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The Fleets

Zim / Zim Israel Lines, Haifa

On 7 June 1945, the Zim Palestine Navigation Co. Ltd was established by Israel’s Jewish Agency, Histadrut Labor Federation and the Israel Maritime League. The company was formed to provide a regular Jewish owned passenger service in the Mediterranean and with limited funds a subsidiary company, the Kedem Palestine Line was formed early 1947. This was a joint venture with the London based Harris & Dixon Ltd. Its first ship, the KEDMAH, was purchased.
After the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948 Zim’s primary concern was to meet the demands of the unforeseen pressure for immigration. In the days immediately following the Declaration of Independence, the vessels which had carried illegal immigrants, caught by the British during their Mandate in Palestine, were reactivated by the same men who were previously in charge of that illegal immigration and they continued transporting the now legal immigrants. These vessels came under a newly formed company simply named Ships & Vessels. The first Minister of Transport, David Remez decided that it was necessary to build up one large National Shipping Line, and with his active assistance Ships & Vessels and Zim officially merged on August 15, 1948. The ships of both companies were then operated by the Shoham Maritime Services Ltd, a wholly owned Zim subsidiary and the company was renamed Zim Israel Navigation Co. Ltd
During the 1948 war, the company was the sole maritime connection with the state of Israel, supplying food, freight and military equipment.
The KEDMAH was sold in 1952 to the old partners, Harris and Dixon, and was renamed Golden Isles. She cruised around the Mediterranean until 1954, when Zim chartered the ship again for a several voyages. On the first of these voyages the ship came to the rescue of a French passenger liner, Champollion, which in December 1952 grounded and sank near Beirut. She rescued 186 survivors. In 1956 Harris and Dixon sold her for scrap.

In the early 1950s Zim expanded its cargo operations across the North Atlantic by the acquisition of two of its Israeli competitors M. Dizengoff & Co. Ltd in 1952 and the Israel America Line in 1953.
Zim became a member of the North Atlantic Passenger Conference and bought Home Lines Argentina; the former Norwegian liner Bergensfjord; for its first transatlantic passenger service in April 1953, she was renamed JERUSALEM.
Her itinerary was as follows: Haifa, Limassol, Malta, Cannes, Halifax and New York. She crossed the ocean six times a year, as well as five voyages on the Haifa, Naples, Marseilles run. With the acquisition of a new liner JERUSALEM (1) was renamed ALIYA in 1955. She remained in Zim's services until l959 when she was sold for scrap.

Between 1954 and 1961 thirty five new ships were built in West Germany as paying for lost property taken from Jews persecuted by the Nazis and the cost of resettlements in Israel. The passenger Liner ISRAEL was the first ship to be completed for Zim. She and her sister ZION, were built in 1955 and 1956 respectively, by the Deutsche Werft in Hamburg, under the Reparation Payments Agreement. They were built to operate the Trans-Atlantic service, sailing from Haifa, Piraeus, Naples, Gibraltar, Funchal to New York. The primary purpose was to bring Jews back to their ancient homeland.
Zim took delivery of JERUSALEM (2) and her sister THEODOR HERZL in 1957. Both ships were designed for the Mediterranean service, but they differed from their earlier sisters in having a shallower draught and twin screws. From 1965 both ships were used exclusively for cruise duties.
During the winter season of 1958-59 Zim entered for the first time the international cruise market from the United States to the Caribbean Islands with three cruises per season.

The one class liner Moledet was launched on February 19, 1961 and was completed later that year. In spite of frequent engine troubles, the vessel enjoyed a great deal of popularity amongst her passengers. Zim took her out of service in 1969. She was sold in 1970 having made 225 voyages, to the Greek Epirotiki Line (later to become Royal Olympia Cruises) and renamed Jupiter.
The 1950s and 1960s saw Zim concentrate on passenger ships, alongside a constant expansion of the cargo shipping business. Passenger liners were a common means of international transport before the emergence of cheap air transport, and pleasure cruises were also popular. Zim sailed the Mediterranean Sea, as well as having regular routes to the United States. Some of its ships cruised to the Caribbean during the winter. 1964 saw the completion of the passenger ship SHALOM built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire.
On a thick foggy day on November 26, 1964, the SHALOM departed New York commencing a cruise. Not long out to sea, just off Point Pleasant, 28 miles south west of Ambrose Light, she collided with, and sliced through a Norwegian tanker, the Stolt Dagali. Sadly 19 crew members of the Stolt Dagali were lost.
The SHALOM was not a great success and was sold in 1967 after only three years of service.
During the 1960s Zim started to turn its focus to cargo ships, and obtained several special-purpose vessels, including refrigerated shipping, and oil tankers. Zim transported crude oil from Iran to Israel, and oil byproducts from Israel to Europe.
In 1965, the first Israeli constructed ship, the ESTHER, was built in Haifa and delivered to Zim.

