From bananas to live cattle, Wilhelmsen’s steamers became known for carrying almost any kind of cargo imaginable in the 1930s.
SANTOS: In 1931, Wilhelmsen carried 16 000 bunches of bananas between Santos in Brazil and River Plate, the large estuary between Uruguay and Argentina. By the end of the decade, the banana cargo had increased to 490 000 bunches a year across 13 ships.
Following the post-war depression in 1920, Wilhelmsen had relied on carrying up to 100 000 oil cans every month from Bayonne in New Jersey to South America. As the economy recovered and shipping remained the only viable option for transporting goods over long distances, Wilhelmsen soon became known for carrying pretty much any cargo.
Wilhelmsen also transported wheat from the US to Brazil, following the 1932 agreement beteween the countries to trade 25 million bushels (unit of dry measure) wheat for over one million bags of coffee. Other goods carried during the decade included locomotives and railway wagons, steel,
electrical materials and refrigerated goods such
as apples and eggs.
The motor ships that carried grain from River Plate to Europe were topped up with meat consignments and sometimes even live cattle. Titania once carried 400 bulls on deck to Hamburg in Germany. Operating on a triangular route, the ships sometimes made the onward journey to the US with nothing but ballast on-board.