budapest ship lights

The Hungarian sea cruiser industry had its heyday when the country did not even have access to the sea.

But how is that possible? – asks Before the peace treaty of Trianon – because of which 2/3rd of the country’s territory was given to the neighbouring states, with more than 3 million Hungarians – Hungary had access to the sea at the Croatian shores. The steamboats of the Adria Tengerhajózás Rt. regularly crossed the oceans and reached even Australia or the Far East. This is what changed the moment Hungary lost WWI, since

all commercial, transport, and military ships had to be given to  Yugoslavia.

However, Hungarians did not give up and started to make Duna-type sea cruisers which were not only built but also designed in Hungary.

Hungary boat
The launching of Tisza in 1936. Source:

They were transport ships circulating between the Csepel free port and the different havens of the Black and the Mediterranean Seas. Too low or too high water levels caused no problem for those ships, and one could easily navigate them upstream.

The first such boat (Budapest) was built in 1934, and since it was very successful, more followed (Tisza, Kassa, Ungvár, Kolozsvár, Szolnok, and Komárom). During WWII, the

Germans rented 6 of them

and transported supplies to the Eastern Front for the armies fighting in Ukraine. Of course, some of them were destroyed; for example, the Ungvár exploded after running on a mine. The Kolozsvár was bombed, the Szolnok sank, and the Komárom got injured, as well.  

Hungary boat sea
The Kassa. Source:

After the war,

the Ganz boat factory made cruisers for other Socialist states

as a part of the remedy it had to pay for the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. More than a hundred 1,100-tonne boats were built in Budapest.

In the West, people said that building sea cruisers 1,600 kilometres away from any seashore is a

Hungarian paradox” and “Socialist absurd.”

Hazám (My country) was built in 1958 as a part of a new boat class. These boats were bigger, had diesel engines, and a double bottom.

Hungary boat sea
The Mangalia. Source:

During the heyday of Hungarian sea boats, around 1980, 1,800 sailors worked for the MAHART, the Hungarian naval company, on 21 boats. The biggest ship was Vörösmarty with 15 thousand tonnes. It started to serve in 1979 and was then the most modern boat of the fleet.

The end of the era of Hungarian sea boats is probably 2000 when Vörösmarty was sold. It was renamed as Yong Kong and was dismantled just 4 months after the purchase. When the Pannon Star and the Pannon Sun were sold in 2004,

the Hungarian flag disappeared from the sea.

Not enough? HERE is an article about a new project of the Hungarian government, establishing a port in Trieste, Italy. If you want to read about MAHART, the Hungarian naval company, and the services it offers today, click HERE.


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