Hamburg Süd

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Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft
Type Private
Industry Transport
Founded 1871
Headquarters Hamburg, Germany
Key people Dr. Ottmar Gast (Chairman of the Executive Board)
Peter Frederiksen, Heino Schmidt, Frank Smet, Arnt Vespermann (Members of Executive Board)
Products Shipping
Freight distribution
Revenue €5.470 billion 2012
Employees 4,512 (2012)

Hamburg Süd is one of the key carriers on the North-South trade routes by ocean transportation. It is part of the Oetker Group, a family-owned German conglomerate.[1]


Oetker tanker Richard Kaselowsky in 1960

In 1871 Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft (Hamburg - South America Steamship Company or Hamburg South America Line) was established by a conglomerate of 11 Hamburg-based merchant houses. Three steam-ships of 4,000 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) capacity began sailing to Brazil and Argentina in a monthly shipping service. By 1914 the company was operating over 50 ships totaling approximately 325,000 GRT. World War I culminated in the loss of all Hamburg Süd's vessels, and the company was forced to begin again by chartering vessels. The early 1950s saw the company embark on tramp shipping and tanker shipping, and large growth of refrigerated cargoes. In 1955 the Dr. August Oetker company took the company over, and began rapid expansion of the liner and passenger services. The takeover of Deutsche Levante Linie in 1956 saw the company commence its first foray into the Mediterranean. 1957 saw liner services begin between North America and Australia/New Zealand, with the Columbus New Zealand being the first container ship to ply trade-lanes in the region in 1971, pioneering containerization in the Pacific.

Roles in war[edit]

  • The Cap Trafalgar was a brand-new passenger liner, having been completed only on March 1, 1914 and had commenced her maiden voyage only on March 10, 1914. Germany had lightly armed the vessel with two 10.5 cm guns and 6 heavy machine guns, and had removed one of the three steam-funnels and re-coloured the vessel to disguise it as a British liner. The vessel encountered the British fully armed ex-steam liner Carmania about 700 miles east off the Brazilian coast, near the island of Trindade, at 9:30 a.m. on September 14, 1914. After a heated barrage of fire from both vessels, the Cap Trafalgar began listing to the left, then sunk bow-first.
  • The Cap Arcona, initially the most beautiful passenger liner in its time, was converted to serve the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) as a converted transport vessel in 1940. At the end of 1944 it was then commandeered as a troopship, primarily transporting refugees and prisoners of war along the Baltic Sea. Loaded with 4,500 prisoners at Lübeck bay, it was attacked by Royal Air Force Typhoons in an air-raid. The Cap Arcona remained capsized in Lübeck Bay until 1950 and was then taken apart by divers, over a period of years, and scrapped. The wreckage was registered and photographed in detail by Rolls Royce, who had produced the RAF rockets, to assess their effectiveness.

Corporate takeovers[edit]

Container vessel Monte Sarmiento

Hamburg Süd also owns Brazilian operator Aliança and Spanish operator Ybarra Sud. It has taken over many companies over the years including Ellerman, Kien Hung, South Seas Steamship, Deutsche-Nah-Ost-Linie, Royal Mail Line, Pacific Steam Navigation Company, Swedish Laser Lines, Rotterdam Zuid-America Lijn (RZAL), Havenlijn and the Inter-America services of Crowley American Transport. In the past parts of Hamburg Süd has been known as Columbus Line. Since 2004 the services of Columbus Line are directly integrated into Hamburg-Süd. The current container fleet of dry boxes has a distinctive red color with a huge flag and white HAMBURG SÜD logo on the side.

The refrigerated boxes are white with the flag and navy blue lettering.

Humanitarian Aid[edit]

As a global company, Hamburg Süd supports international aid organisations with in-house shipping facilities. In the shortest possible time, relief supplies as well as technical or medical equipment are transported to the people who need these goods, thus helping to alleviate the suffering after natural disasters – for example in Pakistan, Brazil or Haiti.

Hamburg Süd is maintaining a long-term relationship to SOS Children's Villages by supporting their projects in different countries. And the company’s social commitment goes beyond humanitarian aid. Hamburg Süd also supports various initiatives in the fields of education and culture, including the United Buddy Bears exhibitions.

See also[edit]


External links and references[edit]