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ARGENTINA and URUGUAY
Penetrating deep into the continent, the river traffic was ideally suited to paddle steamers, particularly for the fast passenger runs

Developing Argentina and Uruguay's interior along major rivers such as the Uruguay and Parana necessitated the purchase of paddle steamers and some fine vessels were built. The obvious place to source them was Scotland and the Clyde yards in particular.  The Denny company's involvement with the Platense flotilla gave them a natural market, but other Scottish builders sent tonnage to the area. The Glasgow-based A&J Inglis became the preferred builder of Nicolas Mihanovich the shipping magnate who overcame the competition to dominate the market.

The long distances took a long time - around four days from Buenos Aires to the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, for example. In 1920 there were two weekly departures in each direction, with four ships employed on this run. Smaller steamers were employed upstream of Asuncion, as far as Corumba A separate fleet of ships handled cargo although smaller packets sailed with the passenger steamers.


Saturnino Ribes

Originally an immigrant from France, Ribes had come to dominate trade from Salta with his company Mensajerias Fluviales a Vapor, which took over from the failing Nueva Compania Saltena de Vapor, of which he had been a director in 1866 and was the early leader in the competitive shipping market.

Platense Flotilla Company and later purchase of Ribes' interests in 1887

Originally incorporated in Le Havre, France, as La Platense Compagnie des Chargeurs in 1882, it was a French-Scottish arrangement with three French-built vessels (Leda, Castor and Pollux) and four  paddlers left on the hands of the Denny of Dumbarton shipyard in 1883 (Tridente, Diana, Apolo and Minerva) after their Argentine buyers cancelled their orders. The unusual walking-beam engined Saturno and Olimpo (built by Inglis) were put on the Buenos Aires to Montevideo run. The company was reincorporated in Glasgow in 1886 with Peter Denny of the William Denny & Bros shipyard as chairman. It eyed significant expansion and ordered  Aurora, Perseo, Venus and Eolo from the Denny shipyard. Eying domination of the inland river trade, they purchased the Argentine Lloyd company (owners of paddler San Martin)  and the Giuliani company (owners of paddlers Cosmos and Rivadavia) . 

Hopes of an accommodation between the Platense and Ribes organisations were dashed and by all accounts the pressure of business on an already sickly body led to the suicide of Platense director William Denny, Peter's son who had led enormous technhological developments at the Dumbarton shipyard and placed great faith in succeeding with his venture in Argentina, in Buenos Aires in March 1887.
Soon afterwards, Ribes agreed to sell his interests to Platense and the latter dominated the Montevideo trade and competed on runs to Asuncion, Salta and Concordia

The return of Ribes and the demise of the Platense Flotilla Company

Ribes returned to the business based in Uruguay with the Mesnajerias Fluvial del Plata company. Ribes introduced new tonnage, including passenger paddlers Helios, Triton and Paris in quick succession. The ensuing competition ruined the Platense company, which went into liquidation in 1891. Mihanovic bought up the assets and began his competitive assault on the Ribes company.

Domingo Barthe steps into the void

Barthe was a French emigre who arrived in Argentina in 1867 and lived for a while in Paraguay and went into the tobacco farming business. In 1887 an existing shipping company (Alto Parana SA) was taken over and by 1893, new vessels were being ordered as the fleet grew, based at Posadas but sailing between Buenos Aires and Asuncion and Iguazu. Originally primarily concerned with cargo transport, two passenger-only paddle steamers, PS Formosa and PS Humaita were built in 1911 by the Dundee Shipbuilding Company in Scotland to develop the Asuncion service and provided a weekly service in each direction. 

Nicolas Mihanovich : expands by buying up the liquidated assets of Platense and over time the businesses of Ribes and Barthe

There was one towering figure in the history of steamship development in Argentina - an immigrant from Croatia, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire named Nicolas Mihanovich. He arrived in Argentina in his early twenties in 1867 and went into business with two partners, developing shipping routes around the developing state in South America. 

