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House Flags of U.S. Shipping Companies: S

Last modified: 2012-06-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: united states shipping lines |
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Seabulk International

[Seabulk International]  image by Joe McMillan

Seabulk International, Port Everglades, FL
Seabulk International specializes in three core business areas: support to offshore oil facilities, tugs and towing on US Gulf coast (in which it is a leading company with 30 tugs in operation), and specialty chemical and refined product tankers (10 tankers in service). It was founded as Hvide Marine in 1958 and just recently changed its name. The flag is a dark blue burgee with a white disk in the hoist bearing a blue S superimposed on a gold anchor and encircled by a gold chain. Hvide Marine used the same flag, but with an H instead of an S.

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

Seabulk International. Brown 1995 shows a slightly different version being a normal rectangular flag with the white circle being edged with a yellow and black ropelike border and a blue "S" surmounted by a yellow anchor. It is shown under the name of Seabulk Tankers Ltd. which was a name subsidiary formed in 1974 but no longer appearing by 2000.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

[Seabulk International] image by Jarig Bakker, 22 October 2005

Seabulk Tankers Ltd., Fort Lauderdale, FA. - blue flag, white disk surrounded by a BW rope, blue "S", surrounding yellow anchor.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 22 October 2005

Sea-Land Services, Inc.

[Sea-Land Services, Inc.]  image by Joe McMillan

Sea-Land Services, Inc. (1956-1999) and CSX Lines (1999-present)
Founded in 1956 as a subsidiary of Waterman Steamship Company by Malcolm McLean, a trucking magnate who pioneered  the concept of containerized shipping. McLean, with financial support from the billionaire shipowner Daniel K. Ludwig, built Sea-Land into one of the largest merchant shipping companies under the United States flag, but never made it profitable. He sold it--virtually bankrupt--to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1969. Then, with RJR about to shut it down, CSX Corporation (the intermodal parent company of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad) stepped in to rescue Sea-Land in 1986. Sea-Land's international services were bought by A. P. Mřller's Maersk Line in 1999 to form Maersk Sea-Land under the Maersk flag (making Maersk in part a US-flag company). Sea-Land's US domestic services were retained by CSX under the name CSX Lines, which kept the Sea-Land flag, a stylized S-L logo in black and red on a white field.
Source: Styring (1971)

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

[Sea-Land Services, Inc.]  image by Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2005

Sea-Land Service Inc., Edison, N.J. - white flag, two red blocks containing "SEA" and "LAND" respectively; in between a black/red square.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2005

Sea-Land Service Inc. Brown 1995 shows a different version having the panel smaller and flanked on either side by a small red oblong panel bearing respectively the white words "SEA" and "LAND". It seems that their sold container vessels now operate under the US flag through U.S. Ship Management Inc. based in Charlotte, NC. They still have "Sea-land" names but I have no idea of what connection there is with A.P. Möller or what houseflag they use.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Sealift Inc.

[Sealift Inc.] image provided by Alan Adler

Sealift Inc. in 1975. It presently owns and operates 11 US flag vessels. More information is available at our website I am attaching a picture of our house flag.
A. Adler, 30 January 2004

Seatrain Lines

[Seatrain Lines]       [Seatrain Lines]  images by Joe McMillan

Seatrain Lines, New York (1928-1981)
Seatrain was established to specialize in carrying loaded railroad cars in the U.S. Atlantic coastwise trade and between the US and Cuba. It was a considerable success and soon expanded into other geographic regions and other areas of shipping such as tankers. The loss of the Cuba trade after the Cuban Revolution hurt the company, as did competition from the railroads. As a result, Seatrain decided to focus on the tanker trade and was one of the most innovative companies in the business, fitting the supertanker Manhattan as an icebreaker and using it to open the Northwest Passage to ship Alaska oil directly to the US east coast. Although technically successful, the venture was not profitable, so Seatrain instead decided to focus on containerships. It pioneered the "landbridge" concept across the United States, cutting 10 days off travel time from Europe to the Far East, and was in position to become a dominant force in the industry despite a heavy debt burden. However, its owners decided to get into the shipbuilding business, which sucked off more resources, then to diversify into oil and coal  production, and eventually drove it into bankruptcy. The company was finally liquidated in 1982. I have found two flags for this company:
Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.: White with a red rail-line running from upper hoist to lower fly.
Source: Styring (1971): White with two curved blue arrows forming a letter S.

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

Seaways Shipping Corp.

