Friesland 1908

Red Star Liner Friesland Singled Out By Famed British Author

By James Donahue

While there were other things unique about the Red Star Liner Friesland, its one sure claim to fame was that the ship was named by Sherlock Holmes, one of the famous characters created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a place where one of his escapades occurred.

Some thought the Friesland, a turn-of-the-century passenger ship for the old Red Star Line, might have been used as a backdrop in the 1945 Hollywood film Pursuit to Algiers, starring Basil Rathbone. But that was not so. The Friesland was scrapped in 1912, over 30 years before the film was shot. 

Had the Friesland still been on the high seas in 1945, she would have been a perfect candidate for such a film. That is because the ship, in its day, was an asthetically artistic vessel that portrayed all of the characteristics the public expected to find in a romantic encounter at sea. At 437-feet she was not too large. She was one of the few steamers at sea that year with a clipper stem, and she was the last liner to carry square sails in addition to her triple expansion engines.

Other than its clipper lines, the Friesland was a basic freight and passenger hauler in service during the first half of the century. She offered a single stack, four masts, a steel hull and was powered by a single screw that moved her at speeds of up to 15 knots.

This ship was launched at Glasgow, Scotland in 1889. The Red Star Line ordered the Friesland to start a new weekly service between New York and Antwerp. This service proved to successful that Friesland and a fleet of smaller vessels helped the company set a near-record of over 41,000 passengers from Antwerp to New York in 1891.

Friesland made her final voyage for the Red Star Line in January 1903. After this she was chartered to the American line and refitted to carry 300 second class and 600 third class passengers. No luxury class furnishings on this ship. She primarily made runs from Liverpool to Philadelphia between 1903 and 1911.

That year she was sold to Italian owners, renamed La Plata, and had two of her masts removed. Nothing came of the new venture and the Friesland was scrapped the next year.


Great And Lost Ships Of The World