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It took seven months for the Baltic to reach Calcutta in July 1857, and after being joined by Cape of Good Hope at the conclusion of her government service, dropped into the fortnightly mail routine.Passenger and cargo carrying trade soon developed and Rangoon was in time to become second only to Calcutta in importance with eight different mail and passenger services using the port and at least one ship going in or out every day but Sunday.The funnel also was black with two narrow white bands separated by a thin black band.With the mail contract duly acquired, Cape of Good Hope commenced revenue earning service by sailing from Calcutta on 23 March 1857.Thus started BI’s connection with trooping that was to continue until the cessation of sea transport in 1962.The utilisation of ships to carry troops was to play a significant part in future BI ship designs with holds designed to take troops, equipment and four-legged transport.On 28 October 1862 the British India Steam Navigation Company Limited was registered in Glasgow with a capital of £400,000; the assets of the Calcutta & Burma Steam Navigation Company absorbed into it. Whilst retaining the same hull and funnel colours, the emblem became Britannia backed by the Lion, its paw on the globe, and the horse flag a St. Or in the language of heraldry, “On a burgee argent a saltire gules.” Further mail contracts followed, Bombay-Calcutta and Madras-Rangoon.
For a colour scheme black was chosen for the hull with a white band.
Commanders were also “requested to say grace before meals.” Logistics and Expansion The bold decision to use screw propelled vessels from the start was taken with the knowledge that steam engines at that time were inefficient, consumed large quantities of coal, and stocks would have to be established at suitable locations.
The Bengal coalfield provided the raw material and to meet requirements at the Burma end of the run, coal hulks were put in place at Rangoon with colliers chartered to bring in supplies.
The regular routine of trips up and down the Bay of Bengal had barely begun when Cape of Good Hope was caught up in the Indian Mutiny and requisitioned by the Bengal Government to undertake trooping duties.
Despatched to Colombo on 4 June 1857 she returned to reinforce Calcutta with six companies of the 37th Regiment of Foot (to become the 1st Battalion The Royal Hampshire Regiment).