1888 : Mihanovich bought out his partners and became sole owner of Nicolas Mihanovich y Compania as it embarked on a period of total domination of the sector in that part of the world. Economic chaos two years later allowed him to buy up some of his competitors at knockdown prices and the company's strength enabled it to continue to absorb the opposition.

1891 : Mihanovic bought up many of the assets of the liquidated Platense Flotilla Company

1898 : SA Nicolas Mihanovich, incorporated after the takeover of the Las Mensajerias company after the death of its owner Saturnino Ribes, the largest shipping company in South America.  

1909 : The company was registered in London as the Argentina Navigation Company - Nicolas Mihanovich Ltd and floated on the stock exchange and investors piled in. The success of the company was at risk as the developing railways competed successfully with his internal transport operations and his company had to diversify, but did so successfully, including property development. 

1918 : Mihanovic sold his family's 70% controlling stake in 1918 to British politician and shipping magnate Lord Kylsant (later to own White Star Lines) and Argetinian Alberto Dodero, who looked after the South American operations. 

1918 : The shipping interests of Domingo Barthe were taken over

1930 : As a result of problems with Lord Kylsant's businesses, Dodero was able to take sole ownership of the South American business and established a new company albeit initially incorporating the Mihanovich name (Argentina Navigation Company Mihanovic Ltd) but incorporated in Buenos Aires, albeit with nuch British capital involved . 

1932 : Nicolas Mihanovic died

Dodero went on to establish a conglomerate of shipping companies himself. This empire was nationalised in 1948 by the Argentine government. 


RIO VERMEJO, Blackwood & Gordon, 1856

Built in 1856 by Blackwood & Gordon of Paisley
Length  102 ft  : 170 GRT

Built for William Rodger & James Best of Liverpool, UK to explore the River Bermejo
1857 Vested in John Best & Bros of Buenos Aires


SALTO, J & G Thomson, 1858
Built in 1858 by J & G Thomson of Govan
Length  159.3 ft

Built for the Compania Oriental de Navigacion a Vapor Denominado "Saltena"

VILLA DEL SALTO, J & G Thomson, 1861  
Built in 1861 by J & G Thomson of Govan
314 GRT

Built for the Nueva Compania Saltena de Navegacion a Vapor of Salto
1861 Compania Oriental de Navigacion a Vapor Denominado "Saltena"
1864 Scuttled at Paysandu, Uruguay during the civil war


RIO DE LA PLATA, J & G Thomson, 1864

Built in 1861 by J & G Thomson of Govan
Length  212.8 ft : 483 GRT

Built for the River Plate Steam Navigation Co


RIO PARANA, Caird & Co, 1865

Built in 1865 by Caird & Co of Greenock
Length  226.3 ft : 428 GRT

Built for use in Brazil
 

VILLA DEL SALTO, J & G Thomson, 1866  


Built in 1866 by J & G Thomson of Govan
474 GRT

Built for the Nueva Compania Saltena de Navegacion a Vapor of Salto
1879 Mensajerias Fluviales a Vapor (Ribes)


RIO URUGUAY, Caird & Co, 1867


Built in 1867 by Caird & Co of Greenock
Length  238.4 ft : 458 GRT

Built for use in Brazil

PINGO, Inglis, 1867
.Built in 1867 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow, yard no 32

YERBA, Inglis, 1867
Built in 1867 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow, yard no 44 for H Hardy of Salto
Length 82 ft : 62 GRT

1888 : Sailed for John  Galloway and John McAusland Denny
1893 : Platense Flotilla and resold on the demise of the flotilla

IRIS, Inglis, 1867

Built in 1867 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow, yard no 45 for H Hardy of Salto
Length 126.2 ft :  145 GRTPossibly sold in 1879


SATURNO, Inglis, 1868

Built in 1868 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow, yard no 61 for H Hardy of Salta in association with S. Ribes. 
Length : 240.5 x 27.0 ft  L  607 GRT.
Engine : Two cylinder 38 and 65 in x 72 in (200 HP)

