The Australian National Line
(ANL) was an Australian Government owned coastal shipping line
that operated in Australia
between 1956 and 1998, when the naming rights we bought by French shipping line CMA CGM
The Australian National Line was formed on October 1, 1956 as the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission
with the passing of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. The organisation took around forty ships previously operated by the Australian Shipping Board, which had been formed in 1946 by the Australian Federal Government
In 1974 Australian Coastal Shipping Commission was replaced by the Australian Shipping Commission, and in 1989 Australian National Line Limited was established as a wholly owned government company. In 1998 the French company CMA CGM bought he naming rights of ANL Limited from the Australian Federal Government.
The company entered the ferry business in 1959, when Tasmanian Steamers
said they would be pulling out of the run. Their ship the SS Taroona
was becoming totally inadequate, only being able to carry 30 cars, which had to be lifted aboard. As no replacement was available, the Federal Government decided that the Australian National Line should take over, and it would be provided with a subsidy. So an order was placed at the New South Wales Dockyard at Newcastle for completion of a new vessel in September 1959. The new ship was named Princess of Tasmania,
and was the first roll on/roll off ferry in the southern hemisphere and the largest. She entered the Melbourne
route on 23/9/59.
The new ship and route were such a success for the ANL that they ordered a cargo only ship, to be named Bass Trader
With the passenger numbers going so well on the Princess of Tasmania
and cargo going very well also, ANL decided that a regular passenger service from Sydney
should be re-established.
An order was placed with Cockatoo Docks & Engineering Company Pty Ltd. The new ship was christened Empress of Australia
on 18/1/1964. Empress of Australia
made her maiden voyage from Sydney
on 16/1/1965. The Empress of Australia operated from Sydney to Hobart and Sydney to Bell Bay
With the Princess of Tasmania going so well out of Melbourne
, there needed to be more capacity on the route, so ANL ordered a new ship to be built at New South Wales
Dockyard. The new ship would be bigger than the Princess, with smaller passenger capacity but more cargo space, an early example of the Ro/Pax concept. The new ship was launched on 17/2/1969 as the Australian Trader. On 24/6/1969, Australian Trader set out on her maiden voyage to Devonport. The new ship operated a rotation between Bell Bay, Devonport and Burnie.
On 27/6/1972 Princess of Tasmania
left Devonport for the final time. ANL sold her to Bahamarine Ltd, Nassau and she left Australia for the very last time on 7/10/72. When the Princess of Tasmania left the route the Australian Trader swapped with her, and Empress of Australia replaced the Princess of Tasmania on the Melbourne - Devonport trade.
ANL announced that Australian trader would be withdrawn from service, being replaced by a new ship named Bass Trader.
On her final arrival in Bell Bay the crew went on strike. The ship remained idle there for two months. Finally on 24/9/76 they gave up and she sailed to Sydney, laid-up and was offered for sale. The sale was completed on 16/1/1977 to the Royal Australian Navy as a training ship.
In 1983 the Tasmanian government were seeking from the Federal Government funds to charter a supplementary ship, being either Scotia Prince, St Patrick II, Stena Baltica or Odysseus Elytis. This was rejected.
In 1984 ANL announced that they would not be continuing in the ferry business and the Empress would be withdrawn in 1985 and sold. This was then put into the hands of the Tasmanian Government which subsequently formed the TT-line and got the capital from the Federal Government to buy a ship.
The ceasing of the ANL's involvement in the passenger trade allowed them to concentrate solely on bulk freight and cargo. In 1998 the French company CMA CGM bought ANL from the Australian Federal Government.
CMA CGM operate over 80 bulk carriers on all of the world's major shipping lanes. As part of CMA CGM, the shipping company is now a part of the world's third largest shipping operator. ANL now employs over 3,000 staff globally and moves 240,000 cargo containers per year..
Commercially, ANL has complete control over the North-South directional trades, while it manages 20+ East-West directional trades on behalf of its parent - CMA CGM. In October 2006, as part of the announcement that CMA CGM was establishing CMA CGM Systems as a joint venture with IBM, it was revealed that ANL would integrate with the parent Company Systems by 2008.
ANL were involved in the 1975 Tasman Bridge disaster in Hobart, Tasmania, as the owner/operator of the MV Lake Illawarra, the bulk carrier which collided with the bridge.
- Ferry to Tasmania, A short History by Peter Plowman, ISBN 1 877058 27 0.