The Return of Farrell Lines? Or Merely Seeing Shadows?

Farrell Lines was a grand old US steamship company.  It had an office in downtown Manhattan full of ship models and paintings of ships. Behind the receptionist, as you came in the door, there was a world map with chains of white lights showing the various trade routes served by Farrell Lines ships.  The world was illuminated by the white lights across the Atlantic, Pacific, the Mediterranean and the Indian Oceans.   As the company declined I recall the sense of both sadness and impending doom as fewer and fewer lights lit the globe.

P&O Nedlloyd bought what was left of Farrell in 2000 and Maersk acquired P&O Nedlloyd in 2005. This year Maersk revived the Farrell name for a company which operates US flag  roll-on, roll-on, roll-off ships primarily under contract to the US government or in the  coastal trade.   So Farrell is again a  US flag ship operator, even if as only a subsidiary of a Danish conglomerate.

Shipping is an international business and whose flag is on the stern does not really make that much difference except perhaps to those who seek employment at sea.  It is easy to look back nostalgically at the old Farrell Lines and indeed the entire US linercompanies of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. To be fair, there are many good and sound reasons why US flag shipping collapsed,  from an addiction to subsidies, to uneconomic cost structures, to a non-competitive  tax regime.  Sadly,  US flag shipping is a bit like the cartoon character Pogo, who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

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78 Responses to The Return of Farrell Lines? Or Merely Seeing Shadows?

  1. captain gerald purslow says:

    As ex Master for Farrel Lines inc.
    Last as Master of Export Patriot would like to hear from exemployees

  2. Bill Budinn says:

    If this is the last Master of The Beast Of The East
    which was named by Charlie Ribardo, Them you must
    remember the me as the Port Steward And Purchasing
    Manger Bill Budin Write Back.

  3. john kane says:

    Hi Bill
    It’s been a few years since we last talked, but I’m very happy to hear Farrell is back in business.After 30 years of working for the family I hope everything goes great for this new operation and would like to hear from any of the old employees.

  4. Francis Minchella says:

    My grand father worked for the Farrell line, I think in the 40’s. His name was Frank Trepani. Anyone ever run into him? he was Assistant Purchasing Agent.

  5. Adam Sichol says:

    My uncle, Tony Sikel , sailed with the Farrell Lines ending his career as a chief engineer. I think his years of service were from 1920 until sometime in 50’s. Family legend has it that he was the youngest chief engineer in the U.S. merchant service. He was a coarse old fart possessing none of the social graces. It was to be expected we were told ; he had been around men for so many years. He sailed out of Baltimore if I remember correctly.

  6. James K. Neary says:

    My Father (NY Maritme College 42) was 3rd mate on the African Star when sunk in South Atlantic in 1943. He sailed for Farrell Lines until 1952 (Masters). Went ashore to work for Universal Terminal. He Passed 1n 1974.

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  8. G. Michael Thude , Heckenrosenstr.39, D-71336 Waiblingen (Germany) says:

    Since many years I tried to find some notes about stay and death of my “Uncle Jack”, former James Armstrong Leighton, whom I met first 1947 at Walvis Bay, where his ship “African Rainbow” passed regularly on its way round the Cape to Lourenço Marquês. Uncle Jack, officer on board, had a big heart for me, then a 8-years old boy of a German family in exile until 1950, return to Europe (Portugal) and since 1956 to Germany. 1950 we lost connection and I couldn’t regain it 1960 or 1975 (then with a lady-agent of secret-service in N.Y.) Surely, he might have pssed away meanwhile, nevertheless there might be some descendants to whom I might express my gratitude and good remembrance of this friendship in oppressive years. His addresses in the States were:
    3867 North Dorgenois Street, N.O.17
    3303 Marais Street, N.O.17
    Hotel DeSoto, 420 Baronne Street, N.O.12
    Maybe I might pick up some news on my tour (Oct.2011) to Pittsburgh where my son Lars with family is living since Autumn 2010

  9. Ahoy there! Just want to say hi to any old Farrell Lines from the NY office. My husband Eddie and I have been happily married forty years this past May! We have 3 grown sons. Eddie Jr and his bride of 1 yr Katrina, Mark Manuel, and Matthew Galo. We are doing fine and and are retired. Ed’s uncle, Al Ledesma is doing fine at 80. Sadly, this month marked 20 yrs since Tito passed away…
    Many great memories of Farrell Lines ! Stay in touch!

  10. Phil Grant says:

    My Father Nathan Grant served on the African Crescent until it was scraped.
    He was a cook and baker. Did anyone serve with him then?

  11. Patrick J. Imhof says:

    Being one of three survivors of an aircraft acident and rescued by the Farrell Lines ship AFRICAN PILOT on 23 Sept. 1961, I was happy to hear that the FARRELL LINES name was back !!

    I am trying to locate a good copy of the 1961 Winter issue of the FARRELL LINES NEWS so I can possibly get good copies of the pictures that accompanied the article written by Capt. Arthur Knight.

    The article can be seen at http://www.USSCORPORALSS346, click on “neat stuff”, then scroll down to story of PJ Imhof…….

    Being the sole survivor, I am trying to gather all the information I can for the relatives of those that were killed, plus for my own children / grandchildren.

    I also am trying to find pictures of the AFRICAN PILOT.

    This is my second attempt at trying to get this note out. Sorry if the first one went out, because I wasn’t finished.

    I will appreciate any response.

    I would alsolike to know if Mrs. Elizabeth Lang, former Executive Secretary, of FARRELL LINES (NY Office) is still alive and doing well. I would very much like to communicate with her.

    Thank you for your time.

