Emblazoned on the smokestacks of dozens of ships around the world is a huge white N. It does not, as landlubbers might think, stand for Nicaragua or The Netherlands but for Stavros Spyros Niarchos, 46, a short (5 ft. 7 in.), slim citizen of Greece whose private merchant fleet is bigger than the navies of Nicaragua and The Netherlands combined. Niarchos. whose name means "master of ships," claims to be the world's biggest independent shipowner, with some 1.600,000 tons afloat and abuilding (v. Moore-McCormack's 400,000 tons). Though he has launched more ships than any other Greek since Helen, Niarchos...

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