It is not generally known or understood in the United States that world-wide commercial ocean ship operations by American companies were largely undertaken by British ships. At the beginning of the 20th century, the United Kingdom operated privately-owned fleets of ships, many of which were chartered to American trading and transport companies. Such well-known American trading companies as Kerr, Barber, and Norton lines employed British-flag ships for their cargo liner and tramp ship businesses.
But there were several British shipping companies set up their own ships also to serve the American markets. These included Lamport & Holt, Bucknall Brothers, Houlder's,and Andrew Weir.. The last named is the subject of this book. Mr Weir's history in American cargo liner trades, initially with Argentina, India and the Far East evolved into placing his Bank Line ships on the South African, Australian and New Zealand trades that lasted into the 1980s. Weir became a Baron in 1919 and among his American exploits he gave Rockefeller's Standard Oil a run for his money developing with American partners oil discoveries in California, Mexico and Venezuela. It would be true to say that Bank Line ships spent more time in USA waters than they ever did in Britain's.
If you are indeed a little bit curious about how commercial shipping works, you will learn that it is not the ships that create the international commerce structure but the cargoes the ships carry. A basic but much misunderstood fact. That American shipowners stuck to steam to drive their ships must be seen as anachronistic in light of the selection of motor-driven ships in the rest of the world and is discussed in this volume.
The Vietnamese Boat People, catapult projected airplanes from ship's decks at sea during WWII, and the last of the Intercolonial passenger ships with imperious 'mensahibs' are all visited as is a hilarious chapter of accidents that befell a certain Royal personage aboard one of Andrew Weir's Bank Line ships.
Would it be too much to expect a book to inform and entertain at the same time? Even a dedicated 'landlubber' will be exposed to 20th century maritime history and find much to learn about one of the necessary pillars of today's internationaltional commerce