Heavy Lift and Offshore Fleet of the Jumbo Shipping Company
Hans Kahn (1922-2018) of the Kahn family of Holland was born on 12th December 1922 at Gottschalk in Berlin to middle class parents Walter Kahn (born 5th February 1890) and Gertrude born in 1887 at Emden. In 1940, Hans travelled from Holland via Belgium, France and Spain under the assumed identity of a Belgian naval cadet to escape capture by the Nazis in order to sail to England, where he joined the Dutch Navy in exile. Hans married Barbara McKellen (born 12th October 1924 in London) in 1946 and began trading in 1948 in the coastal trades as Kahn Scheepvaart B.V. with a start up capital of only 3,000 guilders at Rotterdam.
A contract was won to carry cattle from Friesland in Holland to Israel for the British company of Borchard Lines, the first cargoes of a long partnership. Useful business links were formed when the Borchard family introduced Hans Kahn to Herbert Fritzen of Fritzen Shipping in Emden, and the two men made business visits to the Caribbean and South America. The Borchard family and the Fritzen family of father Johannes and son Herbert later put up a large percentage of the building cost of 1.5 million Deutschmarks for the cost of the first Kahn ship, Stellaprima.
Stellaprima of 1955 was of 942 grt with a single hold and a single hatch, and equipped with four 12 ton derricks for carrying a variety of cargoes, and was launched by Abeking & Rasmussen at Lemwerder on 17th October 1955. She ran a liner service for Borchard Lines between Northern Europe and Cyprus and Israel. She then went on to carry out a series of cargoes for Hycar Lines between the Great Lakes and Europe between 1959 and 1965.
In October 1968, Jumbo Shipping B.V. was set up, heavy lift derricks often being referred to as ‘jumbo’ derricks from the name of the company. The choice of the name of Jumbo Shipping was the subject of a competition open to employees, with the prize of 25 guilders won by Arle Noorland. The new purpose built engines aft Stellanova, Daniella and Fairlift of 2,500 dwt were known as ‘A’ class vessels built during 1969/72 with adjustable ‘tween decks. They had a single hold of dimensions 46.5 x 10.2 metres, at the end of which were two heavy lift derricks of 50 tonne capacity, giving them a combined lift in tandem of 100 tons, later increased to 70 tons giving a tandem lift of 140 tons. They were equipped with a removable ‘tween deck supported on pontoons, and Stellanova carried her first cargo from Rotterdam to Buenos Aires after completion on 30th July 1970. She frequently loaded locomotives at Pier 9 in Halifax (NS) with the cargo secured after moving to Purdy’s Wharf with welded brackets and lashings.
Gabriella of 1,327 grt was completed in 1974 and two years later was shipping railway locomotives from St. John (NB) to Algiers. She was returning in ballast to pick up another shipment when she ran into a bad storm near the Bay of Fundy. The ‘A’ frame that had been used to secure her cargo broke loose in the empty hold and punctured the inner bulkhead of the doubled plated hull, causing 300 tonnes of water ballast to pour into the hold to give a dangerous list of 30 degrees. A Mayday was sent off by the radio officer and her Master decided to abandon ship using two rubber dinghies as the lifeboats could not be lowered in the very high seas. Two men jumped for the first dinghy, but missed and were drowned, while the remaining thirteen men were luckier and landed in the second dinghy and were rescued by a ship. Gabriella was towed into port and repaired for more heavy lifting.
In 1978, Jumbo Shipping B. V. had a fleet of similar small heavy lift ships in Stellanova, Gabriella, Daniella, Mirabella, Fairlane, Fairload and Fairlift. The ‘B’ class of Gabriella and Fairload of 1974 had a unique stabiliser design for lifting heavy loads up to 320 tonnes and were built by Van Diepen in Holland. The ‘C’ class of Mirabella and Fairlane of 1977/78 were built by De Groot and Van Vliet at Slikkerveer in Holland, and had combined tandem lifts of 800 tonnes. Daniella and Gabriella were named after the daughters of Hans Kahn, while the name of Mirabella was created from the first names of his sons Michael (1963), Raphael (1960) and Benjamin (1965). Fairload made a five day voyage in July 1980 transporting four long white painted cylindrical tanks from Le Havre to Valletta Grand Harbour in Malta. The gas tanks each weighed 110 tonnes and were loaded and unloaded using her 160 tonne heavy lift derricks, and then transported on low loaders from Valletta to Marsaxlok in SE Malta.
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