By the late sixties, as air travel increased and the importance of the passenger market decreased, the mounting losses made it impossible for Zim to continue offering scheduled passenger services. The Modelet was sold in 1970 and two State owned ferries the DAN and Nili which were operated by Zim were laid up in 1974 at Haifa.

In 1969, the Israel Corporation acquired approximately 50% of Zim from the Israeli government, beginning a new era focused on international expansion and specialized cargo shipping. By 1970, when Zim celebrated its 25th anniversary, the company had 77 wholly-owned ships and 70 chartered ships, and operated nineteen major cargo lines, carrying 4.3 million tons of cargo per year.
The last of the Company's passenger vessels, THEODOR HERZL, completed her final voyage for Zim on November, 27th 1969 and was sold to the American International Service Travel Board, Monrovia. Like her sister ship, the JERUSALEM (2), she, too, was employed by her new owners in the Caribbean as a floating luxury hotel under her new name Carnivale.
In 1970, Zim moved boldly into container shipping, becoming one of the first carriers to adopt the technology that has come to dominate the modern era. Six specialized container ships were ordered together with containers and shore equipment.
In 1972, Zim introduced its pioneering ZCS – Zim Container Service three-continent line, with ships making a scheduled, 100-day journey that originated in Israel and sailed to ports of call in the Far East, Asia, America and Europe.
During this period, ZIM also deployed tankers to carry crude oil from Iran to Israel, as well as finished goods from Israel to Europe.
In 1981 one of the company's ships the MEZADA, was lost at sea.

At the beginning of the 1980s Zim was suffering, alongside other shipping companies, from the lull in maritime shipping, but it recovered. and embarked on a massive project of renovation and fleet expansion. From 1990 to 1997, the company built 15 modern ships, enabling the company to offer a weekly, fixed-day sailing schedule, positioning Zim among the world’s top-ranking shipping companies.
Around 1997 the ownership of Zim was divided between the Israeli government and Hachevra Le-Israel.

In 1997, in light of a worldwide shipping crisis, Zim launched a new program aimed at optimizing the company’s operations through increased efficiency and focused expansion. The company added 13 new 5000-TEU container ships to its fleet, increasing Zim’s carriage capacity by 50% within two years
In 1999, the Ofer Brothers Group became the controlling shareholder of the Israel Corporation and In 2004, the Ofer Group-controlled Israel Corporation acquired the Israeli Government’s remaining Zim shares, completing the privatization of the company.

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:
    • Haifa-Marseilles-Genoa-Limassol
    • Haifa-Marseilles-Genoa-Naples
    • Haifa-Limassol-Malta-Cannes-Halifax-New York
    • Haifa-Piraeus-Naples-Gibraltar-Funchal-New York
    • Haifa-Limassol-Piraeus-Venice

Funnel & Flag:


Funnel Flag
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Abraham Graetz 1920 ex- Steel Mariner, 1952 purchased from Isthmian SS Co., New York renamed Abraham Graetz, 1960 scrapped at Savona. 5,686
Aliya   see Jerusalem (1).  
Artsa 1930 built by Bremer Vulkan, Bremen | ex- Panther built for F. Laeisz, Bremen, 1938 sold to the Kriegsmarine renamed Lech, 1948 allocated to Italy renamed Mare Ligure and converted into a passenger ship, 1949 purchased renamed Artsa, 1963 scrapped at Haifa. 1,889
Ashkelon 1955 1969 sold to Greece renamed Markos, 1972 renamed Cavos, 1973 renamed Costakis, 1973 sank off Cape Bougaroni. 898
Athlit 1918 ex- Chryss, 1952 purchased from Cia Maritima Neptuno, Costa Rica renamed Athlit, 1954 scrapped Trieste. 7,592
Atlit 1955 1968 sold to Greece renamed Noni, 1971 renamed Thalassitra, 1972 renamed Louloudi, 1979 renamed Bela, 1981 renamed Tina, 2001 deleted from register. 898
Atsmaut (1) 1901 built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News | ex- El Valle built for Southern Pacific Co., ex- Pan Crescent 1941 for Waterman Steamship Corp., 1943 sold to United Fruit Co. not renamed, 1947 sold to F & B Shipping Co. (Ships & Vessels), Miami renamed Atzmaut, 1951 scrapped. 4,605
Atsmaut (2) 1940 ex- Suncrest, 1952 purchased from Crest Shipping Co., London renamed Atsmaut, 1956 sold Costa Rica renamed Sunrise, 1959 sold Liberia renamed Silver Prince, 1963 renamed Aura, 1971 scrapped. 5,120
Dagan 1955 1969 sold to Compass Shipping & Trading Co. renamed Beta, 1972 renamed Reading I, 1972 renamed Beta, 1973 renamed Leonidas A, 1979 sold to M. Medjeral renamed Cork, 1982 wrecked Cuba. 5,013
Dromit 1917 ex- Kefalos, 1948 purchased from Cia Maritima Transoceanica, Panama renamed Dromit, 1955 sold to Traders & Shippers Ltd, Haifa renamed Dvora, 1962 scrapped Greece. 3,892
Elath 1928 ex- Vergray, 1951 purchased from Vergocean SS Co., London renamed Elath, 1956 sold to Japan renamed Shinano Maru, 1972 scrapped. 8,551
Etrog 1950 1961 sold to Mediterranean Seaway renamed Leora, 1968 sold Panama renamed Brothers, 1973 renamed Sitia, 1973 wrecked in Mediterranean. 1,901
Galila 1955 1967 sold to Gold Star Line, Japan renamed Berdikari I, 1970 renamed Topas, 1970 on fire and beached at Bandur Shapur. 3,128
Galilah 1913 built by Bethlehem Steel, Wilmington DE | ex- Manhattan built for American Railroad Company, ex- Nopatin 1918 for US Government, ex- De Witt Clinton 1918 for Hudson River Day Line, ex- Frederick C. Johnson 1942 for US Government, 1947 sold and laid up, 1948 purchased renamed Galilah, 1953 scrapped. 3,899
Geffen 1951 1965 sold to M. Issachar renamed Masuna V, 1966 renamed Rita V, 1969 renamed Nia, 1977 renamed Blue Sky, 1980 Elloba, 1981 Oba, 1986 scrapped. 2,067
Hadar 1949 ex- George, 1950 purchased from A. G. Pappadakis, Panama renamed Hadar, 1959 sold to Black Star Line, Takoradi renamed Tano River, 1966 sold to Pateras Bros, Piraeus renamed Arden, 1969 sold Achaika Shipping Co., Piraeus renamed Achaika Hope, 1969 wrecked Sardinia. 2,547
Haifa (1) 1943 ex- Nanaimo County, 1949 purchased from Vancouver Oriental Line, Vancouver renamed Haifa, 1954 sold to Italy renamed Tarin, 1972 scrapped. 7,153
Haifa (2) 1956 1967 sold to Greece renamed Velos, 1974 renamed Macedonian, 1977 scrapped. 12,676
Henrietta Szold 1920 ex- Montgomery City, 1950 purchased from Isthmian SS Co., New York renamed Henrietta Szold, 1955 sold to Marinos & Frangos, London renamed Tinamar, 1958 scrapped. 5,686
Israel 1955 built by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg | 1966 sold to Sociedade Geral de Commércio, Portugal renamed Amélia de Mello, 1972 transferred to Companhia Nacional not renamed, 1972 sold to Greece renamed Ithaca. 1979 sold to Ulysses Shipping Co. renamed Dolphin IV, 2003 scrapped at Alang. 9,831
Jerusalem (1) 1913 built by Cammell Laird & Co. Ltd., Birkenhead | ex- Bergensfjord built for Norwegian America Line, ex- Argentina 1946,1953 purchased from Home Lines renamed Jerusalem, 1957 renamed Aliya, 1959 scrapped. 10,666