    With respect,

    Patrick J. Imhof

    (850) 432-0036 Home
    (850) 221-1237 Cell

    3204 E. Moreno Street
    Pensacola, FL

  12. Patrick J. Imhof says:

    I left a message earlier on a blog, concerning the Farrell Lines ship AFRICAN PILOT.
    I gave a reference and now I remember that the reference had the story, but no pictures.
    The correct reference, with the pictures can be found at Once at the Home Page, click on publications, then look for Sept. 2003 Newsletter, and click once again.
    Scroll through the Newsletter until a page with the Farrell Lines letterhead appears.

    Sorry for any inconvience I may have put you or others through.

    Also, Thank you for your time.


    Patrick J. Imhof AMS1 USN (Ret.)

  13. Thomas R. Dirmyer says:

    Sadly, I wish to report the passing (4/20/2012) of Jim Malley, a long-time Farrell man in New York and later in Cleveland. As a longtime Farrell customer in Niagara Falls and in Cleveland, I came to know Jim and for 40 years have considered him to be an excellent colleague and a valued friend.

  14. Rick Spilman says:

    Sad news. Thank you for passing it along.

  15. Bruce G. Williams says:

    I worked for Dalgety, Farrell Lines New Zealand agents, in Auckland I was responsible to Jim Cleland,( now in his late eighties), I was transferred to Christchurch in 1979 and managed to secure sufficient cargo to warrant direct calls in to Lyttelton, (the port of Christchurch). On several occasions we were the top loading port in Australasia. I still miss those ships. I keep in annual contact with Arthur Jefferson and Ray Campbell. I would like to hear from anybody else

  16. Kerry Fitzpatrick says:

    Hello from ex-master of several Farrell Lines’ vessels (Austral Envoy, Austral Rainbow, Export Challenger, Export Champion, Export Freedom, Argonaut, Resolute, Endeavor.) Now retired from the sea but still active in industry teaching shiphandling to maritime professionals on manned models at Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s Center for Maritime Training and as an officer of the Boston Marine Society.(fulfilling a promise to Commodore George Hickey and Captain Howie Gately.) As I converse with other “old salts” I realize how fortunate we at Farrell were to work for a company that treated its’ masters and ships’ officers as members of a team.

  17. Rick Spilman says:

    Thanks for your comment. When I was a naval architect for US Lines I worked converting the Envoy back to a more conventional box ship after Farrell sold it, having pulled out of the Australian refrigerated trade. Very interesting ship.

  18. Rich LePage says:

    My late father, Capt. Richard N. LePage, was with Farrell Lines and its predecessor for his entire career, as a Master for many years and later in the NY offices in a variety of positions. George Hickey was one of his close friends and mentors, as were many others. It was very nice to find this site and also to see the Farrell Lines name has been put back into service again, though of course in a much different context than back when my Dad was around.

  19. Arthur S. Jefferson says:

    I joined Farrell Lines in September,1946 after spending two and half years in U. S. Navy in the Pacific theater. I became Master of the African Dawn (C-2) in 1956 and for the next 36 years sailed as Master of African Planet, Austral Ensign and Austral Entente. I retired from the Sealand Trader (ex Austral Entente) in 1993. I was very fortunate to have been employed by one of the best American steamship companies for so many years and to have been shipmates with some of finest men I have ever known.

  20. Chet Robbins says:

    Anytime a U.S. Flag carrier returns from the past, is a great event, even if it’s just chugging along in coastal trade. I worked for American Export Isbrandtsen Lines from the early 60’s till they were acquired by Farrell in the late 70’s. I “swallowed” the anchor when I saw the writing on the wall in 1981. It was a sad thing to watch the demise of all the great American steamship companies, but predictable. I got the chance to sail on “Round the World” break bulk ships, the big passenger ships, watched the advent of containerization, sailed on the N.S. Savannah till her layup, sailed on Gas Turbine and finally ending my seagoing career, on all things, a liberty ship, the Jeremiah O’Brien, in San Francisco. Talk about coming full circle!


    With great pleasure have noted that Farrel Lines is back in the market.
    Have noted the various comments made by exFarrel employes . ( see John Kane) I had the pleasure and the Honours to work for the former Farrell Lines
    Italian Agency in Italy ( Cesare Fremura) I was 100

  22. Eric Cornwell says:

    A different view point… I was a teenager in the early 70s and remember always seeing at least one or two Farrell Lines ships at the docks near the Brooklyn Bridge. I never imagined that forty years later those docks and ships would be gone, or that I would be reading the reminisces of the former masters of some of those very vessels.

  23. SANDRA MOSES says:

    FOR MR. ED. ROE ,IN THE EARLY 70’s. AND his
    Assistant Vinny. They were good times.

  24. Tom Tarbox says:

    How great to find a Farrell Lines web blog (or whatever it’s called). I certainly remember Capt Gerry Purslow, Dick Lepage and Jim Malley. I started with Farrell in Monrovia, Liberia working under (and around!) Capt. Howie Kayser in 1965. Later on I was Farrell’s representative in Nairobi, replacing Bob Kennerly, and then in Johannesburg taking over from Capt. Ray Ballard. From South Africa, was posted to Sydney in 1976, relieving George Jones. After Farrell bought American Export I was transferred to London. During the 1980’s I was in the New York office as one of our (several) Senior VP’s. I would love to hear from any of the old gang.

  25. Carolyn Norton says:

    I happened upon this site while looking for pictures of Farrell Line ships that my late husband, Capt. James K. Norton (Jim) was master of in the late ’40s and ’50s. I read all of the postings above and remembered hearing some of the names from Jim’s stories; namely Dickie LePage & George Hickey. Jim and I married in ’59 after he left Farrell, but I met and became close to many of his friends who were also shipmasters on Farrell ships in the same time frame: T. K. Tonnessen, Harry Iehle, Eddie Fay, and Arthur Renehan. These were all real men who led very exciting lives with many tales to tell. If anyone out there knew Jim I would very much like to hear from you.

