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Previous head office of Lloyd Triestino on the Piazza Unità d'Italia, Trieste.

The Port of Trieste and Lloyd Triestino

[Text and images extracted from, and other sources.]

In the period between the beginning of 1700 and 1850, Trieste was mainly an emporium. It was given the status of Free Port by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor in 1719. In 1740, when Empress Maria Theresa of Austria took power, one of the first measures she adopted was to extend the borders of the Free Port area to the periphery of the town, thereby merging the emporium, the port, the new city and the old one.

The Empress decided to extend the exemptions from customs duties to the whole city, which attracted many people from different countries and all walks of life (Italians, Serbians, Slovenians, Croats, Jews and Greeks): for them a law was passed, the "Editto di tolleranza", which provided for the freedom of worship, the possibility to negotiate freely and to own goods.

In 1833, nineteen sea transport insurance companies, banking houses and numerous individual shareholders got together in Vienna to form the Österreichischer Lloyd - Lloyd Austriaco (Austrian Lloyd). Among these was Karl Ludwig von Bruck, an Austrian statesman who had gone to Trieste in 1821 to take part in the War for Greek Independence and remained there for some years and credited for being the founder of the company.

Originally, the purpose of the Austrian Lloyd company was to exchange information on European maritime trade and oversea markets, modelling itself on Lloyd's Register (a technical and business services organisation and a maritime classification society that was/is wholly owned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a UK charity that dates back to 1760 and dedicated to research and education in science and engineering whose stated aims are to enhance the safety of life, property, and the environment, by helping its clients to ensure the quality construction, and operation, of critical infrastructures). Relying on a network of business correspondents and newspapers circulating in the Port of Trieste in the Austrian Littoral, the main port of the Cisleithanian (Austrian) half of the Dual Monarchy, Austrian Lloyd issued shipping news and also undertook to provide postal services with sailing vessels supplied by the Austrian Navy.

Within a short period of its formation, the administration of Austrian Lloyd applied to Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria for the privilege of steam navigation with the Levant which, in its widest historical sense, includes all of the eastern Mediterranean countries and islands along its shores and extending from Greece to the eastern coast of Libya. On April 20, 1836 the steam-navigation department Lloyd Triestino di navigazione (or simply Lloyd Triestino) was founded as a branch of Austrian Lloyd. During its second meeting on August 2 that same year, the branch decided to build six steamships, and has become one of the oldest shipping companies in the world. For this reason, 1836 is considered the year the Austrian Lloyd company was founded instead of 1833.

In December of 1937, the company opened its own repair shop in a building near the old military hospital in Trieste. The workshop was enlarged in 1839 and equipped with new machinery and thus became the embryonic form for the first Lloyd arsenal. The year 1844 saw another leap in the company's growth when it acquired First Danubian Steam Navigation Company's line via Constantinople to Smyrna along with all its equipment. A year later, Austrian Lloyd was declared the property of the postal service of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

In 1853, the company decided to create a large and modern shipyard for Trieste in the deep valley of Muggia, not just for repairs but equipped also for engine and ship building, in both iron and wood. The laying of the foundation stone for the construction of the shipyard, called Lloyd Arsenal, came on May 30, 1853, and Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian attended the ceremony. The work that was realized by Hans Christian Hansen, a Danish architect, was completed in 1861.

In 1857 the Südbahn (Southern) Railway line became operational along the northeastern route: Trieste, Postojna, Ljubljana, Graz, Vienna, with further links to Budapest and the Balkans. Trieste's newly facilitated transportation of goods from its port to the regions of central and Eastern Europe soon made Trieste the main port of the Habsburg Empire. It then became necessary to enlarge the Trieste port infrastructure for the railway network that was central to its design. For its model, Trieste used the Lagerhäuser system of Northern European ports.

The year 1868 marks the beginning of Trieste as a commercial port whose infrastructures were to be developed in four different periods. The Old Free Port, the most ancient complex of facilities, was designed by the French Paul Talabot and built between 1868 and 1883 according to a port and railway development plan aimed at consolidating the role of Trieste as a trading centre for all territories under Austro-Hungarian rule. A modern multipurpose terminal, the Adria Terminal, has recently been created alongside the older installations.

