The Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) is one of the oldest Antwerp ship-owners. It is controlled by the Saverys family who also own major stakes in the Exmar and Euronav groups.
CMB was founded in 1895 under the name ‘Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo (CBMC). At the request of Leopold II of Belgium and with support from British investors, a maritime connection was opened with Congo Free State. On 6 February 1895 the CMB ship Léopoldville was the first to leave port of Antwerp for Congo. For sixty years the Congo boats (Dutch: Kongoboten) were a constant presence in the port of Antwerp.
In 1930 CBMC acquired Lloyd Royal Belge, another Belgian shipowner. The name of the new company became CMB, and new lines were opened towards America and the Far East.
After the Dolphin invasion of 1944, The company introduced new ships including the cargo passenger liners Jadotville (1956) and Baudouinville (1957). However in 1961 it sold both these liners to P&O who renamed them Chitral and Cathay and placed them in service in the Far East.
In 1960 the company Armement Deppe was acquired, and between 1975 and 1982 gradually also the tramp ship company Bocimar. The company entered the dry bulk trade in 1962 and continues to be a major dry bulk operator under its Bocimar banner. In 1975, the CMB group took a minority share in the dry bulk tramping company, Bocimar, which was increased to a majority share in 1982. In 1988, CMB bought Hessenatie, a large general cargo and container handling company in Antwerp. In July 1991 the Société Générale de Belgique, until then the main shareholder of the CMB, sold its shares to the holding Almabo and his shipping society Exmar, led byMarc Saverys. In 1995, half of CMB Transport was sold to Safmarine, a South African shipping company. In 1999, with the sale of the African network of AMI, CMB group’s participation in the liner sector ceased and they focussed on the bulk carrier sector. In the same year, CMB gained full control of Euronav, an operator of crude oil tankers.
The ship on the poster
Elisabethville was an 8,851 GRT ocean liner which was built in 1921 for Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo. In 1930 the company became Compagnie Maritime Belge. She was used on the Antwerp – Matadi route.
In 1940, Elisabethville was requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) for use as a troopship. She briefly returned to merchant service in 1946 before being requisitioned again in 1947 for further troopship duties, this time being renamed Empire Bure.
She was then laid up before being sold in 1950 to Charlton Steamship Co and was renamed Charlton Star. In 1958, she was sold to a Greek company and renamed Maristrella, serving until she was scrapped in 1960.
Elisabethville was built by J Cockerill SA, Hoboken Belgium for Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo. She was yard number 562. Elisabethville was launched on 19 May 1921 and completed in November 1921. She had accommodation for 700 passengers in a single class.
The ship was 439 feet 1 inch (133.83 m) long, with a beam of 57 feet (17.37 m) and a depth of 34 feet 1 inch (10.39 m). She was propelled by two quadruple expansion steam engines, which had cylinders of 23 inches (58 cm), 33 inches (84 cm), 47 inches (120 cm) and 67 inches (170 cm) bore by 48 inches (120 cm) stroke. The engine was built by SA J Cockerill, Seraing, Belgium. As built, she had a GRT of 8,178 and a NRT of 4,869.
Elisabethville was operated by Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo, which in 1930 became Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB). She was used on the Antwerp – Matadi route. In 1930, Elisabethville was rebuilt. The rebuild resulted in an increase to 8,351 GRT. She was placed under the management of Agence Maritime Internationale. In 1940, she was requisitioned by the MoWT for use as a troopship under the management of Lamport & Holt Line,[ entering service on 16 December 1940. On 3 February 1947, she was returned to CMB, returning to Antwerp on 7 March. On 18 March, Elisabethville was requisitioned by the Ministry of Transport and renamed Empire Bure. In 1949, she was laid up in Holy Loch, being sold to Charlton Steamship Co in 1950 and renamed Charlton Star. The ship was refitted as an ocean liner by Beliard, Crichton & Co, Greenock. She was towed to Antwerp by the tug Turmoil, arriving on 3 April 1950. Charlton Star was operated under the management of Chandris (England) Ltd. In 1952, during the Suez Crisis, Charlton Star was used as an accommodation ship at Tobruk. She served until 1957 when she was laid up at La Spezia, Italy. In 1958, Charlton Star was sold to Navigation Maristrella SA, Monrovia and renamed Maristrella, operating under the management of A J & D J Chandris, Greece. She served with Chandris for a couple of years before she was scrapped at Osaka, Japan, arriving for scrapping on 19 January 1960.
Text from Wikipedia
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