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Atlantska plovidba d.d. Dubrovnik  
Company History:
Seafaring in Dubrovnik before the II World War

What else was there for Dubrovnik! A city landlocked at the foot of rugged terrain had no other option than to turn to the sea. Through history Dubrovnik, at and on seas, recognised its potential in development, prosperity, worldwide liaisons, innovation awareness and, in accordance with possibilities, on a par with all. Anyhow, you shall find the maritime history of Dubrovnik elsewhere on our web page.

Beginning of the II World War, the Dubrovnik fleet pool of approximately 200.000 gross register tons represented half the total merchant fleet of former Yugoslavia. At the same time, Dubrovnik's capital participated from 30 to 60% in remaining Yugoslav steamship companies.

War having been declared, the majority of Dubrovnik's merchant fleet found itself outside territorial waters and thus joined up with the Allied forces. Only nine ships (42.000 GRT) out of the 200.000 GRT fleet "survived" the II World War and convoy assignments. By decision of post war Yugoslav authorities these nine ships, along with the remaining Yugoslav merchant fleet, were nationalised and allotted to the centralised Yugoslav company "Jugolinija" based in Rijeka.

Thus, many experienced seamen moved from Dubrovnik to Rijeka and other cities; thereby largely contributing to organisation of shipping companies, port harbours and shipping agencies.

 
Iniciative on decentralisation or the idea on founding Atlantska Plovidba

Its maritime tradition having faded, Dubrovnik lost its economic leverage especially after war devastation and sacrifices brought about by World War II and, for many centuries, had no merchant fleet.

The idea on founding a shipping company was first initiated by a group of enthusiasts and visionaries gathered in the "Miho Pracat Seafarers Club". The Club issued a publication named, in print to present day, "Naše more" ("Our Sea") and for the first time voiced the idea on decentralising the Yugoslav fleet. This proposal was then supported by Dubrovnik citizens of all vocations as well as by local authorities to this day.

Based on this initiative, other cities along the Adriatic coast began making their demands on decentralisation of the Yugoslav fleet which reached the State Executive Committee (Government) of the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia (FNRJ) thereby motioning the founding of shipping companies in Dubrovnik and other Adriatic coastal cities. Subsequently, Atlantska Plovidba was founded 27th May 1955 pursuant to Decision issued by the City of Dubrovnik.

 
Taking over the first ships

Complying with issued decision, Atlantska Plovidba was allotted seven tramper vessels (six to eight knot coal burning steamers) totalling 35.038 GRT and an average age of 35 years.

The first vessel, m/v "Banija" (ex m/v "Sveti Vlaho" - named after the patron saint of Dubrovnik), was delivered to Atlantska Plovidba on 19th December 1955; while the next five ships were taken over in the first trimester of 1956; thereby taking over its last ship in 1957.

 
Fleet development

The overall momentum in world economy after World War II, as well as the loss of the merchant fleet during the war, induced a great demand on the shipping market. And while freight was exceptionally high, it gave Atlantska Plovidba an opportunity in making a profit even from its old ships.

Two of seven ships were redesigned to fuel instead of coal burning vessels. High earnings caught the eye of the government who were in favour of building ships in domestic shipyards. Atlantska Plovidba jumped at this opportunity and, up to 1961 by building new and buying quality second-hand ships, purchased eight new vessels and sold five decentralised ships to scrap. The momentum in contracting three newbuildings and purchasing seven second-hand ships, three of which intended for liner service, continued beginning of the '60.

These three smaller ships were the first engaged in our "Adriatic - West Coast UK" line operating over a period of twelve years. In 1965, Atlantska Plovidba celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a fleet of 20 vessels totalling 183.000 GRT and average ship age of 17 years. Thus tripling its tonnage and decreasing fleet age by half in the first ten years. .

 
Atlantska Plovidba and maritime schooling

Atlantska Plovidba, still fighting for survival and development, was foresighted in recognising maritime technology moving at high speed and the advantages of investing in the education of qualified seafaring personnel.

