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House Flags of U.S. Shipping Companies: S

Last modified: 2017-10-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: united states shipping lines |
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Standard Fruit and Steamship Company (Vaccaro Brothers and Co.)

[Standard Fruit and Steamship Company]       [Standard Fruit and Steamship Company]  by Joe McMillan

Standard Fruit and Steamship Company (Vaccaro Brothers and Co.), New Orleans (1899-present)
Vaccaro Brothers began as a family owned banana-importing firm in New Orleans in the late 19th century. The Vaccaros chartered their first ship in 1899 to run  between Honduras and New Orleans and were enormously successful, especially after they were able to buy surplus ships at bargain prices following World War I. By 1935, the company was operating 35 ships and was the leading rival to the powerful United Fruit Company (now trading as Chiquita). They initiated passenger service to Mexico and the Caribbean aboard their ships in 1924 and continued to carry passengers until the 1950s. Although Standard Fruit and Steamship had been chartered as a public stock company in 1923, it remained overwhelmingly in family hands until the 1960s, when the second generation of Vaccaros decided to get out of the shipping business and sell the line to Castle and Cooke, a prominent Hawaiian sugar and pineapple company now known as Dole. SFS now operates under the name Dole Ocean Cargo Express, but I don't know if it still uses the same flag, of which I've found several variants, two of which I've illustrated:
Source: Lloyds 1912 - A horizontal blue-white-blue triband with a red V with serifs on the center.
Source: Talbot-Booth (1937), US Navy's 1961 H.O. - White with blue stripes along the upper and lower edges and a large red sans-serif V on the center. National Geographic (1934) shows the same design but with serifs.

Joe McMillan, 22 November 2001

Standard Fruit & Steamship Co. (Vaccaro Brothers & Co.). Apart from the letter variances there is also the width of white flag band which is shown as equal, broad or very broad. Of interest is the US Navy publication which shows very broad in the US section but equal under the Honduras section where it appears as part of the fleet was under that flag. Possibly this is a deliberate differencing. There was also a British company, Standard Fruit & Steamship Co. Ltd. for ships under the UK registry which had the same livery as the US fleet according to Talbot-Booth but as he shows a flag version of equal bands this still leaves a question.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

States Marine Corp.

[States Marine Corp.]  by Joe McMillan

States Marine Corp., New York (1930-1982)
States Marine got its start as a tramp steamer operation and began developing scheduled services as a small liner company in the years immediately before World War II. After the war it expanded rapidly by purchasing surplus vessels from the government, buying out existing small firms, and investing carefully in foreign steamship companies. When States Marine shocked the shipping world by buying U.S. Steel's Isthmian Line in 1956 (the largest shipping transaction ever), it became the second largest line under the U.S. flag and the largest not receiving subsidies from the government. States Marine then started shifting its vessels to flags of convenience. The company was so prominent that the Maritime Administration selected it to operate the experimental nuclear-powered merchant ship N.S. Savannah from its launch in 1959 until 1963. States Marine started shifting its operations to foreign flag after other companies used political influence to block the company's entry into the subsidized arena in the early 1960s. When the founders of the line retired in the late 1970s, their heirs started liquidating the  companies holdings, selling off its last ships by 1982. The States Marine flag was a burgee of three horizontal stripes, white, blue and red, with a blue vertical stripe at the hoist bearing a single white star.
Sources: Stewart (1953), US Navy's 1961 H.O.

Joe McMillan, 23 November 2001

States Steamship Co.

States Steamship Co., San Francisco (originally Portland, Oregon) (1921-1979)
The lumber merchant Charles Dant of Portland founded this line to handle his lumber schooners as well as the vessels he had leased from the U.S. Shipping Board for his Columbia Pacific Steamship Company. Columbia Pacific, founded in 1919, operated from Portland to the Far East and Europe. In 1928, Dant dropped the Columbia Pacific name and operated everything under the name States Steamship Co, or States Line. The line never really grew very large. SSS ended its European service by the 1930s and eventually focused mainly on service to the Philippines. It suffered from strong foreign competition and the failure of its owners to make the shift to containerization in the 1970s. High fuel prices in the late 1970s finally drove the company into bankruptcy. During its history, SSS used two basic flag designs:

[States Steamship Co.]  by Joe McMillan

Source: Wedge (1951), Stewart (1953) - A blue over white burgee with a red vertical stripe in the hoist. (This is also shown as the flag of the Pacific-Atlantic Steamship Co and the Quaker Line, presumably subsidiaries of SSS. I have no other information on these companies.)

