Compañía Suramericana de Vapores (CSAV)

Founded in Valparaiso, Chile in 1872, the Compañía Suramericana de Vapores (CSAV), is among the Panama Canal's first and most frequent users. It stands on tenth place among the waterway's main users, based on the 224 transits and $8 million it paid in tolls during the year 2000. CSAV began operations in Panama in 1883, after signing an agreement with the English Steamship Company. The SS Limari was the first Chilean vessel to transit the Canal, back on December 7, 1914. That day, the Canal granted a special authorization for the vessel to transit at night, becoming the fist vessel to ever cross the Canal at nighttime.

Although CSAV was established to serve only the coast of Chile, it soon expanded its activities to other countries on the East Coast of South and Central America, especially Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. By the end of World War II, the company further expanded its operations to ports in European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Holland, and England.

Currently, CSAV is among South America's most important shipping lines, with an average 60 vessels on its fleet. It specializes in shipping bulk and containerized cargo, vehicles, refrigerated and frozen products, and general cargo, which are among the main commodities transported via the Panama Canal. The company offers services from and bound to the Americas, the Mediterranean, and northern Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.

In 1998, CSAV obtained ISO 9002 certification from Lloyd's List, which corroborates its compliance with international quality standards for the transportation of cargo both locally and overseas. But the company activities go beyond maritime transportation, as it has expanded its operations to include stevedoring, docking, warehousing, and container repair and towing services.

CSAV is a public Chilean enterprise and one of the largest shipping agencies in Latin America, with profits beyond $30 million annually. Its success could be attributed to its philosophy, which focuses on providing expedite, efficient, and dependable solutions while offering first-class service to its clients.