In troubled waters
1948 - 1950
The first vessel to be launched after the end of the war is a fishing cutter. The construction of larger units in Germany is banned by the Potsdam Agreement.
Rickmers’ first post war ship is purchased from England. After some alterations to the vessel, the company’s traditional China service is intended to be taken up again with the MAI RICKMERS. However on her first voyage, the MAI RICKMERS is seized by the Taiwanese navy and held in Taipei. The Taiwanese charge that the vessel has been used to ship military equipment to China. The German federal government excludes Rickmers from state assistance programs. It takes another four years before Rickmers-Linie finally can relaunch its service to China and the Far East in 1955.
Claus Rickmers travels to China, where he becomes the first shipping executive from the Western world to be received by prime minister Zhou Enlai. From then on, he develops contacts with numerous business partners in the People’s Republic.
1960 - 1974
Beginning in the early 1960s, a shipping slump causes considerable losses for the shipyard and shipping company. Hapag-Lloyd purchases a 70-percent share in Rickmers-Linie in 1974.
On 29 October, a Rickmers ship is the first to reach the Port of Hamburg with a load of containers for ‘door-to-door’ shipping from China. This marks the dawn of a new era in transport logistics for the People’s Republic.
A warm welcome to Hamburg for the RICKMER RICKMERS. After 37 years of service the former Portuguese navy training ship (then called “Sagres”) arrives in Hamburg under its original name. The society “Windjammer für Hamburg” acquires the vessel dated from 1896 as a museum piece. The last 35 tons of steel needed for the restoration are donated by Rickmers-Linie.
On the grounds of the shipyard in Bremerhaven, staff and numerous guests, including honorary citizen of the city Helmut Schmidt, celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company, which is still entirely family-owned.
Bankruptcy proceedings against the Rickmers shipyard are opened in February. After the last newbuilding, the Britta Thien, production work at the plant is discontinued.