Landlocked but with a merchant fleet
Switzerland: land of chocolate, cheese and watches, land of snow-covered mountains, lush fields and crystalline lakes – but also home to Panalpina, 49 merchant ships and renowned graphic design. When you combine the latter two, the result is a set of beautiful stamps to celebrate 75 years of the Swiss merchant fleet.
Yes, Switzerland has a merchant fleet consisting of 49 ships. The fleet, the biggest among landlocked countries and one of the most modern in the world, is under the responsibility of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Swiss Maritime Navigation Office which is a stone’s throw away from Panalpina’s headquarters in Basel.
It includes bulk carriers, container ships, multi-purpose freighters and tankers with a total capacity of one million tons (deadweight tonnage – DWT), corresponding to one pro mille of global tonnage. The ships operate worldwide, as needed.
With its maritime merchant fleet, Switzerland has been crisscrossing international waters since 1941, when World War II escalated. Switzerland was economically dependent on shipping space to provide the country with essential goods. To ensure this provision continued, the country commissioned its own fleet.
The very first ship of the fleet was called Calanda and belonged to the Schweizerische Reederei AG, the former parent company of Panalpina. Today, the fleet is operated by six private shipping companies (Panalpina not being one of them), all of which are required to have their headquarters in Switzerland.
To celebrate the 75-year anniversary, four ships of the fleet are now featured on special stamps. The designer of the stamps is Marco Trüeb. Many of Panalpina’s loyal customers and employees have already come across his artwork in the form of the immensely popular and notoriously out of stock Panalpina desk and wall calendars.
The good news is: The stamps can still be bought online and they are shipped worldwide. We assume by air.
(Image: Copyright of Schweizerische Post AG, Briefmarken und Philatelie)