[States Steamship Co.]       [States Steamship Co.]  by Joe McMillan
Sources: US Navy's 1961 H.O., Styring (1971) - Blue with a red seahorse on a wide, wavy white band from lower hoist to upper fly. According to, States Line used the seahorse logo from the "early 1900s", but apparently not on its flag until at least the late 1950s. The second image here from Stewart & Styring (1963) is similar to the first except that the wavy band runs horizontally across the flag and the words "States Line" are added in red flanking the seahorse.

Joe McMillan, 23 November 2001

Some time ago I landed on a site offering various WWII and related articles, and found a house flag bearing a swastika at showing silverware and commenting: "This silver is extremely rare with these particular markings, as the
swastika became politically incorrect with the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany. The States Lines logo was changed several times in the following years. First to a cross within a circle -- which was still too closely reminiscent to the swastika design, then to a much more acceptable seahorse. The old silver was either destroyed or sold off. Some pieces were picked up by crew members of the German-American Bund who worked as \stewards - there are documented cases of espionage agents and German sympathizers among the crew - used and kept over the years. One of the more famous of these espionage groups was the Duquesne Spy Ring. Thirty-three spies were arrested and convicted in 1942 of espionage activities, many of them working for various cruise lines plying the Atlantic, acting as couriers to take information back to Germany."

On the this site, presenting the collection of Björn Larsson, we find a coloured image:

[States Steamship Co.] by Jarig Bakker

i.e. red flag with black upright swastika. Funnel: red band with same symbol between black bands. Here it says "States Steamship Lines/States Steamship Company".
Jan Mertens, 23 October 2003

In Flags and Funnels Brown 263: States Steamship Co., Portland, Ore.
Funnel: Black with on a wide red stripe a white clockwise swastika.
Flag: 2:3; red with in the center a white clockwise swastika, approximately half the height of the flag. The swastika is drawn somewhat thick, by giving some of the width of the gaps to the inner arms.)
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2003

The red flag with the swastika reversed is shown by Brown 1926 under the name of Colombia Pacific Shipping [sic] Co. and Oregon Oriental Line but this is presumably an incorrect version. The comment on the company logos and the change to a circle containing a cross does not appear to have resulted in a flag change but such a logo did replace the swastika previously shown on the funnel band.
Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Referring to the States Steamship Co. and its bygone swastika house flag, see this page of the Maritime Timetable Images site: showing a few examples, and offering some cautionary remarks. There are a few more in the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels aka LLo11]( surely that is "12") ?
Jan Mertens, 15 September 2006

Seen on Nautiques (site offering maritime collectibles) another version of the swastika flag (direct link):
“A breakfast card dated June 28, 1935 as the GENERAL LEE sailed eastbound. This line started in 1932 by buying old tonnage and offering bargain prices voyages from the West Coast to the Orient. They had the misfortune of picking the swastika for their logo.”
The flag is a red field, white upright swastika: see attachment, most resembling the version described by Peter Hans.
Jan Mertens, 1 March 2007

Statue of Liberty Ferry

[Statue of Liberty Ferry] located by Jan Mertens, 15 October 2005

Source: image cropped from photo by Scott Johnson.

This simple flag is apparently used as a jack (see also here. Red with the words "Statue of Liberty / Ferry" in two rows, in white, and in script.

In fact the operating company in question is the Circle Line, quoted from
"Circle Line - Statue of Liberty Ferry, Inc has provided countless visitors with access to Liberty & Ellis Island for over 50 years. Circle Line - Statue of Liberty Ferry is owned and operated by third generation members of the original families that founded the company.
Circle Line - Statue of Liberty Ferry, Inc is an authorized concessionaire of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, National Park Service, and Department of the Interior.
Circle Line Harbor Cruises, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Circle Line - Statue of Liberty Ferry, Inc. Circle Line Harbor Cruises provides harbor cruises aboard ZEPHYR, a luxury yacht & Miss New York, one of Circle Line's historically charming vessels, high speed thrill rides aboard Shark and vessel charters for private events."
Although the firm's 'C' logo could well be used on a flag, I've been unable to locate a clear picture of one

Jan Mertens, 15 October 2005

Stevens Towing Co., Inc.