1881 : Wrecked near Buenos Aires


JUPITER : J & G Thomson, 1866



Built in 1866 by G & J Thomson of Govan  
Length  232 ft : 964 GRT
Engine : 2 cylinder 54 x 60 in

Built 
for J Canals of Buenos Aires
1904 : Sold to F Quintana


COSMOS : Inglis, 1879


Built in 1879 by A&J Inglis of Pointhaouse, Glasgow, yard no 153
249.6 ft x 29.1 ft
Engines : 
Compound diagonal 44 and 77 in x 72 in

Originally operated by Thomas Elsee of Glasgow on the River Plate.
1887 Ribes
1889
P Henderson of Glasgow (associated with Platense).
1896 Giuliani
1899 Mihanovic
1903 Renamed Buenos Aires
1925 Hulked


TRIDENTE, Denny, 1880

Built in 1880 by Wm Denny & Bros at Dumbarton, yard no 234
Length 184.8 ft  :  719 GRT
Engine : 31.5 and 55 in x 38 in

Built for Buenos Aires & Campana Railway (managers Argentine Lloyd) but left in the hands of builders 
1883 : Sold to the Platense Flotilla in 1883
1896 D Giuliani out of Concordia
1899 Mihanovich
1907 Converted to a lighter


DIANA : Denny, 1880

Built in 1880 by Wm Denny & Bros at Dumbarton, yard no 240
Length  160.3 ft  :  519 GRT
Engine : Compound diagonal  31.5 and 55 in x 40 in

Built for Buenos Aires & Campana Railway (managers Argentine Lloyd) but left in the hands of builders 
1883  Sold to the Platense Flotilla in 1883
1894  Registered at Montevideo
1897  Ros y Tabal, Buenos Aires
1907 Hulked


MINERVA :  Denny, 1883


Built in 1883 by Wm Denny & Bros at Dumbarton, yard no 268
Length : 259.2 ft  :  1255 GRT
Engine : Oscillating  44 and 77 in x 72 in

Built for Buenos Aires & Campana Railway (managers Argentine Lloyd) but left in the hands of builders 
1886  Sold to the Platense Flotilla
1896  Scrapped


APOLO : Denny, 1883


Built in 1883 by Wm Denny & Bros, yard 267
Length  259.2 ft : 1255 GRT.
Engine : Oscillating  
44 and 77 in x 72 in

Built for Buenos Aires & Campana Railway (managers Argentine Lloyd) but left in the hands of builders
1886 Sold to the Platense Flotille
1896 Converted to be a lighter


RIVADAVIA, Connell, 1883  (Engine by Rowan)

Built in 1883 by Charles Connell & Co of Scotstoun, Glasgow, yard no 134 on behalf of D Rowan & Co
Length  283.2 ft  :  1106 GRT
Engine : by D Rowan & Co

Built for Diego Giuliano
1899 Mihanovich
1918 Converted to be a motor ship and renamed Arapey, surviving until 1964


POSADAS : Napier, Shanks & Bell, 1884   (Engine by Rowan)
Built in 1884 by Napier, Shanks & Bell of Yoker
Length 140 ft :  231  GRT
Engine :  by D Rowan & Co

Built for Argentine Lloyd


SAN MARTIN : Napier, Shanks & Bell, 1884  (Engine by Rowan)

Built in 1884 by Napier, Shanks & Bell of Yoker yard no 29
Length :  240 feet : 1212 GRT.  
Engine :  Compound diagonal  36 and 70 in x 66 in by D Rowan & Co

Built for Argentine Lloyd
1889  Platense Flotilla Co
1896  Mihanovich

1921  Converted to a twin-screw cargo vessel


SATURNO, Inglis, 1884

Built in 1884 by A&J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow (yard no. 184)
Length  286 ft : 1649 GRT
Engine :  
The ship had what was unusual for European construction, a walking beam engine

Built for the S Ribes (Thomas Elsee of Glasgow as nominee owner)
1889 P Henderson & Co of Glasgow
1893 Platense Flotilla Co
1898 Mihanovich
1913 Converted to a lighter


