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BURMA (Myanmar) - Historical

River Irrawaddy. 

The main river in Burma, the Irrawaddy flows southwards from the Burmese interior to the Indian Ocean where it forms a large delta . The delta area had come under British rule in 1852 following the second Anglo-Burmese war and the interior followed suit after a third conflict in 1885 (during which the entire Irrawaddy Flotilla fleet was requisitioned by the British military).

The Irrawaddy Flotilla and Burmese Steam Navigation Company was founded in 1865 by Scotsmen Robert Findlay, owner of a teak logging company and Peter Denny of the family-owned shipbuilders in Dumbarton and five other businessmen. further to receiving an exclusive government contract for the carriage of troops, mails and other cargoes between Rangoon and Mandalay. The operation began with four paddle steamers which has been used in India before seeing service in the second Anglo-Burmese war. The company was registered in Glasgow (UK) and managed by P Henderson & Co (two directors of which were founding shareholders in the Flotilla Company). Todd, Findlay & Co were the local agents.

The first newly built paddle steamer for the company was PS Colonel Phayre which arrived from A&J Inglis yard in Glasgow, Scotland in 1866 for assembly at the company's Dalla shipyard . This vessel remained in the fleet until 1876 and saw ten years of subsequent service in Malaya.This was followed by PS Colonel Fytche, from Denny of Dumbarton, Scotland. Both ships were needed as the company obtained contracts to serve deeper into the Burmese hinterland

Robert Duncan & Co of Port Glasgow, UK, also delivered side-wheelers to the company

Mandalay (1869-
Rangoon (1869-1873)
Aloung-Pyah (1871-1896)
Ashley Eden (1873-1893)
Irrawaddy (1873-1913)

In 1876 the company was reincorporated as the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company with a fleet of thirteen paddle steamers and embarked on further expansion. The Dumbarton firm of  William Denny & Brothers became their regular vessel supplier, primarily of side-wheel paddle steamers, although there were also some stern/quarter-wheelers

The First World War wreaked havoc on the fleet. A number of river paddlers were requisitioned for use by the British army in Mesopotania (current day Iraq) on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Some failed to complete the treacherous sea voyage - others were lost in operations or, if they survived hostilities, remained in Mesopotamia.

The Irrawaddy Flotilla fleet suffered probably the greatest ever attrition of any shipping company as the entire fleet of paddle steamers and associated barges and lighters numbering around 600 units was scuttled in Burmese waters during a short period in May 1942 to prevent them falling into the hands of the advancing Japanese army (and to obstruct Japanese river navigation) during World War II.

A number of vessels were recovered and restored after the war, but with most remaining in governement hands, a programme of new-building was embarked upon

The Burma Inland Water Transport Board, took over what remained of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in 1948 after independence and nationalisation of major foreign-owned assets in Burma and the company was would up in 1950. The Irrawaddy Flotilla name was revived as a private venture in 1995 by Scottish publishing entrepreneur and Burma-enthusiast Paul Strachan and it now provides luxury river cruises, trading as Pandaw after the paddler Pandaw, the remains of which were discovered by Strachan in 1998. The new fleet of luxury Pandaws are based on the design of the Pandaw of 1947 and earlier Flotilla steamer classes, albeit without paddle wheels or steam engines, rather than the "modern" Irrawaddy Princess which Strachan first promoted in 1995.  


Paddle Steamers built by Denny of Dumbarton for Burma (1877-1947)



Name

Built

Yard No

Length (feet)

Breadth (feet)

Scrapped etc

Notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doowoon

1877

202

248.7

30.3

1895 - broken up

 

Thambyadine

1879

228

 160.2

 24

 1924 - broken up

 

Pulu

1879

229

 160.2

 24

 1896 - sunk

 Engine recovered and used in PS Amherst

Palow

1879

230

 160.4

 26

 1924 - broken up

 

Rangoon

1879

227

250

30

1938

 

Thooreah

1880

244

257

34

1887 - wrecked

 

Kay-Byoo

1882

266

 

 

 

STERNWHEELER

Nyoung-Don

1885

309

 105

 18.5

 1935 - broken up

 1913 - served on River Duga until 1924 as "Yandoon". Survived as floating post office until 1935

Aphyouk

1885

308

195

18

1922 - hulk scuttled

 

Yomah

1885

303

310

40

1904 - lost to fire

 

Amherst

1885

301

 160.5

 24

 1924 - scrapped

 

Mindoon

1885

301

310

40

1912

 

Pekin

1886

342

250

35

1918

 

Momein

1886

277

250

30

1930

 

Cambay

1887

322

 120.2

 22

 1924 - scrapped

 

Dufferin

1886

318

310

40

1913

 

Beeloo

1886

319

310

40

1932 - Sunk in Pegu River

 

Pouktan

1886

321

 120.2

 22

 1924 - broken up

 

Hata

1887

381

 100

 24

 1914 - scrapped

STERNWHEELER

Daga

1887

350

 160

 24

 ?

