Pacific Line (PSNC) Archival Collection

Pacific Steam Navigation Company

Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1840, they began the business with Chili and Peru, receiving a small subsidy. In 1852 a bi-monthly service between Valparaiso and Panama was instituted, and in 1865 the steamers ran as far as the River Plate. In 1867 a monthly mail service was started from Liverpool through the Straits of Magellan to Valparaiso, which was extended to Callao in 1870. The fleet owned by the company now contains 42 vessels, of which the Orita, 10,000 tons, is the largest steamer in the South American trade.


1925-01-22 RMS Oroya

1925-01-22 RMS Oroya Passenger List

  • Class of Passengers: First and Second Saloon
  • Date of Departure: 22 January 1925
  • Route: Liverpool to Valparaiso, Chile via La Rochelle (France), A Coruña and Vigo (Spain), Havana, Cristóbal Colón and Puerto de Balboa (Panama), El Callao and Mollendo (Peru), Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta (Chile)
  • Commander: Captain A. W. Pearse, R.N.R


  • PSNC Fleet (1911)

  • Antisana
  • Arica
  • Assistance
  • Bogota
  • California
  • Chile
  • Chriqui
  • Colombia
  • Corcovado
  • Duendes
  • Ecuador
  • Esmeraldus
  • Flamenco
  • Gaelic
  • Galicia
  • Guatemala
  • Inca
  • Magellan
  • Manavi
  • Mexico
  • Oravia
  • Oriana
  • Orissa
  • Orita
  • Oronsa
  • Oropesa
  • Ortega
  • Panama
  • Perico
  • Peru
  • Potosi
  • Puno
  • Pizarro
  • Quillota
  • Quilpue
  • Quito
  • Rupanco
  • Santiago
  • Sarmiento
  • Sorata
  • Taboga
  • Victoria

177,000 Gross tonnage

Note: in June 1910, The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company purchased the whole of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's share capital and had thus acquired control of its fleet and interests, thereby practically circumnavigating the continent of South America.

History of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company (PSNC)

This was the pioneer of the steam-trade along the western coast of South America; subsequently its operations were extended to Europe, and finally, in conjunction with the Orient Steam Navigation Company, it established the Orient Line to Australia, from which it withdrew in 1906.

It obtained a charter early in 1840, and soon sent out from England two steam vessels, the "Chili" and "Peru." These were paddle-boats of 710 tons and 198 ft. in length. They ran along the coast from Valparaiso to Panama. The early struggles of this company are noteworthy as showing how difficulties, apparently insuperable, may be overcome and even turned to essential advantage.

The significant obstacle to the success of these steamers was the difficulty of obtaining supplies of fuel, and in the first five years of its existence no less than £72,000 was lost, the total capital of the company being but £94,000. But the difficulties were overcome, and all that remained in the mind of the managers was a strong feeling of the importance of economy in coal consumption.

Accordingly, in conjunction with the Fairfield firm of Randolph, Elder & Co., they turned their attention in this direction and were sending out vessels fitted with compound engines some ten or a dozen years before the Atlantic companies adopted them.

In 1867, under pressure from the Chilean government, the company sought and obtained powers to extend its operations, and in the same year the "Pacific," of 1630 tons, was constructed. She left Valparaiso for Liverpool in May of 1868, the first of the new mail line.

In 1870 the voyage was extended, Callao, 11,000 miles from Liverpool, being made the terminal port, and the sailings were increased from one to three a month.

In 1873 a weekly service between Liverpool and Callao was instituted, and by 1874 there was a fleet of fifty-four steamers, with an aggregate of 120,000 tons, in commission. Due to a considerable decrease in the South American trade, the service was reduced to a fortnightly one.

The opening of the Transandine railway was expected to have a significant effect on the fortunes of shipping companies in South American waters, and consolidation of interests seemed desirable. In 1910 the whole of the company's ordinary capital was purchased by the Royal Mail Company, and the line was thus absorbed.

In January 1893 the company inaugurated a monthly cargo service to the Brazils, River Plate and the West Coast. This service has been extended to Glasgow. Many ports are served.

The principal ports served are La Pallice, La Rochellc, Corunna, Carril, Vigo, Lisbon, St Vincent, Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Monte video, Buenos Aires, Punta Arenas, and the ports of the western coast of South America, Valparaiso and Caltao.

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