Visionary Captain Antonio Cosulich Passes Away at Age 84

Captain Antonio Cosulich
Captain Antonio Cosulich who reshaped Fratelli Cosulich passed away at age 84 (Fratelli Cosulich)

Published Nov 6, 2023 5:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fratelli Cosulich Group announced the passing of its former Chairman, Captain Antonio Cosulich at age 84 in Italy. The funeral was conducted today, November 6, in Genoa for one of the scions of a family with a long tradition in the shipping industry and which continues to be a leader in a broad range of services including bunkering and agency services. 

“The loss of Capt. Antonio Cosulich is immeasurable, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time,” the company wrote in a posting to friends and customers. “His foresight in diversifying our services led to a significant transformation within our industry.”

Fratelli Cosulich remains a family-owned company currently being led by the sixth generation. The company traces its roots to 1857 when the first Captain Antonio F. Cosulich started the business with a 500-tonne ship. By the 1920s the family had built the company into one of the largest in Italy with the grandsons of the founder running a diverse group of businesses. They had a cargo and passenger shipping operation to North and South America and a Mediterranean shipping operation. Another brother was running the Monfalcone Shipyard, which is today part of Fincantieri, and a third brother was starting a fledgling airline. Much of the businesses however were nationalized by the Fascists in the 1930s but some were still run by members of the family.

After World War II, the modern Fratelli Cosulich company was incorporated and began to help regrow the Italian merchant marine. They helped to manage the reemerging passenger shipping business as well as getting involved in operations such as oil shipping. They also grew a general agency business. 

Captain Antonio Cosulich after working at sea for the company joined our group offices onshore in the late 1960s. According to the company, his dedication and vision reshaped the trajectory of the company. At the time, the group was solely serving as an agency, catering, and manning provider for shipowners. Through his leadership, the business was expanding including introducing bunker trading activities. He also set the direction, initiating the investment program for the group.

Today, the group reports it operates out of 18 countries with revenues in excess of $1.5 billion annually. They include 90 companies involved in the group employing over 1,250 people. Bunkering remains a key element of the business.

His legacy is now carried on by all the board members, including his brother Honorary Chairman, Andrea, and his daughter Marta serving as CEO. Matteo, Tomaso, and Stefano joined the group and board under Captain Cosulich’s guidance. Augusto Cosulich, who has succeeded him as Chairman with his son Timothy, who currently serves as the Chair of IBIA, also continues to uphold the family vision and values.

The company writes that “Antonio was not just a remarkable businessman; he was a great leader and a cherished mentor to many. His ability to instill our group's values of internal communication, team building, and customer-focused approach is still remembered. It is important to underline that our group IT and digital-related processes for the shipping and logistics industries started some 30 years ago, thanks to his foresight.”

His leadership also extended far beyond the company. He served as the second-ever Chair of the newly constituted IBIA, the International Bunker Industry Association, one of the most influential institutions in the field.

“We will honor his memory by continuing to build upon the foundation he laid for our group, upholding the values and principles that he held dear,” the company concludes. “Captain Antonio Cosulich's spirit will forever be a guiding light for our organization, inspiring us to reach greater heights as a team, and as a family.”