FESCO (Far Eastern Shipping Company), headquartered in Vladivostok, Russia, will celebrate its 125th anniversary on April 25, 2005.

FESCO is Russia’s largest and most experienced steamship line, tracing its roots all the way back to 1880. Since its early beginnings, FESCO has grown into a company known worldwide for providing fast and reliable service for shippers of containerized, break bulk, roll-on/roll-off, and heavy lift/bulk cargoes. The Line operates more than 81 vessels worldwide and employs over 4000 people on ship and shore.

“Very few steamship lines in the world can say they have 125 years of experience,” said Aspi Rostami, President of FESCO Agencies North America. “Achieving this milestone is a true testament of FESCO’s stability and determination, which is underscored by the loyalty of our many customers and service partners.” Among FESCO’s strengths, he says, are its superior customer service, schedule integrity, modern fleet of vessels, frequency of services, full ownership of agency offices throughout the Pacific, and sizable inventory of state-of-the-art refrigerated containers, among others.

With a strong focus on the Pacific trades, FESCO Agencies North America, Inc., wholly owned by FESCO, supports the following liner services: FESCO Pacific Line (FPL) with a fixed-day weekly frequency to and from Russia; and FESCO Australia North America Line (FANAL), offering a fixed-day weekly service to and from Australia, New Zealand and islands in the South Pacific.

FESCO, which became a fully privatized company in 1992, has a fascinating history. In 1880, its first vessel, the Moskwa, steamed out of Odessa to the Russian Far East. On board were 90 Russian seafarers, a thousand tons of foodstuff and manufactured goods, and the first two passengers to sail to Vladivostok. A direct descendant of Imperial Russia’s Volunteer Fleet, FESCO brought the first settlers to Russia’s Eastern seaboard and supplied them with many of life’s necessities. Without the efforts of the Volunteer Fleet, which until the end of the 19th Century served as Western Russia’s sole link to the East, development of the region’s economy, culture and defense could not have proceeded.

Before the trans-Siberian railroad was completed, this water route was the Russian Far East’s only connection to central portions of the country. The early history of FESCO was under the banner of Dobrovolniy Fleet Company. The FESCO name came into being in the early 1900s when Dobrovolniy merged with the Vladivostok Arctic Shipping Company. Another merger followed in the 1930s with Brynner Shipping Company - founded by actor Yul Brynner’s grandfather. Brynner’s childhood home is now part of FESCO’s corporate headquarters in Vladivostok. In 1934, the company was renamed Far Eastern Shipping Company.

In World War II, FESCO sailors made a very significant contribution to the country’s victory. FESCO vessels were directly involved with liberating Korea, China, Sakhalin and the Kuriles, losing a total of 25 vessels during the war. In the post-war years, FESCO played a significant part in restoration of the nation. The fleet was continually modernized and expanded to include specialized cargo vessels, passenger liners, and powerful icebreakers.

During this 125th anniversary, FESCO will celebrate its past, but more importantly Aspi says, will focus on continuing its quest for quality, along with its growth in the Pacific trades. “We are very thankful for our strong following and customer base which includes most major Fortune-500 companies, as well as small to medium sized shippers looking to grow and expand their businesses in the markets we serve. We truly value our relationship with all major direct importers and exporters, in addition transportation intermediaries including forwarders, NVOCC and 3PL/4PL companies. We are looking forward to celebrating a strong and prosperous future.”