Franklin Steamship Company
The Franklin Steamship Company is a small company that owned a fleet of vessels that was managed by several prominent shipping companies. Managers, otherwise known as operators, didn’t own the vessels of Franklin, but rather oversaw the type of cargo to be carried and locations to load and unload. Franklin Steamship was formed in 1906 by Herbert K. Oakes, who was previously a lawyer and joined the Cambria Steel Corporation as a vessel manager upon his resignation from his firm. Over the years, Herbert’s shipping knowledge and business sense rose exponentially, eventually leading him to the position of vice president and manager of Bethlehem Steamship Company, a shipping firm of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. In doing so, Herbert brought along Franklin Steamship to join Bethlehem as a subsidiary. Franklin Steamship would go on to operate for Bethlehem for nearly two decades before joining the M.A. Hanna Company in the 1940s following the death of Herbert Oakes. While Franklin operated for M.A. Hanna, the fleet was slowly sold off to various companies, but one final ship, the Charles E. Wilson was purchased by vessel managers Boland & Cornelius, the founders of American Steamship Company, in 1973. The final ship of Franklin Steamship sailed on wearing the symbol of the company on its smokestack, a large “F” inside a white shield, the very logo seen on this three-and-a-half foot flag with the exception of the shield is outlined by fourteen stars. The Charles E. Wilson sailed for five short years for Franklin until it was fully purchased by American Steamship in 1978.
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