Excerpts taken from: GENSTEAM: The General Steamship Story, written by Steve Simpson. Published 2003.
The General Steamship story begins in San Francisco, the city by the bay – a city whose own history has been linked to the sea. To anyone familiar with the maritime history of San Francisco, the General Steamship name figures prominently.
By the end of the First World War, a change in policy concerning government ownership of trading ships was imminent. Through a series of wartime conscriptions, the US Government had accumulated a fleet and tonnage of significant size, and pressure from the private sector to release the fleet into the hands of private US interests, was growing. While there were many well-heeled and qualified interests on the East Coast who were prepared to acquire Atlantic trades, the competition for the Pacific fleets and trade routes were not as intense.
By 1919, the initiative to form a company to capitalize on the many opportunities the Pacific arena presented, was in full flight. Captain John Barneson and his associates, including: Harry S. Scott, Captain Harry Birkholm, Clarence Belknap and several others, all emanating from various sectors of the West Coast maritime industry, would come together to form and operate the new General Steamship Corporation in early 1920’s San Francisco.
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