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Trafina S.A., Basel was founded on 02.07.1947 at the suggestion of Charles Strübin-Bernhard. Charles Strübin was the main shareholder and co-shareholders were Ernst Scheibler-Holzkamp, Ernst R. Scheibler, both from Birsfelden and Rudolf Scheibler-Frey from Basel. These three gentlemen were not only good friends of Charles Strübin, but also related to him. The three-member board included Ernst Scheibler-Holzkamp as President, Rudolf Scheibler-Frey as Managing Director and Charles Strübin-Bernhard. The domicile of the company was at 11 Hardstrasse in Basel.

Charles Strübin (1891-1964), whose real name was Karl Ernst Strübin, was a citizen of Liestal in canton Basel-Land. He was a merchant by trade and had probably worked in a bank. At a young age, probably before or during the First World War, he emigrated to London, where he made a successful career. 1919 he married Anna Elisabeth Bernhard (1893-1979) in St. Pancras, London, where their only son, Charles Frederick (1922-2002), was born. He changed to the shipping business and by 1928 he had founded his own shipping company, Charles Strubin & Co. Ltd. London, which had its offices at 27 Creechurch Lane in the former shipping district near Tower Bridge. On average some six to seven cargo ships were operated. His London agency was Grimsey, Latham & Co. Ltd., 101 Leadenhall Street, London E.C.3. In 1939 Strübin was registered as a shipowner living near Slough with his wife and son, sharing the house with another shipowner Evald John Jakobson from Estonia, as well as a cook and parlourmaid.

During the Spanish Civil War Strübin also acted as blockade runner for the Republican side, with one ship sunk and another seized by the other side. During World War II, he lost at least two ships due to attacks by German U-boats, the STORENEST sank with all hands, and only four men could be rescued alive of the NEWTON ASH. Charles Strübin also operated ships flying the Estonian flag. More details are not yet known to us about the history of this Swiss shipping company, but it would certainly also make for an interesting, additional story.

Trafina S.A. initially owned 100% of Compania Naviera Parita SA in Panama, which operated five ships under the Panama flag. The ships were all sold again in 1949 1951 and 1963.

In 1950, Charles Strübin moved back to Switzerland and took up residence in a chalet in Merlischachen in canton Schwyz (between Meggen and Küssnacht am Rigi). The business in London was led by his son Charles Strübin, but the father always assisted with word and deed.

In the summer of 1951, the company applied to the federal government for the right to fly the Swiss flag on the coastal freighter LUCERNE. The takeover and the registration under Swiss flag took place in June 1951 in Hull, England. In autumn, the company also bought the coastal ship LUGANO. The two small freighters were used in coastal traffic in the North and Baltic Seas, around the British Isles down to Portugal and Spain. As a shipping specialist Charles Strübin looked after the two ships of Trafina by himself. The chartering was allocated to Chas. Strubin & Co in London.

Possibly for reasons of age, or perhaps because the business wasn’t running as well as desired, the LUGANO was sold again in September 1955 and the LUCERNE met the same fate a year later. The ships were not replaced and it seems that Trafina S.A. stopped its operations afterwards. The company Charles Strubin Co. Ltd. London was formally liquidated in the autumn of 1963 with Charles Strübin junior apparently having no interest in the company. Charles Strübin senior died after a long illness on 14.12.1964 at his place of residence Meggen on Lake Lucerne.

SwissShips, HPS October 2019 / Translation NB


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