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Compagnie de Navigation Mixte (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2005-02-19 by
Keywords: compagnie de navigation mixte | letters: nm (black) | letters: latf (black) |
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[House flag of CNM]by Ivan Sache


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History of Compagnie de Navigation Mixte

On 20 December 1850, Louis Arnaud founded with Auguste and Félix Touache the Société Louis Arnaud, Touache Frères & Cie. Arnaud was the representative in Marseilles of a river shipping company from Lyon. He was one of the first shipowners to predict that the recent conquest of Algeria would open a very important market for shipping.
The first ship of the company was SS Du-Tremblay, named after the engineer who invented the combined water-ether steam engine. This kind of engine saved up to 75% of the coal compared with the usual steam engine. However, ether steam was extrem=ely flammable and the new technology was rapidly abandoned.
In 1853, SS Aveir, with a combined steam engine, inaugurated the Touache line to Rio de Janeiro.

In 1855, the company was renamed Compagnie de Navigation Mixte (CNM). At that time, cargo was transportd by sailing ships, more economical, whereas passengers were tranported by paddle steam ships, slow and very expensive. Touache decided to use screw-propelling on his sailing ships, and highlighted his innovation in the name of the company.
On 27 September 1856, SS France burned in the port of Bahia after its first journey, and the company withdrew from transatlantic shipping. An attempt to open a line to Far-East was not more successful.
In 1857, the CNM owned 13 vessels and was the second biggest French shipping company. All the operations of the company were redirected to the service of Algeria, in strong competition with the powerful Messageries Imuperiales. Touache increased the capital of the company and transfered its social seat to Lyon.
To survive, the CNM had to set up alliances with the rival companies, which were subsidized by the French state.

In 1893, the company operated 13 vessels and experienced again massive losses. The company was saved by Theodore Mante, who improved the service to North Africa and unsuccessfully attempted to extend the lines to the Gulf of Guinea. In 1909, the CNM operated 16 ships and created the Société Pétrole-Transports, for which it purchased the first big French tanker.

After the First World War, the lines were reorganized and the company was mostly involved in tramping. In 1928, the liner MS El-Biar was the first of a series of modern liners (El-Golea, El-Kantara, El-Mansour, El-Djezair), which allowed the company to develop and gain a very good reputation. In the late 1930s, the CNM operated a young fleet of high quality. The company absorbed the Busck company and created with the Société Maritime Nationale a joint division for the service of Mediterranean lines. The company built a harbour station in Port-Vendres (Roussillon).

The Second World War nearly suppressed the CNM. In 1945, the company owned only two old ships. Eight years later, the fleet was renewed but the company suffered from the competiiotn with air transport. The independence war of Algeria increased the problems of the company. In 1967, the capital of the CNM was absorbed by the insurance company La Fortune, which was not interested in shipping. The CNM was merged with its old rival, the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, to form the Compagnie Générale Méditerranéenne.

In 1976, the CNM hoisted again its house flag and bought two container ships for a service to the Antilles, a traditional domain of Fabre and the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. The competition was very harsh, and the CNM had to withdraw from Guyane and redirect its activity to West Africa, facing there the competition of Delmas-Vieljeux. At the end of 1977, the CNM was forced to withdraw from Africa and to downsize its operations in the Antilles.
In 1981, the container ships Pagnol and Raimu were sold and the flag of the company was definitively lowered.

Source: Paul Bois. Armements marseillais - Compagnies de navigation et navires à vapeur (1831-1988), published by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marseille-Provence [boi03].

Ivan Sache, 7 February 2004


House flag of Compagnie de Navigation Mixte

The house flag of Compagnie de Navigation Mixte is horizontally divided red-white-red (1:2:1) with the black letters NM in the white stripe.

Source: Paul Bois. Armements marseillais - Compagnies de navigation et navires à vapeur (1831-1988), published by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marseille-Provence [boi03].

Ivan Sache, 7 February 2004


House flag of Société Louis Arnaud, Touache Frères & Cie

[House flag of Arnaud]by Ivan Sache

The house flag of Société Louis Arnaud, Touache Frères & Cie is horizontally divided red-white-red (1:2:1) with the black letters L.A.T.F. in the white stripe.

Source: Paul Bois. Armements marseillais - Compagnies de navigation et navires à vapeur (1831-1988), published by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marseille-Provence [boi03].

Ivan Sache, 7 February 2004

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