OLYMPO : Inglis, 1884



B
uilt in 1884 by A&J Inglis of pointhouse, Glasgow (yard no 185)
Length  286.1 : 1649 GRT
Engine :  The ship had what was unusual for European construction, a walking beam engine

Built for the S Ribes (Thomas Elsee of Glasgow as nominee owner)
1889 Platense Flotilla
1896 
Mesnajerias Fluvial del Plata (Ribes)
1907 Mihanovic
1919 Converted for cargo carrying only and renamed Olimpo
1964 Scrapped


MISIONES : Blackwood & Gordon, 1884

Built 1884 by Blackwood & Gordon of Port Glasgow, yard no 199
184 GRT

Built for Argentine Lloyd


VENUS : Denny, 1886


Built in 1886 by Wm Denny & Bros (yard no 312)
Length. 299 ft  : 1749 GRT
Engine : Compound diagonal 44 and 87 in x 72 in

Built for the Platense Flotilla Co
1896 Mihanovich
1923 Compania Uruguaya de Navegacion, Uruguay

1933 Sold for use as a floating hotel 


EOLO  : Denny, 1886


Built in 1886 by Wm Denny & Bros (yard no 313)
Length. 299 ft  : 1749 GRT
Engine : Compound diagonal 44 and 87 in x 72 in

Built for the Platense Flotilla Co
1893 Mihanovich
1923 Compania Uruguaya de Navegacion, Uruguay
1928 Sunk in a collision in the River Parana near Vizcaina Island


AURORA : Denny, 1886


Built in 1886 by Wm Denny & Bros, yard no 317
Length 175 ft :  490 GRT
Engine : Compound diagonal  21 and 37 in x 24 in

Built for the Platense Flotilla Co.
1896 Mihanovich
1920 Registered at Asuncion (Paraguay) as Cabayo
1925 Registered at Bueonos Aires
1930 Paraguay government
1935 Used as a hospital ship
Stayed with the Mihanovich company until transferring to the Government of Paraguay as a hospital ship in 1935



PERSEO : Denny, 1886


Built in 1886 by Wm Denny & Bros, yard no 332.
Length 62.9 ft : 578 GRT
Compound diagonal engines 21 and 37 in x 42 in.


Built for the Platense Flotilla Co
1893 Ribes
1902 Mihanovic in 1902, renamed Fortuna
1907 Sold on to Vierci Hermanos of Asuncion
1913 Sold to G B Vierci of Asuncion. Renamed G B Vierci
1919 Mihanovic. Renamed Rosario
1925 E Care of Asuncion
1927 Scrapped


SALTO : Ailsa, 1889  (Engine by Rowan)

Built in 1889 by Ailsa Shipbuilding Co, Troon, yard no 18
Length 150 ft :  259 GRT
Engines 20 and 39 in x 48 in by D Rowan

She was built foir the Campania Saltena de Navigacion a Vapor, based in Salto, Uruguay.
1895 Ribes' Compania Mensajerias
1900 Mihanovic
1915 Paraguay


HELIOS : Scotswood Shipbuilding, 1892  (Engine by Inglis)


Built in 1892 by Scotswood Shipbuilding Co, Scotswood, Newcastle, England, yard no 3
Length  260 ft  :  1520 GRT
Engines  : Triple expansion 30, 49 and 75 in x 84 in by A&J Inglis of Glasgow

Built for Ribes' Mesajarias Fluvial.
1901  Mihanovic 
1923 Lost on 12 August when wrecked on rocks near Colonia



TRITON : Scotswood Shipbuilding, 1894  (Engine by Inglis)


Built in 1894 by Scotswood Shipbuilding Co at Scotswood, Newcastle, England (yard no 4)
Launched 21/3/1894. Completed elsewhere after a fire at the Scotswood yard
Length  292 ft  :  1915 GRT

Engines : 30, 49 and 75 in x 84 in by A & J Inglis of Glasgow

Built for Mesajerias Fluviales del Plata, Montevideo
1901 Mihanovich
1943 Converted into a barge


