A 200-ton puny little boat that could not sail into Tamsui River? This is more than just sad. Record shows that, for example, in 1867, up to 4,000-ton commercial liners regularly arrived in Tamsui from Hongkong and China. Even in 1881, the 1,370-ton 萬年清 still sailed between Tamsui and Foochow. Unfortunately, because of the perennial silt build-up problems, in the 1920s, Tamsui Port was abandoned in favor of Keelung.
|Port Keelung ca 1921 (http://taipics.com/keelung2.php#top)|
So what happened after Keelung became the Port of Entry into Taiwan? We will now take a grudging look [cf another post in Japanese by N Hirokawa, here].
Starting in 1896, 大阪商船Osaka Shipping Co began to run the Japan-Taiwan route. The company owned quite a number of ships that included 臺北丸, 臺中丸 and 臺南丸(each at 3,300 tonnes), 宮島丸(1,952 tonnes), 須磨丸(unknown tonnage), 明石丸(1,571 tonnes), 臺北丸(II) (2,794 tonnes), 臺東丸(1,944 tonnes), 宮古丸(1,013 tonnes), 桃園丸(3,460 tonnes), 蓬莱丸(9,192 tonnes), 扶桑丸 (8,188 tonnes), 高雄丸 (4,282 tonnes), 恒春丸(4,271 tonnes), 瑞穂丸(8,511 tonnes), 高千穂丸 (8,154 tonnes), and 高砂丸 (9,315 tonnes). Most these ships were built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, except 安平丸, 淡水丸, and 基隆丸(each 1,698 tonnes) - these were built in England.
The first two-way shipping lane between Japan and Taiwan originated from Kobe, then ships would travel through 瀬戸内海Seto Inland Sea and arrive in 門司港Port Moji to collect more passengers and cargoes from other parts of Japan. The ships then sailed directly to Keelung. By 1935, 3 more routes were also added: Keelung-Ryukyu (Naha)-Kyushu (Kagoshima), Keelung-Ryukyu-Osaka-Kobe, and Kaohsiung (Takao)-Tokyo-Yokohama, plus international routes to Asia and other continents.
|Pamphlets distributed by Osaka Shipping in 1935 (source: Taipics.com)|
|Timetable September to December 1935 (source: Taipics.com)|
Other smaller shipping companies such as 近海郵船KinKai YuSen operated 吉野丸(8,998 tonnes), 大和丸(9,655 tonnes), 朝日丸(8,998 tonnes), and 富士丸(9,138 tonnes), 帝国海事協会Imperial Maritime Assoc ran さくら丸(3,205 tonnes), and うめが香丸(3,273 tonnes), and 山下汽船Yamashita Kisen owned and operated 中華丸(2,191 tonnes), 華南丸(2,192 tonnes), and 大華丸(2,197 tonnes).
|大和丸Yamato Maru loading bananas in Keelung (http://taipics.com/keelung2.php)|
Added notes: After Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, and beginning in 1942, American submarines started patrolling and attacking Japanese ships in the Pacific, military and civilian alike. The Japan <--> Taiwan shipping routes were naturally also targeted. First, 高千穂丸Takachiho Maru was sunk by attack sub, USS Kingfish, on March 19, 1943 (of the 844 on board, only 245 survived). In the same year on Sep 13, 大和丸Yamato Maru was torpedoed by USS Snook (fortunately, only 18 out of 1,092 were lost), and 富士丸Fuji Maru sunk by USS Grayback on Dec 28 (with more than 50 lives lost). These marked the beginning of the end of unrestricted travel between Japan and Taiwan.-->
Before the end of the Pacific War, 護國丸Gokoku Maru and Shinsei Maru神靖丸 were also sunk by the Americans (in 1944 and 1945, respectively). Together with 高千穂丸Takachiho Maru, these are the three major maritime disasters of modern Taiwan, hundreds of Taiwanese lives were lost with each ship.