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Fraissinet (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2004-10-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: fraissinet | letters: f&cie (black) | letters: cf (black) |
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[Flag of Fraissinet]by Ivan Sache

[Flag of Fraissinet]by Ivan Sache

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History of Fraissinet

The Compagnie Fraissinet was founded in January 1836 in Marseilles by Marc Fraissinet, the son of a Protestant merchant from Languedoc. Following a historical tradition dating back to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, another member of the Fraissinet family founded in the same time a company in Rotterdam.
Marc Fraissinet signed a contract with the insurance broker Chancel, from Cette (now written Sète) in Languedoc. Chancel's paddle ship, SS Marseillais, inaugurated the line between Marseilles and Agde. The ship sunk off Agde on 30 March 1837. The shipowner Théron absorbed Chancel's company and appointed Fraissinet as the director of his company.
In 1837, two new ships were built, SS Rhône and SS Hérault. In 1841, Fraissinet bought the company and extended the line to Nice. His project of a line to New York and the Gulf of Mexico, intially supported by the French government, aborted. In 1846, Fraissinet appointed his son Adolphe as deputy-director and extended the lines of the company to Spain, Gibraltar and Portugal.

In 1853, the company was renamed Compagnie Marseillaise de Navigation à Vapeur. SS Isabelle inaugurated in 1854 the first line Marseilles-Algiers-Spain-Portugal-Le Havre, which was the first scheduled line between Algeria and Le Havre. SS Isabelle was the first screw-propelled vessel owned by Fraissinet. The Algiers-Le Havre line was abandoned after the collision of SS Normandie with a Dutch ship in 1857.

In 1860, the company owned ten vessels but had to face an increased competition on the Italian market. Fraissinet extended his lines to Naples and Levant, increased the capital of the company and purchased six new ships in 1865. Scheduled lines with Corsica and Leghorn were opened in 1868. On 8 January 1870, SS Asie was the first merchant vessel to cross the Canal of Suez to India. In 1870, Fraissinet owned 20 vessels and operated scheduled lines to Bombay, Malta, Port-Said, Constantinople, Italy, Corsica and Languedoc. Due to the Franco-Prussian war, the service to India was suppressed, the service to Corsica was postponed and several ships were sold.

The company resurfaced in 1874 as the Nouvelle Société Maritime de Navigation à Vapeur (Compagnie Fraissinet). The company was granted the postal service to Corsica by the French government. In 1878, a line was opened between Sète and Genoa, and the existing Levant lines extended to Palestine and Odessa. On 18 December 1878, the Byzantin sunk off Gallipoli, causing the death of c. 150 of the 250 passengers of the ship. In 1889, Fraissinet was granted the postal service to western Africa and Congo. Fraissinet absorbed the Corsican company Morelli and its five ships in 1892.

At the end of the XIXth century, Fraissinet served lines to Languedoc, Corsica (postal service), Sardinia, Italy, the French and Italian Rivieras, Constantinople, the Black Sea and the mouth of Danube, Oran, Dakar and Libreville (postal service).
On 7 June 1903, SS Liban collided with SS L'Insulaire a few miles off the port of Marseilles, causing the death of c. 100. The accident deeply afflicted the city of Marseilles and a violent press campaign broke up against Fraissinet, which lost the postal service to Corsica in 1904. However, the Compagnie Française de Navigation et de Construction Navale could not fulfill the contract, which was retroceded to Fraissinet in 1905.

The Fraissinet fleet was severely damaged during the First World War. SS Balkan (August 1918), Suzette-Fraissinet (May 1918), Marc-Fraissinet (October 1917), Esterel (April 1917), Golo (August 1917) and Italia (May 1917) were sunk by German or Austrian U-boats.
When the war ended, only ten ships had survived. Alfred Fraissinet reorganized his company and favoured the Corsican and Algerian lines. In 1927, the postal contract to Corsica was extended for 20 years, and a new series of modern ships were built (SS Cap-Corse, Ville-d'Ajaccio, Cyrnos, Ile-de-Beauté, Pascal-Paoli). In 1930, Fraissinet set up an alliance with Fabre and Chargeurs Réunis for a joint service to western Africa. The service of Black Sea, suffering from the Italian competition, was suppressed in 1931 after 50 years of uninterrupted service (including during wartime).

In 1935, the company was renamed Compagnie de Navigation Fraissinet. The Fraissinet-Fabre-Chargeurs alliance dissolved and Fraissinet took the control of Fabre, abandoning the Chargeurs Réunis. In 1938, Fraissinet attempted to set up joint services with Paquet. The company then owned 14 ships.
The Second World War caused a great damage to the company. One of the few ships left by the Germans to the French merchant navy, MS Général-Bonaparte, was sunk by a British submarine on 19 May 1943 off Corsica.

In 1948, the service to Corsica was granted to the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, which incoporated Fraissinet's Corsican fleet. Fraissinet redirected its activity to the western coat of Africa, purchasing banana boats and liners.
In 1955, Fraissinet and Fabre merged into the Compagnie de Navigation Fraissinet et Cyprien Fabre, but the two companies kept sailing in their respective domain, western Africa for Fraissinet and America for Fabre. In 1959, they founded the Compagnie Ivoirienne de Consignation Maritime and placed two ships under the flag of Côte-d'Ivoire. A succession of incorporations and mergings with the Société Générale des Transports Maritimes, Fabre and Chargeurs Réunis could not avoid the lowering of the flag by Fraissinet in 1968, the tanker Alfred-Fraissinet being the last ship of the company, which eventually withdrew from shipping activity in 1974.

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].

Marc Constantin Fraissinet (1787-1866) was the descendant of a Protestant family from Montpellier, which settled in Marseilles in the middle of the XVIIIth century. In 1817, Marc Fraissinet succeded his father as a commerce broker, and evolved in 1834 as a maritime insurance broker. In 1837, Fraissinet managed a shipping line created by the shipowner Théron between Marseilles and Agde. The company became in 1843 the Marc Fraissinet et Cie limited partnership. In 1853, Fraissinet merged all his maritime activities into the Compagnie marseillaise de navigation à vapeur Marc Fraissinet père et fils, which he managed with his son Adolphe. The company opened new lines between Marseilles and the eastern Mediterranean Sea (Constantinople and Alexandria).
In 1865, Fraissinet purchased the company Bazin, which was the first steamship company founded in Marseilles. One year later, the Fraissinet company had a capital of 9 millions of francs and operated 15 steamers. Fraissinet was among the most important shipowners in Marseilles. Marc Fraissinet was municipal councillor and later deputy-mayor (1832-1843) of Marseilles.

Adolphe Fraissinet (1821-1893) was the fourth of Marc Fraissinet's twelve children. In 1847, he married Eugénie Bazin, the daughter of the shipowner Charles Bazin. When Marc Fraissinet died, Adolphe and his brother Louis managed in association the family business, including the shipping line. They developed lines to Italy, Egypt, Syria and the Black Sea, and were granted the postal service with Corsica by the French government. In 1869, the Fraissinet steamer Asie inaugurated the commercial lines with India via the Canal of Suez.
Adolphe Fraissinet was municipal councillor from 1865 to 1870 and deputy from 1871 to 1875. In 1879, he was appointed paymaster for the department of Hérault and withdrew from the company. He was succeded by his brother Louis and his nephew Alfred.

Jean Fraissinet (1894-1981) succeded his father Alfred in 1927, and married Mathilde Cyprien-Fabre, the daughter of the shipowner Cyprien Fabre. In 1930, the companies Fraissinet, Fabre and Chargeurs Réunis opened common agencies. In 1933, Paul Cyprien-Fabre was appointed member of the board of directors of the Fraissinet company, which took the control of Fabre in 1937 and eventually absorbed it in 1955. Jean Fraissinet resigned in 1958 after his election and was succeded by his son Roland.
Jean Fraissinet founded in 1931 the newspapers Marseille-Matin and Marseille-Soir in order to fight against the Petit Marseillais and defend nationalist rightist Fraissinet's ideas. In 1947, Fraissinet purchased the Méridional and merged it in 1952 with La France de Marseille and Sud-Est. He was elected deputy in the National Assembly in 1958, but could not be reelected in 1962. During his tenure, Fraissinet opposed to De Gaulle's Algerian policy and was one of the firmest supporters of French Algeria.

Source: Pierre Guiral & Felix Reynaud (eds.) Les Marseillais dans l'histoire, published by Privat, Toulouse.

Ivan Sache, 1 February 2004

House flags of Fraissinet

Fraissinet has two house flags, both based on the Dutch national flag, as a tribute to the Netherlands, where the family exiled after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

The first flag is forked with the black letters F & Cie in the white stripe. The second flag is rectangular with the black letters CF in the white stripe. It is highly probable that each flag corresponds to a different era in the company history, but I have no further detail on that matter.

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, 1 February 2004