The Last Ocean Liners

British India Line

Kampala / Karanja / Kenya / Uganda

 

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British India Line The British India Steam Navigation Company at one time operated one of the largest merchant fleets in the world, reflecting the far reach of the British Empire. Their ships connected Great Britain with India and the east coast of Africa. A further network of colonial routes radiated from India to the Persian Gulf, Africa, Australia and the Far East.

British India Line The Kampala and Karanja were built with updated pre-war designs to connect Bombay with Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. Every voyage also called at Mahe in the Seychelles, a vital link for that remote island group until an airport was completed in 1971. Originally both ships traveled the entire route, but in 1966 with loss of the South African mail contract and sharply reduced migrant traffic, Kampala was placed on a shorter round trip between Bombay and Dar Es Salaam.

British India Line They offered a covered open promenade wrapping around the public rooms. Forward on the Promenade Deck were the First class music room and veranda cafe, followed by a cocktail lounge, card room and library. Second class public rooms were just aft, and the dining rooms were below. First and Second class shared blocks of interchangeable cabins, while Third class bunks were completely separate.

British India Line The slightly larger Kenya and Uganda followed, being among the last of Britain's colonial ocean liners. Their purpose was to run the British India Line's home service from London to East Africa via the Suez Canal. The dominant British political links with the area in the 1950's made the service successful and lucrative for the company. The regular ports of call from London were Gibraltar, Port Said, Aden, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Beira and Durban. The homeward voyage included those plus several additional ports.

British India Line This later pair were two class ocean liners, with the First class music room and veranda cafe, writing room, card room, smoking room, library, cocktail bar, ballroom and swimming pool all on Promenade Deck. Most of the First class staterooms as well as the Tourist class lounge, smoking room and swimming pool were on A-Deck. Both classes had cabins on B-Deck and the dining rooms for both classes were on C-Deck. All the public rooms, both First and Tourist class, were panelled with wood veneers from all over the world.

British India Line Kampala, Karanja, Kenya and Uganda had no air-conditioning, but only forced-air ventilation, which was fine while the ships were underway, but could be stifling in port. Entertainment was typical of the times, consisting of afternoon teas with violin music for First class passengers and perhaps dancing to an Indian band or a film or quiz in one of the public rooms. But what could be more enjoyable and relaxing than a day simply spent on deck in the fresh air, reading and watching the sea go by?

Note: Kampala and Karanja sailing schedules are approximate based on estimated sailing dates and normal routings.


Sample minimum one-way fares from London to Mombasa: First class $428; Tourist class $305; from Bombay to Durban: First class $245; All fares are per person in U.S. dollars.


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Kampala - 1947 - British India Line
Kampala British India Line
Built: 1947 by A Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland Gross tons: 10304 Length: 507ft (155m) Width: 66ft (20m) Draft: 27ft (8m) Speed: 16kn Power: 9700 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 60 First 180 Second 825 Third End of service: Scrapped 1971
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Karanja - 1948 - British India Line
Karanja British India Line
Built: 1948 by A Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland Gross tons: 10294 Length: 507ft (155m) Width: 66ft (20m) Draft: 27ft (8m) Speed: 16kn Power: 9700 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 60 First 180 Second 825 Third End of service: Sold 1976 Later names: Nancowry
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Kenya - 1951 - British India Line
Kenya British India Line
Built: 1951 by Barclay Curle & Co, Glasgow, Scotland Gross tons: 14464 Length: 540ft (165m) Width: 71ft (22m) Draft: 27ft (8m) Speed: 16kn Power: 12300 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 194 First 103 Tourist End of service: Scrapped 1969
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Uganda - 1952 - British India Line
Uganda British India Line
Built: 1952 by Barclay Curle & Co, Glasgow, Scotland Gross tons: 14430 Length: 539ft (164m) Width: 71ft (22m) Draft: 27ft (8m) Speed: 16kn Power: 12300 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 167 First 133 Tourist End of service: Rebuilt as school ship 1967; hospital/troop ship 1982; scrapped 1986
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