The Michalinos, Michalos and Apodiakos Families
Greek owned ships currently make up the largest merchant fleet in the world, with some 19.63% of the world’s sea carrying capacity represent by 4,585 ships of 341.2 million deadweight tonnes, although not all of them sail under the Greek flag. This top position is almost entirely due to the traditional Greek concept of tramping, either dry bulk or oil, and there has been a marked contrast in recent years in both the size of the fleet and the number of families involved in tramping. The Michalinos family owned sailing ships and steam tramps throughout the 1870s in the village of Vrontados on the island of Chios, on which lived half of all Greek shipowners, and their fleets represented 26.1% of the total gross registered tonnage of the Greek fleet in 1975. The number of Chiot shipowners had also increased markedly from 1958 with 41 shipowners representing 3.05 million grt to 75 shipowners in 1975 representing 12.91 million grt.
Chios Town has a long history of wars with Ottoman and Turkish forces, resulting in much bloodshed, and reminders of this turbulent history can be found today in the Turkish ruins, baths and a Genoese castle in the town, the capital of Chios Island, and separated by a narrow strait together with the smaller Oinoussai Island from Turkey. The related Greek shipowning families of Michalos and Apodiakos, both from Chios, also form part of this Greek tramping saga lasting almost 150 years and which continues in business in worldwide tramping today.
The Michalinos and Michalos Families
Alexandros Michalinos was a very wealthy shipowner who began the construction of the neo-classical style Maximus Megaron (Maximos Mansion), which today is the official seat of the Prime Minister of Greece. It is located in Athens next to the Presidential Mansion and National Garden of Athens in Herodus Atticus Street. The mansion has a raised portico supported by six neo-classical columns at the top of a long flight of stone steps. The building was completed in 1921 after the death of Alexandros Michalinos, with his widow Irene Manoussis in 1916 selling the mansion to the equally wealthy shipowner Leonidas Embiricos, only to repurchase it on its completion in 1921.
The mansion was occupied by wealthy banker and politician Dimitrios Maximos, who had married Irene Manoussis, from completion until the occupation of Athens by Nazi Germany in 1941, being used as the residence of the German Admiral responsible for control of the Aegean Sea until 1944.
The mansion then became the official residence of the American Ambassador in Athens until sold in 1952 to the Greek State. It was then used as the guesthouse for important American, Jugoslavian and British Presidents, Prime Ministers and politicians, before Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in 1982 moved in, as the Prime Minister’s office was previously located inside the Parliament Building.
The wealth of the Michalinos family began to be generated by the first two Michalinos family tramps, in Aghios Vlassios of 1,932 grt, built in 1879 by Joseph Laing at Sunderland, with dimensions of length 268.0 feet, moulded beam of 34.0 feet, and depth of 20.6 feet, and was powered by a compound two cylinder steam engine by George Clark of Sunderland, and the quarterdecker Despina G. Michalinos of 1,763 grt, completed in 1889 by the Robert Irvine yard at Hartlepool, with a quarterdeck of length seventy feet on an overall length of 260.6 feet, moulded beam of 36.6 feet and depth of 16.5 feet. A more powerful triple expansion steam engine by Blair of Stockton in the latter tramp enabled Alexandros Michalinos of Syros to trade with four sailing ships and steamers in 1889 throughout the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea.
Alexandros Michalinos soon built up a sizeable tramping fleet, with the new quarterdeck tramp Georgios Michalinos following in 1893 of 3,060 grt from the Sir Raylton Dixon yard at Middlesbrough.
She had an overall length of 323.0 feet and moulded beam of 42.1 feet with the quarterdeck being of length 82.0 feet. She had a powerful triple expansion steam engine by John Dickinson of Sunderland, and a similar engine was fitted in the new quarterdeck tramp Vaglianos of 2,716 grt, managed for the Vaglianos Brothers, who later sold her to the Michalinos family and she was renamed Chios.
Alexandros Michalinos then purchased the similar tramp Brantwood of 2,664 grt from Charlton and Thompson of Sunderland and completed in 1894 by the Joseph L. Thompson yard on the Wear. He renamed this tramp after himself, and thus had a fleet of four tramps in 1900, but sold her in 1912 to Russian owners, being renamed Petr Karpov and she was wrecked near Gibraltar on 4th December 1920.
He took delivery of three new tramps of 5,000 dwt in 1902 in Aeolus and Bacchus from the Robert Duncan yard at Port Glasgow, and Marie Z. Michalinos from the Gray yard at West Hartlepool.
This latter tramp had an overall length of 332.0 feet, moulded beam of 48.0 feet, and depth of 21.9 feet with a bridge deck of length 170 feet and a powerful triple expansion steam engine from the associated Central Marine Engine Works.
The renowned Hartlepool tramp builder then won two more Michalinos orders, completed as Despina G. Michalions in 1907 and Zinovia in 1910.
The London agents of Michalinos and Company were housed at this time at Gresham House in Old Bond Street.
The effect of the war between Greece and Turkey during 1912 and 1913 was to bottle up Michalinos tramps in Balkan ports, but with an end to the fighting the tramp Zampa was purchased from Herskind and Woods to join the Michalinos Maritime and Commercial Company Ltd. of Piraeus of four tramps on the outbreak of World War I.
Marie Z. Michalinos was the only tramp left afloat at the end of the war, and the losses were eventually replaced with second hand tramp tonnage.
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