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South Australian shipping lines: Adelaide Steamship Company - Cutbacks

Cutbacks and containerisation

During the 1950s cruising, particularly to the South Pacific was popular - but costs were increasing, maritime unions were delaying sailings and eventually Adelaide Steamship Company withdrew its ships from this trade, selling them to overseas interests. The Gulf cruises after 50 years of pleasure for thousands went the same way.

Again Adelaide Steamship Company modernised - disposing of their pre-war vessels and building new. Between 1951 and 1961 three conventional cargo ships were built with the assistance from a Commonwealth government subsidy. The roll on-roll off ship Troubridge was also built for the Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island service, and a further seven ships of various sizes were bought from overseas.

Containerisation was seen as the way forward, and also bulk shipping. Adelaide Steamship Company held 40 percent of the shares in the newly formed Bulkships Ltd. Towage was also assuming a larger percentage of operations in the Company.

Despite its investment of 2 million pounds the Troubridge was not a success - road transport was starting to win out over sea transport. Despite a state government subsidy Troubridge was withdrawn from the Port Lincoln run and serviced Kangaroo Island only. In 1971 ASC sold her to the South Australian government as unprofitable. By now the Adelaide Steamship Company was a shipping company without a ship.  None of the ships acquired in the post war reconstruction remained. The company had diversified into other areas. Its shipbuilding subsidiary Adelaide Ship Construction was closed in 1973 after several years of loss. The recession and the later stock market crash had dire effects upon Adelaide Steamship Company, and it only survived by disposing of many of its assets.

Adsteam Marine became an international towage company operating in Australia, the Pacific and the United Kingdom. In May 2001 Adsteam Marine acquired the towage services of Howard Smith, its earlier competitor on the Melbourne and Sydney runs. As Adsteam Marine it became a partner in the consortium known as Flinders Ports which in 2001 took out a 99 year lease of the facilities of Ports Corp (previously Department of Marine and Harbours). Flinders Ports now operates seven ports across South Australia. In March 2008 Adsteam Marine was taken over by Svitzer. 

Further Reading:

Parsons, Ronald, Southern passages: a maritime history of South Australia Netley, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press, 1986

Parsons, Ronald, The Adelaide line: a centenary history of the Adelaide Steamship   Company Ltd., 1875-1975 Magill, S.A.: R. H. Parsons, 1975

Page, Michael F. Fitted for the voyage: the Adelaide Steamship Company, 1875-1975 Adelaide: Rigby, 1975


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