Corporate History


International Shipholding Corporation’s beginnings date back to 1947 when it was founded as Central Gulf Steamship Corporation by the late Niels F. Johnsen and his sons, Niels W. Johnsen and Erik F. Johnsen. Central Gulf Steamship Corporation purchased its first vessel, the war built Liberty Ship SS Horatio Allen, which was later renamed Green Wave. Shortly thereafter, Central Gulf purchased its second vessel, the SS Ouachita Victory which was renamed SS Green Valley. Thus began the history that leads to International Shipholding Corporation and our fleet of 51 vessels of varied types sailing worldwide.

Not for Widows And Orphans

In 2007, Niels W. Johnsen, Retired Chairman of International Shipholding Corporation, authored a book celebrating the company’s first 60 years:Not For Widows And Orphans: A Chronology of International Shipholding Corporation 1947-2007. To order the book, please contact Marion Gay at

1940’s – Our First Ships

  • Central Gulf purchases its first vessel, the war-built Liberty ship SS Horatio Allen, which is renamed SS Green Wave.
  • Central Gulf purchases its second vessel, war-built AP-2 Victory, the SS Ouachita Victory, which is renamed SS Green Valley.
Green Wave 1947

1950’s – Service Expansion

  • SS Green Valley is the first Central Gulf vessel chartered to Military Transportation Service.
  • Central Gulf begins a Liner service between the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and East Coast ports to ports in the Red Sea, India and Pakistan.

1960’s – Growth, Newbuilds and The Launch of LASH

  • Central Gulf contracts for the construction of first new builds, MV Baron Holberg and MT Sterling.
  • Central Gulf originates LASH service with the world’s first LASH ship, a 43,000 DWT vessel with barge carrying capacity, named MV Acadia Forest.

1970’s – Merger and More Growth

  • Central Gulf merges with Trans Union Corp.
  • Central Gulf orders and constructs 3 additional LASH vessels in a U.S. Shipyard
  • Name changed to Central Gulf Lines, Inc. (CGL)
  • International Shipholding Corporation formed to act as a holding company in anticipation of spin-off of certain shipping assets of Trans Union.

1980’s – Diversification and Growth

  • Central Gulf contracts for U.S. domestic barge freight via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
  • Military Sealift Command awards International Shipholding Corporation a contract to operate three U.S. Flag RO/RO vessels for use by the U.S. Navy.
  • International Shipholding Corporation enters the U.S. flag Pure Car Truck Carrier (PCTC) market with the construction of two vessels, MV Green Lake and MV Green Bay.
  • International Shipholding Corporation enters the international flag PCTC business with the construction of two vessels named MV Cypress Pass and MV Cypress Trail
  • International Shipholding Corporation acquires the assets of Forest Lines.
  • International Shipholding Corporation acquires Waterman Steamship Corporation (WSC) located in New York and Mobile, AL. WSC was founded in 1919.

1990’s – Innovations and Investments

  • International Shipholding Corporation’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:ISH)
  • ISH constructs a new LASH Intermodal facility in Memphis TN., capable of handling barge, truck and rail traffic.
  • ISH enters into a transportation contract with a sulfur company to carry molten sulfur along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. ISH builds a tanker to handle the contract
  • ISH contracts with a mining company in Indonesia to transport supplies for the mine.
  • ISH purchases a U.S. flag self loading and unloading coal carrier renamed SS Energy Enterprise.
  • ISH acquires interest in an international cement carrier company.

2000’s – Rail Innovation

  • ISH begins operating CG Railway, Inc., a two vessel rail ferry service as an alternative route to transport rail cars from U.S. to southern Mexico.
  • ISH relocates corporate headquarters to Mobile, Alabama
  • CG Railway completes expansion of its vessels to double the capacity of railcars being transported
  • Alabama Governor Bob Riley presents ISH the Governor’s Trade Excellence Award.

2010’s – Acquisitions and Expansions

  • ISH acquires an equity stake in Oslo Bulk company
  • ISH takes delivery of a 6400 car equivalent PCTC
  • ISH takes delivery of three 36,000 dwt handysize bulk carriers.
  • ISH takes delivery of a 2000 built, 17,381 dwt Multi Purpose carrier
  • ISH takes delivery of a 2012 built 58,000 dwt bulk carrier
  • ISH acquires Frascati Shops, Inc., a certified railcar repair facility in Mobile, Alabama
  • ISH acquires United Ocean Services, LLC., located in Tampa, Florida