Captain Patrick Miller II
Departing Seldom, Fogo Island for the commercial Seal Hunt on board the vessel MV Prince Andrew
Recalling the Sinking of the Francis P. Duke
Above: Patrick Miller, 83 with sister Grace (Miller) Harris, 89 viewing a scrapbook.
Generations of Pride and Experience
HISTORY OF MILLER SHIPPING LTD.
Miller Shipping Ltd. is a family owned company with deep roots going back generations. The Miller’s rich marine history originated at Fogo, Fogo Island, Newfoundland. The company’s current president and owner is Pat Miller Jr., whose name transcends the generations with his father being Captain Patrick Miller Jr. and his grandfather a fisherman also named Captain Patrick Miller Sr. The family name lineage does not stop with the current owner, for his son is also named Patrick Miller. For clarity the current owner will be referred to as Pat Miller Jr., his father as Captain Patrick Miller Jr. and his grandfather as Captain Patrick Miller Sr.
Captain Patrick Miller Sr. was a fisherman who lived on Fogo Island, he had 13 children. Making a living off the sea comes with its extreme risks and the Miller family is no stranger to the tragedies related to such a lifestyle. In December 1947, Captain Patrick Miller Sr. lost two of his sons, who were lost at sea during a fierce storm. Captain Patrick Miller Jr. vividly remembers the night that the family’s fishing schooner, the Francis P. Duke, went missing claiming six lives including those of his family members. However, it never deterred the Miller family from going to sea. You can read the detailed story in the featured article in the History section of this website.
A 120 tonne schooner bought in 1912 named The M/V Cecil L. Beck was the first of the Miller family’s long line of family owned vessels and operated for many years. Another early flag vessel for what is now Miller Shipping Ltd. was the M/V Camperdown. She was used during the war as a vessel to transport pilots. In the late 1940's Captain Patrick Miller Jr. bought the M/V Camperdown, fixed her up and modified her to haul cargo such as flour and coal. She participated in transporting many different cargos including loading rum from Jamaica. Later the vessel was further modified to go into harsher environments including ice infested waters during the annual seal hunt off the coast of Labrador. During one of the M/V Camperdown’s seal hunt’s she got caught in the ice and the crew could not free up the vessel. Luckily, the Canadian icebreaker ‘Wolfe’ was passing by and Captain Patrick Miller Jr. with his crew abandoned the vessel and boarded the Wolfe. Unfortunately, this cost them the certain loss of the M/V Camperdown, April 1st, 1961. The Wolfe arrived safely in Lewisporte, NL landing all crew members safely.
Later in years, Captain Patrick Miller Jr. bought the M/V Western Explorer in Corner Brook and modified her to accommodate the ferry run to Fogo Island (originally with a capacity of 5 cars). As business grew and demand for the service increased so did Captain Patrick Miller Jr.’s ambition. It became apparent that a ferry of larger capacity would be needed so he put plans in place for the new build ferry. The Fogo Transport was built in Port Union and complete in 1967 with a much greater capacity. The launching was a grand occasion and the celebration included dignitaries from the Provincial government and all over the commercial shipping community. This project saw Captain Patrick Miller Jr.’s private entrepreneurial endeavour be supported through government subsidies by the province facilitating the labour pool. When the new ferry was officially in service the Western Explorer then was utilized to transport freight and goods such as fish from the coast of Labrador, further growing the Miller family's business.
The foundation of the family business and way of life established at Fogo rolled into the decades and the Miller family has continued to expand the company to what it is today. Captain Patrick Miller Jr. has seen approximately 40 vessels in his possession over the years. He leaves his legacy to his son, Pat Miller Jr., who has become the company President and owner, growing the company into international markets including seismic support services for oil exploration as well as maintaining its core business of reliable transportation of goods. Miller Shipping Ltd. has evolved from traditional fishing to ferry services to working with mega projects such as the oil and gas, seismic data acquisition support, the forestry sector, the mining industry as well as diverse transportation solutions for oversized cargo's.