Apart from the acquisition of Liberty-type ships and second-hand vessels built before World War II, the establishment of a strong Greek merchant fleet in postwar years was made possible thanks to a great number of newbuilding projects that began in the years immediately after the end of the War.

From 1949 up to 1967, that is when the first Freedom-type cargo ships were delivered followed by SD-14 vessels – which replaced the ageing Liberty fleet – 67 Greek shipping groups got delivery of 282 high-specification general cargo ships. Half a century later, most of these groups continue to have a strong presence in international maritime affairs.

These general cargo vessels, coupled with the Liberties, offered high-quality services in international seaborne trade and largely due to their operation, Greek shipping evolved into the world’s leading maritime power by the late 1970s.

Out of these 282 ships, 190 were built in European shipyards. More than half of the vessels built in Europe were delivered by British yards, as at the time the United Kingdom was still the word leader in shipbuilding, while the remaing 92 ships built outside Europe were ordered at Japanese shipyards, contributing decisively to the establishment of a thriving shipbuilding industry in Japan over the next decades.

With the exception of three ships built under the supervision of the French classification society Bureau Veritas, the construction of these vessels was supervised by the British and American classification societies Lloyd’s Register of Shipping and American Bureau of Shipping respectively.

The cargo vessels presented in this section demonstrate the entrepreneurial initiatives of Greek shipowners that were aimed at the reconstruction of their merchant fleet, 75% of which had been lost during World War II. These investments – as well as all acquisitions of cargo ships by Greek shipowners –were undertaken without any assistance or subsidy from the Greek state and were financed solely by non-Greek lenders.