[Stevens Towing Co., Inc.] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 July 2007

Source: Stevens Towing Company site

A venerable firm, Stevens Towing Co., Inc. is at home at Yonges Island, SC. From Stevens Towing Company site:

“Stevens Towing Co., Inc., is a midsize barge transportation company based in Yonges Island, South Carolina, just south of Charleston. Stevens has been in business since before 1913, originally engaged in moving produce and passengers from local barrier islands to the Charleston market. Today Stevens engages inland, coastwise and ocean towing. We have experienced operators, and a complete fleet of tugs and barges for all freight/construction operations…”

Despite a large amount of photos I have not really seen an actual flag (perhaps one of two very small ones on the bow, or on a fender, of some vessel) so – for want of anything better – shown here is a flag from their logo: a green flag bearing a large, offset white disk with red serifed initials ‘ST’ (the ‘T’ placed lower). The funnels show the flag with the disk in the middle, so for the moment let us suppose that a real flag would have a central disk as well.

The initial business was named Stevens Line Co. (Rockville, SC), founded by brothers who operated a cotton gin business. Having already worked with barges and become pilots at Charleston because of the cotton slump, Joseph Stanyarne and William Yates subsequently ran a passenger boat at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. Then they returned to their home state and launched their own transportation company mainly carrying food produce. Now there is a gap to be filled in as the webpage is still under construction… Final sentence: “Today, Stevens operates ten tugs and towboats. We have about thirty barges and about one hundred employees. Some of the employees are second generation.” Together with J.E. Oswalt and Sons at Batesburg, Stevens Towing have set up Charleston Heavy Lift LLC in order to operate a floating crane in Charleston harbour.
Jan Mertens, 13 January 2007

T. J. Stevenson & Co, (Stevenson Lines)

[T. J. Stevenson & Co, (Stevenson Lines)]  by Joe McMillan

T. J. Stevenson & Co, (Stevenson Lines), New York (1946-at least 1960)
Not much on this company, except that it seems to have been sufficiently successful for its owner to buy the Ward Line, the predominant line in the New York- uba trade, from the Atlantic, Gulf, and West Indies holding company shortly before the Cuban Revolution and the US boycott put a stop to that trade. The flag was a red-white-red horizontal triband with the owner's initials in white on the upper (T and J) and lower (S) stripes.
Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.

Joe McMillan, 23 November 2001

Stockard Steamship Company

[Stockard Steamship Company]      [Stockard Steamship Company]  by Joe McMillan

Stockard Steamship Company, New York (by 1919-at least 1961)
Apparently this was a small company serving New York, Philadelphia, and various ports in the Caribbean. I've found two flags under this company's name:
Sources: Wedge (1951), US Navy's 1961 H.O. - White with a red block-style S. Wedge (1951) lists this as "Caribbean Line (Stockard Steamship Corp)"
Source: Wedge (1951), listed as Ivaran Lines of Stockard SS Corp - a red flag red with a white C. (This entry is a little puzzling, since I was under the impression that Ivaran was a Norwegian company. In any case, it seems that it was within the last year sold to Lykes Brothers.

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

Stockard Steamship Corporation. The second flag of red with a white "C" is that of Ivarans Rederei ASA formed as Ivar An. Christensen, hence the "C". I would image that the involvement with Stockard resulted from WW2 as they operated a tramping service between the east coast of USA and South America which was previously managed by fellow Norwegian company S. Holter-Sorensen. Talbot-Booth in Merchant Ships 1944 shows the vessels "Ivaran" and "Lise" in the name of Ivaran Lines which fits with the name based New York given by Wedge 1951. Subsequently Ivarans appear to have re-established in Oslo under their own name.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Stolt-Neilsen Inc.

[Stolt-Neilsen Inc.] image by Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2005

Stolt-Neilsen Inc., Panama-City, FL - white flag, red square, white "S".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2005

Sturges & Co.

[Sturges & Co.]  by Joe McMillan

Sturges & Co., New York (mid 19th century)
I'm not sure, but this may be the same company as Sturges, Clearman & Co, which served the New York-Liverpool route in the 1840s-50s. Otherwise I have no information, since a number of people named Sturges and Sturgis were involved in the shipping business in New York and Boston in the 19th century. Anyway, it's a nice flag: quarterly blue and red, with a white cross throughout, bordered blue on the red quarters.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