  26. Steve Nadeau says:

    Just discovered this blog and enjoyed reading about some of my old friends. Sailed in Farrell from ’68-’80 Third Mate to Master. Sailing Master in such a class act was a real pleasure. I sort of swallowed the anchor for off shore sailing to become a pilot in PortMiami, Fl . and have been doing it for over 30 years now. Proud to say that I piloted Farrell’s new “Alliance St. Louis” some time ago, quite a difference from the yard and stay African Mercury, My First Command and true love.

    Smooth seas to all

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  28. Sally Chapin says:

    My uncle, Captain Arthur Jensen was the captain of the African Neptune, among other ships. I wonder if anyone has anything to tell me about that?

  29. Mary Sue Abt Phelan says:

    To Sally Chapin re: Captain Arthur Jensen, Uss African Neptune.
    Sally, I sailed June 6, 1963 with your uncle from NY to Mombasa, Kenya.
    The captain and I struck up a friendship because we both had horses at home. We compared prices of hay in Stroudsberg, N.Y and Cincinnati, Oh.
    It was a grand trip. Captain Jensen was a first class host to all his passangers. It was well versed in the history of every port we went to and took my sister and our friend Ethel to see interesting geographic and historical places in these ports.
    We stopped at Capetown, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and a couple of others that I forget. I remember he took a group of passengers to see Lawrence of Arabia in Durban. There is a great deal more that I can remember, but that’s enough for now.
    Your uncle was great and enhanced our trip of a lifetime.
    God bless

  30. Donna Fontone Severino says:

    Farrell Lines was a great company. I have many fond memories of working in the NY Inward office in the 70’s. I remember it was a nice treat to be invited aboard one of the African ships for lunch with the captain and to tour the ship. Glad to read Peggy Gamarra’s comments and hear from John Kane. Hello to any co-workers who may read this.

  31. Susan Rossi Cottone says:

    I’m so glad to hear that Farrell Lines is back. I worked there for my first job under John Kane and Frank Quinn and the people were so nice, the company was terrific. Best of luck.

  32. ron grady says:

    My wife, two children and myself emigrated to Australia aboard the African Meteor in July of 71′ It was a voyage we will never forget. We ate with the captain, ( i can’t recall his name,) every evening and Arthur our steward served us and eight other passengers tea and sandwiches twice a day. We hit many ports along the way and never encountered any rough seas.

  33. Marcello Niccolai says:

    I was emloyed by Farrell Lines Inc at the Mediterranean Haedquarter of Genoa, beginning of September 1984 , when The Company was sold to P&O Nedllloyd at the end of 2000 , my title was Mediterranean General Manager.
    I spent 16 great yeras with Company. The best of my long carrear in the shipping industry. I would like to thank Farrell family and the whole management of those years and all my colleagues on both sides of the ocean , particularly R. Parks, R. Gronda, J. Bambrick, T.Tarbox,N.Kondas,J.Norton. Unfortunately Mr. Ralph Bartoli Managing Director of Farrell Lines Inc Genoa passed away few months ago.
    Again : thanks to Farrell Lines, an unique US flag carrier.
    All my best

  34. Geoffrey McNab says:

    Coming across this page on the web took me straight back to 1979 and one of the greatest travel adventures of my life. Having spent six months travelling around the USA I did not want suddenly to fly home and be back in the UK. Consulting the ABC Shipping guide in the New York Public Library I discovered Farrell Lines and a sailing date to Europe in July on the cargo container ship SS Young America. Rushing round to the Farrell Line’s New York office I enquired and by chance there had been a cancellation and a berth in a cabin was available – Cabin 6, I can still remember and my berth was closest to the window!

    It was a wonderful crossing. We left New York’s Staten Island and went to Norfolk, Virginia and Baltimore before crossing the North Atlantic Ocean to Bremerhaven and then Felixstowe in the UK where I disembarked. The fare was $660! I have never forgotten this trip. It was mostly elderly Americans doing a round trip, a Swiss couple and myself. It was my birthday during the voyage and the crew and my fellow passengers threw a cocktail party for me in the small passenger lounge at 4.30pm in the afternoon and a lady passenger composed a poem in my honour.

    I seem to remember the Captain was a Captain McNickel (or Nicholl, maybe?) and I remember him telling us all because the weather was to be good for the whole crossing he would be tracking a more northerly route than usual because he could save a day. I’d taken tons of seasick pills with me but the North Atlantic was as calm as a millpond the whole way over. The only day I felt queasy was coming up through the English Channel to Europe – it was quite choppy that day.

    There was a wonderful steward who when we all boarded showed us an enormous pantry close to the passenger lounge which had cold cuts, cheeses, cookies, tea and coffee making facilities and he informed us we could help ourselves at any time as it was all included in the fare paid. Otherwise meals were taken at a set time. Breakfast was 7:30am, lunch 11.30am and dinner about 5pm. Two wonderful ladies doing the round trip used to say tease me by saying, “Geoffrey, would you like some milk and cookies” before I went to bed.

    The day we boarded, we all rushed round to see each other’s cabins. I was sharing with a very nice retired USA tax man who was travelling to Ireland to see relatives and our cabin was one of two on either side of the funnel with a window looking out to the side. The other four cabins all faced forward and were a little bit larger. I remember thinking on the first day I would have preferred to have been in one of them. But my fellow passengers in those cabins had a shock to come. By the time we left Baltimore their view was obscured by the last of the containers being stacked on board!

