HISTORY OF LEPONTIA S.A. CHUR

       

The shares of Lepontia SocietÓ di Navigazione Marittima S.A. Chur, Switzerland belonged to Annie and RenÚ Dollfuss, widow and son of the late Korpskommandant (army general) Ruggero Dollfuss (1876 - 1948) from Castagnola and Kiesen BE (between Bern and Thun), Bernardo Caverzasio from Chiasso and the well-known Dr. Waldo Riva (1905 - 1987) from Lugano, a lawyer, politician and high army officer. Ruggero Dollfuss and his father made their money as entrepreneur in the chemical industry, but also Bernardo Caverzasio was in the same trade and he founded in 1929 ICR Industrie Chimiche Riunite S.A. Chiasso, a company still in business today.

On 27.10.1951 Lepontia SocietÓ di Navigazione Marittima, Chur purchased the freighter CAPO ARMA and entered her as LEPONTIA I in the Swiss ship's registry. Dr Waldo Riva, a board member of Banco di Roma per la Svizzera, Lugano arranged a loan for the vessel. The management was allocated to G.E.N. Gestione Esercizio Navigazione, Chiasso, a subsidiary of G.E.N. in Genoa (Fratelli Cosulich). It appears, that on the beginning the vessel was sailing in time charter for an US-company, but no further details are known. After about four and half years the ship was sold on 05.02.1955 to Greek interests, which registered the steamer as DEMETRIOS under the flag of Costa Rica.

Already when granting the right to fly the Swiss flag, various questions were raised, which the company could not accomplish or was unwilling to do. The most important question was about the ship's management, which by law should be in the hands of Swiss citizens, residing in Switzerland, which of course with G.E.N. was not fulfilled. However to build up such an organisation with one ship only, was a difficult and costly task, therefore it remained the promise to implement this request after more ships were acquired. A further demand was to employ Swiss seafarers, however we assume, no Swiss seaman ever put his foot on deck of this vessel and it remained firm in Italian hands.

Other considerations affected the share capital of the Dollfuss family. The father of Ruggero Dollfuss was the founder of a chemical work in Milano, but he was also the leader of the bank house Dollfuss in the same city. With the help of the tax offices it was confirmed, that the fortune of Annie and RenÚ Dollfuss were earned in Switzerland and no foreign capital was involved. Therefore, on the financial side all was in good order, but the management and control of the vessel remained of concern. In any case the company did not purchase any further ships and it is assumed after the sale of the LEPONTIA I all the activities were ceased.

Interesting to know, the Lepontia S.A. was in personnel and financial terms identical with the Delphinia SocietÓ di Navigazione Marittima S.A. Chur, which ordered in 1952 from an Italian shipyard the small tanker BERNA, but apparently was declined the right to fly the Swiss flag. This tanker sailed as BERNA under the flag of Panama until her demolition 1975 in the Spanish port of Gandia.

Launching of the motortanker BERNA on July, 24th 1952 at Monfalcone

SwissShips, HPS, July 2015

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