SS Alaska – temporary casualty of 1874 Typhoon at Aberdeen Dock

HF: The SS Alaska was a 4,012 ton, 8 speed, side-wheel steamship launched on 27th November 27th 1867 for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. She saw service between New York and Aspinwall, now known as Colón, Panama, and was later used on the San Francisco to Panama City and San Francisco to Hong Kong routes until 1879.

During the night of Tuesday 22 September and the morning of Wednesday 23 September, 1874 a typhoon struck Hong Kong.

“From the Daily Alta California, October 2, 1874 San Francisco New York, October 1st: The Pacific Mail Steamship Company have received a despatch stating that the side-wheel steamer Alaska, while undergoing repairs at Aberdeen [Aberdeen Dock?], five miles from Hongkong, was blown ashore in the late typhoon, but was not sinking or leaking. The despatch also states that she will come off at next highwater.

Another despatch from Hongkong states that in the typhoon of September 21st [sic]the steamship Alaska was blown ashore, and is now on the rocks. Up the present she has made no water, and hopes are entertained that she may be got off. The vessel is $500,000; insured.” (1)

She was not “got off’ for almost three months.

“From the Daily Alta California, December 24 1874, San Francisco: A despatch from Hongkong says: “The steamer Alaska is afloat. She makes no water and shows no strain. We must change her shaft, and can dispatch her January 6th.”

And finally “From the Daily Alta California, February 17 1875, San Francisco: Arrival of the P.M. S. S. Co’s steamer Alaska, E. Van Sice, commander, arrived yesterday. She left Hongkong January 18th, and [arrived] Yokohama January 24th.” (1)

SS Alaska image after 1874 Typhoon Wikipedia Photo by Lai Afong

SS Alaska after 1874 Typhoon, Wikipedia, Photo by Lai Afong (Source 3)

SS Alaska 1874 Aberdeen Dock from gwulo

SS Alaska – partially in the sea at rear Courtesy: Martyn Gregory (Source 4)

The SS Alaska was rebuilt in 1882 and later became a coal hulk and store ship at Acapulco until 1885.


  1. The Maritime Heritage Project – San Francisco 1846-1899 – further details from reports about the SS Alaska in Aberdeen. The project was started in 1998 to honor sea captains, including the project director’s great-great-grandfather James H. Blethen, a Master Mariner based in San Francisco during the 1800s.
  3. Wikipedia -Pacific Mail Steamship Company

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Aberdeen Docks – 1874 Typhoon damage
  2. Aberdeen Dock (Lamma Shipyard) during the Japanese occupation 1942-1945
  3. Lai Afong 赖阿芳 and Afong Studio, early HK photographic studio – photographer of the first image


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *