Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Crescent Shipping Lines Ltd

Crescent Shipping Lines Limited (CSL) was a subsidiary of a Public Limited Company namely Crescent Textile Mills Ltd (CTML) that belonged to M/s. Muhammad Amin Muhammad Bashir Limited (MAMB). MAMB Group was the leading exporters of Cotton of the country and were called as “Cotton King”. During Ayub Khan era the sponsor’s family was one of the top 22 families of Pakistan.

During early 1959 Field Marshal Ayub Khan emphasized the need for a Passenger cum Cargo Ship to provide service between East and West Pakistan and advised Mian Muhammad Bashir to acquire a ship suitable for the requirement of Passenger and Cargo traffic between the two wings of Pakistan.

Accordingly, in early 1959 the MAMB Group established a Private Limited Company namely Crescent Shipping Lines (CSL) with a paid up Capital of Rs.4.4 million. Its major shares worth Rs.4 million  were held by CTML, Rs.0.2 million by MAMB and Rs.0.2 million by 14 sponsors. Since the MAMB Group did not have the expertise in shipping, it appointed Mr. Gert Beaulau (a German National, an expert in shipping) as Manager and Mr. Zafar Ahmed, a Senior Chief Engineer, as consultant.

MAMB (the Managing Agents for CSL) awarded a contract to M/s. Hitachi Shipbuilding & Engineering  Company  Limited, Osaka, Japan to build a Passenger cum Cargo Vessel on May 01, 1959 for about Rs.20 million under foreign exchange loan and credit from National Bank of Pakistan (NBP).

The ship was named as MV Shams and was delivered on December 17, 1960. The launching ceremony was graced by Field Marshal Ayub Khan at Sakuranjima Shipyard, Osaka, Japan.

MV Shams started regular passenger cum cargo service from January 1960 between East and West Pakistan providing an average of 13 round voyages per year on Karachi / Chittagong / Karachi route. This service continued till the fall of Dacca i.e. till end of 1971. During the disturbances in East Pakistan in 1971, MV Shams on her last voyage was stuck up at Chalna. Fortunately she managed to sail out from there with more than 3500 passengers on board in emergency, before the mines were laid in Pussur River. She arrived safely at Karachi and disembarked the passengers at West Wharf.

Keeping in view the difficulties of the people of Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara, Field Marshal Ayub Khan advised Mian Muhammad Bashir to acquire a small passenger cum cargo vessel to meet the requirement of the people of Makran Coast. Accordingly, during the last quarter of 1961 CSL had acquired a secondhand vessel MV Mombasa from BI Steamship Company Ltd. for over Rs.2 million under foreign exchange loan and credit from Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan. The vessel was renamed as MV Kareem.

MV Kareem started regular passenger cum cargo service from January, 1962 on Karachi Makran Coast / Karachi / Colombo / Bombay / Karachi till August, 1965. After Indo Pakistan War in September, 1965, the vessel was put on Karachi / Makran Coast / Karachi and Karachi / Persian Gulf / Karachi till 1966. The vessel was sold for scrap in 1967.
During 1972 and 1973 MV Shams was carrying Pilgrims during Haj season and during off Haj season the vessel was employed as cargo ship on Karachi / Far East / Karachi route.

Late 1973 the management of CSL intended to acquire a cargo ship under foreign exchange loan offered by Yugoslavia and credit by Pakistan Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation Limited (PICIC). The feasibility report was submitted by CSL to PICIC which was approved and foreign exchange loan and credit were sanctioned. The market was still being explored to acquire a suitable cargo ship, when in January, 1974 all private shipping lines were nationalized and the plan of purchasing this ship could not be materialized. 

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