Even though a Maritime School existed in Dubrovnik since 1852, modern technology had already stepped into the future and secondary schooling had to be upgraded. This was not only a question of modern technology, in the mid '50 regulations required master mariners completing higher schooling. Dubrovnik, together with the financial input of Atlantska Plovidba, in 1959, opened the doors to the Maritime Nautical College and, in 1964, to the Maritime Engineer College enabling further schooling of its maritime cadre.

Schooling and technology keeping up with the times incited the opening of the Maritime University in Dubrovnik thereby receiving its first class in 1986, and once again with the financial assistance of Atlantska Plovidba

 
The Second Decade

Sometime around its tenth anniversary, the former Yugoslav government desisted in helping shipowners at which time even Atlantska Plovidba found itself facing many challenges on the unscrupulous world shipping market. There was a great demand for large bulk carrier vessels and thus two ships, each 17.000 GRT, were ordered in the mid '60 at Split Shipyard; followed by two similar vessels built in Trieste second half of 1960.

The Liner Service was also boosted with two smaller ships built in Trogir Shipyard. As the governing authorities in those days no longer supported building ships in domestic shipyards, Atlantska Plovidba turns to the so-called "Spanish Program" contracting seven new ships from 1969 to 1974. In 1970, Atlantska Plovidba farewells the last vessel allotted during the decentralisation period to scrap.

Atlantska Plovidba's 20th Anniversary and these events round up 1975 with a average fleet age of 7,5. At this time, Atlantska Plovidba orders its largest vessel for dry cargo transport - m/v "Jadran", 72.887 deadweight tons, delivered in 1976. This period again revives the idea of shipowner co-operation with domestic shipyards resulting in ordering a 30.000 deadweight ton bulk carrier from "3. maj" in Rijeka and delivered to Atlantska Plovidba May 1977.

The vessel was christened "Hercegovina". It is necessary to stress the importance of this ship as being the first in our fleet with a fully automated engine room and thus a historical turning point in modern technology.

 
Atlantska Plovidba's Panamax Fleet

The second feature in the co-operation between Atlantska Plovidba and the "3. maj" Shipyard in Rijeka is the technological construction of a new type of vessel - the panamax - which, up to this point, Atlantska Plovidba did not have in its fleet. In the first half of the '80, Atlantska Plovidba contracted with this shipyard two 71.000 panamax vessels for transport of dry cargo and containers.

The "3.maj" Shipyard had, in its yard, two similar vessels ordered by a foreign company which, however, declared bankruptcy half way during construction. Atlantska Plovidba, subsequently, took over these two vessels which, at that time, represented a completely new technology. These ships were, after delivery, under long term charter for dry cargo and container transport from North Europe to Canada.

The five delivered newbuildings (the four already mentioned panamaxes plus m/v "Mljet", built in Split) in the mid '80 comprised a total of 310.000 deadweight tons, marking an incredible accomplishment even according to world standards.

 
Atlant Heavy Lift

The '80 registered a decline in our "Adriatic - West Coast UK" services as land transport and advanced container technology had become very competitive and to keep up with market trends Atlantska Plovidba purchased m/v "Kutina", a vessel equipped with a heavy lift and unit cargo crane.

This vessel was the forerunner of today's Heavy Lift Service growing with the purchase of similar second-hand ships, the construction of m/v "Gruž" and recently purchased "twins" - "Love Song" and "Love Letter"; thus Atlantska Plovidba once again recognised the ever demanding and exceptionally sensitive maritime market.

 
The Homeland War and the Croatian Flag

Beginning of the '90, Atlantska Plovidba was faced with war raging in Croatia. The horrific devastation of Dubrovnik and its occupation crippled Atlantska Plovidba in conducting everyday business. The company encountered difficulties in communicating and managing its fleet within occupied Dubrovnik.

Difficulties were overcome by the exceptional engagement of Atlantska Plovidba's employees in and outside Dubrovnik who found the strength in fulfilling and meeting all client requirements and demands. During this time, non-acceptance of the Croatian flag was another stumbling stone as Croatia had then not yet been recognised by the international community. Atlantska Plovidba did, thereby, temporarily register its fleet in the Malta Register of Ships. Later and when the situation in Croatian subsided the fleet gradually returned under the Croatian flag and their port of registry in Dubrovnik.

