History of Volga Shipping Company

The history of Volga Shipping, the largest and oldest Russian shipping company, dates back to September 7, 1843, when Russian Emperor Nicholas I approved the Charter of “The Volga Steamship Company”.


Establishment of Volga Steamship Company.


Beginning of regular traffic of merchant ships along the Volga.

The Steamship Company operates nine high-class freight steamers by the end of the 1850s.

In 1859 the Steamship Company commenced passenger transportation on the Kazan - Astrakhan line.

The Volga is the largest river in the European part of Russia, and is navigable for 3,260 km from Rzhev to Astrakhan. In 1916, more than 1,747.6 million pudi (28,627 mt) of various cargoes were carried along the waterways of Russia, of which 1,237.4 million pudi were transported along the Volga.


Nationalization of the fleet, creation of a state system of water transport management. In 1923, the management boards of the Volga and North-West River Shipping companies were formed.

The country's economic development requires an increase in the capacity of the fleet at the level of the growth rate of the national economy. By the end of the first five-year plan (1932), the Volga Shipping Company transported 18.9 million tonnes of significant goods.

The Volga State River Shipping Company was tasked with expanding its ship repair yards capabilities and reducing the carrier cost by 40%.
Waterborne traffic in the 1940 shipping season in the Volga basin reached 40.1 million tonnes.


During the Great Patriotic War, the Volga and Ladoga military flotillas were created to assist the ground troops.

Vessels of military flotillas and of inland shipping companies transported troops, wounded, civilians, ammunition, war outfit, equipment, oil products, food supplies, medicines, letters, newspapers, etc. The ship crews took part in combat operations.

Overall losses in the battles of 1942-1943 on the Volga included 10 000 killed river transport workers and sailors of the Volga Military Flotilla, 389 river vessels and 12 warships. In May 1944, the Volga Military Flotilla was disbanded and the ships began commercial transportation of goods and passengers.

Creation of a system of reservoirs and canals of the Volga (1930-1964) became a key moment for the development in the 20th century of the nation's shipping industry. The system linked the Volga with five seas: the Caspian, Black, Azov, Baltic and White seas.

With the opening of the Volga-Baltic Canal in 1964, the Volga as a shipping artery became the Unified Deep Water System of European Russia (UDWS).


Volga United River Shipping Company was established in 1954, which integrated Volga Cargo and Passenger Shipping headquartered in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) and Volga Cargo Shipping Company with its headquarter in Kuibyshev (now Samara). Volga United River Shipping consolidated ten river harbours and dozens of shipbuilding and ship repair yards.

Between 1960s and 1970s: the expansion of key assets of the Company. Every year, new modern cargo ships were designed, built and commissioned into service. The passenger fleet was undergoing renewal and was expanded with comfortable motor ships built in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Austria, and more than 60 Raketa and Meteor type hydrofoils.

In 1966, the Volga United River Shipping Company was awarded the Order of Lenin for success in fulfilling plans for the transportation of goods and passengers, for the introduction of effective methods of navigation.

In 1975, the Company created the International Shipping Department.

Volga United River Shipping Company became the largest shipping company of the 20th century in Europe.


The state-owned Volga United River Shipping Company was transformed into a joint-stock company and as its legal successor was named Volga Shipping Company.

From 2000 to the present day

From the beginning of the 21st century, the Company started regular fleet renewal and diversification of cargo flows.

In 2000, V.F. Tanker was established with participation of Volga Shipping Company for oil cargo transportation (part of Volga Shipping since 2018).

In the period 2002-2008 Volga Shipping together with the North-West Shipping Company (became part of Volga Shipping in 2020), carried out a program for the construction of 12 RUSICH type river-sea class dry cargo ships.

2010: beginning of the construction of a series of ten multipurpose dry cargo ships of Project RSD44 ordered by Volga Shipping.

Between 2011 and 2013 Volga Shipping completed its newbuilding program for a fleet of mixed ‘river-sea’ class oil carriers, including 8 oil tankers of Project 19614 and 22 tankers of Project RST27 (which was named among top 50 ship designs in Significant Ships of 2012 award and 2013 of Royal Institution of Naval Architects).

Based on the 2017 performance results, Volga Shipping Company received the "Industry Leader" Award from the Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport of Russia (Rosmorrechflot).

In 2018 and 2020 V.F. Tanker and North-West Shipping Company, accordingly became part of Volga Shipping.

Today Volga Shipping Company is one of the largest shipping companies in Russia in the segment of inland and river-sea freight traffic. The Company owns and operates more than 250 dry cargo ships and tankers of a total deadweight of 1.4 million tonnes.