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SS Coptic (1881)

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Title: SS Coptic (1881)  
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Subject: SS Ionic (1883), SS Doric (1883), New Zealand Shipping Company, PS Ireland, PS America
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SS Coptic (1881)

Career (UK)
Name: Coptic
Owner: Oceanic Steam Navigation Company
  • White Star Line
  • Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co.
  • Shaw, Savill & Co.
Port of registry: London
Route: Liverpool-New York (1881)
San Francisco-Hong Kong (1882–1883)
Outbound: London-Plymouth-Tenerife-Cape Town-Hobart-New Zealand (Port Chalmers, Lyttelton, Wellington and/or Auckland; Napier occasionally); Inbound: Cape Horn-Montevideo-Rio de Janeiro-Tenerife-Plymouth-London (1884–1895).[1]
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Yard number: 142
Launched: 10 August 1881
Acquired: 9 November 1881
Maiden voyage: 16 November 1881
Out of service: 30 October 1906
Fate: Sold December 1906
Career (USA)
Name: Persia
Owner: Pacific Mail Steamship Company
Port of registry: London
Route: San Francisco-Hong Kong
Acquired: December 1906
Homeport: San Francisco
Fate: Sold 1915
Career (Japan)
Name: Persia Maru
Owner: Oriental Steam Ship Co.
(Toyo Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha)
Port of registry: Yokohama
Route: Yokohama-San Francisco-Hong Kong (1915–1922)
Yokohama-Netherlands East Indies (1922–1924)
Acquired: 1915
In service: 1915
Out of service: December 1924
Fate: Scrapped at Osaka 1926
General characteristics
Tonnage: 4,448 GRT
2,670 NRT[1][2]
Length: 430 ft 2 in (131.11 m)[1][3]
Beam: 42 ft 2 in (12.85 m)[1][3]
Depth: 31 ft 6 in (9.60 m)[3]
Speed: 13 kn (24 km/h; 15 mph) (as built)

SS Coptic was a steamship built in 1881, which was successively owned by the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and the Japanese Oriental Steam Ship Co. (Toyo Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha) before being scrapped in 1926.

Ship history

A sister ship to the Arabic, Coptic was built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, for service in the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company's White Star Line. Launched on 10 August 1881, she was delivered on 9 November and made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 16 November under the command of Captain Edward J. Smith.[1] On the return voyage, a hurricane stove in several of her lifeboats and drowned two seamen who were swept overboard. On 11 March 1882, she sailed from Liverpool to Hong Kong via Suez, chartered to the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Company for service between San Francisco and China. As Occidental & Oriental already had numerous vessels on that run, she was briefly chartered by the New Zealand Shipping Co. while its ships were being built.

In 1884 she was chartered by Shaw, Savill & Company for their Liverpool to New Zealand service,[3] and was fitted with 750-ton-capacity refrigerated holds and the refrigerating machinery to transport New Zealand mutton.[1][2] From 8 October 1884, a regular service was established; fares ranged from 70 guineas in first class to 16 in steerage.

While under the command of Captain Edward John Smith, her master from 1889–1894 (and who was later the Captain of the famous RMS Titanic), in December 1890 she ran aground on Main Island at Rio de Janeiro while about to return to Plymouth. Her forward compartments flooded, but were repaired by local engineers.[1] In late 1894 her compound engines were replaced with Harland & Wolff triple expansion engines and new boilers; her accommodations were modernised and her funnel lengthened. In early 1895 she was chartered to the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Company again to serve between San Francisco and the Far East.[3] In September 1897, she collided in Kobe harbour with the Minatogawa Maru, which bucked several of her hull plates and twisted her stem. In February 1898 she suffered considerable damage after being caught in a typhoon. After temporary repairs at Yokohama she sailed to Hong Kong where several decks were removed and rebuilt.[3] On 12 September 1900, she ran aground again, this time at Shimonoseki, but suffered no damage.

On 5 June 1898, Captain Charles V. Gridley (USN), died of natural causes aboard Coptic, while in Kobe Japan. He had recently been relieved of command of the flagship USS Olympia following the successful Battle of Manila Bay (1 May 1898). Unfortunately the heat and stress of the battle exacerbated an existing medical condition, and his health deteriorated quickly after. His body was brought home and buried in his home town of Erie, Pennsylvania.

She made her final voyage for Occidental and Oriental on 30 October 1906 from San Francisco. In December, she was sold to the American Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and renamed Persia, but continued to serve between San Francisco and the Far East and retained British registry.[1][3] After a 1911 refit, the elderly ship was sold again in 1915 to the Oriental Steam Ship Co. (Toyo Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha) of Yokohama and renamed Persia Maru.[2] She continued plying the trans-Pacific route through 1922, when she was transferred to the Tokyo-Netherlands East Indies route. She was laid up in Yokohama in December 1924 and her fittings auctioned off.[1] In 1926, the Oriental Steam Ship Co. merged with the Japan Mail Shipping Line (NYK), and after a 44-year career, the Persia Maru was scrapped in Osaka in 1926.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "SS Coptic," de Kerbrech, Richard (2009). Ships of the White Star Line. Surrey, UK: Ian Allen Publishing. pp. 34–36. ISBN 978-0-7110-3366-5
  2. ^ a b c d e "Shaw, Savill & Albion: SS Coptic". 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Solem, Borge (2012). "Coptic, White Star Line". Retrieved 18 November 2012. 

External links

  • "White Star Line: SS Coptic". 
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