Stamps and Postal History of the German Marshall Islands
The German Postal Steamer Oceana

by Dirk H.R. Spennemann

The Oceana was built in 1891 by S. McKnight & Co in Ayr, Scotland, as the steamer Harold. It was a steel screw steamship of 684 tons.[1]



Steamship Harold Co (Glasgow)

The Harold was registered in Glasgow as sole vessel company, the Steamship Harold Co.[2] In 1895 the steamship Harold smashed through Latchford Locks, causing the newly opened Manchester Ship Canal to partially drain. The lower gates held, averting disaster. [Same vessel?]


Jaluit Gesellschaft (Hamburg)

To provide a reliable communication with the German colonies the German government contracted the Jaluit Gesellschaft to provide mail service connecting Sydney, Jaluit and Yap, where the mails could be transshipped to the Norddeutscher Lloyd steamers.[3] At the same time, the Jaluit Gesellschaft required a suitable vessel conduct a regular shipping service connecting its trading stations in Micronesia with Sydney. The Jaluit Gesellschaft bought the Harold, rechristened her Oceana and had her refitted and modified for the tropical trade. [4]

The Oceana commenced its steamer service on 1 January 1901 on the initial route ran Sydney-Jaluit-Pohpei-Yap-Palau-Pohnpei-Jaluit-Sydney/ Voyages commenced . When the Norddeutscher Lloyd terminated its Sydney-HongKong run end of 1901, the Jaluit Gesellschaft extended its run to HongKong and included German New Guinea in its route.[7]


Captain Janke Dec 1902 –Jan 1904

The house flag of the Jaluit Gesellschaft

The Jaluit Gesellschaft utilised the Oceana both for the required mail steam service in the islands, and for ###

Related sources:
Route map 1901
Route map 1902
Passage costs on the Oceana in 1903

On 9 December 1903 the Oceanaran aground on a reef on Jaluit, which necessitated a delay of over week. When the vessel arrived in Sydney on 21 January 1904 it was found that repairs were prohibitively expensive and the vessel had to be broken up. [9] It was replaced by the purpose-built Germania.

The Oceana was laid up in Mosman Bay and remained there until purchased by HC sleigh of Melbourne.[10]

The Oceana making steam at Jaluit dock (about 1903) [13]
Other images of the Oceana can be found here.


H.C. Sleigh (Melbourne)

The vessel was bought by HC Sleigh and towed in September 1905 to Melbourne by the tug Eagle.[14] It was registered in Melbourne on 30 October 1905 by Harold Crofton Sleigh.[15] English-born Harold Crofton Sleigh (19 May 1867–24 April 1933) was a Melbourne based merchant and ship owner, who later in 1913 engaged in petrol imports founding a major petrol chain.

In 1907 HC Sleigh sold the Oceana to Japan. From then on the history is at present very sketchy.


T. Yazaki (Osaka)

Between 1907 and 1908 the vessel was registered in Japan by a T. Yazaki of Osaka and renamed the Kyoei Maru No. 3. [18]


Sato Shokwai (Osaka)

The Kyoei Maru No. 3 operated for the Goshi Shosen Kaisha, also registered in OSaka from about 1909 intil 1912 [19]


S. Toyosaki (Otaru)

From 1913 to 1919 the Kyoei Maru No. 3 was owned by S. Toyosaki of Otaru, Japan. After 1919 the vessel no longer appears in the Lloyds Registers and is likely to have been broken up. [20]

Technical Data

Name: Harold (1891-1900)
Oceana (1900-1907)
Kyoei Maru No. 3 (1908-1919)
Reg No:ON95672
Displacement:684GRT (418.9 NRT)
Length overall:56.9 m (187 feet)
Breadth: 8.2 m (27 feet)
Height: 4.7 m (15.58 feet)
Draught: XXXX (#### feet)
Range: ? nm
Engine: Three triple expansion steam engine
Power:92 NHP / 520 IHP
Speed:11 knots


This history has been compiled from the following sources:
  • Lloyds Register of Shipping 1891-1892; 1895-1901; 1904-1908; 1910-1920
  • Australian Register of British Ships (microfilm copy) Official number of ship 98672
  • Shipping.' Sydney Morning Herald 23 Jan 1904, p. 12.
  • Deeken, Richard (1902) Rauschende Palmen. Bunte Erzählungen und Novellen aus der Südsee. Berlin, Oldenburg, Leipzig: Gerhard Stalling
  • Jaluit Gesellschaft. (1900). Jahresbericht für 1899 vorgelegt in der ordentlichen elften Generalversammlung am 25. September 1900, Hamburg: Gente.
  • Priwe, E. (1912) "Deutsche Südsee-Dampferposten." Friedemann's Philatelistische Berichte 50, pp. 893-897
  • Anon. (1904). "Abgehen der Post nach und Eintreffen der Post aus den deutschen Schutzgebieten."Deutsches Kolonialblatt vol. 15, pp. 144-146.
  • Wilkinson, B.A. & Willson, R.K. (1981) The Main Line Fleet of Burns Philp. Canberra: The Nautical Association of Australia.

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    Bibliographic citation for this document

    Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2002). The German Postal Steamer Oceana (1891-1919). .
    URL: http:/

    Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

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