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Sugar Producer

Vessel type Cargoship
Year launched 1968
Cargo type Sugar cane
Country of build United Kingdom

For much of the 20th century, well over half of Britain's sugar supply was imported – much of it from the Caribbean – and the trade saw the development of specialist fleets to carry the cargo to refineries in the UK.

The Sugar Line

Entering into service in 1968, the 21,175dwt bulk carrier Sugar Producer was one of the last vessels built for the Sugar Line fleet, which had been established by Tate & Lyle in 1950 as a joint venture with the United Molasses Company and the West Indies Sugar Company.

The build

Built at the Lithgows yard in Port Glasgow, Sugar Producer and sistership Sugar Crystal were the largest Sugar Line ships until the arrival in 1974 of the 28,599dwt Sugar Carrier and 28,949dwt Sugar Trader – the final pair of vessels to join the fleet.

Although Sugar Line had been created with the core role of shipping sugar from the Caribbean to refineries in London, Liverpool and Canada, the ships often operated on the basis of voyage charters, arranged by a specialised subsidiary, Kentships. As a result, they could trade as far afield as Japan and Russia, and carried cargoes ranging from asbestos to pig iron, grain, coal, cement clinker, steel, soya beans, paper, phosphates and even double-decker buses.

Tate & Lyle Shipping

In 1973 Tate & Lyle merged the Athel Line fleet of molasses tankers with Sugar Line to create Tate & Lyle Shipping. However, changes in the global sugar industry and the rise of domestic sugar beet production – coupled with a wider slump in freight rates which saw shipping operations tumble from 32% of the group's profits in 1973 to just 1% in 1975 –  resulted in progressive cuts to the fleet from 1976 onwards. In 1979, Tate & Lyle announced that it would be withdrawing from shipowning and would, in the future, use chartered foreign tonnage.

The final years

Sugar Producer was sold in November 1979 to the Greek company Avanti Maritime, switched to the Liberian flag and re-named Cape Avanti Due. The ship continued to operate with some British officers, although it spent some time in lay-up on the Essex coast in 1982. Sold to an Egyptian company in 1986, the ship was sent for scrapping in Taiwan, in November 1987.

Sugar Producer Fact File


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