\ United Fruit Company - Great White Fleet

Comments about the Great White Fleet, as published in the company's
Annual Reports


"In addition to the ships owned indirectly by the Company, it is necessary, in order to move north our product (aggregating approximately 400,000 tons yearly) to charter (or lease), for periods ranging from three months to five years, approximately fifty steamers. Those on long charters are especially constructed to meet our requirements, and among them can be found new twin-screw American ships of superior model and speed, equipped with every modern appointment for the comfort and safety of passengers. The matter of transportation by sea is a vital link in the business. During the busy season, from twenty-five to thirty steamers each week arrive at the United States ports with fruits from our foreign divisions. This necessitates a nearly perfect schedule and rigorous discipline. The advisability of owning or controlling, for a term of years, a portion of the fleet is apparent when considering the absolute control necessary in carrying out our contracts for mail service with this and other governments."



"Tropical Fruit Steamship Company, LTD.-- Contracts have been entered into for three additional steamers, to be delivered early in the summer of 1908. These will surpass in fruit-carrying capacity and vessels no in the Company's service, and will have ample accommodations for passengers. The arrangement for their construction provides that a part of their cost shall be paid in cash and the balance in debentures, to mature in ten annual installments. These debentures have been placed in the foreign market. The earnings of the steamers will provide for the payment of the interest and the annual maturities."



"Tropical Fruit Steamship Company, Limited.-- Four steamships, the Almirante, Santa Marta, Metapan, and Zacapa referred to in the report for 1909 as having been contracted for, have been delivered by the builders and placed in service. These are of 5000 tons gross register, with accommodations for 112 first-class passengers, and are supplied with the most approved devices for proper handling and carriage of fruit. Three additional steamers, generally similar in dimensions and appointments, have been contracted for and will be place in service early in 1911. Another steamship, the Greenbrier, was purchased to serve as an auxiliary."



"Tropical Fruit Steamship Company, Limited.-- Three steamships, the Carrillo, Sixaola and Tivives, referred to in the report of 1910 as having been contracted for, have been delivered by the builders, and three others, larger than any now in the service, have been contracted for, to be delivered in 1912. These will be of approximately 8000 tons gross register, with accommodations for 113 passengers."



"Tropical Fruit Steamship Company, Limited.--- This Company owns eighteen steamers, has three others of approximately 8000 tons gross register each now under construction and shortly to be delivered, with accommodations for 135 passengers, and has purchased four additional steamers recently constructed to meet the Company's requirements for tropical transportation. This will give the Company the service of a fleet of twenty-five steamers in addition to the sixteen owned by Elders & Fyffes, Limited, and numerous chartered vessels. The rapid growth and great importance, from an earnings standpoint, of the marine freight and passenger service, has amply justified the development of this fleet."



"Steamships. Recent legislation by the government has enabled the Company to place twenty-four of its ships under American registry."



"Steamships. Of the twenty-three ships under American Registry, seven are now being operated in the Company's fruit trade, and sixteen are in the service of the United States Government, and of the fourteen ships under British Registry, two remain in the fruit trade, and twelve are in the service of the British Admiralty. During the year, two ships completed in British yards since the beginning of the war were lost. Four other ships of British Registry were lost during the year, as well as one ship of American Registry."



"Steamships. The Company's steamships were reconditioned during the year to the same standard as before entering the Government service and are now in the best condition to transport their cargoes of fruit and special freight as well as to maintain the high reputation for passenger service enjoyed by the Great White Fleet. Of the eight new steamships for the United states trade, orders for which were placed in 1919, three of the banana carriers are now in service. The other bananas steamship, which is to be electrically driven, is nearing completion. Early delivery is expected of the four ships specially constructed for carrying sugar from the Company's mills in Cuba to its refinery in Boston. Of the six steamships ordered for the European trade, two are now in service and the remaining four are nearing completion. One additional steamship has been purchased for this trade and contract has been made for another now under charter."



“Steamships. Excepting one ship for the English service (which is nearly completed), the ships contracted for in 1919 and 1920 are now in service. Work has just been started on the steamships "Carrillo" and "Tivives" to convert them from coal burners to oil burners. It is estimated that they will be ready for service March 10. Many improvements have been made to the interior of the steamships for the comfort of passengers as well as for economies in fuel. The passenger business of the Great White Fleet has been very satisfactory during the year. Although the freight business has been seriously depressed, your Company has suffered relatively less than other carriers as its ships are always assured of a homeward cargo as well as taking outward general cargo for its large Merchandise Department and material for construction purposes. During the latter part of the year the "electrically driven" ship referred to in our last report has been put in service, and we are pleased to report is fully meeting our favorable expectations. This being our initial installations, opportunities for minor improvements have naturally developed, consisting principally of items which were conservatively introduced as factors of safety whose cost can now ell be eliminated. Our experience leads us to feel that the principle is absolutely sound and a long step in the right direction, both for economy and efficiency. AS an auxiliary to our ocean carrying service, a small steamer has been purchased for coastwise service at Jamaica.”



“The steamship "Patria," which was nearly completed at the end of the last year, was delivered March 30, 1922, and is now in service. Contracts have been given for the construction of six steamers, three for the American services and three for the English services. In the former will be installed the Fullagar Deisel Combustion Engines with electric drive. The steamship "San Benito" (Electrically driven) has proved a complete success, which confirms our opinion that the "Electric Drive" feature is a step in the right direction for greater economy and efficiency. During the year eight steamers were converted from coal burners to oil burners, and two additional steamships are now being converted to oil. The first three steamers built for the Company in 1903 were thoroughly reconditioned for 100% efficiency for the next ten years. The steamship "Ellis," for several years under charter to this Company, was purchased."



