Red Star Line

Last updated
Red Star Line
TypeJoint venture
IndustryShipping, transportation
Successor Holland America Line
Founded1871 (1871)
FateAssets sold
Area served

The Red Star Line was a shipping line founded in 1871 as a joint venture between the International Navigation Company of Philadelphia, which also ran the American Line, and the Société Anonyme de Navigation Belgo-Américaine of Antwerp, Belgium. The company's main ports of call were Antwerp [1] [2] in Belgium, Liverpool and Southampton [1] in the United Kingdom and New York City [1] and Philadelphia [3] in the United States.



The company was founded by Clement Griscom, who led it from its founding until the International Mercantile Marine Co. took it over in 1902. Red Star Line survived IMM's financial crisis in 1915. In the 1930s Red Star Line was part of Arnold Bernstein Line. [1]

The company declared bankruptcy in 1934. [4] It operated until 1935 when it ceased trading. Its assets were eventually sold to the Holland America Line.


Red Star Line museum at Antwerp Red Star Line Museum.jpg
Red Star Line museum at Antwerp

The former warehouses of the Red Star Line in Antwerp were designated as a landmark and reopened as a museum on 28 September 2013 by the City of Antwerp. [5] The main focus of the museum is the travel stories that could be retrieved through relatives of the some two million Red Star Line passengers. [6] [3] In the exhibition the visitor follows the travelers' tracks from the travel agency in Warsaw until their arrival in New York. The museum exhibits works of art depicting the Red Star Line emigrants by the Antwerp artist Eugeen Van Mieghem (1875-1930), together with Red Star Line memorabilia from the collection of Robert Vervoort. [5] [7]

About a quarter of the some two million Red Star Line migrants were Jews, largely from Eastern Europe until the exodus driven by the rise of Nazi Germany. Among them were many famous persons, including regular passenger Albert Einstein. [6] [8] On learning of the Nazi confiscation of his possessions, Einstein chose not to return to Germany; his letter resigning from the Prussian Academy of Sciences, written on the line's stationery, is a part of the museum exhibit. [3] Other notable emigrants included the five-year-old Irving Berlin. [3]


Postcard from the Belgenland SS Belgenland.jpg
Postcard from the Belgenland
Poster of the Belgenland by Henri Cassiers Henri Cassiers 002.JPG
Poster of the Belgenland by Henri Cassiers
Postcard from the Lapland Lapland.jpg
Postcard from the Lapland

Red Star Line ships had a black funnel with a white band bearing a five-pointed red star. [1] The house flag was a white burgee with a red star. [1]

Some Red Star ships were given names ending in "-land". Notable Red Star ships included:

The Red Star Lines appear in the Mario Puzo's The Godfather Part II when the young Vito Corleone arrives in New-York. His identification badge is from the Red Star Lines company.

The Paris football club Red Star FC are named after the Red Star Line, on which the club's founder Jules Rimet's English housekeeper had travelled.

In James Cameron's Titanic , a warehouse can be seen at the Southampton Docks labelled Red Star Line. It is seen through the window of the pub as Jack and Fabrizio are first introduced.

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Eugeen Van Mieghem 18th-19th century Belgian artist

Eugeen Van Mieghem was an artist born in the port city of Antwerp, Belgium. As a boy Van Mieghem was confronted with the harsh reality of life at the waterfront.

The Wigham Richardson shipbuilding company was named after its founder, John Wigham Richardson (1837-1908), the son of Edward Richardson, a tanner from Newcastle upon Tyne, and Jane Wigham from Edinburgh.

American Line

The American Line was a shipping company founded in 1871 and based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It began as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, although the railroad got out of the shipping business soon after founding the company. In 1902, it became part of the International Navigation Co., with the American Line generally handling traffic between the United States ports of Philadelphia and New York City and the British ports of Liverpool and Southampton. Sister company Red Star Line handled traffic between America and the European continent, primarily through Antwerp, Belgium. The company's most prominent president was Clement Griscom, who led the company from 1888 to 1902 and worked as a company executive for its entire existence. During its existence, the company was the largest American shipping company, rivalled only by the smaller, Baltimore-based Atlantic Transport Lines, although this distinction is a marginal one, as all American oceanic shipping concerns were dwarfed by British companies such as the White Star Line or Cunard Line and German ones such as HAPAG.

RMS <i>Empress of Britain</i> (1955)

RMS Empress of Britain was a transatlantic ocean liner built by Fairfield Shipbuilding at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland in 1955-1956 for Canadian Pacific Steamships (CP). This ship — the third of three CP vessels to be named Empress of Britain — regularly traversed the trans-Atlantic route between Canada and Europe until 1964, completing 123 voyages under the Canadian Pacific flag.

Four ships of the White Star Line have been named SS Belgic:

SS <i>Belgenland</i> (1914)

The SSBelgenland was built in 1914 and originally served as a freighter and World War I troopship for the White Star Line under the name SS Belgic. Because she was needed for the war effort, she was hastily finished with only two smokestacks and a superstructure only one deck high. Initially used for carrying cargo, in 1918 she was given accommodations for up to 3,000 troops. Her gross tonnage was listed at 24,547. The doomed liner Justicia was a near identical sister ship, both being built at the same yard.

