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Shipping Lines in Belgium

The Red Star Line

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Flag of the Red Star Line
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Lines | Red Star Line

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[picture submitted in 1999 by José Schoovaerts]

The Line

In shipping, it is not always easy to distinguish between "the line" and " the owner".

One of the most famous lines, the Red Star Line, can serve as an example. "Red Star Line" was only a trade name, not a corporation. It is not entirely clear who owned the name, but we can assume it was the International Navigation Company.

At Philadelphia, in 1871, a company was created by some business men under the name of International Navigation Company. The company ordered in England the construction of three vessels, viz. the s.s. Vaderland, the s.s. Nederland, and the s.s. Switzerland.

At Antwerp, in 1872, the company Société Anonyme de Navigation Belgo-Américaine was founded. The International Navigation Company put into this new venture the three vessels under construction. Consequently, the newly formed company became the owner of the s.s. Vaderland, the s.s. Nederland, and the s.s. Switzerland.

In 1873 both companies started operating a line under the name of Red Star Line.

Some months before International Navigation Company was created in Philadelphia, another company was founded in that same city: American Line, plying between Liverpool and the United States. In 1884 the American Line was taken over by the International Navigation Company. In 1886 also the English Inman Line has been taken over.

In 1893, the shipping activities were restructured. One company, the International Navigation Company of New Jersey would manage the ships under American flag, as well as the Red Star Line, the second company, the International Navigation Company of Liverpool, would manage the ships under British flag.

In 1902, J. Pierpont MORGAN started consolidating his shipping activities. A new conglomerate came into existance under the name of International Mercantile and Marine Company. Through this holding, J. Pierpont Morgan not only controlled the International Navigation Company of New Jersey (with the Red Star Line) but also the International Navigation Company of New Jersey, the International Navigation Company of Liverpool, as well as other shipping lines, such as the White Star Line, the Atlantic Transport Line, the Dominion Line, and the Leyland Line. The total fleet comprised 133 units!

It is apparent from the lists of ships, that Red Star Line was using vessels belonging to many of these companies. Since in peak years tonnage was still insufficient, Red Star Line also chartered ships from other lines, such as Cunard and Hamburg-America Line, and from various other small owners.

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Help with this topic can be obtained from the Support Team Member Georges Picavet
The information on this page was submitted until 15 June 2002 by many, , , ,
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