|Le cargo mixte Adrastus à l'ancre (collection agence Adhémar)|
En 1864, Alfred et Philip Holt conçurent l'Ocean Steam Ship Company dans le jardin familial de Liverpool. Ils y virent tout de suite la grande aventure de leur vie et, en passionnés de L'Odyssée, ils donnèrent à leurs bateaux les noms des héros éternels d'Homère. Sortis des chantiers Scotts de Greenock en 1865, les trois premiers, à tout seigneur, tout honneur, furent baptisés Agamemnon, Ajax et Achilles. Grâce aux dons techniques d'Alfred, ancien mécanicien sur les locomotives, les nouveaux vapeurs sont mieux exploités et la faible consommation de charbon rend rentables les voyages vers la Chine. Holt marqua ainsi l'évolution de l'histoire maritime.
De 1919 à 1934, Hott ajouta 28 nouvelles unités à sa flotte dont 11, équipés des meilleures machines, contribuèrent à maintenir la compagnie à la pointe des technologies. Mais la prudence était alors à l'honneur et les nouveaux équipements ne furent installés à grande échelle qu'après avoir été largement testés sur un nombre limité de navires.
La Blue Funnel Line (composée de Ocean Steam Ship Company Limited, Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij Ocean, East Indian Ocean Steam Ship Company et China Mutual Steam Navigation Company) desservait l'Australie en accord avec la White Star Line dans les années 1920 (partenariat rejoint par Aberdeen Line en 1926) et pris le contrôle d'autres compagnies à partir de 1930 (Elder Dempster, Glen and Shire Lines et Straits Steam Ship Co…).
Routes / Itinéraires des cargos de la Blue Funnel Line
1852-1853 Whitehaven - Cardiff.
1853-1855 Liverpool - Bordeaux.
1857-1864 Liverpool - West Indies.
1865-1869 Liverpool - Mauritius - Penang - Singapore - Hong Kong - Shanghai.
1869-1980 Liverpool - Suez - Penang - Singapore - Hong Kong - Shanghai - Japan.
1880-1899 Singapore - Belawan Deli / Singapore - Penang and intermediate ports.
1894-1973 Singapore - Batavia - Darwin - Derby - Cossack - Onslow - Gascoyne - Geraldton - Fremantle.
1901-1956 Glasgow - Liverpool - Cape Town - Australia.
1902-1984 China - Vancouver - Seattle - North Pacific Coast ports - San Diego.
1910-1913 Liverpool - Fishguard (for passengers) - Australia.
1915-1978 New York - Panama - Far East ports.
1973-1978 Fremantle - Sunda Strait - Singapore - Malacca Strait - Klang - Georgetown (Penang) - Singapore - Christmas Island - Fremantle.
1979-1981 Fremantle - Singapore - Manila - Hong Kong - Fremantle.
Seasonal pilgrimage voyages between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to Jeddah / Pèlerinages entre Indonésie, Malaisie, Singapour et Jeddah.
Alfred and Philip Holt conceived the founding of The Ocean Steam Ship Company in the garden of their father's Liverpool home. They saw this as the greatest adventure of their lives and because the Odyssey was for them the finest adventure story ever written they gave Homeric names to all their ships. Holt formed the Ocean Steam Ship Company which ordered three steamers from Scotts of Greenock: Agammemnon, Ajax and Achilles. With their compound engines and the high-pressure boilers with which Holt was familiar from his locomotive engineering, the ship's coal consumption was low enough to allow profitable voyages to China under steam. These cargo liners were amongst the most significant ships ever built and with them Holt made a major contribution to shipping history.
Adrastus was built in 1923 by Scott's Ship Building and Engineering Co. at Greenock with a tonnage of 7905grt, a length of 459ft 6in, a beam of 58ft 1in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Eumeaus she was built for the Ocean Steam Ship Co. and at one stage during her career, when she operated as a pilgrim ship to jeddah, she had her boat deck lifeboats paired one above the other. In June 1927 her master hanged himself in his cabin as she approached Penang. Surviving the war she was renamed Euryades in July 1951to release her name for a new building. At the beginning of 1954 she was briefly deployed on the US Pacific coast ports - Philippines - East Indies route before being laid up at Holy Loch in February of that year. On 10th August 1954 she arrived at Faslane where she was broken up by Metal Industries.
During the 15 years between 1919 and 1934 Holt's added 28 new ships to the fleet. The company was still at the forefront of technology and, as a result new advances, 11 of the ships, although of the customary design, were fitted with new machinery and equipment. Caution was still the order of the day and new equipment would only be installed on a large scale after extensive service testing on a limited number of ships.
They later set up a joint service with White Star Line to Australia in the 1920s and took over control of other lines in the 1930s including Elder Dempster, Glen and Shire Lines and the Straits Steam Ship Co.