    I don’t think we saw another ship the whole passage across the ocean and time just flew by as we played games, read, played cards, walked the decks and we all gelled together wonderfully. It was an awesome way to travel home and the memories are still bright and clear. It was magic. Pure magic!

  35. Captain Brian Hope says:

    Many years ago, as a Kings Point cadet, I spent two weeks in the Farrell office in New York, learning a bit about how shipping lines operated. There were several of us and we were assigned to Tom Sartor, who was then a young Webb graduate, later to become a Vice President of the company. The African Comet Class ships were then brand new and Tom told us a story of how the marine artist Carl Evers had convinced them to select a particular stack design for the ships because it looked so good. Well, I had made the maiden voyage on the AFRICAN MERCURY in the spring of ’63 and I knew that stack was a disaster. By the time we reached Capetown the entire afterdeck was covered in about a half inch of soot. What a mess. The company later added a 6 foot extension to the stacks to try to reduce the soot buildup. This leads to my question. Around the N. Y. headquarters were a number of absolutely magnificent original paintings by Evers. I have often wondered what became of them. They were truly beautiful.

  36. Rick Spilman says:

    Captain Hope,

    Thanks for the comment. I remember both Tom Sartor and the wonderful paintings in the Farrell Lines offices as well. I hope the paintings found good homes.

  37. Al wood says:

    I go back to 1948 when we had the African Patriot,Pilot,Pilgrim,Grove,Glen,and Glade, opening up the West African Trade. It was rough and Farrell staffed it with twenty year olds. I was Chief Mate of the Glen at 24 . What heroes we had: the Wilder twins ship masters beyond compare. Art was sunk twice,Al once in WWII. Marine Supt Sullivan cited in Morrisons History for his efforts on the Murmansk Run. Port Engineer Lee had delivered a baby in a life boat. Port Captain Modave was a Naval Officer on the Cameroon a tanker the Japs thought was a Carrier. There were very few piers. We took on 66 Kroo Boys worked our own cargo into Surf Boats or lighters. Not unusual to spend two weeks at anchor waiting for boats. Everyday was an adventure. I served on and loved the Glen. she was yacht like, we even put mahogany rails on her. ,stolen, of course, from the shore via life boat. What an adventure it was. Every day a challenge. To sail with the Wilders,George Legnos, Polleta or McDough was an experience. The Glen was trapped in the Suez for over a year, John Farrell sent me some bridge mementos knowing my love for that ship. Al Wood still at Full Ahead at 88


    I worked for Farrell Lines from 1967 till 1979. I loved being there. I was hired by Captain Lepage in the claims department. He even came to my wedding 6/8/1968. What a great man.
    I then went to work in Treasury for Tom O’Brien where I stayed for 10 yrs. Such a talented smart man.
    Finally I worked for Ira Lewis who was the Vice President and Treasurer. I worked on the 14th Floor (Executive Area). It was splendid. I finally left in January 1979 after moving to East Northport (Long Island) where I still reside. I have 2 grown daughters and 3 grandchildren. My first husband passed away in 2001. I remarried 9/21/2013. I still work full time in the building material business. I take care of collections and credit. I love my job and I love my very active life. I remember Tom Tarbox and a few others who have posted on this site. Would love to hear from Betty Lang and anyone else who might remember me. Those were wonderful years and Farrell was a fantastic place to work.

  39. christine soper says:

    My bother, Joseph James Cannon, was a captain of the African Patriot and Pilot during the 1950’s. He was also resident manager at the Farrell Lines Office in Monrovia, Liberia during this time. Sadly, he passed away in 1991 but I would very much like to hear from anyone who remembers or has heard of him.

  40. John Roberts says:

    With Farrell Lines from 1978-1989 and then again 1997 thru Maersk acquisition. Wellington, NZ, New Orleans, Chicago, and lastly NY/NJ.
    Best time of my life spent running around the South Pacific with the “Austral” meat-boats and LASH ships! Still in ther “biz”, booking/chartering tonnage for USA food aid and WFP.

  41. Rick Spilman says:


    I was involved converting the Farrell “meat-boats” to more conventional container ships for US Lines. Not sure that we improved them.

  42. Robert V. Haim MD says:

    In the summer of 1967 I sailed on the African Neptune with a group from my high school. A. Jensen was Captain. We stopped in ports in Angola, South West Africa (Namibia), South Africa, Mozambique, and Kenya. The ship’s cargo included a diesel locomotive (lashed to the deck), a huge bull dozer, and a green Cadillac. I followed the history of this ship over the years. I know she was involved with an incident with the Sidney Lanier bridge and another in the Mississippi River (New Orleans?). Last I heard she had been renamed the Cape Archer and was part of the ready reserve fleet. The day of the large break bulk freighters is gone. Hopefully the resurrected Farrell Lines will be successful in its new incarnation.

  43. Reg Shrader says:

    In late 1966-early 1967 I was the Army officer in charge of the ammo discharge facility at Nha Be, RVN. I remember working the AFRICAN GLEN in particular. The captain and 1st mate were great fellows, and I would very much like to know their names (memories grow cold after nearly 50 years). My USCG colleague, Ed O’Keefe, and I once had a few anxious moments when invited for steaks aboard the AFRICAN GLEN and discovered they were being grilled on the port side with many sparks flying aft to No. 5 where we were discharging dynamite.

    Reg Shrader (Lt Col, US Army Retired)

  44. Syd Oram says:

    I trust you will forgive a landlubber contacting such an august group.

