The shipping company Jadranska slobodna plovidba , now called Jadroplov, was founded on January 20, 1947. Originally, the company was intended for coastal navigation and trading in the Adriatic Sea. The company head office was located in Rijeka together with all other Yugoslav shipping companies. The rapid growth of shipping tonnage and trade in the Adriatic ports was continuously stumbling on the concept of concentration of merchant fleet, but finally the practical business reasons won the battle against ideological principles and, after long debates, the merchant fleet was dispersed. In 1956 Jadroplov head office was relocated from Rijeka to Split, the city which 20 years earlier used to have 11 shipping companies, including Yugoslav Lloyd, the biggest shipping company at that time.
Shortly after transferring of head office to Split, the company was licensed for transportation of passengers and goods in the international trade.
Already in 1957 Jadroplov started maintaining the first regular line for the Red Sea connecting national ports with Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Jemen. With this service, thirty-five years long period of liner’s supremacy in Jadroplov business strategy, started.
In the beginning of October 1959 Jadroplov’s ship ‘’Vareš’’, under the command of Capt. Nikola Huljić, on her way to Duluth in the Lake Superior passed through the St. Lawrence Seaway as the first Croatian ship, only three and a half months after its opening. The liner service to the USA and Canada ports on the Great Lakes was established.
Five years later (1964) the liner service to the Red Sea was extended to the East African ports in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania.
In 1968 Jadroplov started its third liner service to Australia and New Zealand.
With three liner services and extended business activity, the company attracted attention of the shipping and trading communities who are well aware that such a complex and expanding business needs great commercial and technical skills as well as highly qualified people both in the head office and on board the ships. The success of a young company from a small Croatian city remained a curiosity as it was hard to understand that only a few devoted men dedicated to their work and educated in the best traditions of Croatian seamanship have created such a reliable partner and respectable shipping company as Jadroplov.
However, even the greatest self-sacrifice or the best inherited knowledge wouldn’t have been sufficient to endure a strong competition of liner shipping if it hadn’t been followed by acceptance and application of technological innovations in the shipbuilding industry. Therefore in the early 1960s Jadroplov was building ships in Split shipyard naming them after famous Croatian poets from Split as ‘’Marko Marulić’’, ‘’Luka Botić’’ and ‘’Natko Nodilo’’. By introducing these ships into the liner service to the Red Sea, Jadroplov strengthened the position already established in the world’s shipping elite.
In 1967 and 1968 the same shipyard built three sisterships, ‘’Alka’’, ‘’Split’’ and ‘’Makarska’’ intended for the Great Lakes line. These new ships enabled the shipping company from Split to take the leading position in the demanding North American market. The maritime experts of the USA and Canada declared Jadroplov ships the best in their class and that award contributed to the reputation of the Croatian merchant fleet and the shipyards.
In spite of all the efforts to keep acquired position by building new ships (the ‘’Unity’’ series in 1969 - four (4) ships, ‘’Russian program’’ in 1977 – five (5) ships) Jadroplov’s liner services as well as those of all the other Croatian shipping companies, could not endure a fierce competition in the world markets. Besides the recession on the shipping market, the reason for a stagnation was the unfavorable treatment of the former Government towards its own merchant marine. Consequently, Jadroplov was facing significant financial difficulties that culminated in the late 1980s when the Company was forced to sell seven older ships in order to save the modern, vital part of its fleet.
The new business rise of Jadroplov started in the early 1990s and coincided with the creation of the independent Republic of Croatia and the transition from the ‘’planned’’ to the ‘’market’’ economy. In 1993, after a long period of stagnation, the company was profitable. Ship ‘’Hope 1’’, a bulk carrier of 30.900 dwt has been purchased. Next year (1994) on the basis of an agreement with Privredna banka Zagreb (PBZ) the Jadroplov fleet was increased by acquiring the container ship ‘’Zrin’’ with a capacity of 2.275 TEU. The PBZ invested into company with the hull of her sistership and bought the Jadroplov shares from the Croatian Privatization Fund, becoming the major shareholder in the Company. In 1996, the container ship ‘’Jadroplov Pride’’ (2.324 TEU capacity) was delivered from Rijeka shipyard and almost immediately was rewarded ‘’ The great ship of 1996’’ by the respectable American periodical ‘’Maritime Reporter and Engineering News’’ as the best vessel in her class.
The company celebrated its golden anniversary (1997) by building the new bulk carrier ‘’Don Frane Bulić’’ of 42.584 dwt and launching her sistership ‘’Split’’, which was delivered in 1998. The third sistership ‘’Mosor’’ was built and delivered to Jadroplov in 2001.
Starting in 1995, a gradual and persistent crisis loomed over the dry cargo market. It is said to be normal the world market has its periodical booms and crisis. Even our elders do not recall such deep and longlasting market instability wiping out the world known shipowners from the maritime market. To keep and continue operating with younger and modern fleet Jadroplov was forced to sell its older ships, so, in 1990s 14 older ships have been sold, i.e. Čiovo, Marulić, Botić, Split, Biokovo, Alka, Bol. Jelsa, Marjan, Omiš, Kairos, Pharos, Solin and Šolta.
In the past few years the world shipping market has been passing through its booms and Jadroplov nowadays is working intensively on its fleet renewal. This renewal of Jadroplov’s fleet guarantees a full engagement in the present booming market and a firm basis for the development in order to achieve a stronger presence on the world shipping market.