- Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship (sometimes Steam-ship, Steamer), usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, is the
ship prefixused for seagoing vessels that carry Royal Mail. They have the right to fly the pennant of the Royal Mail when sailing. [Royal Mails employees Courier newspaper page 20 August 2007] [ [http://www.nqsouthern.com/digitalpublication/digitalpublications/index.cfm?dpid=89§ion_id=673 QM2 ] ] [ [http://www.fotw.net/flags/gb-rmail.html United Kingdom - Royal Mail ] ]
The designation has been used since
1840. [The first citation in the "Times" is from August 18, 1840] It was used by a large number of companies, but is often associated in particular with the Cunard lineand Royal Mail Lines, which held a number of high-profile mail contractbusiness, and which traditionally prefixed the titles of all its ships with the initials "RMS". The best-known ship carrying the prefix is almost certainly the RMS "Titanic" of the White Star Line.
shipwould use the prefix only while contracted to carry mail, and would revert at other times to a standard type designation such as "SS".
Admiraltyoperated these ships [The Admiralty took over the Packet Service from the General Post Office in 1823] ] . In 1850contracts were awarded to private companies. The most valuable route, with the highest volume, was between Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire), in Ireland, and Holyheadin Wales. The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company(CDSPCo) won the contract and purchased RMS "Saint Columa" and RMS "Llwywllyn" from the Admiralty.
Having the title "RMS" was seen as a mark of quality and a competitive advantage, because the mail had to be on time. In the
1860CDSPCo contract there was a penalty clause of £1 1s 4d for every minute's delay.
In recent years the shift to air transport for mail has left only two ships with the right to the prefix; RMS "St. Helena", which serves the island of
St. Helenain the South Atlantic, and RMS "Queen Mary 2". QM2 was conferred "RMS" by Royal Mail when she entered service in 2004 on the Southampton to New York route as a gesture to Cunard's history. [Royal Mails employees Courier newspaper page 20 August 2007]
The Royal Mail continues a form of this tradition on modern day
airliners. The UK's flag carrierairline, British Airwaysis contracted to carry mail on some of its scheduled long-distance routes. Aircraft operating these routes with the facilities to carry mail are allowed to display the Royal Mail's logo and crest on their fuselage, usually alongside their registration markings.
The less common designations RMMV, for Royal Mail Motor Vessel, and RMMS, for Royal Mail Motor Ship, were used for a period when RMS was restricted to steam-ships. Motor Ship indicates that propulsion is provided by diesel rather than steam. The designation TS as in TSMV before the name of the vessel would indicate that it was driven by twin screws.
List of RMS Ships
* [http://www.cunardwhitestar.com/ Historic Ocean Liners]
* [http://www.caronia2.info/ RMS "Caronia" "Green Goddess" Time-Line]
* [http://titanic.deep-ice.com/ Titanic Archive]
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