In the inter-War years, one of the best-known names on the transatlantic routes between the Adriatic ports and the Americas was that of the Cosulich Line. Their two most glamorous ships were the sister motor vessels Saturnia and Vulcania, both of which had long and varied histories: their careers spanned over four decades and they had several successful roles in peace and in war as ocean liners, war transports, hospital ships and cruise ships. Indeed, their names are still well-remembered in Italy and abroad, above all in Trieste where the Cosulich Line had its headquarters and was recognised as one of the city’s great enterprises.The company was founded in the early XIX century by the Italian-mother tongue Cosulich family from Lussino, one of the islands of the Quarnero archipelago, at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. As with the majority of the citizens of Lussino, the family’s activities were mainly connected with the sea and, in 1852, the brothers Antonio Felice, Gaspare and Marco Cosulich bought the second-hand tall ships Gloria and Marco which had been launched from a Trieste yard a decade earlier. They also ordered a third, larger two-masted sailing ship from a shipyard in Fiume and named her Elena Cosulich after their mother. In 1855, owing to the Crimean War, the French and the English found it necessary to charter any suitable vessel which was available for the transport of men and materiel and the Cosulich ships were employed almost exclusively in this way for nearly two years: the very high charter rates which they were able to obtain enabled the brothers to enlarge their fleet and expand their business.
A few years later, Alberto, Calisto, Fausto and Marco, sons of Antonio Felice, entered the family business and in 1899, at their father’s suggestion, they moved to “the town”, Trieste. At that time, business at the chief port of the Giulian region was in full swing: after the opening of the Suez Canal it became the “Gate to the Far East”, one of the largest and best-equipped ports in the Mediterranean and, indeed, elsewhere. Trieste was a leading emporium for merchants, insurers, shipowners and other people connected with the shipping trades.