Taiyuan II

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Taiyuan II
ID /IMO No.1154038.
Type Cargo/passenger.
Gross Registered Tonnage 2,994 grt. 2,100 nett
Builder Taikoo D.& E. Co. Yard No.248.
Delivery date 1929.
Hull Steel, clincher construction.
Decks 2.
Length 312 ft. F'c'sle 45 ft. Bridge 95 ft. Poop 41 ft.
Width 42 ft.
Depth 41 ft.
Engine Builder Taikoo D.& E. Co.
Engine Type Steam, triple expansion.
Engine cylinders 3.
Engine Power 175 nhp.
Propulsion mode Single screw.
Speed 12 kts.
Power Steam.
Boiler 2
Generator voltage 110V DC.
Propeller Right hand.
Propeller blades 4
Propeller formation Solid.
Propeller material Bronze.
Original owner China Navigation Co.


December 10th. 1941. After being struck by bombs in Manilla, beached to avoid a possible sinking. refloated and repairs carried out prior to being sent to Sourabaya.

March 2nd. 1942. As the Japanese invasion approached under Dutch orders the ship was scuttled by expertly placed army explosives such that the wreck was never raised.


The "Taiyuan II" is the first of two vessels based on the "Kingyuan" class for the express Shanghai - Amoy - Hong Kong - Canton service. Steam triple expansion engines were installed instead of steam turbines. The "Tsinan II" delivered in 1930, was the sister ship.

Events / Stories

William Worrall relates the following incident. which probably took place about the mid 1930's. in his book "No Cure No Pay"

The Taiyuan was about to leave Shanghai on its regular run down to Hong Kong at 06.00hrs., when a rickshaw came down the wharf with a European shouting "Faster Faster" to the sweating rickshaw boy. Pulling up at the gangway which was just being hauled aboard, the man shouted "Stop, Stop that ahip". The man was dressed in the uniform of the China Maritime Customs. N.B. The customs men rec'd large bonuses for the contraband which they seized, and there was not much love lost betwwen them and ship's crews. The captain cursed, swore and grudgingly gave the order to swing the gang plank back ashore and the customs man came on board, and wasted any time letting the Captain what he wanted, which was :- "I want the truck off the mast"

This had two immediate results. The first was that the bosun, a devious old bird with many years service and up to every trick ever imagined, slowly sidled away. About 20 seconds later two seamaen jumped over the rail on to the wharf and dashed off into the crowded streets of Shanghai. The bosun made a desultory persuit calling after them (in English for our benefit because the common seamen couldn't understand a word of English "You bad men come back Ship-side" he yelled. He came back to where the Customs man and the Captain were arguing, and shrugged his shoulders. Both the Captain and the customs man both knew what had happened. If a search revealed any contraband, the bosun would be able to put the blame on the two seamen who had run off when the customs man appeared. As the bosun was in charge of all smuggling aboard the ship, he would pay compensation to the two missing seamen when he next came back to Shanghai and make sure they had other berths on a ship where another bosun owed him a favour.

The second immediate result to the customs man's demand for the top of the mast was an indignant outburst from the Captain " What the hell do you mean" the skipper shouted, " We're just about to sail".

The customs man was adamant. " You're not sailing before I get the truck". The truck on the "Taiyuan" was a good 8 inches in diameter. Looking upwards at the truck the skipper told the customs man in no uncertain terms that if he wanted the bloody thing he was "Going to climb the bloody mast and get it him-bloody-self and be bloody quick about it because we were about to sail and China Navigation vessels did not stop for neither man nor beast, let alone China Bloody Maritime Bloody Customs".

"I want the truck off your mast" the customs man repeated as the skipper raged off along the deck in impotent fury.

A couple of minutes later a pair of junior ranking custom men appeared and quickly rigged a line to take one of them to the top of the mast. The truck was quickly removed and lowered to the deck. The customs man could barely lift it. No wonder. It was solid gold. During refurbishing work, the wooden truck wood have been taken off, and the gold one put in its place. Doubtless when we got to Hong Kong the solid gold truck would have been taken off on one excuse or another and replaced with the wooden one, the gold meanwhile being sold for a good profit and the money put into a bank account in the Colony.

Nobody stepped forward to claim the gold knob, which didn't surprise anyone because the penalty for smuggling gold out of China was death. But I couldn't help noticing that the old bosun looked a bit sick as the cutoms men lugged their prize off the "Taiyuan" and on to the wharf. Some informer would have got a nice pay-off for giving the infomation to the customs men, but he would have been killed if the bosun had ever found out who he was.