyd's, and are classed as 100 A 1.

They will also be placed on the list of British armed cruisers for service in time of war. Each vessel has two platforms forward and two aft, mounting Armstrong guns of 4.7 caliber. These weapons, in the case of the Empress of India, are already awaiting the vessel at  Vancouver.

The Empress of India

The Empress of India is painted white all over, and has three pole-masts to carry fore-and-aft sails. She has two buff-colored funnels, and in external build much resembles the celebrated, Atlantic racing liner, the City of Rome. Her length over all is 485 feet, beam 51 feet, depth 36 feet, and gross tonnage 5920 tons. The hull, which is of steel, is divided into fifteen compartments by bulkheads, and has a cellular double bottom four feet in depth and seven feet below the engine room. There are four complete decks. The ship is designed to carry 200 saloon passengers. 60 second cabin, and 500 steerage — these last chiefly Chinese coolies, for whose special delectation an opium room has been provided on board.

The accommodations of the Empress of India could scarcely have been provided except on the supposition of their being intended to create an immediate monopoly of the transPacific trade to China and Japan, so far as Europeans taking the westward route are concerned. The staterooms are roomy, prettily fitted up and well ventilated. There are four "special cabins" adjoining the library, for families, in which the beds can be enlarged almost to the size of four posters. They are also fitted with wardrobes and a writing table. The dining saloon and library boudoir are artistically decorated with woodwork of polished oak, paneled in cream color with overlaid gold. The side alcoves, supported on white pillars, each contain a small reading table. The library is upholstered in blue velvet, and is fitted with large bookcases, curtains and writing tables. There is a distinct novelty in the arrangement of two portholes to each window, placed one above the other, with two screens to draw across, one of wire gauze for tropical weather, the other painted with views of the Canadian Pacific, to be closed at night. The first-class smoking-room is placed aft, there being also a second-class smoking-room on the main deck, which extends across tbe ship and is fitted up with dark mahogany paneling. The electric light is fitted out, and the ship also carries a searchlight of 10,000 candle-power on the bridge.

The engines consist of two sets of tri-compound, in separate engine-rooms. The boilers and machinery are protected by coal armor, and the bunkers will carry 1600 tons of coal, with a reserve of 400 tons for use in emergency. The speed contracted for was eighteen knots an hour with forced draught, and sixteen and one-half knots ordinary draught. At the trial trip on the Clyde 18.68 knots were recorded, and during a 500 miles continuous steaming test, 16.06.

The Empress of India is commanded by Captain Marshall, and it is a part of the arrangement between the Canadian Pacific Company and the British Government that the vessels shall be commanded by naval Officers. The present trip is by way of Gibraltar, Naples, Port Said, Ceylon, Bombay, Singapore, Hongkong, Yokohama and  Vancouver, where the pleasure party will leave the ship and find their way by the Canadian Pacific to the Atlantic, and so home. The Canadian Pacific people propose to complete the circuit by a line of Atlantic steamers of their own, starting from St. John's, Canada, to either Plymouth or Liverpool.

The Empress of Japan

Empress of Japan. Twin screw steamer ship.

The Empress of Japan, like the Empress of India, is a twin-screw steamer, built to the British Admiralty requirements as a cruiser, and already in a condition to proceed to sea. She is 485 feet long, over all, 440 feet between perpendiculars, breadth 51 feet, depth 36 feet, tonnage 5700 gross. The engines will indicate about 10,000 horse-power. The ship's guns are stored in readiness at Vancouver and Hongkong. Her armament will consist of the largest type of 4.7-inch guns. At the banquet on December 13th, when the vessel was launched, Lord Hartington, in proposing "Success to the Empress of Japan," did not hesitate to say that he trusted that "through the agency of the Naval Construction and Armament Company, direct communication would be opened up with British ports and Canadian Atlantic ports, and thence by way of the Canadian Pacific and the Grand Trunk Railway, not only with China and Japan, but also with the Australian colonies."

Candadian Pacific ad for Canadian Australasian Line.

