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House Flags of U.S. Shipping Companies: A

Last modified: 2016-03-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: united states shipping lines | atco | aasc | ab | acs | bdsc | ael | ah | aml | ap |
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Admiral Line

[Admiral Line] image by Joe McMillan

Admiral Line, Tacoma (1910-38)
From 1920 to 1938, Admiral Line was the largest company in the coastwise trade on the US Pacific Coast. It also conducted a trans-Pacific service from 1917-1922. Admiral Line was a trade name given by Hubbard F. Alexander to various steamship companies he owned and operated out of Tacoma. The Admiral Line flag was based on that of the rival Pacific Coast SS Co, which Alexander bought and merged into the Admiral Line in 1916. To the Pacific Coast SS Co's red cross on a white lozenge, Alexander added an admiral's four white stars on a blue field.
Sources: Wedge (1926), National Geographic (1934)
Joe McMillan
, 19 August 2001

According to Talbot-Booth (1936) the 1916 merger produced the company Pacific Steamship Co., reorganized 1933 as Pacific Steamship Lines Ltd., which was known as the Admiral Line. Sources generally noted it under both the Pacific and Admiral names although Talbot-Booth usually used the official title and his flag portrayals show a much narrower cross paty, indeed looking more like a cross couped.
Neale Rosanoski, 21 January 2004

Admiral Towing and Barge Company

[Admiral Towing and Barge Company] image by Ivan Sache

Admiral Towing and Barge Company (part of the Great Lakes Group) - blue-red-blue horizontal (1:2:1) charged with four stars in the shape of a diamond on the red stripe. Based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Dov Gutterman, 11 October 2003

Alaska Department of Transportation

[Alaska Department of Transportation] image by Clay Moss, 8 August 2007

Alaska Department of Transportation, Juneau. Loughran (1995) shows a slightly different flag with only 7 stars.
Jarig Bakker
, 6 January 2006

A press release from the Alaska Governor's office suggests that vessels of the Alaska Marine Highway operated by the Alaska Dept. of Transportation fly the regular state flag- "Governor Frank H. Murkowski has authorized the Alaska Marine Highway System to fly the state flag at half-mast on all ferries, at the AMHS headquarters building in Ketchikan, and at DOT&PF headquarters in Juneau on Sunday, December 11 in memory of Capt. Tom Reed. Flags should be lowered on Sunday morning, and returned to full staff by Monday morning."
Ned Smith, 8 January 2006

Alaska Department of Transportation. Ned would seem to be correct in suggesting that the ferries fly the Alaskan State Flag though I have not managed to find a photo yet which clearly confirms this. However, Brown shows the same design as the funnel mark and this certainly does not apply, these days anyway. Ship photos show exactly the same as appears on the State Flag and I doubt very much if funnel and flag would disagree.
Neale Rosanoski, 19 September 2009

Alaska Pacific Steamship Co.

[Alaska Pacific Steamship Co.]  image by Joe McMillan

Alaska Pacific Steamship Co., Seattle
Flag blue with a white anchor bendwise sinister on a red shield.
Source: Lloyds 1912)

Joe McMillan, 23 September 2001

Alaska Packers Association

[Alaska Packers Association] image by John Inman, 3 January 2013

The flag is swallowtail with a white border top bottom and hoist, and a white X -- the left triangle is blue with a White "A"; the top and bottom triangles are red.
John Inman
, 3 January 2013

Some older sources show this flag in a different colour scheme:

[Alaska Packers Association] image by Joe McMillan

Alaska Packers Association (Source: [ruh09])
Swallowtail with a blue border and diagonal stripes dividing the field into a black hoist and red upper and lower triangles, with a white "A" in the hoist triangle. Talbot-Booth (1937) shows this without the letter A.
Source: 1909 update to Flaggenbuch 1905
Joe McMillan
, 23 September 2001

[Alaska Packers Association]image located by Neale Rosanoski

Other sources vary the basic design in that the two red triangles are divided by strips of the field so that with the black triangle in the hoist there are three triangles all bordered by equal widths of blue. Talbot-Booth (1936) is the only one found that does not show the "A" on the black triangle and he does make the comment in his Merchant Ships series that some vessels did show a white "A" on the black of the flag appearing on the white funnel band but he makes no such comment in respect of the actual flag.
Neale Rosanoski, 21 January 2004

Alaska SS Co

[Alaska SS Co] image by Joe McMillan

Alaska SS Co (1895-1970), Seattle
Principal line within Alaska and between Alaska and rest of US west coast. Subsidiary of Guggenheim copper conglomerate after 1907.
Flag red with a white-bordered black disk bearing a white letter "A."
Sources: Wedge (1926), National Geographic (1934)US Navy's 1961 H.O., Stewart & Styring (1963)
Joe McMillan, 19 August 2001