 Possibly scrapped in 1938 otherwise scuttled in 1942

Mandalay

1887

345

250

30

1925

 

Canton

1887

343

250

35

 1911

 

Mogoung

1887

344

180

30

1931

 

Munepoor

1887

361

250

35

1920 - Hulked

 

Ava

1887

368

250

35

1902 - lost to fire

 

Pago

1887

367

250

35

1910 - sunk

 

Manwyne

1887

362

250

35

1912

 

Maulong

1888

410

130

28

1907 - wrecked

STERNWHEELER

Tokio

1901

657

 145

 25

 1942 - scuttled

 

Burma

1901

656

310

46

1926 - Hulked

 

Tarok

1901

658

 145 (later 174)

 25

 1942 - scuttled

 

Ava

1902

674

230

35

1922 - scuttled

 

Siam

1903

705

328

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

India

1903

686

312

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Magwe

Katha

1904

737

 

 

 1937 - broken up

STERNWHEELER

Japan

1904

739

328

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Java

1904

733

328

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Prome

1904

738

250

37

1936 - Hulked

 

Ceylon

1905

763

328

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Mandalay

Taping

1907

820

253

32

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Tamu

1908

858

100

24

1915 - sunk

on tow to Basra (Iraq)

Osaka

1909

911

176

26

1939

 

Otaru

1909

910

176

26

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Mingyang

Kabul

1909

913

176

28

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Assam

1909

879

328

46

1943 - sunk

Bomb victim

Kobe

1909

836

176

28

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Kelat

1909

912

176

28

1916 - sunk

on tow to Basra

Mindoon

1912

983

313

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Kyoukmyaung

Kandy

1912

985

176

30

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Panthay

1913

984

313

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled near Mingoon

Kentung

1913

986

176

30

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Punjab

1913

1001

313

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled near Mingoon

Kawlin

1913

1004

186

30

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Thabeitchyn

Mysore

1913

1000

313

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Talifoo

1914

1019

260

40

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled near Mandalay

Shweli

1914

1014

232

30

1915 - sunk

en route to Basra

Ananda

1915

1020

311

46

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Shenaga

Kansi

1916

1041

 

185                    

 30

 

 

Kotah

1916

1043

 185

 30

 

 

Kalan

1916

1042

 185

 30

 

 

Kaladan

1917

1061

 185

 30

1942 - sunk

 

Shwelan

1917

1058

232

30

1944 - sunk

captured by Japan 1942, Bombed by British at Kanni 1944

Kandaw

1917

1060

 180

 30

 

 

Koyan

1917

1066

 185    

 30

 1942 - sunk

 

Namtu

1917

1081

 100

 26

 1942 - sunk

STERNWHEELER

Kaduma

1918

1075

 185

 30

 

 Survived the war after capture by Japanese Army in 1942

Kinu

1918

1076

 185

 30

 1942 - sunk

 

Kadeik

1918

1065

 185

 30

 1942 - sunk

 

Minsin

1920

1122

 125

 25

 1942 - sunk

 

Shwemyo

1922

1152

 233

 30

1942 - scuttled

Scuttled at Katha

Sagamya19231154 185 32Sunk in 1942 but refloated in 1950

Sinkan

1923

1156

 185

 32

 1942 - sunk

 

Samalouk

1923

1155

 185

 32

 1942 - sunk

 

Gambo19241162 115 25 1942 - sunk
Fano19241163 115 25 1942 - sunkTwin vane wheels - converted to screw in 1926

Namsam

1924

1166

 125

 25

 

 Sunk in 1942 but refloated in 1950

Garo

1927

1202

 190

 28

 

 

Florican

1927

1201

 190

 28

 

 

Viking

1928

1221

 135

 24

 1942 - sunk

Built for the GOVERNMENT of BURMA

Maha

1928

1215

 200

 32

 1943 - sank

 Captured by Japanese Army in 1942 and sunk by British

Minlat19281214 200 32 1942 - sunk

Mingalay

1928

1213

 200

 32

 1942 - sunk

 

Popa

1930

1253

 132

 34

 1942 - sunk

 

Tagaung

1930

1251

 195    

 32

 

Built for BURMESE RAILWAYS

Sawbwa

1937

1303

 200

 32

 1942 - scuttled

 

Maha

1947

1407

200

32

 

 

Mindon

1947

1408

200

32

 

 

Minnan

1947

1409

200

32

 

 

Mingyi

1947

1406

200

32

 

 

Source : Caledonian Maritime Research Trust  database  http://www.clydeships.co.uk - with thanks to various contributors, primarily Stuart Cameron


Yarrows shipyard at Scotstoun, Glasgow also built  paddle steamers for Burma


Side-wheelers :

Minthamee, Minlat, Mingalay and Mintha) were built in 1946/7 in a split order with Denny's
Minthamee survives as RV Myat Yadana

Stern-wheelers :

Tiddim (1908), Falam (1908), Popa (1909-1916), Sikkim (1914-1927 remaining in Mesopotamia after World War I), Pima (1915-1947 remaining in Mesopotamia after World War I as "Naftak"), Sarak (1917), Saga (1918), Sima (1918), Sinde (1919), Sythet (1920), Pauk (1920), Shillong (1920).

Yarrow also built RV Pandaw in 1947, believed to be stern-wheeled, but described as an "original colonial era twin-screw steamer" on the website of Paukan Cruises (trading name of the Ayravata Cruise Company) which bought Pandaw in 2003. This is probably as a result of conversion to screw propulsion undertaken after 1948, which appears to have been a commonplace procedure for the remaining examples from the historical fleet. She was renamed Paukan1947 in 2011 (but appears, in 2018, to be no longer advertised as in service) . She was originally restored in 1998 for a revived Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (www.pandaw.com), established by Paul Strachan (a Scot !) and offering luxury cruises for foreign tourists. She has formed a template for later new-builds which draw on the original K-Class ships of the 1880s and the P-Class ships of the 1940s, albeit as screw-driven motor ships, for the "Pandaw" company which has now extended its operations to Vietnam and Cambodia and which has the name Pandaw as a prefix for all its river vessels. The "Paukan" company has also built its newer vessels in the Pandaw style.  The Paukan company names its ships "Paukan" with the suffix of its year of construction.

The final deliveries were stern-wheel motor paddlers Pondaung, Padapyan, Padamya, Padashin and Ponya in 1956.
As at 2020 : It is understood that at least one of these, Padashin, still survives but no longer as a paddler


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Historical database