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BI's fleet spanning 116 years

BI's fleet of ships ranged from small service craft and tugs through to major vessels of their time, both passenger and cargoships. The fleetpages on this site list the more than 700 vessels which came under BI control from the inception of the company in the mid-nineteenth century to its absorption into P&O in 1972. Included are ships managed by BI for other owners.

In one period, during the 1920s, British India had the largest fleet of any in the world's mercantile marine. The largest number of ships in the fleet was reached in 1920, when there were 161 vessels in commission. The following year the company's tonnage rose to its all-time peak of 831,533 gt.

In the following fleet list pages all BI's 700 owned and managed vessels are shown with tonnages, dates and salient details of service. The pages show vessels in the order of coming into BI service. The following abbreviations are used: BIAS = British India Associated Steamers; GD = Gray Dawes.

1856-1869 1930-1939
1870-1879 1940-1949
1880-1889 1950-1959
1890-1899 1960-1972
1900-1909 Managed vessels 1
1910-1919 Managed vessels 2
1920-1929 Managed vessels 3

The present edition of the fleet list on these pages was put together by Henk Jungerius, to whom we are grateful for the time and effort he spent in compilation. He used the following main source for the fleet:

BI The British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd, W A Laxon, F W Perry, 1994

Plus the following:
Die frachtschiffe der Deutschen Dampfschiffahrts Gesellschaft HANSA, P Kiehlmann, H Patzer, Hausschild 2000. (German Text)
British Standard Ships of WWI, W H Mitchell & L A Sawyer, Sea Breezes, 1968.
The Empire Ships, W H Mitchell & L A Sawyer, Revised edition, 1990.
Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij, wel en wee van een Indische rederij, A J J Mulder, De Alk, 1991. (Dutch Text)
Koninklijke Java China Paketvaart Lijnen, G J de Boer, A J J Mulder, H A Slettenaar, E W J Velterop, De Alk, 1994. (Dutch Text)
Die Seeschiffe des Norddeutschen Lloyd 1857 bis 1970, A Kludas, Bechtermunz 1998. (German Text)
Deutsche-Australische Dampschiffs Gesellschaft, Hamburg, 1888-1926, R Schmelzkopf, Cuxhaven Strandgut Pub, 1984. (German text)
Die Deutsche Levant Linie, Teil 1 1890 1920, R Schmelzkopf, Cuxhaven Strandgut Pub. (German text)

Itonus in the Arabian Sea
(Photo: Peter Beattie collection)
Landaura, provided the berth home for
leave for many Eastern Service officers

(Ledger collection)
Chinkoa, the final vessel in BI's extensive
C-class, which saw service on most
of the company's routes
(Richards collection)


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