125 Years of Black Sea Shipping
This long established Bulgarian shipping company has had two periods of private ownership, firstly from 1892 to 1947, and secondly from 2007 to the present, as well as the long period of sixty years under Communist control from 1947 to 2007. A meeting was called on the last day of 1889 by six Varna entrepreneurs, namely Veliko Hristov, Yanko Slavchev, Petar Enchev, Ivan Manzov, Stat Paritsa, and Petar Popov, to determine the draft Articles of Incorporation of a new Bulgarian shipping company. This was presented a month later to the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance for approval, and the first meeting of the privately owned Bulgarian Steamship Company was held on 25th July 1892. The Bulgarian Parliament approved the statutes of the company at the end of that year to establish the new company in Varna. The newly elected Managing Board of Directors approved the purchase of the first two steamers on 15th August 1893, both built during the next few months on the Tyne by Wigham Richardson & Co. Ltd. as Boris of 869 grt and the clipper bowed Bulgaria of 1,108 grt with triple expansion steam engines by the builders.
These two new steamers operated between Varna and other Bulgarian ports and ports in the Eastern Mediterranean with both passengers and cargo. Three more steamers joined the company between August 1902 and 1906 as Varna of 1,820 grt from the Gateshead yard of Wood, Skinner, Sofia of 255 grt built back in 1882 by Murdoch and Murray on the Clyde, and Kyril of 509 grt launched as Devonia in 1903 at Hoboken, a suburb of Antwerp. Newly qualified Bulgarian Masters and Navigating Officers then replaced foreign officers on these new ships with Capt. Sava Manolov, Capt. Varban Chervenkov and Capt. Petar Abadzhiev taking command in 1907, with Mikhail Mateev as the first Chief Engineer of the company.
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