Take a time trip with us through 150 years of company history:
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?
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.
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.
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.
Absolute nightmare: The Second World War changes everything. By 1945, Hamburg Süd has lost its entire fleet a second time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
150th Anniversary: Since its founding in 1871, Hamburg Süd has written a piece of maritime history – and is already writing the next chapters.