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!”

This entry was posted in Lore of the Sea. Bookmark the permalink.

42 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.

  7. Pingback: Joseph Conrad, the Tusitala, the Three Hours for Lunch Club and James Farrell : Old Salt Blog – a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea

  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:

    Hello,
    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
    32503-6529

  12. Patrick J. Imhof says:

    Sir,
    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 http://www.vp45association.org. 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.

    V/R,

    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!

  21. SILVANO BOLOGNINI - LIVORNO (ITALY) says:

    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:

    I worked at FARRELL LINES AS A TEMP TELETYPIST
    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

  27. Pingback: New York City Tours | newyorkcitytours-abc.com

  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
    Marcello

  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

  38. MICHALINE ANDRUSKO says:

    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:

    John,

    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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>