The Austrian Lloyd became one of the world's biggest shipping companies by managing most oversea trade and passenger travel of Austria-Hungary. Until 1918, it ran regular services from Trieste to the Near East, India, China and the Far East, Brazil, the USA and Northern Europe. It also was one of the first companies to use steam ships. At the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the company was present with its steamships Pluto, Vulcan, and America. Soon after that opening, the company launched its Trieste-Bombay line and established a weekly service between Trieste and Port Said. With the opening of the Bombay line, Austrian Lloyd acquired an international dimension which was further reinforced by the extension of the line to Colombo, the commercial capital and largest city of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), then in autumn 1879 and early 1880 to Singapore and Hong Kong. The line to Alexandria, which was modernized in 1894 by the introduction of four new express steamers, and the line to Bombay proved to be the most profitable passenger lines in the company's history.

The speed of shipping with the Levant increased and the passages to Calcutta were increased from nine to twelve. As a result, the company transferred the headquarters of the administration from Trieste to Vienna where, on 25 May 1907, the first general assembly of Vienna took place. That year, the company began conducting pleasure cruises. The last expansion in the company's lines took place in 1912 with the Trieste–Shanghai express line.

In response to the growth of trade with the Middle East and Far East that was created by the Suez Canal, the New Free Port of Trieste project began in the early 20th century. Completed to a large extent in the 1920s and 1930s, it has been further extended since the 1960s with the development of a ferry terminal at Riva Traiana and a container terminal at Pier 7 and a roll-on/roll-off facility for ships designed to carry wheeled cargo (cars, trucks, reailroad cars, etc) that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle. The remaining Free Zones include - in addition to the timber and oil terminals - part of the Zaule industrial canal, which serves the (EZIT) Industrial District, established after the Second World War.

In 1919, after World War I when Trieste was ceded to Italy, the Austrian Lloyd company's name was changed to Lloyd Triestino. At this time, the company also faced major restructuring in order to recover the losses it incurred during the war.

By the end of the 1930s, Lloyd Triestino, with the reform of the merchant navy and the creation of four shipping companies controlled by the Finmare Institution, with its offshoot "Marittima Italiana", was once again a major world shipping power, owning a fleet of 85 (or 75?) vessels with 17 services to east Africa, southern Africa, Asia, and Australia. The company was once again crippled by the devastation of World War II in the 1940s. During that war, Lloyd Triestino lost 68 ships and 1,000 sailors. At the end, they were reduced to a fleet of just 5 ships and were once again faced with a massive recovery operation.

Lloyd Triestino's publicity photo of the Toscana.

By 1956, the Lloyd Triestino fleet had grown to 31 ships. Services to the Far East and Australia were reorganised in the 1960s when two new passenger vessels, the Galileo Galilei and the Guglielmo Marconi, were put into service. The 1970s saw a revolution in shipping with containers taking the place of bulk transport and passenger sea lines gradually being replaced by airlines. Lloyd Triestino was a pioneer in the containerization on the Europe-to-Africa, Asia and Australia trade lanes. These were the times of new strategic alliances with the main international shipping companies. By the late 1980s, the time had come to renew the company fleet again by putting more high-tech vessels with greater capacity into service.

In 1993, Lloyd Triestino entered into a partnership with a Taiwanese shipping giant, Evergreen Marine, Corp. Five years later, under a privatisation scheme, Lloyd Triestino passed from Finmare to Balsam Estate, thereby entering the Evergreen Group family. This successful partnership has grown over the years, and now also includes Evergreen's British based line, Hatsu Marine Ltd., which was created in 2000. It began a direct weekly service between Europe and China, which the company has been serving since 1880.

Lloyd Triestino has further continued to expand its service network by successfully re-entering the trade lanes between the Far East and Europe to North America, serving both Canada and the US East and West Coasts. Meanwhile the fleet is being re-tonnaged with new, faster and larger vessels, to be deployed especially on the Europe-to-China and the transpacific routes. Today, the company is present on five continents connected with its 22 services, giving it local access to all of its customers. This invaluable reach makes Lloyd Triestino an undisputed front-runner in the evolution of shipping.

On March 1, 2006, the name of the shipping company was officially changed to Italia Marittima S.p.A and it is now run by the Evergreen Marine Corporation. Ship names are gradually being changed from the prefix "LT" (Lloyd Triestino) to "Ital" to reflect this change (e.g. LT Cortesia and Ital Contessa).

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Created:  Monday, March 28, 2016;  Last updated: Saturday, June 04, 2016
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