[Seaways Shipping Corp.]  image by Joe McMillan

Seaways Shipping Corp.
No information. Flag blue with a white triangle.
Source: Styring (1971)

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

Seaways Shipping Corp. I assume this is the Seaways Shipping Co. shown by Lloyds from the late 1950s until the beginning of the 1980s, originally based New York but then coming under the Skaaraup Shipping Corporation as agents.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

Seven Seas Shipping Corp.

[Seven Seas Shipping Corp.]  image by Joe McMillan

Seven Seas Shipping Corp.
No information. Flag black with a large red 7.
Source: Styring (1971)

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

Arthur Sewall & Company

[Arthur Sewall & Company]  image by Joe McMillan

Arthur Sewall & Company, Bath, ME (1854-?)
The Sewalls were a prominent shipping family in Bath from at least the 1820s, when Arthur Sewall's father William established a building yard.  The firm of E. & A. Sewall was formed in 1854, took over the other family ventures in 1875, and changed its name to Arthur Sewall & Co in 1879. The company was one of the last to operate square-rigged steel-hulled sailing ships, well into the 20th century, specializing in traffic out of New York around Cape Horn. It continued to build as well as operate ships and apparently built the last square rigger produced on the U.S. east coast.  The flag was simply blue with a white S.
Source: Lloyds 1912
Joe McMillan
, 19 November 2001

On The Lore of Ships, page 136, A: House flags from Sailing ship days
7 "Arthur Sewall, Bath, Me."

The image shown is similar to ours, though with a smaller S. Regarding the end date, Alex Lear of the Forecaster writes: "After Sewall's death in 1900, his younger partners carried on, although the years to follow saw a period of decline. They sold the business around the time of World War I ..." ( Further details can probably be found in the book the article is about, if anyone has access to it.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 17 March 2012

Shamrock Chartering Co.

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 31 May 2009

Source: company website at

This little firm normally operating out of Jefferson Beach Marina, Michigan, offers the use of a 1927 built boat, the Helene. She is now owned by the Deane family whose roots in Great Lakes shipping date to the turn of the century (i.e. around 1900) as owners of the Nicholson Universal Steamship Co. and Nicholson Transit Co.
Apparently the house flag is a white swallowtail bearing a green shamrock. I have found no pictures of it waving on the few photos I found.
Jan Mertens, 8 November 2005

Shenango Furnace Co.

[Shenango Furnace Co.]  image by Joe McMillan

Shenango Furnace Co. (1906-1969)
The Shenango Furnace Company was an iron and steel foundry in Pittsburgh which established a small fleet of ore carriers on the Great Lakes in 1906. It sold the last of its ships to Pickands Mather Steamship Co. in 1969. The flag was a white swallowtail bordered in blue with the diamond-shaped company logo in red and white on the center.
Source: (no longer available)

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

[Shenango Furnace Co.]

For a photo of this company’s flag, see this page (first row, fourth picture) and enlargement here. The flag on the photo differs from the one above in some respects:
   - bordered red (no border at hoist)
   - flag tapers
   - possibly because of that, lettered diamond not in exact centre.
The red-and-white flag may be a later variant.

Firm’s history including various ships at can be found at

Jan Mertens, 9 September 2005

Siffkin & Ironsides

[Siffkin & Ironsides]  image by Joe McMillan

Siffkin & Ironsides, New York (mid 19th century)
Nothing on the company. The flag was interesting, six horizontal stripes of red and blue, with a white canton bearing a black A. No idea what the A stood for.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 19 November 2001

Benjamin W. Silsbee

[Benjamin W. Silsbee]  image by Joe McMillan

Benjamin W. Silsbee, Salem, Mass. (1790s-1893)
This firm, later known as Silsbee, Stone and Pickman, was one of the longer lived sailing ship owners based in Salem, Massachusetts, the first home of the U.S. China trade. The house flag was white with a large blue triangle with its apex at the center of the hoist and its base at the fly.
Source: 1848 painting of Sooloo at

Joe McMillan, 20 November 2001

Silver Star Line

Silver Star house flag image by Ivan Sache, 17 Aug 2005

From this website. Platter said to date from nineteen fifties. Quoting that site:

The line’s house flag appears, accompanying "Silver Star". This could refer either to the line or their only vessel, though the styling of the ship’s name was as a single word: "Silverstar".
(Possibly a commercial name for cruises organised by Mano Shipping of Israel?)
Jan Mertens, 04 Aug 2005