Sun Oil Company

Sun Oil Company, Philadelphia (and Marcus Hook, PA) (1901-present)
Sun Oil Company, called at various times the Sun Company and now officially Sunoco, Inc., was founded in 1886 by Robert Pew to develop crude oil resources in the Lima, Ohio, area. It was incorporated under the Sun Oil name in 1890. Sun got into the shipping business in 1901 when the company bought land for a refinery at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, on Delaware Bay below Philadelphia.  The tankers were originally employed bringing crude oil from Texas to the new plant. Sun also got into the shipbuilding business in 1916 and built some 40% of the tankers constructed or converted for wartime use in World War II. Shortly after the war, Sun was running some 21 ships, but in the period since then has largely abandoned the overseas exploration and production business and now concentrates primarily on refining and marketing. It sold its shipbuilding subsidiary in 1982. As far as I can tell, Sun Transport, the shipping arm of Sunoco, now operates only a few very large crude carriers to feed its refineries in the Philadelphia area.  I've found three flags used over the years by Sunoco and its predecessors:

[Sun Oil Company]  by Joe McMillan

Source: Wedge (1951) - White with the words "Sun Oils" in the shape of a diamond surrounded by a red diamond.

[Sun Oil Company]  by Joe McMillan

Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O. - Blue with the word "Sunoco" in blue on a yellow diamond.

[Sun Oil Company]  by Joe McMillan

Source: Stewart & Styring (1963) - Blue with the word "Sunoco" in blue, fimbriated yellow, superimposed across a yellow diamond, with a red arrow piercing the diamond from upper fly to lower hoist.

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

G. Sutton Charleston Line

[G. Sutton Charleston Line]  by Joe McMillan

G. Sutton Charleston Line, New York (mid 19th century)
No information on this line other than what can be deduced from the name and source--that it connected New York and Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1850s. The flag was blue with a large white disk in the hoist.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

G. Sutton Charleston Line. Richard McKay in "South Street" for the period 1815-1825 notes that early issues of the "Journal of Commerce" refer to George Sutton being New York agents for the Charleston Packets, Ship Line.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Sutton & Co

[Sutton & Co]  by Joe McMillan

Sutton & Co, New York (1850s)
I don't know if this Sutton and Company was related to the G. Sutton that ran the Charleston Line. It was one of many companies that operated clipper ships to California via Cape Horn during the 1850s gold rush. The flag was red with a beehive beset by bees in yellow. (I apologize for the shaky drawing, but had trouble getting it quite right.)
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York" and clipper cards illustrated in the Time-Life book, The Clipper Ships

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

Sutton & Co. To expand slightly on the departure card shown in "The Clipper Ships", and which is noted as being issued some years after 1852, the full name as advertised appears to be Sutton & Co.'s Disptach Line for San Francisco which I take it is really just a trade name for the service. Although the company are domiciled at 58 South Street McKay does not mention them in his book and they do not figure in the list of firms located on the street in 1852 so I presume that they were later arrivals operating after 1860 as McKay basically finishes his detail at this point.
Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Sword Line

[Sword Line]  by Joe McMillan

Sword Line, New York
The flag was a red swallowtail divided by four narrow horizontal white stripes and the word "Sword" on the center. The Sword Line seems to have been formed
after World War II using former enemy ships seized during the war and provided (whether by sale or lease I don't know) to the company. It apparently started up in 1947 and was still in business in 1961. The name of the company seems to have derived from the names of its ships, which, as far as I have found, all began with the name of a state and ended with "Sword," as Florida Sword, Alabama Sword, and Texas Sword.
Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

Sword Line Inc. was originally Sword Steamship Line Inc. apparently dating back to at least 1932. I think you will find that the post WW2 fleet was mainly ex Liberty and the like rather than ex enemy. Stewart 1953 and 1957 show a slightly different flag format based on 3 red and 2 white equal bands.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Swayne & Hoyt Lines

[Swayne & Hoyt Lines]  by Joe McMillan

Swayne & Hoyt Lines (circa 1920s-30s)
Swayne & Hoyt was apparently one of a number of tramp companies, some of which later developed into scheduled "lines," that operated with government-owned ships leased from the U.S. Shipping Board in the years following World War I. This company seems to have operated mainly along the U.S. Pacific coast. The flag was a burgee-shaped diagonal triband, blue in the hoist, white in the center, and pink in the fly (as shown in National Geographic (1934)) with the red initials S&H on the white stripe.
Source: National Geographic (1934)

Joe McMillan, 25 November 2001

[Swayne & Hoyt houseflag] by Al Fisher, 06 Feb 1999

Swayne & Hoyt Lines. As the source is not detailed it is impossible to speculate on the accuracy of the differences which relate to the colouring of the upper band and the letters.
Neale Rosanoski, 24 May 2004

US shipping lines house flags - 'T' continued