Belgenland was a passenger ship built by the Barrow Shipbuilding Company for the Red Star Line, Antwerp.

SS <i>Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm</i>

SS Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was an ocean liner for North German Lloyd (NDL) from her launch in 1907 until the end of World War I. After the war, she briefly served as USS Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm (ID-4063) for the United States Navy returning American troops from France. The vessel was first chartered—and later purchased outright—by Canadian Pacific Steamships (CP) and operated under the names Empress of China, Empress of India, Montlaurier, Monteith, and Montnairn. She was scrapped in 1929.

SS <i>Vaderland</i> (1900)

SS Vaderland was an ocean liner launched in July 1900 for the Red Star Line service between Antwerp and New York. During her passenger career, the ship initially sailed under British registry, but was re-registered in Antwerp in 1903. Vaderland was a sister ship to Zeeland and a near sister ship to Kroonland and Finland.

SS Vaderland may refer to one of the following ships of the Red Star Line named after the Dutch word for fatherland:

SS <i>Zeeland</i> (1900)

SS Zeeland was a British and Belgian ocean liner of the International Mercantile Marine Co. (IMM). She was a sister ship to Vaderland and a near sister ship to Kroonland and Finland of the same company. Although her name was Dutch, it was changed during World War I to the less German-sounding SS Northland. She served for a time as a British troop ship under the name HMT Northland. Reverting to Zeeland after the war, the ship was renamed SS Minnesota late in her career. Zeeland sailed primarily for IMM's Red Star Line for most of her early career, but also sailed under charter for the White Star Line, the International Navigation Company, the American Line, and the Atlantic Transport Line, all IMM subsidiary lines. The pursers safe survived the scrapyard at Inverkeithing and after residing in a wardrobe for 80 years is currently on display in a local private home.

SS <i>Lapland</i> Ship

SS Lapland was a steam ocean liner built in Ireland for the Belgian Red Star Line. When new she was Red Star's flagship: similar in appearance to the company's SS Samland, SS Gothland and SS Poland, but far larger. She was a half sister to White Star Line's Big Four, just smaller and not as luxurious. They are similar in many ways, such as the island bridge, 4 masts, 2 funnels. But Lapland had a less luxurious interior.

Elisabethville was an 8,851 GRT ocean liner which was built in 1921 for Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo. In 1930 the company became Compagnie Maritime Belge. She served the Antwerp - Matadi route.

SS <i>Gothic</i> (1893)

SS Gothic was an ocean liner, built in 1893 at the Harland and Wolff Shipyards for the White Star Line. She was 490 ft long and 53 ft wide and 7755 gross registered tons. For much of her career she was transferred back and forth between White Star and the Red Star Line, both of which were subsidiaries of the International Mercantile Marine.

The SS Belgic was a steam ship built by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line for service in the Far East and across the Pacific. Sold to the Atlantic Transport Line in 1899 she was transferred to the North Atlantic. After service as a Boer War transport she was scrapped in 1903.

SS <i>Rhynland</i>

SS Rhynland was a passenger ship owned by the Red Star Line. She was built in 1879 by Barrow Shipbuilding Company. The ship was sold to Italy in 1906, renamed Rhyna, and was subsequently scrapped.

SS <i>Pennland</i>

SS Pennland was a transatlantic ocean liner that was launched as Pittsburgh in Ireland in 1920 and renamed Pennland in 1926. She had a succession of UK, German and Dutch owners and operators. In 1940 she was converted into a troop ship.

SS <i>Westernland</i>

SS Westernland was a transatlantic ocean liner that was launched as Regina in Scotland in 1917, renamed Westernland in 1929 and returned to Scotland to be scrapped in 1947. She began her career as a troop ship repatriating US troops after the Armistice of 11 November 1918. In the Second World War was a troop ship, naval repair ship and destroyer depot ship.

Furness Bermuda Line

Furness Bermuda Line was a UK shipping line that operated in the 20th century. It was part of Furness, Withy and ran passenger liners between New York and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda from 1919 to 1966.

SS <i>American</i> (1895)

The SS American was a steamship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, which entered service in 1895. the American was a combined cargo and passenger ship which was originally built for the West India and Pacific Steamship Company along with her sister ship the SS European. In 1904 she passed to the White Star Line and was renamed Cufic, the name she retained until she was sold to Italian ownership in 1924, after which she became known as Antartico then Maria Guilia until being scrapped in 1932.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Harnack, 1938, page 566
  2. "About the Museum". Red Star Line Museum. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Museum tells of ships that took Jews to US" . Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  4. "History". Red Star Line Museum. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. 1 2 "The Red Star Line Museum: History" . Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  6. 1 2 "The Red Star Line Museum in a Nutshell" . Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  7. "The Red Star Line Museum: Why Visit" . Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  8. "The Red Star Line Museum: Stories Now and Then" . Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  9. "Belgian Merchant H-O" (PDF). Belgische Koopvaardij. Retrieved 31 October 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  10. 1 2 "SS Regina" . Retrieved April 15, 2014.