    Between 1961 and 1967 I worked for John T Rennie & Sons, Durban, who were Farrell Agents. Initially Guy Radmore (and later Edgar Andrews) was in charge of Farrell South and East African Services when I joined Rennies. I became involved with Farrell Inward and Outward freight operations in the ships’ agency function

    Those were exciting times for the USA/South Africa service, with 6 C4-5-58a ships (Hulls 475 to 480) replacing 13 older ships during 1962/1963. The C4s were beautiful ships, their fine lines and high power making them real greyhounds of the sea. (I hate to think what fuel consumption must have been!)

    The C4s phased in during a difficult time – my recollection is that there was a prolonged Langshoremen’s strike in 1962/1963, but I may have the dates a little out. As I remember this caused serious problems and resulted in the direct intervention by President Kennedy in January 1963.

    There must be many who recall that Lykes Lines also were bringing new tonnage onto their South African service around that time. The unfortunate grounding in of the Aimee Lykes on the Aliwal Shoal on her maiden voyage in resulted in a shipload of work for Rennies and me personally – Rennies were appointed General Average Agents for this caualty. I had the opportunity see her hull when she was in dry-dock before and during repairs – she was horrendously damaged. Had she not been brand new she certainly would have been a CTL. I delivered the cheque in settlement of the hull claim to repairers – the biggest cheque I have ever handled – close to USD 1.7 million, a massive amount in those days.

    I sincerely hope the the proud Farrell Lines name and operation prospers again.

    Best regards to all.

  45. Joan Parlo Vreeland says:

    What a nice surprise to happen upon this “blog” while looking for information on Farrell Lines. My first job was in the New York office and I remember what fun we had (in between working).
    Mr. Farrell was a kind and generous man. Sadly, most of of the executives and salespeople are gone, as well as my good friends Tito and Terri Smyth. I still see Barbara Rehren and Ann Sheridan as we all live in the NY/NJ area.
    I’d love to hear from any of my old friends.

  46. Larry and Adele Andrews says:

    We came across this blog by accident. My American husband travelled from Baltimore to Sydney Australia on the African Planet in 1969. The other 10 passengers had to embark in New York. He and another electronic engineer worked for the Singer-Link company which supplied the Royal Australian Air Force with aircraft simulators for the Orion aircraft (P3s) which were stationed at Edinburgh Air Force Base in the state of South Australia. They were permitted to embark with the loading of the simulators in Baltimore. The ship went to Newport News, then up the river to Savannah and finally backtracked to Sunny Point, North Carolina where 500 tons of ammunition was loaded for the Australian armed forces! The passengers had to sign release statements stating they were aware there was ammunition supplies on board. The next stop was Sydney Australia! No stops anywhere else and the African Planet was the first ship to pass through the Panama Canal on the designated day after taking on fuel in Cristobel, under a red flag!

    In late 1980 we returned to Australia after two years in the USA on the container ship Austral Pioneer which left Staten Island. We got the last berths available, two single cabins with connecting door! We had lots of storage space. The cabin area faced the containers on deck but there was plenty of light in the cabins. The accommodation on this then new Farrell Line ship was like a classy hotel and the other passengers were an electic group and most interesting. The service was excellent and we sat with the Captain and officers at mealtimes. Wonderful memories.

  47. Carolyn Norton says:

    Al Wood, I read your posting with great interest as my husband was skipper of many of the ships you mentioned in the ’50s and maybe the late ’40s as well, and I’m thinking maybe you came across him. His name was James K. Norton (Jim) and you would remember his great Irish wit if you’d ever run into him. His close friends were also Farrell skippers: Harry Iehle, Eddie Fay, and T. K. Tonnesen. These men also became my good friends. What a great time we all had together. Captain Fay was in that lifeboat that the baby was born in, for instance. Loved hearing of their adventures! Jim, who was a 1945 graduate of Kings Point, crossed over in 2004 at the age of 81, and gee how I miss him! I hope to hear back from you, Al. Regards, Carolyn

  48. Denise Jones says:

    I have such wonderful memories of Farrell Lines and the incredible childhood the company and the Farrell family provided me in the 1970’s in Australia. My father, George Jones, worked in the offices in Liberia, Nigeria, Baltimore, New York, and my favorite, Sydney. The Toohey family were constant companions in most of those locales. I have so many wonderful memories of going to the Sydney office on Saturdays with my father and being treated to biscuits from the tin in the break room, going down to meet the ships, sailing as passengers up to Brisbane with my grandparents, and celebrating my 8th birthday on board the Austral Entente where the Captain graciously judged our birthday games and the crew baked a strawberry shortcake. My parents just moved to Florida this month and I was sorting through things at their old house. Dad tucked away so much memorabilia: Farrell key chains, luggage tags, bar ware, desk name plates, silk ties and my favorite, an oil painting of the Austral Entente. The wonderful memories these items invoked compelled me to look up Farrell Lines and find out if the company of my childhood still existed. I am happy to have found this blog and will pass the information on to my father. I’m sure it will make him smile.

  49. Jan Kwartowitz says:

    I worked in the NYC office at 1 Whitehall St. in 1965-66. First in the mail room and then in the printing department publishing the ship schedules. The Farrell family were all great generous people. When their ships would arrive in NY, the captains would take us out after work to the Whitehorse Tavern which was next door to the building. I would probably worked there for much longer if not for the Draft at the time. I had to take my Army physical right down the block on Whitehall St. When I worked in the mail room, one of my favorite tasks was sending out those flowers. Does anyone remember receiving those?

  50. I served as Chief Electrician between the Seventy’s and the Eighty’s on the Northern run and to Pusan, Karea run Injured my back and was pulled off the ship. I never had the opportunity to return to my Steady Job as Chief Electrician. I really enjoyed my work, ship mates, Steady Chief Enginner, First Enginner, Second Enginner, Radioman, and the rest of the crew especially a Third Enginner I can not remember his name, who lived in Portland, he gave me his apartment size refer. Thanks man, I really enjoyed it the last days I was aboard !