Silver Star: Information on the Silver Star Line is noted by "US Passenger Liners since 1945" as being difficult to locate but I put forward the following as being a reasonable survey – In 1950 Arnold Bernstein [who had moved to New York after WW2 and had formed American Banner Lines] bought a ship and renamed in "Silver Star" and registered it under the Panamanian company Compańia Estrella de Plata S.A. The ship was converted into a cruise ship and was renamed "Silverstar" according to one source though it may have been the original spelling given by Bernstein. Cruises began in 1952 being marketed as Silver Star Line and with Arnold Bernstein Shipping as agents. The ship traded until 1957 although was apparently chartered to Caribbean Cruise Lines in 1956. According to a B&W photo of the ship [showing the name "Silverstar"] in "US Passenger Liners since 1945", the funnel marking had a dark band bearing a white star between the letters "S" and "L" with the star appearing to have another mark or letter on it – another "S" would be reasonably logical. I would therefore expect any flag for Silver Star Line itself to be in line with this funnel band which likely means that plate pattern belongs to the registered owner of Compańia Estrella de Plata S.A. [translation "silver star"] though whether an actual flag was made and flown might be another matter. As cruise ships like flying flags, and can include both owners and charterers, it would not surprise if the ship did fly the owners plain star flag and had a different funnel to highlight the trading name/charterer.
Neale Rosanoski, 19 October 2008

Sinclair Refining Co.

[Sinclair Refining Co.]       [Sinclair Refining Co.]  images by Joe McMillan

Sinclair Refining Co., New York (1916-present)
Harry Sinclair got his start selling drilling support equipment in the oil fields of Oklahoma in the first years of the 20th century. He soon got into the business of managing small, single-lease companies in return for small ownership percentages. By 1916 he had raised enough capital to buy and combine eleven small companies into the Sinclair Oil and Refining Company, which grew rapidly into the seventh largest oil company in the United States and the largest to be created after the breakup of Standard Oil. Within its first year, Sinclair Oil expanded its production operations to the Texas Gulf Coast (and soon thereafter to Mexico) and had built a crude pipeline to a new refinery at East Chicago, Indiana, on Lake Michigan. These ventures necessitated the development of a shipping fleet to carry Sinclair products to market both at sea and on the Great Lakes.  By 1917, Sinclair had 17 tankers in operation in the Gulf of Mexico alone, and by 1923 was running ships to and from New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, New York, Mexico, Cuba, and Europe. Sinclair survives today as an independent oil company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with three refineries and a marketing presence primarily in the U.S. west and midwest; I don't know whether it still has its own tanker fleet. I have found two flags for this company:
Source: Stewart (1953), US Navy's 1961 H.O. - Green with a white S.
Source: Stewart & Styring (1963) - White with the corporate logo, a green outlined irregular pentagon surrounding the name of the company in red above a green brontosaurus. The brontosaurus, named "Dino," was adopted as a trademark in 1930 in allusion to the geological origins of the company's products. The version inside the pentagon was registered as a trademark in 1959. Many Sinclair gasoline stations have large green concrete dinosaurs on the premises, which, given their immediate appeal to younger auto passengers, has been an enormously successful device for attracting business on the highways. I know I used to like to climb on them.

Joe McMillan, 20 November 2001

Sinclair Refining Co. Tying in Phil Nelson's comments for Atlantic Richfield Co. this company took over the Sinclair shipping interests in 1969 though Lloyds Shipowners 1970-1 do not show this but by 1973-4 they do though Sinclair are still shown as operating through Dover Tanker Corporation. Again by 1978-9 this latter company was under the agency of Atlantic Richfield for "Sinclair Texas" which appears to be the last shipping link which ceased shortly afterwards. For the original flag some sources show a squared "S" in line with that shown for Standard Oil Co. of New York.

Neale Rosanoski, 1 August 2004

The house flag of the Sinclair Navigation Co. is shown on a tureen at It is green with a large white 'S' and ties in with Joe's and Neale's comments above. The shipping division of Sinclair's seems to have had its own name (or was, formerly, a separate company). For the enthusiast, this page - and following - recounts Sinclair's history. Tankers are mentioned in passing: The rather pensive dinosaur looms large on this page:
Jan Mertens, 3 July 2005

Skaarup Shipping Corp.

[Skaarup Shipping Corp.] image by Jarig Bakker, 6 January 2006

Skaarup Shipping Corp., Greenwich, CT - blue flag, intertwined white "SO".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker
, 6 January 2006

US shipping lines house flags - 'S' continued