The end of Coptic's White Star career


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Mark Baber

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As noted below, 30 October 1906 is the date given in most standard White Star histories for Coptic's final sailing from San Francisco on the White Star/Occidental and Oriental transpacific service. A couple of months ago, however, I located references to her arriving at San Francisco on three occasions in 1907, and set off to try to figure out what really happened, greatly assisted by the California Digital Newspaper Collection, http://cdnc.ucr.edu/newsucr. The results follow.

27 June 1906: Carrying very little freight and seven passengers, Coptic
(Capt. Finch) makes her final San Francisco departure on the White
Star/Occidental and Oriental transpacific service; she will arrive at
Yokohama on 11 July and continue on her way to Hong Kong. At this point, it
is anticipated that she will either be sold when she arrives at Hong Kong or
return to England. (Source: The San Francisco Call, 27 and 28 June and 13
and 29 July 1906.)

21 July 1906: The Pacific Mail Company announces that it has purchased
Coptic and Doric I from White Star, leaving the White Star/Occidental and
Oriental transpacific service with no ships and O&O's corporate officials
"without an occupation," although it is anticipated that they will be "taken
care of" by Pacific Mail, of which O&O is described as "merely an adjunct."
It is reportedly Pacific Mail's intention that Doric remain in service, but
Coptic (which is at Hong Kong) is expected to be relegated to the status of
a reserve ship. (Source: The San Francisco Call, 22 and 29 July 1906.)

19 October 1906: Unexpectedly recalled to service as a result of the
stranding and subsequent layup of Pacific Mail's Manchuria, Coptic (now
owned by Pacific Mail and under a Pacific Mail commander, Capt. Andrew
Dixon, but still with her White Star name) returns to San Francisco. She
will sail from San Francisco for Hong Kong on 30 October (the date often
given as that of her final White Star/O&O sailing from California) and again
on 18 January and 2 April 1907. (Sources: The Times (London), 18 February
1907; The San Francisco Daily Call, 11 September, 20 and 30 October
1906 and 3 April 1907; Oakland Tribune, 18 January 1907.)

30 October 1906: This date is given in Anderson's White Star, Haws'
Merchant Fleets and de Kerbrech's Ships of the White Star Line for Coptic's
final San Francisco departure in the White Star/Occidental & Oriental
transpacific service.

7 June 1907: Pacific Mail's Coptic (see 21 July) makes her final San
Francisco arrival under her old White Star name; when she sails again on 18
June it will be under her new Pacific Mail name, Persia. She will be sold
to Toyo Kisen Kabusiki Kaisya in 1915 and renamed Persia Maru and will be
scrapped in Osaka in 1926. (Sources: The San Francisco Call, 8 and 19 June
1907; Anderson's White Star; Haws' Merchant Fleets.)
 

Mark Baber

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The San Francisco Call, 27 June 1906

Coptic Leaves This Port Today for the Last Time
---
***
The Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company's liner Coptic will sail at 1
o'clock this afternoon for the Orient. When she reaches Hongkong she will
be turned over to the White Star Line, from whom she was chartered about ten
years ago. She will take no cargo from here and only a few passengers.

Captain Finch, commander of the Coptic, will be transferred to the Doric,
which will remain on this run. The Coptic either will be sold at Hongkong or
will return from there to England.

The Coptic has been a favorite steamer with the traveling public, and many
will regret her departure from the Pacific. During the ten years the Coptic
has been running out of this port she has had many masters.

Captain Rinder, who succeeded Captain Sealby, is probably the best known of
her former commanders and officers who served under him and are now on the
liner still speak enthusiastically of their old skipper. Rinder is a good
seaman and has few equals as a navigator. He inspired his officers with his
own ideas of the dignity of his profession, and the subsequent success of
some of them is due, as they will admit, to Rinder's influence.

"When Captain Rinder joined this ship," said one of them yesterday, "we had
an idea that the stars were some kind of electric lights. He taught us that
they were signposts and he saw to it that we learned to read them."

Rinder was selected by R. P. Schwerin to bring the big liner Manchuria to
this coast from Neawport [sic] News. He made several trips across the
Pacific and then resigned to accept the command of the big Hill liner
Minnesota of which he is now master.

Rinder was succeeded on the Coptic by Captain Beadnell, who had been his
chief officer. Beadnell was ordered to England to take command of a White
Star liner. Captain Armstrong was sent out to command the Coptic. Armstrong
died in the Orient after making a few trips and is still mourned by his old
shipmates. He was succeeded by Captain Lobez, his chief officer, who
retained command until relieved by Captain Finch, the Coptic's present
commander and formerly master of the Gaelic. Lobez will accompany the vessel
home, where, it is expected, he soon will be given a command.

All the Coptic's commanders have been young men. She has been known for
years as the "kid ship." Most of her former masters are now in command of
bigger ships, and all her former junior officers who are not now masters are
well up the ladder.

Chief Engineer Richardson of the Coptic will be transferred with Captain
Finch to the Doric, as will Dr. Gates, the senior surgeon of the line.

During her service on the Pacific the Coptic has had but one mishap. About
eight years ago a big sea smashed in her forward whaleback, as the result of
which she was delayed a few weeks at Hongkong.

-30-
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
The San Francisco Call, 28 June 1906

Coptic Leaves for Last Time
---
For more than thirty years the flag of the Occidental and Oriental Steamship
Company has been carried on the Pacific by liners chartered from the White
Star Line of Liverpool, England. At one time there were four of these
vessels in this service --- the Gaelic, Belgic, Coptic and Doric.

When the Japanese line came into this trade the Belgic was surrendered by
the charterers and sent home. The advent of the Siberia and Korea ended the
Gaelic's usefulness here and she was sent after the Belgic. The Coptic
sailed from here yesterday and at Hongkong will haul down the O. and O.
flag, and if she is not sold in the Far East will return to England. This
leaves only the Doric now on her way here to represent the White Star Line
in the Pacific. It is understood that the Pacific Mail Company will purchase
the Doric when her present charter expires, and in that case the O. and O.
flag will disappear altogether from the Pacific.

The Coptic carried only 29 packages of freight --- electrical goods valued
at $3423 for Manila. She carried seven passengers. Captain Finch, now in
command of the Coptic, will, it is understood, be transferred to the Doric,
whose master will return to England.

-30-
 
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