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Chargeurs Réunis (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2018-07-15 by ivan sache
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House flag of Chargeurs Réunis
Top, first flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 November 2002
Bottom, second flag, two versions - Images by Jarig Bakker, 17 October 2005

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Presentation of Chargeurs Réunis

Chargeurs Réunis (history) was founded in Le Havre in 1872. Twenty-five years later, the company owned 35 ships, which transported in 1891 some 470,000 tons cargo and 13,600 passengers. The company operated lines connectinh Le Havre to the coast of West Africa, Brazil, Argentina and New York.
In 1916, Chargeurs Réunis took the control of Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique, which operated on the Bordeaux-Brazil-La Plata big, modern liners owned by the French state line.
In 1927, the company was raided by the Fabre family via an hostile tender offer, a procedure which was very uncommon at that time. Paul Cyprien Fabre presided the Fabre company, whereas Léon Cyprien Fabre and his associate Alexis Baptifaut presided Chargeurs Réunis.
The group invested in air transport in 1933. After an unsuccessful attempt to take over Aéropostale, the group founded Aéromaritime. In 1937, Chargeurs Réunis, still directed by Léon Fabre and Alexis Baptifaut, seceded from Fabre.

After the Second World War, the company, presided by Francis Cyprien Fabre, reduced its fleet to some 15 ships. Between 1964 and 1976, the company took over several French ship owners, including Fabre, Fraissinet, Société Générale des Transport Maritimes, Paquet and Union Navale.
In 1979, Chargeurs Réunis was involved in several branches of international transport, including:
- maritime bulk and container shipping, transport of passengers, cars and gas;
- port agency;
- air transport, with a 63% interest in the carrier UTA;
- the UTH chain of 17 international hotels.
The company, then the third biggest in Europe, operated 64 ships, 40 under its own flag and 24 in association with Delmas-Vieljeux.In January 1980, Jérôme Seydoux took the control of Chargeurs Réunis and progressively sold off all the branches of the group. In 1990, the whole fleet had been sold and UTA was taken over by Air France.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2005

According to Lloyds the company was formed 1886 as Compagnie Française de Navigation à Vapeur Chargeurs Réunis changing to Compagnie Maritime des Chargeurs Réunis and then in 1988 to Chargeurs S.A., disappearing by 2000. There are a couple of other variation in sundry books with most referring simply to Chargeurs Réunis.

Neale Rosanoski, 25 December 2002

House flag of Chargeurs Réunis

The first house flag of Chargeurs Réunis is white with five red stars placed 2+1+2.
The flag was changed apparently towards the end with the addition in the hoist of a red oblong stripe placed vertically by Brown (1995) [lgr95] but slanting slightly per bend sinister in other sources.

Ivan Sache, Neale Rosanoski & Jarig Bakker, 17 October 2005

Flags used in the 19th century

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House flags of Chargeurs Réunis, 19th century - Images by Ivan Sache, 28 April 2018

Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives des marines de guerre et de commerce (1889) [f9r89] shows the three flags used by the company at the time:
- bowsprit: a blue swallow-tailed flag with a white canton charged with five red stars, 2 + 1 + 2;
- foremast: an horizontally divided blue-white-blue flag;
- mizzen-mast: a white flag charged with five red stars 2 + 1 + 2 (eventually retained as the company's single house flag).

Ivan Sache, 28 April 2018

Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique

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House flags of Compagnie Sud-Atlantique
Left, flag used 1911-1931 - Image by Jarig Bakker, 12 February 2005
Right, flag used 1931-196, two versions - Images by Ivan Sache, 9 March 2014

Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique was established in 1911, in relation to the shipyard of La Ciotat, then specialized in the building of high-category liners.
Placed in 1914 under the control of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, the CNSA was taken over two years later by Chargeurs Réunis. It operated state-owned liners on lines to South America. With only two ships left in 1957, the company lowered its flag in 1962.

In 1933, MS Atlantique, the flagship of the company, lost in a blaze, was replaced by MS Pasteur, built in the Penhoët shipyard and launched on 15 February 1938. The inauguration cruise of the Pasteur being scheduled for September 1939, the President of the CNSA asked the French post to release a commemorative postage stamp representing the liner (history). In the middle of August 1939, 4 millions stamps were produced. However, the cruise was cancelled because of the declaration of war on 2 September 1939. On 2 June 1940, the Pasteur left Landévennec, near Brest, for Halifax (Canada), carrying 200 tons of gold. Seized by Britain on 4 July 1940 and given back to France on 16 April 1946, the ship was used for the transport of troops during the War of Indochina. On 9 June 1980, the Pasteur was lost in the Indian Ocean on her way to scrap in Taiwan.
The stamp sheets remained unreleased until 1941, when Admiral Darlan, State Secretary of the Navy in the Vichy Government, obtained the release of the stamp, whose face value was modified. The original value (70 centimes) was cancelled with two horizontal red lines, whereas the new value, 1 F + 1 F, was added in red. The "1 F" surcharge was retroceded to the Service Central des Œuvres de la Marine. The "new" postage stamp was inaugurated by Marshal Pétain in the lounges of Hôtel "France et Pasteur" in Vichy. A few, rare copies of the stamp lack the surcharge and are therefore highly valued. Since it is quite easy to remove the surcharge by a chemical treatment, it is highly recommended to consult an expert before purchasing a "surcharge-free" Pasteur stamp.

According to Jean Randier (Grands voiliers français), the first house flag of the Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique was blue with a white diamond charged with a red rooster, as shown for instance on Brown's Flags and Funnels [wed26].
In 1931, the rooster was replaced by a red ring. Merchant Marine Houseflags and Stack Insignia (US Navy Hydrographic Office, 1961) shows the flag with a square diamond.

Ivan Sache, Jarig Bakker & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 9 March 2014

Compagnie des Transports Maritimes de l'Afrique Occidentale Française


House flag of CTMAO - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 March 2014

The Compagnie des Transports Maritimes de l'Afrique Occidentale Fran¨aise (CTMAO) was established in 1927 by Chargeurs Réunis for fruit transportation. Headquartered in Conakry (Guinea), the company operated 6 ships in 1939, and only one in 1957.
The house flag of CTMAO, as shown in Merchant Marine Houseflags and Stack Insignia (US Navy Hydrographic Office, 1961), is white with a thin red saltire and the black letters "C", "T", "M" and "AO" (interlaced) in the respective quarters.

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 March 2014