  51. I forgot to say I was instrumental in keeping the ship from going dead in the water due to my training by The US Navy Electricians class “A” school and my four years on the USS Henrico(APA-45).

  52. Larry Brady says:

    Sailed on the African Rainbow in June 1967 right out of HS in a program Farrell had to interest college bound kids in shipping. I was a “student observer” and was paid $25 a month. I had a ball and was under the wing of the ships officers. The Captains name was Johannson and he was definitely a no nonsense guy. We sailed from Brooklyn and first port of call was Monrovia, Liberia. Then on to Takoradi and Buchanan, Ghana. Then on to the Republic of the Ivory Coast and Lagos, Nigeria. We rode at anchor for a week outside of Lagos for a week as the harbor was crowded with ships supplying the government with material as they were waging a civil war known as The Biafra War.

  53. In May 1963, I made a trip as Second Mate on the African Glen to West Africa with Capt. Alan Farnsworth. I got off to get married and started law school in 9/63 and from 8/66 have been a maritime lawyer in Florida. I ran into Capt. Farnsworth years later when in Panama on a case and he was a Canal pilot. I also had met Capt. Dick LePage in the late 60’s in NY and was involved in several cases with him. Capt. K.C. Torrens tried to get me to stay at sea and sail with Farrell Lines but the law called!! They were a very well run company and I have many pleasant memories of my times with them.

  54. I worked for Farrell Lines right after coming off active duty in the Navy. I started in June 1963, when the new C-4 “African Dawn was starting her maiden voyage to Capetown. I started working in One Whitehall Street with the freight cashiers down stairs office, then in IBM Department for a few years, then at 35th Street pier in Brooklyn, working the C-3’s, and C-2’s on the West African run. I especially liked the new “African Comet” and the six new ships. The people, I met and worked for were great and all of them had a lot of W 2 maritime history. I still remember receiving my first bonus check from James Farrell himself. There were so many wonderful and smart people that made Farrell Line such a great company to work for. I remember being in Monrovia for a while, working for Capt. Howard Kaiser. Their ship captains were the best like Capt George Hickey, Capt. Eric Talbe and so many other ship board personnel, I really liked working on the 33rd Street and 35th Street piers with those great ships. Several years later in the early 80’s I worked on the tugs, docking ships, I got my New York harbor pilots unlimited tonnage. eventually getting my master’s licence. I had to the good fortune to handle the “Astral Envoy” class container ships including the”Astral Pioneer” and “Astral Puritan” I was with the “African Dawn” and two of her sister ships before they were laid up and turned over to MARAD. I was recalled to active reserve duty with the U.S. Navy and assigned to a cargo handling unit, where had the good fortune to be with the former “African Mercury”, renamed “Cape Ann” under MARAD. I did her ammo load out during Operation Dessert Shield and Dessert Storm in 1990-1991, including the former “African Neptune” as “Cape Archway” Both ships were good shape and certainly brought back a lot wonderful memories with Farrell lines. They were still good ships, right to the end of their careers.

  55. Tony Citrini says:

    Anthony Caballelo, served as an engineer on the SS African Sun that sailed to monrovia, liberia from 1973 till 1980. He is probable from Brooklyn or New York. If anyone knew him or has ever heard about him, or if anyone can please advise me how and where to effectively trace ex employees of Farrell lines incorporated , i will be very greatful. Thanks in advance.
    Phone number : 0039.339.2787688
    email address:

  56. Marc Lewis says:

    In June 1976, sailed on Voyage 54 on AFRICAN SUN to South and East Africa. I was 18 and the winner of the Propeller Club’s national maritime essay contest. Capt. Malcolm Cook, a native of Maine was her skipper. Wonderful trip of a lifetime although I returned home three weeks late to start my freshman year at St. John’s U. Couldn’t seem to catch up that entire term, but well worth it! Many great memories of the old girl and the great guys in her crew. Believe she is still in MarAd layup as CAPE AVINOFF.

  57. Al Wood says:

    Carolyn Norton’s posting on her Husband Captain Norton brought back many memories. Of course I knew him but never sailed with him. Remember the years 1948 to 1953 we were really pioneering the West African trade. For example you could not get one of the C- 3s into Monrovia as the depth was only 30 feet. The six C-2s Glen Glade,Grove Patriot,Pilot and Pilgrim were the only ships you could use. In those days most West African Masters were under 30. Older Captains Ihele, Mortonson, Hickey, Graham we’re all in the South.Hell, I was Assistant Port Captain for NY with an office on Beaver pstreet gand I was all of 26. Captain Hettrick introduced me to my wife of 61 years.Farrell was a family. what great days, what adventures I had on my 19 trips to Africa. Meanwhile Full Ahead!! White over Red my pilot is ahead

  58. First job out of graduate school in 1977. One of the best experiences I have ever had in my business career. I see a lot of names I remember working with in reading this feed. I am now back in Texas where I started. I was at One Whitehall visiting an investment banking company about a year ago and it really brought back some good memories.

  59. Rachel Longstaff says:

    My father sailed on a Farrell owned ship in 1925, New York to Durban, South Africa, where his sister was living at the time. He was only 17, so Mr. Farrell put him under the captain’s care, along with his own son who happened to be sailing on that voyage. Years later, our family (with six kids) travelled from South Africa to New York on the African Endeavor and returned on the African Enterprise. They were wonderful ships. My Dad met one of the seamen, Tex, on the Endeavor, who had sailed with him in 1925. Such happy memories.

