Italian liner shipping upstart Kalypso Compagnia di Navigazione has filed for liquidation.

The Genoa-based company sought protection against creditors after running up significant debts.

This follows the arrest of one if its container vessels and the refusal by the Chinese owner of its chartered vessels to allow port calls in Israel.

Kalypso was founded in late 2021 by Rome-based freight forwarder RifLine during the height of the pandemic-led container shipping boom.

Since then, the market changed rapidly and prospects for the company were poor, so owners decided to liquidate it, a source told TradeWinds.

The final blow came two weeks ago, when the 2,500-teu Zhong Gu Xiong An (built 2018) was arrested upon arrival at the San Cataldo Container Terminal in the Italian port of Taranto.

According to the ShippingItaly website, the arrest was carried out over €2m ($2.2m) worth of unpaid bunkers to Intergr8 Fuels.

Another two vessels, the 2,500-teu Zhong Gu Lin Yi and Zhong Gu Ying Kou (both built 2018), were reported off the coast of China awaiting further instructions.

Neither Kalypso nor RifLine have made any official comment.

Israel ports headache

Kalypso’s problems were compounded by the war in Gaza.

In October, Zhonggu Shipping — the owner of four 2,500-teu ships chartered to Kalypso — refused to let the vessels discharge cargoes at Israeli ports.

That forced Kalypso to halt its Marco Polo service operating between China, Bangladesh, Israel and Italy.

The company had operated fast sailings every 16 days with a fleet of four vessel chartered from Zhonggu.

Freight rates on those services were hit hard by the container freight market downturn since the start of the year.

RifLine’s only owned vessel is the 3,426-teu Burgundy (built 2008), which the company acquired in August 2022 for $24m.

The ship is understood to have been bought under a sale-and-leaseback scheme that involved a Chinese financial institution.

The company reported a net profit of €1m in the last financial year.

Kalypso is not the first European company to collapse after a launch during the container shipping boom.

In October last year, UK-based Allseas Global Project Logistics went into administration.