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Worms & Cie (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: worms | societe francaise de transports petroliers |
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House flag of Worms - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 March 2014

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Presentation of Worms

The Worms company (historical website, by Christian Lebailly) was originally established in 1841-1842 in Paris by Hypolite Worms (1801-1877). In 1848, the company specialized in the trading of British coal with shipping companies, including the Messageries Maritimes, the State and railway companies. Worms resupplied the French Navy with coal during the War of Crimea (1854-1855) and was involved in the establishment of the Anglo-French Steam Ship Co. (1856), aimed at developing the port of Grimsby.

The Worms fleet was started in 1856 with two steamers, SS Séphora and SS Emma. In the next decades, Worms set up the scheduled lines Bordeaux-Le Havre-Hambourg (1859) and Bordeaux-Antwerp (1869). The company resupplied with coal the stations established by the European shipping companies in the Mediterranean Sea, in South America, and in the Far East. Worms supplied also coal to the companies in charge of the digging of the Canal of Suez (1865) and opened a branch in Port-Said (1869).
The company was renamed Hypolite Worms & Cie in 1874, the founder being succeeded by Henry Josse (1818-1893) and Henri Goudchaux (1846-1916). Renamed Worms & Cie in 1895, the company was the reseller of Shell oil products in the Middle East. Worms purchased in 1905 the Dieppe-Grimsby line established in partnership with A. Grandchamp Fils and the Nantes-Bordeaux and Nantes-Bayonne lines operated by the Compagnie Armoricaine de Nvigation (1907).
The First World War increased the import of British coal but 10 out of the 19 ships owned by the company were lost during the conflict. However, the company was granted by the State the Wales-Brest and Bordeaux-Dunkirk lines. Worms was directed in 1916 by Hypolite Worms (1889-1962), the founder' grandson. The company managed the steamers allocated to France by the Inter-allied Committee (1916-1918).

Worms built upon request of the State a shipyard in Le Trait (Normandy) in 1917-1920. The first ship built there, SS Capitaine Bonelli, was launched in 1921. Four years later, the shipyard, surrounded by a garden-town housing 4,000 workers, had released 24 ships for the Navy and private shipowners. At the same time, Worms reconstituted a commercial fleet, with particular emphasis on northern and eastern Europe, diversifying its sources: in 1937, only 60% of the coal traded by the company came from Britain, the rest coming from Germany, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey and Tonkin. Worms started to resupply oil products in 1936.
Worms established a merchant bank in 1928, providing financial support to companies hit by the 1929 crisis and to promising companies lacking funds for quick development. The support granted to the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire (CHP) allowed Worms to enter the market of deep-sea navigation. In 1938, Worms established the Société Française de Transports Pétroliers in partnership with the French state.

Worms experienced hard times during the Second World War. The fleets operated by the company were requisitioned and the Le Trait shipyard was bombed in 1941-1943. Revamped, the shipyard was incorporated in 1946 as the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime. In the 1960s, the tanker fleet was modernized and the Worms & Cie bank was established as a separate entity (1964). The company ceased to exploit maritime lines under its own name in 1967. The shipping companies and maritime agency were merged into the Compagnie Navale Worms in 1971, renamed in 1986 Compagnie Nationale de Navigation (CNN), following the purchase of the CNN from Elf. The CNN was eventually sold to the Compagnie Maritime Belge in 1998.

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2014

House flag of Worms

The well-known house flag of Worms, blue with a white disc in the middle, appears to have been used from the very beginnings of the company (gallery).

The flag is hoisted by ships represented on old watercolours, such as:
- Séphora - the first ship operated by Worms -, by Frédéric Roux (1862);
- a cargo ship, by Eugène Grandin (1872);
- a cargo ship, by Eugène Grandin (1873);
- Hypolite Worms, by Édouard Adam (1882);
- Blanche, by Victor Adam (1890);
- Suzanne et Marie, by Édouard Adam (1891);
- Barsac, by Édouard Adam (1902);
- Listrac, by Édouard Adam (1907);
- Président, by Édouard Adam (undated, the ship sailed from 1870 to 1899);
- Ville de Nantes, by Victor Adam (undated, the ship sailed from 1884 to 1899);
- Séphora Worms, by Victor Adam (?) (undated, the ship sailed from 1891 to 1924);
- Sauternes, by Édouard Adam (?) (undated, the ship sailed from 1900 to 1917);
- Pessac, by Édouard Adam (?) (undated, the ship sailed from 1907 to 1951);
- Château Yquem, by Sandy Hook (undated, the ship sailed from 1925 to 1943);
- Château Larose, by Sandy Hook (company's leaflet, c. 1938);
- Pomerol (presentation leaflet, 1957);
- Pomerol (undated, the ship sailed from 1957 to 1965).

Old photos of ships also show the flag, such as:
- Barsac (1903);
- Sauternes (1936);
- Mérignac (1936);
- Suzanne et Marie (undated, the ship sailed from 1891 to 1933);
- Fronsac (undated, the ship sailed from 1907 to 1943);
- Barsac (undated, the ship sailed from 1948 to 1959);
- Fronsac (undated, the ship sailed from 1948 to 1960);
- Haut-Brion (undated, the ship sailed from 1951 to 1957);
- Léoville (undated, the ship sailed from 1959 to 1965);
- Yainville (undated, the ship sailed from 1961 to 1968).

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2014

Société Française de Transports Pétroliers


House flag of SFTP - Image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 March 2011

SFTP was formed in 1938, at the request of the French Government to increase the oil transporting capacity under French control, by a consortium which included Worms & Cie, hence the flag being the reverse of the Worms colours. Around 1971 it appears to have become a full Worms subsidiary via Société Française de Transports Maritimes and disappeared from Lloyds around the beginning of the 1980s.

Neale Rosanoski & Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 March 2011

Société des Transports Maritimes Pétroliers


House flag of STMP - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 March 2014

The Société des Transports Maritimes Pétroliers (STMP) was established in 1936 by Worms.
Several ships operated by the company were named for months of the Republican calendar, such as the Brumaire, the Germinal, the Prairial (1948), the Messidor (1952), the Fructidor (1953), the Thermidor (1954), and the Floréal (1957).
The Brumaire (11,840 tons) was attacked on 17 June 1940 off Quiberon by the U25; raided by an airplane the next day, the ship sank off Belle-Île. The crew (37 men) was rescued by the British destroyer HMS Griffin.

The house flag of the STMP, as shown in Merchant Marine Houseflags and Stack Insignia (US Navy Hydrographic Office, 1961), is white with a blue border and the red letters "M T P", the "T" being placed above the two other letters.

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 11 March 2014