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Cornish City

Vessel type Bulk Carrier
Year launched 1969
Cargo type Various cargo
Country of build United Kingdom

Launched in April 1969, Cornish City was the fifth Reardon Smith bulk carrier to bear the name.

Reardon Smith

The Cardiff-based firm was established in 1905 by a former seafarer, William (later to be Sir William) Reardon Smith, who had first gone to sea as a 12-year-old boy and rose through the ranks to become a master mariner.

The company's ships were originally used for the export of coal from South Wales, but after the First World War the fleet increasingly operated on a worldwide basis, including a regular service from the UK to the west coast of the US and Canada.

After losing 20 ships during the Second World War, the Reardon Smith fleet began to expand again during the 1950s, and in the early 1960s the company started to make the strategic move from general cargoships to bulk carriers.

The build

Built at the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders' Govan Fairfield yard, Cornish City was of 16,233dwt and 476ft 6ins (145.24m) loa, and was strengthened for the carriage of heavy cargoes such as iron ore. The vessel was originally powered by two in-line nine-cylinder two-stroke medium speed Ruston & Hornsby engines geared to a single screw, developing 9,000bhp and a service speed of 16 knots.

The design of Cornish City and sistership Welsh City reflected the company's belief that there would still be a demand for smaller ships that could run in and out of relatively minor ports, with the ability to load and unload their own cargoes. Both vessels were described as hard-working happy ships, with good accommodation.

However, they were less popular among engineers, as their original Ruston AO engines were prone to problems, getting through excessive amounts of lubricating oil and requiring frequent repair.

In 1973, both vessels were re-fitted with new V16 Pielstick engines in Aioi, Japan. One of the old engines from Welsh City was shipped back to South Wales and installed at the Llandaff College of Technology to be used for cadet training.


Cornish City and sistership Welsh City entered service five years after the company entered the bulk trades. Frequently running between the US and Japan in their early years, both vessels carried a wide variety of cargoes, including grain, steel, and phosphate rock.

On its maiden voyage, a salvage tug had to be sent out to the North Pacific with spares following the failure of metalastic flexible couplings between the engine and gearbox.


In 1977, with new tonnage – and some larger vessels – joining the fleet, Reardon Smith sold the two sisterships. Welsh City was switched to the Panama flag and re-named Jade Star before demolition in Alang in 1992.

Cornish City remained in service for a few more years, operating under the Panama flag as Neptune Star until 1992 and as Long Khanh, under the Vietnam flag, until scrapping in Alang in November 1997.

By that time, Reardon Smith was no more – with the company going into liquidation in 1985 in the face of poor freight rates, falling vessel values and the collapse of Celtic Bulk Carriers, a chartering joint venture it had formed with Irish Shipping in the early 1970s.

Cornish City fact file


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