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Jagjiwan Ujamshi MuljiThe origins of GOL Offshore are neither maritime nor fuel based but can be traced straight to trading roots. One significant constant in the company’s development across its various incarnations has been a family run management philosophy with a long term foresight.

The original founders of the company were the two brothers, Maneklal and Jagjiwan Mulji who settled in Mumbai during the first decade of the twentieth century. Jagjiwan displayed considerable talent, great business acumen and unusual speculative courage. Starting work in the textile industry, he rapidly gained such a remarkable understanding of the trade that he was able to establish his own textile mill and invite his brothers to join the business.

Their successes in the textile business allowed them to expand into the business of other commodities, particularly sugar. Taking a global view, Jagjiwan started importing sugar from Java and he soon discovered he could maximize his profits by chartering ships himself to transport the commodity between Java and India. The chartering activities of his company, Messrs Jagjivan Ujamshi Mulji were so significant that they were able to dramatically reduce the freight rate for the entire sugar trade between Java and India.

Maneklal Ujamshi MuljiThe stock market crash of the late 1920s forced the brothers to close their textile mill but with characteristic resolve they convinced a wealthy Parsi businessman – Dossabhoy Bhiwandiwalla – to invest in their business skill and experience. Together they formed the partnership of A. H. Bhiwandiwalla (AHB), which grew to such proportions that Jagjiwan and Maneklal were regarded as "The Sugar Kings” throughout India.

In 1947, after the Second World War, Jagjiwan's youngest son Vasant bought a Liberty type vessel, taking advantage of America’s mass sale of its Liberty fleet at attractive prices. The vessel was renamed “Jag Vijay” and the Great Eastern Shipping Company was born, representing a natural step from the pre-war sugar business chartering activities.

Great Eastern went on to become India’s largest private sector shipping company as it weathered the storms of cyclical fortune so particular to the shipping business, guided by the brilliant and diverse management skills of Vasant Sheth, K. M. Sheth, Sudhir Mulji and later Vijay and Bharat Sheth.



Jag Vijay

By the 1980s shipping companies in general began to diversify their activities into more specialized forms of shipping in response to the growing demands of the oil industry and the relaxation of government regulatory controls. Vasant Sheth, with characteristic vision and courage, responded to this by encouraging the company to enter the offshore services sector.

In 1983, the company purchased two Japanese built anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTSV) from Swire Pacific Offshore and in doing so became the first private sector Indian company to acquire an offshore vessel. The following year two more vessels were delivered and they were named Malaviya One, Malaviya Two, Malaviya Three and Malaviya Four after Vasant Sheth’s father-in-law, the late K. D. Malaviya who is generally regarded as the father of Indian oil industry.

All four vessels were chartered to ONGC on long term contracts.


Recognising that the offshore sector operated in a very different way to tramp shipping, Vasant Sheth encouraged particular officers in Great Eastern – especially Vijay Sheth – to hone their skills as they learned this highly technical service based trade. In 1985, Great Atwood Limited (GAL) was formed, a joint venture between Atwood Oceanics, A. H. Bhiwandiwalla and Great Eastern Shipping. This company acquired the exploratory drilling rigs Kedarnath and Badrinath and became the first Indian private sector company to own and operate offshore drilling rigs.
Great Atwood Limited operated as a joint venture until 1993 when it became a subsidiary of Great Eastern Shipping. At this time GAL Constructor, accommodation cum hook-up construction barge was acquired by the company, facilitating entry into the offshore construction market.

The offshore business was finally absorbed into Great Eastern Shipping and the offshore division was formed to manage and operate this business under the leadership of Vijay Sheth as Managing Director.

In 2005, the board of Great Eastern Shipping decided to demerge the offshore business into a separate company, GOL Offshore Limited, with an independent board.

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