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The Fleets

Società Italiana Trasporti Marittimi (SITMAR) 1937-1988

The Società Italiana Trasporti Marittimi (SITMAR) was formed by Russian émigré Alexandre Vlasov. Vlasov operated cargo ships under various flags (including Greek, Italian and British) before and during the war. After the war, numerous American wartime standard ships were available for purchase, and Vlasov bought the Wooster Victory and Vassar Victory. These were suitable for emigrant carriers since both had been troopships in the war. He chartered them to the IRO (International Refugee Organisation [run by the UN]). The Vassar Victory was renamed CASTELBIANCO, under the Italian flag, whereas Wooster Victory initially operated under her original name, before becoming the CASTELVERDE when she also became Italian flagged.
By 1952, the IRO charters were coming to an end, and CASTEL BIANCO and CASTEL VERDE (as their names were later spelled), were put into service as emigrant carriers between Genoa and Central America. Before starting this service, both ships were substantially rebuilt. Sitmar withdrew the Central American service in 1957, and the two ships were sold to the Spanish Line.

Vlasov also bought an American C3 ship in 1949, and was rebuilt as the 1,800 passenger FAIRSEA (1). She was Panamanian-flagged. Also a former German seaplane tender the Friesenland was purchased from the British Government and converted into a refrigerated ship with limited passenger accommodation and named FAIRSKY (1).

In 1950 another American C ship was purchased but the rebuilding into a reefer ship was halted and she was laid up. In 1958-1959 she was rebuilt into a passenger ship and renamed FAIRSKY (2).
FAIRSEA (1) initially operated IRO charters, and was then put on the Australian run. She also made a few North Atlantic crossings. In 1953 between Bremen and Quebec, FAIRSEA (1) was given a long-term contract by Australia to carry emigrants from Southampton. The other C3 ship became the FAIRSKY (2) in 1958, under the Panamanian flag, and also joining the Australian service.
Also joining the Australian service was the CASTEL FELICE, purchased in 1952 originally the BI Line's Kenya. The CASTEL FELICE also made several round voyages between Bremen and Quebec and Le Havre-Southampton and New York but was mainly sailing between south Europe and Australia.

Alexandre Vlasov died in 1961 and his son Boris became director of the company.

The FAIRSTAR previously the Bibby Line troopship Oxfordshire was purchased in 1964. These four ships maintained the emigrant service until 1970, when the contract passed to Chandris Lines. An attempt to regain the Australian contract was made when Vlasov acquired the Cunarders Carinthia and Sylvania in 1968. The plans came to nothing, and they remained laid up at Southampton for a number of years as the FAIRLAND and FAIRWIND. The loss of their regular contracts forced Sitmar to change direction, and they devoted their activities towards becoming a major cruise company. FAIRSEA (1) had already been scrapped in 1969, following a fire in the engine room, and CASTEL FELICE was scrapped in 1970 at the end of the Australian contract. The ex-Cunarders FAIRLAND and FAIRWIND received substantial conversions into cruise ships. FAIRLAND was renamed FAIRSEA (2) before entering service in 1971. The two ships joined the FAIRSKY (2) and FAIRSTAR for cruising on the American market.
The FAIRSKY (2) was sold for scrap in 1977. A third large ship was sought to replace her, initial interest in the Queen Anna Maria being thwarted when she was bought by Carnival. Finally, the Portuguese liner Principe Perfeito was bought to replace her in 1979, being renamed FAIRSKY (3). She was due to be converted in a Spanish yard, for completion in 1981, but it was eventually decided that the project was uneconomic, and she was sold to John Latsis in 1982. In her place a new FAIRSKY (4) was delivered in 1984 as a cruise ship.
The SITMAR FAIRMAJESTY was the last passenger ship built for cruising ordered by Sitmar before the take over by P&O and never sailed for Sitmar.

In 1988 Boris Vlasov put Sitmar Cruises as the passengers department was called now for sale and the company was sold to P&O. P&O assigned all SITMAR’s ships to Princess Cruises except for the FAIRSTAR which had a separate management office in Sydney.

see also

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes:
    • Bremen- Quebec
    • Le Havre-Southampton-New York
    • Genoa-Sydney
    • Genoa-Caribbean- Central America
    • Genoa-Brazilian and Argentine ports.

Funnel & Flag:


Funnel Flag
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Castel Felice 1930 built by A. Stephen & Sons Ltd., Linthouse | ex- Kenya built for British India Steam Nav. Co., 1940 requisitioned by British Government, 1942 to Royal Navy renamed HMS Hydra later that year HMS Keren, 1946 sold to British Government and laid up, 1949 sold to Alva S.S Co. renamed Kenya, 1949 renamed Fairstone, 1950 renamed Kenya, 1951 renamed Keren, 1951 transferred to Sitmar Line and rebuilt renamed Castel Felice, 1970 sold for scrap, 1971 scrapped. 12,150
Castel Nevoso   see Fairsky (1).  
Castel Verde   see Wooster Victory.  
Castelbianco 1945 built by Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard Inc., Baltimore | ex- Vassar Victory standard ship type Victory VC2-S-AP2, 1947 purchased from United States Maritime Commission renamed Castelbianco, 1952-1953 rebuilt 10,139gt name spelled as Castel Bianco, 1957 sold to Cia. Trasatlantica Espanola renamed Begona, 1957 scrapped. 7,223
Fairland 1955 built by J. Brown & Co Ltd., Clydebank | ex- Carinthia, 1968 purchased from Cunard renamed Fairland, 1971 renamed Fairsea, 1988 Sitmar Cruises was acquired by P&O Lines Ltd, with P&O-Sitmar Cruises as managers renamed Fair Princess, 2000 sold renamed China Sea Discovery, 2000 laid up, 2005 renamed Sea Discovery and scrapped. 21,916
Fairsea (1) 1941 built by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co, Chester, Penn. | Launched as Rio de la Plata for Moore and McCormack, standard ship type C3-P, but completed as escort carrier, lend/leased to Great Britain renamed HMS Charger, reverted to US Navy and used to train British aircrews, 1946 to United States Maritime Commission and laid up, 1949 sold to Alvion SS Corp., Panama (a subsidiary of A. Vlasov) and converted into a passenger ship renamed Fairsea and placed under SITMAR management, 1955 rebuilt 13,433gt, 1958 transferred to Societa Trasporti Marittimi SpA (SITMAR), 1969 disabled by an engineroom fire, 1969 scrapped at La Spezia. 11,678
Fairsea (2)   see Fairland.  
Fairsky (1) 1937 built by Howaldtswerke A.G., Kiel | ex- Friesenland built for the German Lufthansa, 1945 captured by British Forces, 1949 purchased by Alva S.S. Co. (a subsidiary of A. Vlasov) renamed Fairsky and was converted into a refrigeration ship with passenger accommodation, 1950 transferred to Alvion SS Corp., Panama, 1952 1958 transferred to Societa Trasporti Marittimi SpA (SITMAR) renamed Castel Nevoso, 1967 laid up, 1968 sold to Argentina Reefer S.S. Corp., Panama renamed Argentina Reefer, 1969 scrapped at Faslane. 3,828
Fairsky (2) 1941 Built by Western Pipe & Steel Company, San Francisco | ex- Steel Artisan built for Isthmian Steamship standard type C3-S-A2, 1941 taken over by US Navy and completed as an escort carrier renamed USS Barnes, 1942 to Great Britain renamed HMS Attacker, 1946 reverted to USMC, 1947 sold to National Bulk Carriers, 1952 sold to SITMAR, renamed Castel Forte and partly rebuilt into a reefer ship but not completed, laid up, 1957-1958 rebuilt into a passenger ship renamed Fairsky, 12,464 gt, 1959 renamed Fair Sky,1964 renamed Fairsky, 1977 damaged, 1977 sold for demolition but resold and became a floating hotel and casino, 1978 rebuilt renamed Philippine Tourist, 1979 damaged by fire, 1980 scrapped at Hong Kong. 12,464
Fairsky (3) 1960 built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Newcastle | ex- Principe Perfeito built for Companhia Nacional de Navegacao, 1976 sold to Saudia Arabia as accommodation ship in Persian Gulf, renamed Al Hasa.1979 purchased renamed Fairsky intended to be rebuilt but was postponed and laid up as Vera in 1980, 1982 sold to John D. Latsis renamed Marianna IX, 1984 renamed Marianna 9 and used as an accommodation ship, 2001 scrapped at Alang. 19,393
Fairsky (4) 1984 built by Constructions Navales & Industrielles de la Mediterranee, La Seyne | 1988 Sitmar Cruises was acquired by P&O Lines Ltd, with P&O-Sitmar Cruises as managers renamed Sky Princess, 1994 transferred to Princess Cruises, London, 2000 renamed Pacific Sky, 2006 transferred to Pullmantur Cruises. 46,314
Fairstar 1957 built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Glasgow | ex- Oxfordshire troopship built for Bibby Line, 1963 chartered to the Fairline Shipping Corp. of Liberia for six years and on 20th May arrived at Fyenoord N. V. at Schiedam where, for £2,300,000, she was converted into a passenger ship, 1964 purchased renamed Fairstar, 1973 converted into a cruise ship, 1988 Sitmar Cruises was acquired by P&O Lines Ltd, with P&O-Sitmar Cruises as managers, 1997 renamed Ripa and scrapped at Alang. 21,619
Fairwind 1957 built by J. Brown & Co Ltd., Clydebank | ex- Sylvania, 1968 purchased from Cunard renamed Fairwind, 1988 Sitmar Cruises was acquired by P&O Lines Ltd, with P&O-Sitmar Cruises as managers renamed Sitmar Fairwind, 1988 renamed Dawn Princess, 1993 sold to the Vlasov Group renamed Albatros, 2004 renamed Genoa and scrapped. 21,985
Sitmar FairMajesty 1988 built by Alsthom Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire | 1988 Sitmar Cruises was acquired by P&O Lines Ltd, with P&O-Sitmar Cruises as managers while building never sailed for SITMAR, finished as Star Princess, 1995 refurbished renamed Arcadia, 2003 rebuilt renamed Ocean Village. 63,524
Wooster Victory 1945 built by California Shipbuilding Corporation, Los Angeles, California | ex- Wooster Victory standard ship type Victory VC2-S-AP2, 1947 purchased from United States Maritime Commission by Alvion SS Corp., Panama (a subsidiary of A. Vlasov) not renamed, 1950 to SITMAR renamed Castel Verde, 1952-1953 rebuilt 9,001gt name spelled as Castel Verde, 1957 sold to Cia. Trasatlantica Espanola renamed Montserrat, 1973 scrapped at Castellon. 8,254

Sources include: The Sitmar Liners and the V Ships, M. Eliseo, Carmania Press, 1999 : The Sitmar Liners past and present, P. Plowman, Rosenberg Publishing, 2004 : North Atlantic Seaway, N. R. P. Bonsor (5 volume set), Brookside Publications, 1980 : Die Grossen Passagiersschiffe der Welt ( eleven volumes), A. Kludas, Stalling/ Koehler, 1972-2006. Details and photographs of all passenger (steam)ships over 10,000 tons. (German text)

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