Wednesday, 8 May 2013


The Millwala family in pre-partition India had a well established Iron and Steel business and were ship breakers with offices in Bombay and Cochin. At the end of World War II, the family purchased a fleet of vessels from the British Government for scrapping. One of the vessel was tanker named Olwen which was sea worthy but in need of certain major repairs. The family on the advise of its friends connected with maritime business, decided to repair the vessel and invested large sums to restore the vessel to trade and named it SS Mushtari but then soon came partition and the family elders decided to transfer this vessel to Pak Flag.

The said vessel, steamship tanker, was immediately given on time charter to Caltex Oil. Thus with the change of vessel flag to Pak Flag, SS Mushtari under Gulf Steamship Ltd became the first tanker to be operated under Pak Flag earning valuable foreign exchange for the country.

This began historical start of “The Gulf Steamship Company Ltd.” in the port of Karachi. The company was headed by Mr. Fakhruddin M. Millwala and his younger brother Ibrahim M. Millwala. They migrated from Bombay at the time of partition to settle in the port city of Karachi and established their offices.

The trade between East & West Pakistan was flourishing and shipping services were the key link. With growing experience in shipping the family soon invested in acquisition of a cargo ship and gradually built up a strong fleet. There was no looking back and at one point of time the private family company, owned and operated 10 ocean going vessels under their Gulf Steamship Ltd and East Bengal Steamship Ltd, which was their second shipping company incorporated in the former East Pakistan.

With Buoyant trade and commerce activities, the growing challenges of those times necessitated the family to make their shipping business into a publicly listed company. In pursuance of their objective the Millwala family floated a new company namely “The Gulf Shipping Company Ltd” and listed it on the Karachi Stock Exchange at the beginning of 1970. The public company then acquired the assets of Gulf Steamship Ltd.

However, political troubles in East & West Pakistan led to war with India in December, 1971. The Gulf Shipping lost two of its ships in the said war. One, MV Mustali sunk while anchored in Chalna by bombardment while its prized vessel in the fleet and of most recent 1961 built at that time, namely MV Baqir, was taken over and claimed as war booty by the Indian Navy.

The Gulf Shipping Company Ltd. was thus after the 1971 war, left with only one vessel namely MV Mansoor of about 15,000 DWT. The Management competence and sagacity saw it overcoming all odds and with one vessel the company became once again profitable having managed to pay its liabilities to creditors etc. for the losses suffered in East Pakistan. However, the new Government nationalized the shipping industry in 1974 and merged all the nationalized shipping companies into new single entity company named as Pakistan Shipping Corporation.

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