Please Note: The house flag and word mark 'P&O' are Trade Marks of the DP World Company https://www.dpworld.com/
Nick Messinger's personal tribute, covering the 'heyday years'
Long before GPS, AIS and ARPA - and comfy bridge chairs too, we sailed the World's oceans, carrying millions of passengers in comfort and safety.
Note: GPS = Global Positioning System; AIS = Automatic Identification System; ARPA = Automated Radar Plotting Aid
" For all the soul of our sad East is there, Beneath the house-flag of the P&O "
Rudyard Kipling ~ The Exiles Line
Today, P&O is a brand name - one of many owned by Carnival Corporation - while the P&O house flag and word mark 'P&O' are Trade Marks of the DP World Company
The 'Old P&O Steam Navigation Company' no longer exists.....
But the name lives on!
P&O Cruises is owned by Carnival Corporation
and P&O Ferries is owned by the Dubai - based company DP World
To Navigate this website, simply click the links below
I very much hope that you enjoy your visit......
Please sign the guest book before you step ashore!
Hot off the shelves!
Alan Wren is to be commended for this remarkable piece of meticulous research
into the tragic loss of P&O's ss Persia, during the First World War, on 30th
Steaming south of Crete, heading for Port Said, with her passengers settling down to a leisurely lunch, the full horror of war was brought home to all onboard, passengers, officers and Lascar crew, by the sudden explosive impact of a German U-boat's torpedo.
Without warning, the ship was mortally wounded, listing heavily, and sinking rapidly.
The ss Persia was a passenger liner, built by Caird and Company, of Inverclyde, Greenock. She measured 499 ft 8 ins overall, with a beam of 53ft 3 ins and a draft of 24ft 6 ins, and weighed 7,974 gross registered tons. She was coal-fired and powered by a triple-expansion steam engine, giving her a service speed of 18 knots.
The sinking was highly controversial, as it was argued that it broke naval international law, which stated that merchant ships could be stopped and searched for contraband - but not sunk until their passengers and crew had been put in a place of safety - for which lifeboats on the open sea were not sufficient.
On that fateful day, the Persia was a British ship presenting itself openly to another belligerent. The submerged U-boat fired a torpedo but made no provision for any survivors, under Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare - but against the Imperial German Navy's own restriction on attacking passenger liners.
At the time of her sinking, Persia was carrying a large quantity of gold and jewels belonging to the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, though he himself had earlier disembarked, together with his retinue, at Marseilles.
The sinking caused considerable uproar and controversy in the United States.
Mr Grant, the American survivor, describing the sinking of the Persia, said:- "I was sitting in the dining saloon at five minutes past one, and had just finished my soup. The steward was asking me what I would take as a second course when there was a terrific explosion and the saloon was filled with broken glass and with smoke and steam from the boiler, which seemed to have burst. There was no panic; we went on deck as if we were at boat drill, and I reported myself at my lifeboat on the starboard side. The vessel was listing to port, and I clung to the rail. It was impossible launch any of the starboard boats. Finally I climbed over the starboard rail and slid down into the water. I was sucked down and got caught in a rope which pulled off my shoe, but, breaking loose, I got to the surface again and climbed on to some wreckage, to which I clung. The last I saw of the Persia was her bow pointing high in the air, and that was only five minutes after the explosion."
Kapitanleutnant Max Valentiner, commander of U-38, had already sunk the liner Anconia, the previous month, and his submarine was set to become the third most successful U-boat of the war, sinking 135 merchant ships. Haunted by the deaths of two close friends, one a cousin, his was a personal crusade of death and destruction. In his eyes, his friends had been murdered by the British, their U-boats sunk by Q-ships, armed merchantmen masquerading as innocent neutral vessels.
Following the Armistice, Valentiner was one of five U-boat commanders singled out by the British Government as war criminals.
Alan Wren explores every aspect of the Persia's story, in great detail, and with an easy flowing narrative that covers the build up to her sinking, the British blockade of Germany and the U-boat war, the sinking itself and its aftermath - and importantly, the lives of many onboard, both before and after the ship went down.
Available from Amazon - Very highly recommended.
My Latest Web Page!
P&O and The Honourable East India Company
and the important role of Lord William Henry Cavendish Bentinck GCB, GCH, PC
P&O Souvenirs and Collectables are sought by collectors - and now you can advertise any you have for sale.
And it's all for free!
Click on the above link for info!
The P&O Paintings of David Bray
Some Ships Of The P&O
The List is Growing.....
A second web page devoted to this remarkable ship:-
Her fine interiors, as reported in the Melbourne Argus, of Tuesday 18th May 1920
P&O Ship's People
From day one, there was no shortage of experienced senior officers to take command of P&O steamships.