Thus was Atlantska Plovidba, besides the state-owned passenger company "Jadrolinija", the first Croatian shipowner to re-register its fleet under the Croatian flag.

 
Recent Years

Following the 40th Anniversary of Atlantska Plovidba - 1995 - a gradual and persistent crisis loomed over the dry cargo market and which still threatens to this day. It is said to be normal the world market has its periodical booms and crisis. Even our elders fail recalling such deep and longlasting market instability wiping out world known shipowners from the maritime market. Such a crisis came at a most "inconvenient" time for Atlantska Plovidba trying to consolidate its business problems incited during the Homeland War.

Even with the crisis not far off the horizon, Atlantska Plovidba focused carefully on fleet renewal by selling its "veterans" and purchasing new and second-hand ships. Thus, in the last couple of years, sold: the "City of Dubrovnik", "Slano", "Petka", "Plitvice", "Gruž", "Favorita", "Hercegovina", "Ruđer Boskovic", "Cvijeta Zuzorić". And, at the same time, built: "Oluja" and "Sveti Nikola I" and purchasing quality second-hand ships: Orsula", "Koločep", "Petka" (new), "Love Song" and "Love Letter". The purchase of "Petka", July 2001, Atlantska Plovidba's fleet increased its tonnage to 779.378, the largest ever tonnage since its founding. This renewal of Atlantska Plovidba's fleet guarantees full engagement in the present booming market and a firm basis for development and stronger presence on the world shipping market. The second half of the '90 also marked an event in the history of Atlantska Plovidba. April 2nd 1998, Atlantska Plovidba was certificated for compliance with ISM Code requirements and ISO Quality Standards.

The certification was issued by Det norske Veritas and which company Atlantska Plovidba intentionally selected as one of the most rigorous to demonstrate our competitive readiness in tackling the shipping market arena. Regular auditing of adopted systems on our vessels in world ports place Atlantska Plovidba and her seamen among the best trained staff and personnel in the world. Atlantska Plovidba as a shipping company has, in the past few years, turned to other activities so very distinctive of the Dubrovnik region. The reason for diversifying our fundamental activity is our awareness the shipping market's cyclic ups and downs.

Now, at the end of such crisis, we are even more convinced our decision to invest in other fields was justified so as to avoid future damaging shipping market repercussions. Thereby, monitoring tourism's flourishing trend, not only in the Dubrovnik region but also in Croatia; Atlantska Plovidba stepped into this market by founding two agencies - travel and shipping. Our shipping agency, a joint venture, opened beginning of 2000, while our travel agency began working independently in 2003. Both agencies have shown notable business results. However, Atlantska Plovidba's most prominent investment in tourism is the Hotel Imperial in Dubrovnik. Significantly investing in Dubrovnik's cultural monument barbarously destroyed in the Homeland War, Atlantska Plovidba became the majority shareholder. Conscious of the fact this hotel should be run by experts in the field, management was consigned to Hilton International and soon the reconstructed and refurbished Hotel Imperial opened its doors on July 1st 2005. The Hilton Imperial is now part of the world renowned Hilton chain of hotels. In addition to this investment in 2005, two other hotels were purchased - the Hotel Lapad from the Croatian Privatisation Fund and in co-operation with our strategic partners.

Thereby, the Grand Hotel on the island of Lopud purchased from the City of Dubrovnik which, until this moment, was city property. The renovation of these two hotels shall commence in the very near future and shall, in due course, rank high on the hospitality market. Yet another investment was undertaken in 2005 diversifying our basic shipping activity – the founding of a charter airline company. Three airplanes were purchased this first year and anticipate new additions in the following to accommodate the growing Dubrovnik charter destination.

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Our tradition, knowledge, experience, desire for progress and persistence in achieving all business goals, even the most demanding, are a guarantee our vessels, proudly flying the Croatian flag, shall navigate the seas heralding the repute of Croatian seafaring.

 
 
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