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Postby shipstamps » Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:41 pm

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Built on the yard of Charles Lungley & Co., Rotherhite, London for the Union Steam Colliers Co., London, the later Union Line.
Launched under the name DANE.
Tonnage 550 gross, 421 net, dim. 59.44 x 7.65 x 5.08m.
Direct acting 2-cyl steam engine, manufactured by the shipbuilder, 60nhp., speed 8 knots. One screw.
1854 Delivered.
She was built as a collier for the South Wales to Southampton coal trade and to supply bunker coal to the steamships liners calling at that port, but she was immediately chartered after delivery by the French Government for use during the Crimean War. She carried war materials from and to Turkey.
After the war there was not much need more to transport coal from South Wales to Southampton and in
1856 she was laid up at Southampton.
A decision was made by the company to open a new line to Brazil.
21 March 1857 she sailed from Liverpool in this service to Brazil.
05 December 1856 the company name was changed due to that the ships not more carried coal, to Union Steam Ship Company.
When used in the Brazil service she could accommodate a few cabin passengers. The line carried also the mail to and from Brazil.
The outlook for the service to Brazil did not look very well, and when the British Admiralty invited tenders for a mail service to the Cape Colony, the company admitted an application, which was accepted on 04 September 1857. The contract, valued at £33.000 per annum. The vessels in the contract had to made the passage from the U.K. to the Cape within 42 days.
15 September 1857 the DANE sailed from Southampton as first vessel in this service under command of Capt. Strutt with the mails to the Cape Colony. She arrived Cape Town 29 October, a few days late according the contract.
The mail contract service started so quick, that the people on the Cape not even knew that a mail ship was due.

The Cape Town Monitor of 31st October 1857 gives.
The arrival of the Royal Mail Steamer DANE on Thursday has thrown new life and vigour into community. When our hopes were lowest the intelligence burst upon Cape Town that mail communication with England had been resumed. The old country has not yet begun to forget the interest of her dependencies. At a time when all attention might have been supposed to be absorbed in providing for the ominous struggles now proceeding in the Indian Empire (the Indian Mutiny), the British Government, instead of withdrawing Mail communication with the Cape, has only renewed it on the most satisfactory of terms.

The DANE sailed from Cape Town on 30 November and made the voyage via St Helena and Plymouth, with a full cargo on board and the largest mail delivery from the Cape so far, 10.867 letters and 3.671 newspapers. The return earning for the company on this voyage was £980.

After complains from the people living in the Eastern Cape that it took very long, before the mail landed in Cape Town did reach them, the mail service was extended to Port Elizabeth in 1862. The Union Line got this coastal mail contract. In 1864 extended to Mauritius. The Mauritius service was short lived, the mail from the Cape was collected and in Mauritius put on board of a P&O liner, a quicker service, but it was more expensive and not reliable. When the coastal steamer did not arrived in time the P&O liner had sailed.
The DANE was used in this coastal mail service.

1865 She was chartered by the British Government for the Zanzibar expedition to suppress slave trading.

On a voyage from Table Bay to Zanzibar, under command of Capt. Waldeck she was wrecked on Thunderbolt Reef off Cape Receife on 01 December 1865 during a south-west wind. She took the inner passage between Thunderbolt Reef and the mainland and stranded inside the wreck of the L’IMPERATRICE EUGENIE. There were not any loss of live, but she was a total loss on 4 December.

On Ascension 1984 70p sg 362.
St Helena 1990 13p sg 572.

Source: Merchant Fleets in profile Vol. 3 by Duncan Haws. The Cape of Good Hope by Robin Knox-Johnson. South Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor.
Shipwrecks & Salvage in South Africa by Malcolm Turner.
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