That the enterprise has been planned on a thorough and lasting basis is shown by the arrangements for the reception of tea as well as by the adaptation to naval purposes in case of emergency. Both the Empress of India and the Empress of Japan can carry 4000 tons of tea and other products of China and Japan. Each of their hulls is divided into twelve watertight compartments, of which two can be filled at any time without perceptible diminution of buoyancy. The vessels are lighted throughout by electricity, and are thoroughly ventilated by a series of electric fans, each three feet in diameter, and delivering about 400,000 cubic feet per hour. They are also specially designed with side ports and side hatches, arranged with a view to the speedy reception and delivery of the cargo.

The precise object of the enterprise is thus unequivocally stated by a London newspaper, in a recent edition:

The importance of this new line of steamers, from an imperial as well as a colonial standpoint, cannot be overestimated. There has been irregular comnunication between China, and Japan and British Colombia for the last two or three years, but the three steamers, the Empress of India, Empress of Japan and Empress of China, will form the first regular service, and it must be remembered that hitherto the North Pacific ocean has been the only part of the world in which the British flag has been more or less conspicuous by its absence. The new line of steamers means the extension of terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway from Vancouver to Hongkong, and consequently the practical completion of the line of British communication around the world. It is also most valuable for strategical purposes, and in the event of any difficulties in that part of the world, the possession of these fast steamers, specially constructed so as to be available for cruisers, would place Great Britain at once in a position of considerable advantage, and add very much to the strength of the South Pacific squadron.

Canadian Pacific Company

Canadian Pacific Steamship Line Poster.

To aid in the establishment of this new connection the Imperial and Dominion Governments have granted a subsidy of $300,000, the former contributing three-fourths of the amount and the latter one-fourth. In consideration of this assistance the Canadian Pacific Company has entered into an agreement with Her Majesty's Government for the transportation of the mails over the route named, and has undertaken to construct the steamers according to Admiralty requirements, so that they may, it the necessity arises, be available for the transportation of troops, supplies, etc., as well as for use as armored cruisers.

The round-the-world trips, of which the Empress of India is making the pioneer, are intended to become a permanent feature of the company's enterprise. They are the first real commercial outcome of the Nellie Bly, Bislaud and George Francis Train globe-trots. The trips are so arranged that passengers starting from Europe may join the ships at Liverpool or Naples, and proceed via the Suez Canal to China, Japan and  Vancouver, thence over the Canadian Pacific Railway to any of the following seaports: Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Boston or New York, tourists having the choice of port and also of transatlantic line to Liverpool. Tourists starting from the American continent will be received at any point on the Canadian Pacific Railway and conveyed to any of the Atlantic ports named, or they may join the excursion at one or other of these ports. The choice of Atlantic steamship line will be left to the tourist. From  Vancouver,  the Canadian Pacific Railway Company will undertake to deliver passengers at any point upon its lines, or at any of the Atlantic ports previously named on the American continent. None of the steamers will call here on the first transpacific trip or afterwards.

The Empress of China is in a forward condition, and will be ready for sea by May at the latest. She is of the same size as the sister vessels, and like them is constructed of Siemen's-Martin's steel, with double bottoms extending the full length. She has accommodations for 170 saloon passengers.

The recent visit of the Monowai to this port and the placing of that vessel on the line between New Zealand, Australia and this, port, taken in conjunction with the competition in the Japan trade, inaugurated by the Canadian Pacific, cannot but be construed as a determination on the part of the British colonies to bid for the trade of the Pacific. The Monowai is running on a joint schedule with an American line, but the circumstances under which the vessel appeared here are regarded by thoughtful men as possessing more than ordinary significance.

The Isthmus and Central American trade is no safer than that to China and Japan, so far as British competition is concerned, and there are not found wanting men who assert that a line from Vancouver to Valparaiso, tapping the principal Central American and South American ports, is not an impossible nor an improbable auxiliary to the Canadian Pacific's scheme. This would virtually till the Pacific with British cruisers or "commerce destroyers," and, it is said, would be a direct and necessary sequence of the construction of an Isthmian canal, wherever located.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

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