The start-up of the ship chandling business
And so on to my Blog #3
This time I will cover the start-up of the ship chandling business by my grandfather Ahmed Shareef Moloobhoy.
The firm Ahmed S Moloobhoy & Sons was established in 1910. The initial objective was to provide victualing support to Her Majesty's Indian troop ships during World War I and then again during World War II.
The firm was awarded various Certificates of Merit and accolades for the sterling service rendered to the troop ships and H M Naval Dockyard and Victualing Depot during the World Wars.
The largest shipping line operating from Indian ports carrying Hajj pilgrims was the Mogul Line, which was founded in 1888 and managed by the British company Tumer Morrison.
The oldest of the Mogul Line ships was SS Alawi (built in 1924), followed by SS Rizwani (built in 1930). These ships were scrapped in 1958 and 1959 respectively. Then followed SS Saudi (capacity 999 passengers), then the sistee vessels Muhammadi and Muzaffari (capacity 1460), Islami (capacity 1200) and in later years by Akbar (capacity 1600), Noorjehan (capacity 1756) and Nicobar (capacity 1170).
Even as early as in 1927, Mogul Line ships carried nearly 20,000 of the 36,000 pilgrims travelling from India. In the late 1930s, over 70% of pilgrim ships from India were of the Mogul Line.
We catered to the complete shipchandling requirements (deck, engine and saloon stores) of the Mogul Line for several decades.
My father explained to me that this was more as a service than a lucrative business, based on supporting the pilgrims during their holy pilgrimage.
I clearly recall visiting these ships together with the supply team on innumerable occasions in the 1970s and 80s.
After nationalisation in 1962, control of the Mogul Line passed to the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and the two finally merged in 1987.
Haji Abdullah Alireza & Co Ltd was the agent of the Mogul Line in Jeddah. The head of this company at one time, Sheikh Mohamed Alireza (who was also the Saudi ambassador to France) was a close friend of my father, Shareef. I had the privilege to meet Shk Mohamed Alireza when I went with my father in 1973 to perform the Hajj. I was truly smitten by his regal manner and the culture of the Alireza family during my limited interface with them. Truly a royal family, embodying the finest blend of western and middle Eastern culture and finesse.
The merger of the Mogul Line brought us closer to SCI and we entered into annual contracts for supply of deck and engine stores, cargo gear and then safety equipment as well.
Other early customers included Jayanti Shipping, The Scindia Steam Navigation Co., The Great Eastern Shipping Co., P & O Lines, Cunard White Star, The Anchor Line, Lloyd Tristino and all other shipping companies, The Mazagon Dock and other ship building and repair yards, various Port Trusts, etc.
With the advent of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) implementation of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention 1960, the centre of focus of our firm shifted to marine safety.
This will be covered in my next Blog
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