PARIS : Inglis, 1896

Built in 1896 by A & J Inglis, Glasgow, yard no 243
Length 298 ft : 1911 GRT
Engine : Triple expansion  30, 49 and 75 in x 34 in

Built for Mensajarias Fluviales del Plata
1901 Mihanovich company and survived into the Dodero era before entering a remarkable new chapter of her life.
1942 Dodero
1949 Co. de Navigacion Fluvial de Argentina and renamed Justicia Social
1955 Joined the Argentina navy and back under the name Paris was used as a prison ship.
1958 Laid up at Santiago
1969 Scrapped

VIENA : Inglis, 1906

Built in 1906 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow. yard no 281
Length  320 feet  : 2376 GRT
Engine :  Triple expansion  31, 52 and 78in x 34 in

Built for Mihanovic
1919 renamed Washington.
1949 
Co. de Navigacion Fluvial de Argentina
1960 withdrawn
1967 scrapped

More photos of Viena / Washington




Asuncion : Denny, 1906


Built in 1906 by Wm Denny & Bros at Dumbarton
Length 200 ft : 735 GRT
Engines : Triple expansion 16.25, 26.5 and 43 in x 54 in

Built for Mihanovich
1930 renamed Corumba
1940 withdrawn

I am indebted to Stuart Cameron  for the following text 

The vessel in this illustration is the side-wheel paddle steamer Asuncion, Denny's Yard No 768, launched at the Leven Shipyard on 25th January 1906. Her triple expansion, diagonal reciprocating engine was Denny & Co's Machinery No 608. Its cylinder diameters were 16.25 inches, 26.5 inches and 43 inches and the piston stroke was 54 inches. Stated power was 93.8 nhp. Steam was supplied by one single-ended Scotch boiler operating at 180 psi. The contract required the vessel to be capable of carrying 180 tons deadweight on a 5.5 feet draught and have a service speed of 11.5 knots. Denny's quoted price for the vessel was 23, 250, this sum to be payed in five instalments. The machinery cost 6,235 and it is recorded that the shipbuilders made a profit of 2,911 which seems to be quite a good gross margin on a job of this type. 

The contract had been confirmed on 7th July 1905, the launch taking place just six and a half months later. Unfortunately, no date is stated for her trials on the Measured Mile but they must have taken place in late February because the new paddler departed from Dumbarton on 7th March 1906, just 8 months to the day after she had been ordered, for the long delivery voyage to Buenos Aires, where, remarkably, she arrived less than three weeks later on 24th March 1906. Therefore, the time from order placement in Scotland to delivery in South America was less than 40 weeks. Incidentally, she had achieved 12.15 knots on trials. 
In this view (above) she is seen departing from a still wintry Clydeside, with snow-capped hills in the background. (Photo courtesy of the Denny company history 1909)


Rio de la Plata  (Fairfield 1890) : In service in Argentina from 1906


Built in 1890 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. of Govan
Length 280 ft :  976 GRT 
Engines : Compound diagonal 51.5 and 93 in x 72 in

Built for G&J Burns' Scotland to Ireland (Ardrossan-Belfast) service as  Adder
Substantially altered and with deckhouses fore and aft and an observation deck above
Sold in 1906 to Mr S Lambruschini of Buenos Aires and renamed Rio de la Plata .
Lost in 1918 sailing from Buenos Aires to Santos


Lambare : Inglis, 1908


Built in 1908 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow, yard no 286
Length :  240.2 x 34 ft : 1200 GRT
Engine : Triple expansion  21, 35 and 54 in x 66 in

Built for Mihanovich's  Buenos Aires to Asuncion route
1942 : Compania Argentina de Navegacion de Dodero 
1948 : Scrapped

Postcard from collection of E J Rocca

Guarany : Inglis, 1908

Built in 1908 by A&J Inglis of Glasgow, yard no 287
Length :  240.2 x 34 ft : 1200 GRT
Engine : Triple expansion  21, 35 and 54 in x 66 in

