Eimskip And Samskip
Iceland is a land of glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs, with the tremendous dust cloud of April 2010 from the enormous Eyjafjallajokull volcano creating a ‘no fly zone’ over most of Europe for more than a week. Iceland is very remote with its northern shore almost touching the Arctic Circle, which in fact cuts through the offshore island of Grimsey, and it’s most southerly point is 850 kilometres from Scotland. Glaciers, snow and ice permanently cover one ninth of the island, with the Vatnajokull glacier the largest in Europe, and lava fields cover another ninth of the island. The Vikings were the first settlers in AD874 and it’s people united with Denmark in the 14th century. In 1874, Iceland was granted limited Home Rule from Denmark, and in December 1918 it became an independent state while still accepting the King of Denmark as monarch and with Denmark providing its defence and foreign affairs. Steamship services to Seydisfjordur, Ofjordur, Isafjordur and Reykjavik had been provided by DFDS of Copenhagen since its inception in 1866.
This movement towards national independence had also founded the first shipping company on 17th January 1914 as the Icelandic Steamship Co. Ltd. (Hf Eimskipafelag Island). Although promoted by the island leaders as a State owned company, the truth is that it was an example of private enterprise. Some 1,500 Icelanders attended the constituent meeting held in a Reykjavik church as there was no other building big enough to accommodate their numbers. Some 14,000 shareholders, then 15% of the island population, took part of the 1.69075 million Icelandic kroner authorized capital. Eimskip chose a strong symbol on its houseflag for its venture of a blue cross symbolizing the hammer of Thor, the Nordic god of thunder, although this symbol is no longer used. Two vessels were immediately ordered from Kjobenhavns Flydok and Skibs, a passenger and cargo vessel named Gullfoss after Iceland’s most beautiful and famous waterfall, and a cargo ship named Godafoss, and all subsequent Eimskip ships have been named after waterfalls. Gullfoss of 1,414 grt was completed in 1915 with a black hull and two holds forward and one aft of her brown painted superstructure with a tall steam funnel, and had six derricks on two masts for cargo handling. Godafoss of 1,374 grt was also completed in 1915, both ships being powered by triple expansion steam engines by the shipbuilder to provide power for the long rough voyage from Reykjavik to Copenhagen.
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