The1st Pakistani Passenger Liners ‘Safina-e-Hujjaj’ former WWII Troop Carrier

Pakistani passenger ship “Safina-e-Hujjaj” (19,116 tons gross, built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg), owned by Pan Islamic Steamship Co., anchored off Karachi in August 1967. She was completed in 1935 as the 17,528-ton transatlantic liner “Potsdam” for Norddeutscher Lloyd. At the end of World War II she was confiscated by the British Government who in 1946 renamed her first “Empire Jewel” & then “Empire Fowey”. She was re-engined & refitted as a troopship by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, between 1947 & 1950 and then placed under the management of P&O S.N. Co. She was bought by Pan Islamic in 1960 & scrapped at Gadani Beach in 1976.

The purchase of Safina-e-Hujjaj was made by the visionary entrepreneurs and founders of The Pan Islamic Steamship Co, Mr A.K. Rafiq (my paternal grandfather) and Mr A.H. Ismail.

Upon purchase Hujaj was towed from the port of Liverpool (UK) to the port of Karachi’s newly constructed east dry dock.

PISC was Pakistan’s first shipping company established in April 1950, listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (former Karachi Stock Exchange) in October 1952, 3 years after independence by Mr A.H. Ismail (Managing Director & Founder), Mr A.K. Rafiq (Director & Founder), Mr Abdul Aziz Arab (Princple Investor).

The Pan Islamic Steamship Co.was one of Pakistan’s pioneer company’s established a few years after  independence in a brand new country, on literary a shoe-string budget.

PISC started operations with one ship, out of there Writers Chambers office on McLoed Road (I.I. chundrigar Rd) in Karachi. From 1 ship PISC very fast acquiring a fleet of 7, including constructing Pakistans first motorized ship named Safina-e-Arab.

At its pinnacle PISC had agents spanning the globe from New York and Boston to Karachi, Bombay, Chittagong, Yemen, East Africa, etc.

Source: pieced together from titbits shared by my father Mr Rashid Rafiq and grandmother Mrs A.K. Rafiq. More details will be posted in subsequent posts.

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