SS Tien Loong – 1947 a Chinese first

Tien Loong

On August 4, 1947, the 10,471 ton Tien Loong was the first steamship owned, managed, financed and crewed by Chinese, to sail from Shanghai to France. And was thus the first such vessel to sail in the Atlantic Ocean. She arrived in Le Havre, France on October 28. Chinese Maritime Trust (a sister company of Island Navigation Corp.) had signed another contract with the Belgian Economic Delegation in the U.S.A. to transport 100,000 tons of coal and charcoal from Antwerp, Belgium to Norfolk, Virginia, USA. When the Tien Loong arrived in France, the unprecedented reception was reported in French and Shanghai newspapers.

Three months after Tien Loong’s great success, S.S. Tung Ping, the largest Chinese ocean-going ship, sailed from Shanghai to San Francisco on February 25, 1948. She was then back to the Philippines to transport a full ship load of Copra to Venezuela, Colombia and Barranquilla. After she completed this voyage, she went on to load cargo at New Orleans and became the first all-Chinese ship to visit that U.S. port. These pioneering voyages created headlines and the ships were given a warm welcome at ports, especially by overseas Chinese living there.

Both S.S. Tien Loong and S.S. Tung Ping were the triumphant pioneers of the Chinese merchant ships which crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They opened the markets for Chinese merchants to ship the Chinese goods destined for Europe, United States and South America as well as provided the ocean transportation services to foreign merchants who shipped their goods among various countries. Their successes played a very important role for the future expansion of the C.Y. Tung fleet around the globe. (1)

After WWII China began to export goods to more of the world. Shipping would play a major part in this expansion and the Chinese Maritime Trust Ltd. of Taiwan owned by Mr. C. Y. Tung began to look for suitable ships for his new line. In August of 1946 Tung began to purchase ships, the first ship was named SS Tien Loong and was the first Chinese owned ship with an all-Chinese crew to sail to Europe. Tung then purchased the SS Jacob Luckenbach in 1947 and changed her name to SS Tung Ping. In 1948 the Tung Ping was the first Chinese vessel to visit Latin America. From this simple beginning of these two ships his company has grown into one of the largest fleets in the world. From 1947 through 1950 the SS Tung Ping hoisted the “Blue Sky and White Sun” national flag of the Republic of China to many ports in the Americas carrying cargo and trade. (2)

This article was first published on 12th February 2014.



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  1. SS Tien Loong – a Chinese first but Harland and Wolff, Belfast, UK built

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