Following the amalgamations
new jointly operated shipping companies were formed to cater
for the changed marketing needs. The first of these companies
was the Atlas Line which operated to Japan from the Australian
ports, the first ship operating the route being the Port Albany.
A new funnel design was devised based on the Blue Star format
as was that of the Compass Line which was formed to operate
services between South Africa and Australia. The Compass Line
commenced operations in 1969 with the Port Melboune and Blue
Star's Hobart Star and Newcastle Star but Port Line withdrew
in 1971 because the route proved to be unprofitable. In March
of 1969 the Actanz Line was formed for the purpose of bringing
together all the remaining conventional cargo vessels belonging
to Port Line, Blue Star and Ellerman's under the management
of Blue Star Port Lines (Management). At the same time the
M.A.N.Z. service was replaced by PACE (Pacific America Container
Express), an ACT subsidiary which maintained Port Line's share
in the service.
Changes were also taking place
within the parent company, Cunard. In 1970 Cunard Cargo Shipping
Services Ltd. was incorporated to co-ordinate the activities
of Cunard-Brocklebank, Port Line, Moss Tankers and Offshore
Marine. There was still a need for some conventional cargo
ships and this company deployed ships to satisfy that area
of trade. For example, cars and other wheeled machinery would
be loaded in the refrigerated cargo spaces and unloaded in
the Middle East and Persian Gulf during the outward voyage
to Australia where frozen produce would be loaded for the
In 1971 Port Line Ltd moved
into Blue Star's Albion House in Leadenhall St. as part of
the Blue Star Port Line (Management) consolidation.
In August 1971 Cunard was taken over by Trafalgar House Investments
Ltd. Lord (Victor) Mathews replaced Sir Basil Smallpiece as
the chairman of Cunard and Norman Thompson became the chairman
of Port Line to oversee the reorganisation which followed
the take over. However, the consolidation by the the new owners
resulted in William Slater of Cunard-Brocklebank becoming
chairman of Port Line on 1st January 1972.
The role of 'Blueport' was
also changed. Instead of operating the ships it managed the
new arrangement was that they would be chartered to the 'Blueport'
with the crewing and control reverting to the owners. This
rectified the unhappy situation which had arisen where crews
and traditional operating traditions became mixed resulting
in bureaucratic, cumbersome and inefficient practices.
In 1972 the fleet comprised
18 ships and during the year nine were disposed of demonstrating
the dramatic effect that containerisation was having on the
shipping industry. The ships sold were the Port Adelaide,
the Port Albany, the Port Burnie, the Port Huon, the Port
Melbourne, the Port Montreal, the Port Pirie, the Port Sydney
and the Port Townsville. On 29th September 1972 Port Line
withdrew from Crusader Shipping as the venture was unprofitable,
their share being taken over by the other two members. In
1973 Joint Cargo Services Ltd divided into two and Port Line's
office in Sydney was moved to ACT (A).
By this time containerisation
was making huge inroads into traditional shipping operations
and, as a result, in 1974 the conventional cargo services
operated jointly by Port Line and Blue Star were terminated
and Blue Star Port Lines (Management) Ltd ceased to operate.
In September of 1974 the group's remaining conventional cargo
ships came under the control of Cunard-Brocklebank's Board
Executive Committee and with that decision Port Line was finished
as an autonomous business entity.
The Port Victor, the Port Jackson and the Port Wellington
(Photo: James Martin)
The run down continued and
the fleet was reduced to five ships when the Port Launceston
was sold in 1977 comprising the Port Alfred which had been
built for the M.A.N.Z. service, the Port New Plymouth, the
Port Nicholson, the Port Caroline and the Port Chalmers. In
the following year it was decided to centralise the crewing
of all Cunard's ships and, at the same time, Port Line's separate
ship identity also disappeared. In September 1978 the activities
of Port Line (Australia) Ltd. were transferred to the Associated
Container Transportation (Australia) and with that move the
Port Line name was no longer visible in Australia.
Also in 1978 the Port Alfred
was transferred to the Cunard Steam Ship Co. reducing the
fleet at the beginning of 1979 to four ships. The Port New
Plymouth and the Port Nicholson were sold for scrap and the
Port Caroline and the Port Chalmers were laid up in the River
Fal until, in 1981, they were transferred to the Brocklebank
fleet where they continued in service for another two years
before being sold to foreign owners.
Port Line was a victim of the
container revolution but as a tribute to a splendid British
company, every ship that the company ordered for its fleet
was built in Britain..
Atlas Line "Vintage
All former employees of the Port Line Ltd are encouraged to
join "Vintage Port", whose objectives are the continuance
of contact between those employed by Port Line Ltd prior to
March 1968. There is no annual subscription and the cost of
annual reunions in London is born by those attending. Applications
for membership should be made to the Secretary, Cyril Simmons,
Vintage Port maintains a web site at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/VintagePort
where there are a substantial number of photos
of Port Line vessels as well as other relevant documents.
Access to the site is provided, free of charge, to
all members of Vintage Port. Applications from persons
who were not employed by the Port Line but wish access
to the site for a specific purpose will be given careful