How Captain Vassilis found wealth in shipping

Vassilis C. Constantakopoulos or Captain Vassilis for short is a Greek entrepreneur. Born on June 29, 1935, he founded and and built Costamare Shipping into one of the largest container shipping companies in the world.

Vassilis Constantakopoulos
Vassilis Constantakopoulos (Credit: allaboutshippin.co.uk)

Vassilis was born to a poor family in the village of Diavolitsi in Greece. As a young boy, he learned how to work hard to support his family. He would wake up early in the morning to sell milk to his neighbors and then go to work in a shop the whole day. At night, he went to school. When he graduated in 1953, he went to work for a shipping company as a deck boy. Gradually, he rose to become a master in 1974. Then he returned home and decided to be a ship-owner himself. Thus, Costamare Shipping Corporation was born.

During the crisis of the 1980s, Costamare acquired the ships of a failed operator. This opened a new chapter for the company as it transitioned to container shipping. Over the succeeding years, the company expanded through the acquisition of more and new ships. In 2008, it owned more than 50 vessels including post-panamax and very large container ships (VLCS). In 2010, the company went public, raising more than $100 million and was listed at the New York Stock Exchange.

Apart from shipping, Vassilis also invested in the development of an integrated tourism estate called Costa Navarino. This resort with 3 hotels and a golf course was opened in 2010 at the cost of more than a billion euros. He also established an industrial minerals company which he named Geohellas. In 2000, he opened the Hellenic Studies Centre at the University of Beijing.

Vassilis died in 2011 at the age of 76. He had 3 sons with his wife carmen.

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