“As a result of the boilermakers' strike in England the six steamers contracted for in 1922 have not been completed. Delivery of one steamer with Fullagar Diesel Combustion Engines with electric drive for the American service is expected in February, 1924. Delivery of the other five steamers is expected during the first half of 19245. With the exception of four steamers, the American Fleet is oil-burning. Three of these, the Saramacca, Suriname, and Coppername, will be converted from coal to oil burners within the next few months. During the year the steamers built for the Company in 1908 were thoroughly reconditioned, and the passenger accommodations improved to the standard of the Company's newest steamers."



“During the year 1924 considerable expenditures were made in order to maintain our usual high standard of operating efficiency. Two ships, equipped with Diesel engines and electric drive, for the American service were delivered and are now in operation. One additional ship will be delivered for operation in the American service during 1925. One additional ship was also placed in operation by our English Subsidiary, Elders & Fyffes, Limited, during 1924. Two more ships for the European trade will be placed in commission in 1925 and orders for three new ships for the English service have been placed for delivery in 1926."



“Steamships. The Company's steamships have made 1273 round trip voyages and steamed 5200022 miles during the year. This statement give some idea of the magnitude of the service performed by its 86 steamships. In 30403 days' operation the steamships lost no time on prearranged schedules. This indicates efficient performance for personnel and machinery. In addition to transportation of the Company's bananas and other products the fleet carried 66848 passengers, 993,683 tons of freight, and 196480 bags of mail. Maintenance of the steamships has been of the usual high standard. The Company has nine ships under construction.”



“Steamships. The Company added to its fleet six of the new steamships under construction which were referred to in the annual report for last year. Three of these ships have been placed in the European service and three in the American service. The Company now has under construction three ships which are for the European service and which are to be delivered in 1928. Additional passenger quarters have been added to the SS Calamares. Radio direction finders, which enable ships to determine their exact position at all times, are now installed on most of the Company's steamships, and the remaining ships will be equipped in the near future. The use of direction finders in conjunction with radio beacons has reduce the steaming time of the vessels and effected an economy in operation, and added to the safety of our passengers and ships at sea. Continued economies have been effected in fuel oil consumption and the steamships have been maintained at the usual high standard. During the year the Company's ships made 1284 round trip voyages and steamed 5374399 nautical miles.”



"All ships are being fitted with electrical depth-sounding machines. Gyroscopic compasses with automatic steering devices have been installed on the for larges passenger ships. Excellent results have been obtained from anew type of stream-line rudder which has been installed on several ships of the fleet. economies effected by this devise are such that installation will be extended to the balance of the fleet. Passenger ships have been renovated, hot and cold fresh running water has been installed in all passenger rooms, and electrical refrigeration for food has been installed. The efficiency of the fleet has been maintained, and during the year the Company's ships made 1492 round-trip voyages and steamed 6290791 nautical miles. Three new ships are being constructed by the English subsidiary for the European service."



"The Company’s' fleet comprises 92 owned ships, aggregating 426935 gross tons, and 6 ships chartered from other Companies, aggregating 17066 gross tons, a total of 98 ships, aggregating 444001 gross tons. During the year the fleet made 1233 round-trip voyages and steamed 5247701 nautical miles. The fleet carried 47082 passengers and 875867 tons of general cargo, in addition to transporting Company fruit and other products. The operations of the Company’s subsidiary, Refrigerated Steamship Line, Inc. contributed to the increased number of voyages and tons of cargo. The steamships Argual, Telde, and Ozotava have been converted into refrigerated ships and have been transferred to the American service. The steamships Abagarez, Metapan, and Turriabla have been reconditioned in accordance with the policy of the Company to maintain the fleet at the highest standard of efficiency and service, and their lives have been extended. These expenditures which are in addition to normal upkeep, account for the principal part of the increase in the investment in ships as reflected in the balance sheet."



"The banana carrying capacity of the steamships Argual, Telde, and Orotava has been increased 13%. The three passenger ships formerly operated on the Pacific Coast have been transferred to the Atlantic Coast and the Pacific Coast service is now being operated with freight ships only. The steamships General Lee, General Pershing, and General Sherman (originally the Cartago, Heredia and Parismina) which were chartered in 1932 to other operators were redelivered and are now operating in the Company service under their former names. The steamships Manaqui and Copan have been sold, the latter for scrapping. The company fleet comprises 85 owned ships, aggregating 394708 gross tons and 9 ships chartered from other owners, aggregating 17507 gross tons, a total of 94 ships aggregating 412215 gross tons. During the year the fleet made 1444 round-trip voyages covering 5566077 nautical miles. The fleet carried 46310 passengers and 1066758 tons of general cargo, in addition to transporting Company fruit and other products."



The Company's fleet carried 56803 passengers and transported 1208919 tons of general cargo in addition to the Company's fruit and other products. The results of the steamship traffic business have been satisfactory. A new freight service was inaugurated between New York and Colombia; also a new passenger and freight services was inaugurated between New York and Nassau, Miami and Havana, in which the recently acquired Steamship Munargo is being operated."


The information contained in this website is absolutely free. However, we request users to quote this website as their source when using material obtained here.

©united fruit historical society, 2001-2006