For the history of the company and its connection with Black Star Line, Puget Sound Navigation Co., Inland Navigation Co. and Black Ball Transport Inc., I suggest reference to as being a reasonably correct and with plenty of images. I have come across foundation dates varying between 1883 and 1885 with the likely answer being that it was formed in 12/1884 and began operations 1885, ceasing operations 1/1971. Charles Peabody was involved in the formation of the company and subsequently became the leading light. According to the above website he was a descendant of one of the founders of the Black Ball Line of New York and was responsible for the adoption of a rectangular version of this i.e. red with a black ball, at the commencement of operations. This version [see this image] is shown by Lloyds 1904. Again from this source, use of the flag ceased in 1909 [again there is this small discrepancy in dates this time with 1905 and 1907 also given for the takeover but perhaps this did not initially affect the flag] with the Guggenheim/Morgan syndicate takeover. According to "US Passenger Liners since 1945" this first flag was designed by Peabody in 1909 after the takeover and merger with Northwestern Steamship Co. [date again iffy as 31.12.1907 also given by "American Passenger Ships"] but this is obviously incorrect seeing that it is shown by Lloyds 1904. They then state that after Peabody resigned [1912 I believe] the flag was changed to that shown by Joe with the addition of the white rim and letter "A". My guess is that the above website is correct as the new version appeared in Lloyds 1912 which would seem to be too soon for a change that year. After its use stopped [1909?] it was restored to use in 1928 when Alexander Peabody, son of Charles, who had taken over the subsidiary Puget Sound Navigation Co., started flying it.

[Alaska SS Co] image by Eugene Ipavec, 22 November 2009

Another misleading flag would appear to be shown by which shows the correct version as per Joe but also another version with the letter but without the white rim and by the fact that it is shown first I presume they are indicating that it was the first version. Perhaps they have been mislead by images such as the cap badge appearing in Unidentified Flags or Ensigns (2007) "Five Badges with flags" where the edging is not clear.

As for the company ownership "American Passenger Ships" has it taken over 1915 by Kennecott Copper Co. and then in 1944 control passed to the Skinner & Eddy Corporation of Seattle.
Neale Rosanoski, 13 October 2009

Alaska Transportation Co.

[Alaska Transportation Co.] image by Joe McMillan

Alaska Transportation Co.
Flag per saltire, white in the hoist and fly, red at the top and blue at the bottom, with the company initials in black across the center.
Source: Brown's Flags and Funnels (1951 edition).
Joe McMillan
, 28 September 2001

There may have been a previous flag. Talbot-Booth (1937) in his WW2 Merchant Ships books shows a panel on the funnel comprising the quarters as shown but with the black letters being shown as " A" on the hoist white, "T" on the fly white and "Co" (with the "o" raised halfway) on the bottom blue. This funnel is completely different to that shown by Brown. An article in Marine News 5/1998 notes them as a freight company, formed 1935, trying to enter the Seattle-Alaska passenger tourist trade and buying the "George Washington" in 1948 making their first trip in May but by August the ship was laid up on account of labour problems and was subsequently sold. Shipping would thus appear to have been only a part time activity.
Neale Rosanoski, 21 January 2004

Alcoa SS Co

[Alcoa SS Co] image by Jorge Candeias

Alcoa SS Co, Pittsburgh (1917-present)
Because of shipping shortages in World War I, Alcoa (formerly the Aluminum Company of America) developed its own shipping line to carry bauxite from its source in what is now Suriname and Guyana to aluminum mills in the United States and elsewhere. At first the line operated under foreign flags. From 1940 to 1969 it operated under the US flag and since then has shifted to flags of convenience. Alcoa Steamship Co appears in the 2001 Lloyd's Maritime Directory as the owner of five Liberian-flagged bulk ore carriers.
The flag before the 1970s was white with three red horizontal stripes, on the center a blue disk with a white cross between four white stars.
Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.

[Alcoa SS Co] image by Joe McMillan

Subsequently, the line flew a flag bearing the company's new logo, a stylized "A" of red and white triangles on a blue field.
Source: Styring (1971)

Joe McMillan, 19 August 2001

According to Brown 1995 the later flag was amended with the panel becoming smaller and being placed towards the top with the black legend "ALCOA" placed underneath.
Neale Rosanoski, 21 January 2004

[Alcoa SS Co] image by Jarig Bakker, 21 February 2006

Alcoa Steamship Co., Inc., Pittsburgh PA - white flag, the firm's logo above "ALCOA" in black.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 21 February 2006

All America Cables & Radio

[All America Cables & Radio] image by Joe McMillan

I have no information on this company other than the flag, blue with a white ring bordered in red and inscribed with the company name.
Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.

Joe McMillan, 20 August 2001

A webpage on the history of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station at says:

"The Central and South American Cable Company changed its name to All America Cables, Incorporated, on 15 February 1920. On 22 August 1938, it was changed to its present name: All America Cables and Radio, Incorporated. "
There is an All America Cables and Radio corporation headquartered in the Dominican Republic. See its website at

Ned Smith, 21 August 2001

Allied Towing Corp.

[Allied Towing Corp. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 17 September 2005

Allied Towing Corp., Norfolk, VA. - white flag, green steering wheel with an "A".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 17 September 2005

Alsop & Co.

[Alsop & Co.] image by Joe McMillan

Alsop & Co., New York
The family of the journalist brothers Stuart and Joseph Alsop. The firm achieved a certain notoriety in 1851 when the first mate of its China clipper "Challenge" allegedly beat several crewmen to death en route to San Francisco; the master, Robert Waterman, helped the mate to escape before the California authorities could bring him to trial, leading to a wave of mob violence that lasted several days. The flag is parted vertically, blue and red, with a white lozenge overall, similar to the Free French naval jack without the cross of Lorraine.

Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 4 September 2001

US shipping lines house flags - 'A' continued

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