  60. Maureen Ryan Chaves says:

    My dad. Leigh Clarke Ryan….aka Jack Ryan was with Farrell Lines beginning in 1950. I just found a large file of letters from him to my mom on Farrell Lines Stationary. He was in Monrovia, Liberia. So many amazing stories about the ships…the piers and the company housing…trips to the U.S. Embassy etc. I am a former Pan Am In flight purser. He apologizes to my my mom for delays in mail due to the crash of a Pan Am clipper….and that now the pilots will not land without a 7000 ft ceiling . He talks of the locals…some hired for 60 cents an hour to assist with welding and heavy work. Lots of colleagues mentioned. My dad was born in 1917.

  61. Maureen Ryan Chaves says:

    My dad had good friends like Chick, and Slim. He was honored at a dinner for saving a young native drowning. He was offered a plate of live maggots to honor him! He also has a letter for courageous efforts during a pier explosion and fire in Brooklyn. I can be reached at

  62. Barbara Baron says:

    My late husband Charles Baron worked for FL in Liberia in early 60s, spent time in the NYC office and finally became 2nd in command at the Washington office. Anyone have any news of Chris H or James the boss? In ’72 Charlie became Maritime Attache for western Europe and we spent 2 yrs in Paris embassy and 4 in Brussels.

  63. Tony Citrini says:

    I am searching for Mr. Anthony Cabalello who has Puerto Rico origin but was born in New York at Brooklyn.
    He served as an Engineer on the SS AFRICAN SUN that belong to the Farrell Lines Incorporated which came every year to Monrovia in the 1960 to 1980. He was actually the Chief Engineer on the ship at the time.
    I am not sure whether he was a member of the National Maritime Union or the Marine Engineer Beneficial Association.
    Romeo Carlos worked in the Engine room with him, James Sally and Shadow West was the Captain of the Ship at that time.
    I will be grateful if anybody remember anything about him or has any type of information.
    Thank you very much in advance and God bless you for your help.

  64. Tom Connelly says:

    I was a cadet on the African Dawn in 1967. I remember how sleek and fast she was, especially evident on the Chesapeake approach leaving other vessels in her wake. The low point of that year was the collison of the African Sun with a petro barge in the Mississippi. If I recall a number of seamen were killed, including one of the cadets.

  65. Bruno Ravalico says:

    Very interesting to find this. I was the last master of the Argonaut. Left it in China, to be scraped, on 4/13/2007. I have been retired since.
    I belive it was the African Star that collided with a barge in the Mississippi River. There were two cadets killed. Paul Henly and Dug Negly. Classmates of mine. Great guys.

  66. Patrick J. Imhof says:

    I would like to Mrs. Elizabeth Lang, who was the Executive Secretary of Farrell Lines.
    I am also looking for a good reproduction of the Fall / Winter Farrell Lines magazine.

    Thank you.

    PJ Imhof

  67. My father, Donald Schmidt, worked at Farrell Lines for about 40 years and retired as Senior Vice President – Operations. He passed away this past Sunday, December 20, 2015. He would be thrilled to see the Farrell spirit still alive on this page. His obituary is published here:
    Please remember him in your prayers

  68. Eric S. Kastango says:

    Farrell Lines was a great company that my late father, Ed Kastango sailed with as Chief Mate and Master from the 60’s until 1984. He started on the African Sun and Mercury and sailed the Austral ships from the West Coast to Australia and then from the East Coast to the Mediterranean. I remembered going down to the piers near the Brooklyn in the late 60’s and 70’s to pick my dad up after being away for weeks in Africa. I have lots of key chains and playing cards with the Farrell Line logo on it. Brings a smile to my face and glad to see this blog.

  69. Michael Ralpf Cartwright says:

    OMG, I just came across this site while looking back into the past through a whole host of different international shipping websites.
    What nostalgia !
    I worked at John T Rennie & Sons Head Office (Farrell Lines’ general agents on the South African coast for many, many years) in Durban from 1974 to 1980 and enjoyed some of the best years of my 35-year working career in the shipping industry. My father, John Cartwright, was a Director at JTR and his fellow Directors were Edgar Andrews, who was in charge of the Farrells ships agency operations on the South and East African coasts from Walvis Bay to Mombasa in the seventies), Guy Radmore, Francis Baker, Wilkie Rutherford and later Michael Atter. Sadly, all but Michael Atter are no longer with us but what memories ! Some of you above may remember them.
    A few of the names in the comments above are well familiar to me, but I was only in my early twenties then so I’m sure would not be remembered, starting at the top with Capt. Gerry Purslow. I remember him as Master of the Austral Pilot. I remember Capt. Steve Nadeau (African Mercury), Tracey Sterling (African Meteor), Bud Ford (African Sun), Rick Hall (African Dawn), Joe Stanijko (African Comet), Ed Watson (Austral Pilgrim), Adorian …….(Austral Patriot) and of course the sixth C4 African Neptune (can’t remember who was usually her Master). All these GREAT vessels, were obviously regular visitors to Durban and working with and on behalf of Farrell Lines was a huge privilege for me. I spent six months June to November 1977 in the Farrell Lines office at Number 1 Whitehall Street, Downtown Manhattan and Farrells kindly put me up at the Downtown Athletic Club across the way on the west side and just down from the World Trade Centre. Because South African ports were only then becoming “containerised”, I spent most of my time with the container department under David Letteney, Barbara Kelly and Bob Ruebel and their staff. I wonder where they are now ? But I also spent a bit of time over on Pier 5 Brooklyn (I remember one of the C4’s featured briefly there in the movie “French Connection”) as well as over at the container piers in New Jersey where the fully cellular vessels berthed (Austral Entente, Endurance, Envoy and Endeavour ?). I spent a week with Tom Tarbox who at the time was looking after the USEC/South and East African trades and I also had the pleasure of briefly meeting Don Schmidt (my condolences to Charles and Don’s remaining family for your very recent loss).
    Syd Oram, whose name I know well in South African shipping circles, you’re not alone and I can join you as a landlubber amongst the other revered names above but I also could not resist adding a little bit of my own “Farrell Line” experience here. Joan Vreeland was another name above who I remember – you and your husband took me to see the Broadway production of “Equus”, in which I think the late Leonard Nimoy had the starring role and we went with your friends Tito and Terri Smyth ?
    I could go on a bit because there were so many fantastic memories, not only of that 6-month stint in the Big Apple, but also of life in Durban during those four of five years during which I was so closely involved with day-to-day Farrell Line ops. I moved on elsewhere within the Rennie Group shortly after Farrells and American Export Lines got together.
    My best regards to all.

