Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) was formed in 1885 by a merger between Mitsubishi’s shipping activities and Kyodo Unyu Kaisha, to operate routes to
China and to provide local shipping services. The latter became increasingly unattractive, because of growing competition from the railways and
the other major Japanese shipping company, OSK. In 1893 a service was opened to Bombay to import raw cotton. The Japanese Government decided to
provide all the subsidies NYK needed to establish an international shipping network. This encouraged NYK to establish lines to Australia, Europe,
and to the United States by the end of the 1890s. In the early twentieth century, subsidised services were opened to the Dutch East Indies,
South Africa and South America.
Although NYK did very well financially during WW1, the unsubsidised and unregulated Japanese companies fared significantly better. After WW1,
NYK opened a new subsidised cargo liner service through the Panama Canal and on to UK and Europe. In 1926 it purchased the Pacific operations of
the Toyo Kisen Kaisha, which ran passenger services to San Francisco, and proceeded to build a series of world-class passenger ships for this
route. Nevertheless by the outbreak of WW2, the government funded and controlled NYK was being seriously challenged by the independent OSK for
pre-eminence among Japanese shipping firms. World War 2 saw the destruction of much of the Japanese merchant fleet and confiscation of most of
the remainder during 1945-46. Nevertheless, the war and subsequent occupation had a levelling effect on all Japanese shipping firms, which
allowed NYK to recapture the strategic initiative that had been passing to OSK and others, like Mitsui Bussan's shipping division, before the war.
Towards the end of the occupation, the United States re-introduced subsidization through its aid programs and when the Korean War boosted
shipping recovery, the occupation authorities helped Japanese firms re-enter overseas lines and conferences. The event that triggered a
transformation in NYK strategy was the "Mitsui Fight." This was an unsuccessful three-year attempt in the mid-1950s by NYK and OSK, in
cooperation with European firms, to keep Mitsui Senpaku KK out of the Far Eastern Freight Conference. All firms suffered in this struggle,
but Mitsui survived because of its tanker business, which had supported it during the competition. This realization led NYK to undertake its
own strategy of diversification, a move accompanied by a restructuring of its business division into three major services – cargo liners,
bulk carriers, and tankers.
The 1950s were a difficult time for all Japanese shipping companies and NYK incurred trading losses from 1956 to 1965. The government
encouraged consolidation in the industry, linking a policy of merger with a commitment to increased subsidization. Under this process, NYK
merged with Mitsubishi Kaiun KK, a division within Mitsubishi Corporation, while rivals OSK and Mitsui Senpaku joined to form Mitsui O.S.K.
Lines, Ltd. The government also promoted containerization by aiding firms that formed container groupings. NYK had worked with the Matson
Navigation Company of San Francisco to introduce containers on its Pacific services and with Mitsui O.S.K., joined the Trio Group container
consortium with British and German shipowners.
NYK also pursued diversification by building tankers, ore carriers and developing a fleet of car carriers. These advances, however, were
partially offset in the early 1970s by a revaluation of the Japanese yen and a major strike, both of which increased the cost of Japanese
shipping. In addition, the oil crisis generated both a short-term boom and long-term risk. In 1975 NYK had the wisdom to reduce its exposure to
the tanker business, even though this sector was still very profitable. The wisdom of this decision was borne out in the 1980s, when several
Japanese firms that had continued to pursue the oil tanker market went bankrupt. Meanwhile, NYK continued to diversify, ordering liquefied
natural gas tankers and a larger fleet of car carriers to service the growing exports of cars to North America. With its still profitable base
in container shipping, these moves gave NYK a balanced business profile that enabled it to remain the largest and generally most profitable
Japanese shipping firm into the early 1990s.
In 1998, NYK merged with Showa Line Ltd., leaving Japan with four major shipping companies—NYK, Mitsui OSK Lines, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha,
and Navix. As a result of the merger, NYK operated 535 ships. By 2005 the directly owned fleet was over 700 ships with many more on charter.
Change of name to Paulcrown and owner to Paulcrown Cia Naviera SA 1970, change of name to Eleftheria Niki
and owner to Eleftheria Niki Cia Naviera SA 1976. Taken to Cartagena de Indias 14 November 1978 for breaking by SIPSA.