Athens – 16 September 2021
Shipping legends Stathis G. Gourdomichalis and George A. Pappadakis have been inducted into the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame after an Induction Ceremony & Dinner that took place in Athens on 13 September 2021. They bring the Hall of Fame’s pantheon of great personalities from the history of Greek merchant shipping since the steam age to 34.
Voting for Inductees takes place annually and is open to members of the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame Academy, currently numbering about 300 prominent individuals in today’s Greek shipping community. The integrity of the on-line voting and the final results are overseen by the international audit firm, Deloitte.
Stathis G. Gourdomichalis (1923-2006)
Stathis G. Gourdomichalis headed the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) during one of the most turbulent chapters of Greece’s modern shipping industry.
Gourdomichalis was liked for his personal charm and admired for a stubborn integrity that he deployed in his personal business dealings but also in the service of his country and his industry.
After being active in the Greek Resistance during the Second World War, Gourdomichalis moved to London where his early career in shipping was spent in the offices of Angelo Lusi and John C. Carras. His own shipowning career began in 1959 in partnership with the Vlassopoulos family. In 1969 he set out on his own, establishing Gourdomichalis Maritime in Piraeus and Gourdomichalis & Co. (Chartering) in London in order to run a fleet of bulk carriers and tankers.
He moved permanently to Greece in 1974 and the next year was elected to the board of the UGS under Anthony Chandris. Gourdomichalis Maritime gained a good reputation for the quality of its vessels and operation, as well as for its business ethics. But its founder’s legacy stems more from his public role in shipping fora.
His vision was to maximise shipping’s contribution to Greece and its economy, creating a competitive Greek flag and turning Piraeus into an international financial and maritime centre that he believed had the potential to rival London’s maritime cluster.
As president of the UGS from 1984 to 1991 he modernised the internal working of the Union, but he inherited a lengthy list of troubles that ranged from the shipping market crisis to bouts of government antagonism towards shipping. During his presidency, he had to deal with four different governments and nine different shipping ministers. Yet he fought successfully to protect Greece’s tonnage tax system and pushed to provide Piraeus with modern telecommunications, although this was not achieved until after his term in office was over.
George A. Pappadakis (1938-1992)
George A. Pappadakis was born into a family that has contributed enormously to the Greek and international shipping industry, although his own career was sadly cut short at the age of 54.
Father Antonis G. Pappadakis (1900-1981) was born on the island of Kassos, but the family moved to Egypt when he was young. He initially worked in shipping agencies but soon went on to purchase his first ships, continuing a family shipowning tradition. In 1938 his wife Virginia had twin sons, George and Nicky.
George in particular seemed destined for a maritime career, having shown a fascination for ships as a young boy. He would go on to fulfill his early dreams of becoming a ship’s captain, earning his Greek master’s licence.
During the war, the family fleet was put at the disposal of the Military Sealift Command to aid the Allied war effort. George inherited a profound sense of shipping’s duty in times of need and later became a key figure in merchant shipping’s interaction with NATO. He was also an idealist who as a young man in the 1950s supported the Cuban revolution against the dictator Batista.
In 1961 the two brothers joined A. G. Pappadakis in London. While Nicky concentrated on chartering, George focused on the technical and operational side of the business. The group emerged as a leading shipowner, ordering tankers, bulk carriers, and ore-bulk-oil carriers.
Although it built ships in several countries, he developed particularly strong relations with Japan. Meanwhile, he strove to repair ships whenever practical in Greece.
George followed his father in building vessels that offered crew accommodation far superior to the norm in shipping at that time. In addition to making numerous improvements to navigational equipment and crew welfare, he was ahead of his time in sending company officers for training on scale models of vessels at a new tank-testing facility in Switzerland.
After the death of Antonis Pappadakis in 1981, the brothers transferred their head office to Greece, renaming the company Kassian Navigation. George contributed to developing the port of Kassos but also contributed to national resources, for example donating a search and rescue boat to the Hellenic Coast Guard.
He was closely involved with various industry bodies and committees during his career, including classification society Lloyd’s Register. He was twice elected to the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners.
With the addition of Stathis G. Gourdomichalis and George A. Pappadakis, the Hall of Fame now includes 34 outstanding personalities who helped to write modern Greek shipping history. The Greek Shipping Hall of Fame has been paying tribute to historic Greek shipping personalities since 2007.