  70. OMG!..I started with Farrell Lines in early Jan-Feb of 1964 at 1 Whitehall Street..I was on the 13th floor..I worked for Mr. Hegeman..Right in front of the accounting department where I made great friends like Marge Norton and the guys from the printing room downstairs, Paul Giachetti..Even got one of my friends to work there ..Dorothy Delatorre….It was a great company and have been blessed to work there even if it was for a short time….

  71. Chris Maslak says:

    Today I was reminded by one of the student passengers from a Farrell Lines ship what a source of great memories these experiences produced. I was a Kings Point engineering cadet aboard the African Comet in 1978 and vividly remember that extended voyage … star lit nights at sea, playing soccer with locals in a Durban park, feasting on grilled langastino while imbibing white wine. Great thanks to the Farrell business model for enabling work and pleasure to co-exist.

  72. Betty Schaffer says:

    I have a simple question. How long did it take to cross the Atlantic in the African Dawn in July of 1959? I am writing a memoir for my family. We were a young missionary couple with four young children and sailed from New York to Liberia on the African Dawn. We left New York on July 3 and to our surprise woke up in Nova Scotia the next morning. The ship took on a load of wheat. We stopped at Terceira and unloaded autos and again at Dakar where a Baptist missionary family disembarked with a boat for going up the Niger to Timbuktu. My son, who was seven at the time, feels like it took us six weeks to cross the Atlantic. I think more like two weeks. ?????

  73. Rick Spilman says:

    I don’t know the answer with I can do a quick back of the envelope estimate. From Halifax to Dakar is approximately 3,000 nautical miles. What was the ship’s speed? If the voyage was in 1959, the ship was not the C4 African Dawn built in 1963, so we can assume it was a C3. It probably operated at service speeds between 15 – 17 knots. At fifteen knots the 3,000-mile voyage should have taken under 9 days. With the stop in the Azones, two weeks might not be unreasonable.

  74. Ellsworth Bahrman says:

    As a child in Bay Shore, NY, I grew up across the street from the home of Billy and Jimmy (if memory serves me) Farrell, whose family was involved in shipping. We would play together until they eventually moved away. My cousins and I always wondered what happened to the boys. Can you please enlighten us.

  75. Wayne Knorek says:

    One of my fondest memories as a kid was waiting for my dad Ed Knorek Radio Officer 50’s-70’s to clear customs at the Brooklyn piers.The smells of the bay ,green coffee beans ,the local roasters and truck exhaust always signaled that my dad was home.If allowed I would get to go to the galley and have a bowl of Frosted Flakes.Then my dad would take me around the ship African Sun to say hi to everyone. If it were not for Farrell lines my mom and dad would have never met .She was from Rhodesia and they met in Durban .For all that knew my dad Ed I’m sorry to say he passed in 1999. He truly loved the sea and his passion passed on to me. Farrell Lines was a big part of my life and I’m glad to see the company still has ships at sea.

  76. Does anyone remember Captain George B. Hickey or Captain Paul F. Duffy? While researching for a book I am writing, I came across “The Old Salt Blog.” Some of the comments written by Carolyn Norton were of interest since I had sailed with Captain K. Norton on the SS African Enterprise. In fact I have a business plan written by Captain Norton that was given to me by Richard Cratty, a mutual friend . Presently my award winning book, “The Exciting Story of Cuba” is available from, Barnes&, and Independent book vendors. Soon to be released are two books, “Suppressed I Rise – Revised Edition” and “Seawater One…. Going to Sea.” Future “Seawater” books will include my adventures as a Captain on the Farrell Lines International coastal or feeder ships in Liberia, and my experiences on Farrell Line ships sailing to South and East Africa. Look for my website,; Facebook; Twitter and They all post my daily entries of quotes and blogs named “From the Bridge.” I am a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy “55” and a member if the Tampa Bay Chapter of CAMM.

  77. David Koenig says:

    My late dad, Clarence F. K#$g and John All#$%$n served with Ray Farrell in WWII. Both in New Jersey, and in Europe. They were on the “lucky ship” which was the only one of three to make it to the D. Day beaches on D Day Plus Five, as a reserve unit. Does anyone here have contact info for Ray’s obit. or surviving family? We almost met Ray in 1963, but he was up country hunting when we drove back to N.J. to visit with my uncle. My dad wasn’t too much on making reservations or RSVP’s. These three G.I.’s did things all across Europe in their own way. I’d like to compare some stories with any of Ray’s surviving family. Thanx

  78. Judy Christoffers Duda says:

    My family sailed on the African Enterprise and the African Endeavor. My father work for General Motors in Port Elizabeth. We sailed in 1952 and 1956 on home leave. My brother and I have such fond memories of being at sea. The crew was always so kind to us. I remember running off menus in the pursers office talking to Sparks in the radio room and stearing the ship. I even was the model for an officer who was making a springbok coat for his daughter. What fun to relive those times.