ZIM Israel Navigation Company was established in 1945 by the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut Labour Foundation and the Israel Maritime League. After Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948, many former leaders of Aliya Bet - the clandestine immigration to the Land of Israel during the British Mandate - joined the company, bringing with them their unique sea-faring experience and spirit of adventure. ZIM faced the daunting challenge of bringing hundreds of thousands of immigrants to Israel, despite the fact that there were almost no passenger ships available. The old vessels of Aliya Bet were joined by the first passenger ships of the new Jewish fleet: S.S. Kedma, S.S. Negba, S.S. Artza and S.S. Galila.
During the war of Independence ZIM also provided cargo service to Israel, bringing precious supplies as well as arms and ammunition to ensure the survival of the fledging state. It is a role ZIM has continued to play during conflicts thereafter.
In 1950 ZIM began an era of expansion that would establish its global presence. In the framework of the reparations programme with Germany, ZIM had acquired 36 passenger, cargo, bulk carriers and tanker ships.
The fifties and early sixties were the heyday of the passanger ship era (as flights were still too expensive) and ZIM offered services throughout the Mediterranean, to and from America and to the Caribbean during the winter. By the late Sixties, as air travel grew and losses on passenger lines started mounting, ZIM's management made a painful but necessary decision to cancel the service.
In 1969, the Israel Corporation acquired approximately 50% of Zim from the Israeli government, beginning a new era focused on international expansion and specialized cargo shipping. By 1970, when Zim celebrated its 25th anniversary, the company had 77 wholly-owned ships and 70 chartered ships, and operated nineteen major cargo lines, carrying 4.3 million tons of cargo per year. In that same year, a bold decision was made by ZIM management that would change the face of the company. ZIM was among the pioneers in container shipping. A meticulously planned operation resulted in orders for 6 specialized container ships. ZIM container service was established. Container shipping became the company's major field of specialization, and today ZIM is among the largest companies in this field in the world.
At the beginning of the 1980's, when international shipping was undergoing a severe slump, ZIM was faced with the most severe crisis in its history, but by implementing a series of drastic measures the company was able to weather the storm. As a direct consequence ZIM became more efficient, more flexible and more profitable. The company went ahead with an ambitious refurbishment program, ordering 7 state-of-the-art container ships with greater capacity and reduced operating costs. The company established a solid infrastructure with a sophisticated computer and communication system that simplified fleet management and increased efficiency.
In 1990 the management decided upon a change of concept, transforming ZIM from a shipping company to an international intermodal transportation system. In 2004, Israel Corporation acquired the Israeli Government's remaining Zim shares, completing the privatization of the company.
Today's ZIM provides "Door to Door" service including land transportation, air and sea freight, forwarding and other transport related services. Company's facts and figures: over 2.2 million TEUs carried in 2010 (one TEU is the volume of a 20-foot-long, or 6.1 m, intermodal container); Total TEU Capacity (owned and chartered ships): ~363,000 TEUs; Fleet: About 100 vessels, 29 fully or partly owned; Containers: over 600,000 TEUs of various types; Regional headquarters: Haifa (Israel), Norfolk, Virginia (USA), Hamburg (Germany), Hong Kong; Agents: ZIM has approximately 145 agents located in countries throughout the world; Ports of Call: 180 throughout the world.
ZIM suffered a major setback in the international crisis of 2008. Ever since, the company finds it difficult to service its huge debt. As of the end of 2013, the company's shape and form in the future (and even whether it will stay an Israeli company) is unclear and depends on reaching yet another agreement with its bondholders.
Zim's flag is based on the pennant originally designed by Theodor Herzl in 1896 as the future national emblem of the State of Israel. Herzl's banner was designed with seven golden stars in the midst of a white field. The two blue horizontal stripes that make up Israel's flag were added at a later date.
The stamp was issued in 1995. Designer: R. Avrahami.