The ship is the French government transport Annamite, the prototype of a class of eight similar transports built for the French Government in the 1870s and 1880s. They were designed to carry troops, horses, equipment and stores to and from France’s colonial territories and could also be adapted as hospital ships.

Annamite was built at Cherbourg Dockyard; her hull was of composite wooden and iron construction, and, with a displacement of 5,630 metric tons, she measured 105.29m by 15.38m. She was powered by a three-cylinder compound engine developing 2,591hp and driving a single screw.

Laid down in 1872, launched in 1876 and completed in 1877, she was in service between France and the Far East and the Indian Ocean until 1896, when she was decommissioned and became an accommodation ship until sold for breaking in 1911. The location of the photograph, Ismailia, is on the Suez Canal.

Jean Pierre Roche, London

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