Jerusalem (2) 1957 built by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg | 1966 chartered to Peninsular & Occidental Steamship Co., Miami renamed Miami, 1969 sold to Eastern Steamship Lines renamed New Bahama Star, 1972 renamed Bahama Star, 1975 sold to Venozolana de Cruceros del Caribe renamed Bonaire Star, 1979 sunk while in tow to breakers. 9,920
Kedma 1955 1967 sold to Gold Star Line, Japan renamed Berdikari II, 1970 renamed Aloa, 1976 sold to Eastern SS & Enterprise renamed Eastern Progress, 1980 sank near Singapore. 3,145
Kedmah 1927 built by Vickers Ltd, Barrow | ex- Kedah built for Straits Steamship Co., Singapore ex- HMS Kedah 1942, 1946 purchased by Kedem Palestine Line through Harris & Dixon, 1952 sold to Harris & Dixon renamed Golden Isles, 1956 scrapped. 3,504
Kineret 1921 ex- Baalbeck, 1951 purchased from Soc. de Nav. a Vapeur Daher, Marseille renamed Kineret, 1955 sold to Costa Rica renamed Adlai, 1958 scrapped after stranding. 2,436
Kommiyut 1901 built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News | ex- El Dia built for Southern Pacific Co., ex- Pan York 1941 for Waterman Steamship Corp., 1943 sold to United Fruit Co. not renamed, 1947 sold to F & B Shipping Co. ( Ships & Vessels), Miami renamed Kibbutz Galuyot, 1948 renamed Kommiyut, 1953 scrapped. 4,600
Meir Dizengoff 1921 ex- Atlanta City, 1950 purchased from Isthmian SS Co., New York renamed Meir Dizengoff, 1956 sold to Panama renamed Neptune, 1959 renamed Marina D, 1959 scrapped. 5,686
Moledet 1961 built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire | 1970 sold to Epirotiki Line renamed Jupiter, rebuilt and modernised, 21st October 1988 rammed by an Italian car carrier and sunk near Piraeus with the loss of 4 lives. 6,306
Nakhshon 1938 ex- Esox, 1950 purchased from Ruud-Pedersen, Oslo renamed Nakhshon, 1963 sold to Greece renamed Anna M, 1964 renamed Mexico, 1965 renamed Despina B, 1971 scrapped. 1,341
Negbah 1915 built by Kon. Mij. De Schelde, Vlissingen | ex- Ecuador built for Koninklijke West Indische Maildienst, Amsterdam, 1915 to Pacific Mail SS Co., 1931 transferred to Grace Line renamed Santa Olivia, 1936 sold to Libby, McNeill & Libby renamed David W. Branch, 1947 sold to Panama renamed Luxor, 1948 purchased renamed Negbah, 1956 scrapped. 5,554
Rimon 1951 1965 sold Greece renamed Kastor, 1970 renamed Nausika, 1974 Lady Salla, 1977 sold Honduras renamed M. Alexand, 2001 deleted from registers. 2,373
Shalom 1964 built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire | 1967 sold to Deutsche Atlantik Linie renamed Hanseatic, 1973 sold to Home Lines renamed Doric, 1980 sold to Royal Cruise Lines renamed Royal Odyssey, 1988 sold to Regency Cruises renamed Regent Sun, 1995 laid up, 1996 sold to Royal Venture Cruise Line renamed Sun Venture, 1998 renamed Sun 11, 2001 on voyage to breakers sunk of coast South Africa as Sun. 25,338
Shomron 1955 1973 sold to World Tide Shipping Corp renamed Aida, 1975 renamed Omiros T, 1979 sold Shipmarc renamed Alalbarakah, 1980 scrapped. 5,430
Tamar 1951 1965 sold Greece renamed Kronios, 1970 renamed Athena, 1978 scrapped after fire damage. 2,372
Tappuz 1955 1969 sold to Compass Shipping & Trading Co. renamed Alpha, 1976 sold M. Medjeral renamed Rocio, 1977 renamed Mundsburg, 1978 broke in two in Caribbean. 5,013
Theodor Herzl 1957 built by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg | 1969 sold to American International Service Travel Board (New Horizons Shipping Co.) Monrovia renamed Carnivale, 1975 rebuilt renamed Freeport, 1976 renamed Veracruz I, 1978 sold to Freeport Cruises Lines, Panama, 10,596gt, 1985 sold to Bahama Cruises Inc., Panama, 1987 sold to Bermuda Star Line Cruises, Panama 6,193gt, 1990 sold to Festival Shipping & Tourist Enterprises renamed Sun Ambassador, 1991 sunk after cathing fire while she was refitted. 9,914
Tsfonit 1937 ex- Eastport, 1950 purchased from Eastport Shipping Co., New York renamed Tsfonit, 1960 sold to Liberia renamed Flamatt, 1963 renamed Florita, 1969 renamed Pamela, 1972 scrapped. 2,991
Yehuda 1955 1969 sold to Nomikos, Greece renamed Effy, 1979 scrapped. 5,013
Zion 1956 built by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg | 1966 sold to Empresa Insulana de Navegacao, Portugal and renamed Angra do Heroísmo, 1974 scrapped. 9,831

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