The Royal Navy had been shrinking in size since the end of the Napoleonic wars - and P&O paid well. Great trust was placed in these men. Long before the advent of radio communications, once the last line was cast off and the anchors stowed - they were Masters Under God. Captains exercised absolute authority at sea. Consequently, early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade, referred to them as such - Masters Under God.
'It must always be remembered that passengers pay their fare with the
expectation of being more (not less) comfortable and better (not worse)
looked after than they are in their own homes.
It is the Company's aim to see that these expectations are fulfilled.'
P&O Regulations Instructions & Advice for Officers in The Service of The Company
My P&O Ships ~ 1961-1972
Cadet to First Officer, Passenger Division
Website archived by the British Library
Children's Bridge Visits were always great fun.
Onboard Oronsay with the Children's Hostess and a young Quartermaster on the wheel, late 1969
I joined my first P&O, the SS Ballarat, outward bound for Australia, still bearing the scars of my last thrashing on board the training ship Worcester - much to the amusement of my fellow cadets - all Pangbourne boys! I was a very reluctant Worcester Cadet - eventually attaining the rank of Cadet Captain, Yeoman of Signals, Cutter Coxswain and Queen's Standard Bearer for London's East End Boroughs. I cannot say, in all honesty, that I enjoyed my time aboard the Worcester. Joining in 1957 at the age of 14, the ship's brutal regime was difficult to accept - particularly the bullying. My ambition, up to then, had been to follow my Grandfather into farming. Also as a Corporal, in the 4th Essex Cadet Regiment, it had been my intention to transfer to the Yeomanry at the earliest opportunity. In those far off days, however, one did as one's Father commanded. My late Father was a senior Naval Officer, and a strict disciplinarian. I still recall his parting words as he left me on board after a brief Sunday outing, sometime during my first term. "I want it beaten out of the boy, Freddie". This was directed at the Commander, a former wartime shipmate of my Father's. I never knew what the '"it" referred to, and can only assume, with the hindsight of over half a century, that he was referring to my teenage high spirits.
Recommended reading list:-
Cable, Boyd, A Hundred Year History of the P&O. (Ivor Nicholson & Watson Ltd, London, 1937)
Harcourt, Freda, Flagships of Imperialism: The P&O Company and the Politics of Empire from Its Origins to 1867 (Studies in Imperialism). (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2006)
Howarth, David and Stephen Howarth, The Story of P&O: The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (Revised Edition). (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1994)
Hook, F A, Merchant Adventurers 1914-1918. (A & C Black, London, 1920)
Kerr, George F, Business in Great Waters: The War History of the P&O 1939-1945. (Faber and Faber, London, 1951)
Padfield, Peter. Beneath the House Flag of the P&O. (Hutchinson, London, 1981)
Gordon, Malcolm R. From Chusan To Sea Princess. (Alan & Unwin, Sydney Australia, 1985)
McCart , Neil. 20th Century Passenger Ships of The P&O. (Patrick Stephens Ltd, London, 1985)
Miller, William H. The Last Blue Water Liners. ( Conway Maritime Press, London, 1986)
Rabson, Stephen and Kevin O'Donoghue, P&O: A Fleet History. (World Ship Society, Kendal, 1988)
Perry, John W. Quit Ye Like Men. ( Perrys@orcades-anchor.com, 2008)
Deakes, Christopher & Stanley, Thomas. A Century of Sea Travel. (Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, 2010)
Peter, Bruce and Dawson, Philip P&O at 175- A World of Ships & Shipping Since 1837 (Lily Publications Ltd, Isle of Man IM99 4LP, 2012)
The Merchant Navy Association (MNA) - launched in 1989, has established an opportunity for seafarers to get together to form a countrywide consensus on a range of issues and ideas. Significant progress towards appropriate recognition and acknowledgement of the needs of the seafaring community are well advanced.
The Merchant Navy Association link:
"Most English people live and die
sublimely ignorant of all things relating to ships—ships of war and of commerce
alike. They hardly get beyond the fact that the " Victory" was the name of the
vessel on which Nelson died. It would not be a bad thing if some simple
facts about the sea's worth and the working
of our navies of trade and war were taught in every English school. It would be
at least as useful and interesting as some of the schemes proposed by theorists
as a means of keeping the people on the land, or as rifle practice for school
From: The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, No 2,672 Volume 103, 12 January 1907,
Commander Nicholas R Messinger, RD*, FNI, RNR
Master Mariner, Fellow of The Nautical Institute, Galbraith Wrightson Senior Research Fellow, University of Plymouth