Company

History of Hamburg Süd

1871

The old Hamburg Süd office building on Cremon in central Hamburg.
The old Hamburg Süd office building on Cremon in central Hamburg.

The beginning: Eleven Hamburg-based merchants, shipowners and bankers found the Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft on 4 November 1871. A monthly service to Brazil is launched at once, and then it is extended to La Plata a few months later. Could the founders ever have imagined that Hamburg Süd would one day celebrate its 150th anniversary?

1906

The “Cap Vilano” sails in the La Plata service for eight years until it is laid up as a result of the First World War.
The “Cap Vilano” sails in the La Plata service for eight years until it is laid up as a result of the First World War.

Picking up the pace: The golden age of the fast steamer begins on the South America route. New, state-of-the-art ships – such as the “Cap Vilano” and the “Cap Arcona I” – transport passengers, mail and cargo to Brazil and Argentina. The steamers already have relatively large refrigeration capacities.

Founding years & Era of fast steamers

1914

group_st_history_03_1914_captrafalgar_1
The “Cap Trafalgar” is the first of the shipping group’s vessels to have three funnels.

Rapid growth: Hamburg Süd has grown steadily since its founding. When the First World War breaks out in the summer of 1914, more than 50 ships are sailing under its flag.

1920

The “Cap Polonio” in a Norwegian fjord.
The “Cap Polonio” in a Norwegian fjord.

New beginnings I: After losing its entire fleet as a result of the First World War, Hamburg Süd resumes liner services. Over the course of the 1920s, the shipping company also taps into a new, lucrative business segment: passenger voyages. The dream ship of the time is the “Cap Polonio”, by far the largest and most luxurious steamship on the South Atlantic route.

1930

La dolce vita at sea: Luxurious holiday on the “Cap Arcona” in the 1930s.
La dolce vita at sea: Luxurious holiday on the “Cap Arcona” in the 1930s.

Continued growth: Things start improving again following the global economic crisis. In addition to seeing strong growth in its commercial fleet, Hamburg Süd’s cruise business is also booming.

1945

Hamburg Süd’s head office is severely damaged by bombs during the Second World War.
Hamburg Süd’s head office is severely damaged by bombs during the Second World War.

Absolute nightmare: The Second World War changes everything. By 1945, Hamburg Süd has lost its entire fleet a second time.

1951

The “Santa Ursula”, Hamburg Süd’s first newly built ship after the Second World War, on her maiden voyage.
The “Santa Ursula”, Hamburg Süd’s first newly built ship after the Second World War, on her maiden voyage.

New beginnings II: After the war, Hamburg Süd starts over again from scratch. But things quickly pick up with the economic upswing in Germany, and the company resumes liner services on its core trade route from Europe to the east coast of South America. Among the ships is the “Santa Ursula”, the largest German merchant vessel at the time.

1952

Rudolf-August Oetker in the mid-1960s during a ship christening ceremony in Paraguay.
Rudolf-August Oetker in the mid-1960s during a ship christening ceremony in Paraguay.

New lines of business: Rudolf-August Oetker expands the business lines of the Hamburg Süd Group to include tramp shipping by founding the shipping company RAO (for Rudolf-August Oetker). Hamburg Süd is also becoming active in tanker shipping while simultaneously expanding the reefer capacity of its fleet.

1955

With refrigerated ships like the “Polarstern”, Hamburg Süd consolidates its position as a reefer specialist in the 1960s.
With refrigerated ships like the “Polarstern”, Hamburg Süd consolidates its position as a reefer specialist in the 1960s.

A businessman and shipping enthusiast: Rudolf-August Oetker, already a formative player and shareholder in Hamburg Süd for many years, becomes the sole owner of the shipping company.

1957

The general-cargo freighter “Santa Rita” operating between North and South America.
The general-cargo freighter “Santa Rita” operating between North and South America.

New line: After a long absence in this trade, Hamburg Süd launches a new liner service between the east coasts of North and South America: the name: Columbus Line. Just a few years later, in 1963, Columbus Line also connects North America with Australia/New Zealand.

"White swans" & Container shipping

1971

The “Columbus New Zealand”.
The “Columbus New Zealand”.

Revolution with standard dimensions: A steel box revolutionises cargo shipping. Hamburg Süd puts the first three full container ships into service. The “Columbus”-class ships then begin to operate between the US East Coast and Australia/New Zealand. The containerisation of the Pacific has begun.

1980

The 1,185 TEU “Monte Rosa”, the first container ship deployed for the South American trade, in front of the Hamburg Fish Market.
The 1,185 TEU “Monte Rosa”, the first container ship deployed for the South American trade, in front of the Hamburg Fish Market.

The advance of containers: Hamburg Süd launches a full container service in its core trade lane between Europe and the east coast of South America. The “Monte Rosa”, a full container ship purpose-built for the South America trade, is among the vessels deployed in this service.

1998

The “Aliança Europa” joins Hamburg Süd’s fleet in 1998.
The “Aliança Europa” joins Hamburg Süd’s fleet in 1998.

Under the Brazilian flag: By acquiring the shipping company Aliança, Hamburg Süd builds on its already strong market position in Brazil. Aliança is focused on the intra-Brazilian cabotage business.

2000

The “Monte Cervantes” in the Port of Hamburg
The “Monte Cervantes” in the Port of Hamburg

Acquisitions and fleet expansion: In the 2000s, Hamburg Süd acquires a whole series of shipping companies and expands its own fleet. In 2004, the “Monte Cervantes” is the first of ten structurally identical container ships with a capacity of 5,552 TEU each. These are followed by ten giant “Santa”-class container ships, with a capacity of 7,100 TEU each.

A modern logistic company

Video - A modern logistic company

2014

The “Cap San Artemissio”, built in 2014, on the Elbe near Hamburg.
The “Cap San Artemissio”, built in 2014, on the Elbe near Hamburg.

Global carrier: With new services between North Europe and Asia as well as between North America and Asia, Hamburg Süd enters the East-West business more energetically than before. This far-reaching strategic decision transforms Hamburg Süd, which had mainly operated on the North-South trade routes until then, into a globally active carrier. At around the same time, Hamburg Süd puts more ships of the new “Cap San” class into service, which gives it the world’s largest reefer capacity.

2017

Beginning in the 1970s, containers gradually replace general cargo. Containerisation revolutionises commercial shipping.
Beginning in the 1970s, containers gradually replace general cargo. Containerisation revolutionises commercial shipping.

Change in ownership: The world market leader Maersk acquires Hamburg Süd, which remains as a separate brand within the Danish logistics giant. Also remaining is its recipe for success: close and personal contact with customers and partners at the local level.

2021

150anniversary_logo_colour_rgb

150th Anniversary: Since its founding in 1871, Hamburg Süd has written a piece of maritime history – and is already writing the next chapters.

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