Coloured The Ocean Steamship Company (Blue Funnel Line) pilgrim vessel SS Tyndareus

The Ocean Steamship Company, otherwise known as the Blue Funnel Line, was established in 1865 by the Liverpool firm Alfred Holt & Company to participate in the lucrative China trade. Around 1875, the company got involved in the carriage of Muslim devotees from Southeast Asia going on the ‘Hadj’, a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca on the Arabian peninsula. Such a service became commercially viable following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which considerably shortened the distance between Singapore, the main port where pilgrims in the region gathered to board the vessels, and the Red Sea port of Jeddah. Following the introduction of cheap flights to Mecca in the late 1960s, the number of pilgrims travelling by sea started to decline. This prompted the China Navigation Company, a subsidiary of the Blue Funnel Line, to withdraw from the pilgrim trade in 1970.Completed in 1916, the Blue Funnel steamer Tyndareus was initially assigned to the Pacific routes as a cargo carrier but saw action as a troopship during the First and Second World Wars. It was subsequently converted into a pilgrim vessel in 1949 that was capable of carrying around 2,000 passengers. The refurbished vessel made three voyages annually to Jeddah until 1960, when it was replaced by the Gunung Djati as the company’s dedicated pilgrim carrier. That same year, the decommissioned liner was broken up and sold for scrap in Hong Kong.

Indigenous Name
Kapal Haji Serombong Biru
c. 1950s
Image size: B8.9 x L14.1 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
National Museum of Singapore