M/V Jean Brillant from Canada served Miami-Nassau in WWII and after

Source: Kevin Griffin, author of “St. Lawrence Saga: The Clarke Steamship Story,” ad his extremely helpful and informative blog, http://clarkesteamship.wordpress.com/tag/m-v-jean-brillant/

MAILBOAT NAME: M/V Jean Brillant

DIMENSIONS: 169′ LOA, 29′ beam, 640 gross tons, equipped for passengers as well as refrigerated and other cargo 
CONSTRUCTION: at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson yard, Newcastle, England UK
EARLY CAREER: from Gulf of St. Lawrence ports and Newfoundland, Canada, 1935 ad 1942
BAHAMAS CAREER: Miami-Nassau run 1942-1946 during and after WWII
CAPTAINS: Capt. William Tremblay
FATE: not known
OWNERS: Clarke Steamship Company
NOTES: In the book “The Duke of Windsors War” by Bloom there are numerous references to the Jean Brillant ferrying the Windsors and others to and from Nassau and Miami (she was afraid of flying thus used their 50′ yacht Gemini or other people’s yachts to get to the US, her birthplace).

Kevin Griffin writes: “An excerpt from my upcoming book, “St Lawrence Saga: The Clarke Steamship Story” follows below.  Clarke operated the 3,445-ton New Northland between Miami and Nassau in 1927-31 and again in 1935-39, plus the much smaller 640-ton Jean Brillant in 1942-46. Their 888-ton North Gaspé and 1,205-ton North Shore also operated between West Palm Beach and Nassau for the West India Fruit & Steamship Company in 1946-48. This excerpt is from the chapter on World War II.”
Here is more detail set in late 1934 about the origins and specifications of this motor ship:

“The purpose-built 640-ton passenger and cargo ship had been ordered

from Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson earlier that year. Clarke had been

happy enough with the New Northland, which Swan Hunter had delivered

eight years earlier, to return to the same yard for its latest order. The

$200,000 vessel would not be steamship as reported, but a single-screw
steel motorship, strengthened for navigation in ice, with two decks, nine
bulkheads, a cruiser stern and a cellular double bottom under her engine
She would be classed for service in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to
Newfoundland from April 1 to November 21, and equipped to carry 148
passengers, plus a reasonable cargo. Designed with dimensions similar to

Clarke’s Sable I, she had a length of 169 feet overall and a beam of 29 feet.

A single hatch supplied with a three-ton derrick gave access to 15,300 cubic

feet of cargo space plus 900 cubic feet for refrigerated cargo.
Her name was chosen from a contest, as announced in the Rimouski
newspaper “Le Progrs du Golfe” on December 7: –
The company has one important task to complete before placing its
new ship into service: it needs to chose an appropriate name for her.
Who can suitably name this ship? Who will be able to find a name for
her that will be symbolic? In order not to rule out any chance of
choosing a suitable name, La Cie de Transport du Bas St-Laurent has
decided to draw on the imagination and judgement of all those who
take an interest in such things in order to chose her name. It is thus
organising a public contest and offering the following prizes for the
best suggestions put forth: First prize: $75, second prize: $50, third
prize: $25, and five fourth prizes of $5 each… The contest will last
from the date of this announcement until next January 1. Good luck to
all contestants!
The result was a tribute to Lieutenant Jean Brillant VC MC, the late
brother of company president Jules Brillant. As a 28-year-old officer of the
Royal 22nd Regiment he had taken part in the battle of Amiens in France in
1918. On August 8-9, though severely wounded on three occasions in the
same action, Brillant had continued to organize and successfully lead his men
in a difficult operation against superior enemy forces. For this, he was
posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest recognition of gallantry
in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to a member of the
Commonwealth forces. He was also awarded the Military Cross for bravery in
action at Boiry-Becquerelle, about 110 miles north of Paris, on May 27-28
1918. His remains rest in the military cemetery at Villers-Bretonneux, east of

Griffin’s exceptionally detailed work continues:

“1st class 36 in state-room, including 4 cabines-de-luxe, with 2

saloons; steerage or 3rd class 12 in state-room; deck passengers 100

in ‘tween-deck forward…

A cargo hold, a luggage room and cold storage spaces of 1000 cu ft

capacity for salmon are fitted below and in the after part of the ‘tween


The wheelhouse is raised to provide a free outlook in all directions.


The Jean Brillant was fitted with a lounge for sixty and a dining room

that could serve thirty in one sitting. She was powered by a 1,040 brake

horsepower Neptune Polar diesel by her builder, which gave her a cruising

speed of 12½ knots, at a fuel consumption of four tons per day of diesel oil,

and a maximum speed of 13.3 knots. A crew of between nineteen and

twenty-seven was required to operate her, depending on the number of

passengers carried.”