The Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, typically known overseas as the French Line, was a French shipping company. Established in 1855 by the brothers Émile and Issac Péreire under the name Compagnie Générale Maritime, the company was entrusted by the French government to transport mails to North America. In 1861, the name of the company was changed to Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. The company's first vessel, the SS Washington, had its maiden voyage on 15 June 1864. After a period of trials and errors in the late 19th century, the company, under the direction of its presidents Jules Charles-Roux and John Dal Piaz, gained fame in the 1910s and 1930s with its prestigious ocean liners such as SS Paris, SS Île de France, and especially SS Normandie. Fragilized by the Second World War, the company regained its fame in 1962 with the famous SS France, which suffered major competition from air transport and was retired from service in 1974. In 1977, the company merged with the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes to form the Compagnie Générale Maritime. Then, in 1996, the company Compagnie Générale Maritime merged to form the CMA CGM.