Built for Mihanovich's  Buenos Aires to Asuncion route
1942 : Compania Argentina de Navegacion de Dodero
1949 : Compania Argentina Fluvial
1962 : Flotta Argentina de Navigacion Fluvial

1966 : Scrapped

Rio Uruguay :  Laird 1898 : In service in Argentina from 1910


Built in 1898 by Laird Bros of Birkenhead
Length : 270 ft :  GRT  1009
Engine : Three cylinder compound 47, 66 and 66 in x 72 in

Built for the South Eastern Railway Co fror service between Dover (UK) and Folkestone (France) as Princess of Wales
1910  S Lambruschini of Buenos Aires, renamed Rio Uruguay 
1921 C Pujol
1930 Scrapped



Bruselas : Inglis, 1911


Built in 1911 by A&J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow, yard no 297
Length 265.2 ft :  2311 GRT
Engine : Triple expansion  21.5, 35 and 64 in x 66 in
 
Built for Mihanovich
1943 Dodero
1963 Withdrawn
1973 Scrapped

Berna : Inglis, 1911

Built in 1911 by A&J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow, yard number 296
Length : 273.9 ft  :  2310 GRT
Engine :
Triple expansion  21.5, 35 and 64 in x 66 in

Built for Mihanovich
1942 Dodero
1963 Converted to a temporary dormitory ship
1989 Scrapped
 

PORVENIR, Dundee Shipbuilding Co, 1911  (engine by Bow, McLachlan)

Built in 1911 By Dundee Shipbuilding Co at Dundee
Length  215 ft  :  1057 GRT.
Engine : Triple expansion 18.5, 30 and 50 in x 60 in by Bow, McLachlan of Paisley

Built for Domingo Barthe
1913 Renamed Formosa

1932 Wrecked in a storm near Salto (Uruguay)


HUMAITA, Dundee Shipbuilding Co, 1911 (engine by Bow, McLachlan)

Built 1911 by Dundee Shipbuilding Co at Dundee
Length  165 ft  :  475 GRT.
Engine : Triple expansion 15, 24 and 39 in x 48 in by Bow, McLachlan of Paisley
 
Built
for Domingo Barthe
1919 Mihanovich
1921 sank at Asuncion, Paraguay in 1921. It is suggested that this was a result of sabotage by her own crew


Cabo Corrientes  : Inglis, 1913

PS Cabo Corrientes Built in 1913 by A&J Inglis, yard no 305
Length 320 x breadth 40 feet, 2627 GRT
Engine : Triple expansion  31, 52 and 78 in x 84 in

Built for the Hamburg-Sudamerika Dampfschiffs Gesellschaft
Joined the Mihanovich group in 1922, by which time it had been renamed "General Alvear".
This, the most modern of the Clyde-built paddlers to sail for Mihanovic was also the most unfortunate - sinking en route from Buenos Aires to Montevideo in 1953.

Cabo Santa Maria : Inglis, 1913

PS Cabo Santa Maria Built in 1913 by A&J Inglis, yard no 304
Length 320 x breadth 40 feet, 2648 GRT
Engine : Triple expansion  31, 52 and 78 in x 84 in

Sister ship of Cabo Corrientes
Built for Hamburg-Sudamerika Dampfschiffs Gesellschaft
Became "General Artigas" when in the Mihanovich fleet. She continued in service until 1966.



Acknowledgements

It is believed that all the photos used are, due to their age, out of copyright and in the public domain. If anyone is the copyright holder and they are not in the public domain (yet) please let me know and they will be removed.
Thanks for research sources go to the Scottish Built Ships  database)
http://www.clydeships.co.uk and the various contributing researchers, particularly Stuart Cameron and to the Argentine website Histamar - http://www.histarmar.com.ar/BuquesMercantesArgAnt/NavCuencaPlata-Indice.htm
Histarmar page regarding Mihanovich :
http://www.histarmar.com.ar/BuquesMercantes/HistMarinaMercArg/04Mihanovich.htm
Other sources : Wikipedia


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