From the very beginning, El Musel was seen not only as a coal port but as a stopover for transatlantic liners to deal with the significant flow of migrators to American countries. This route started in October 1910 with the mooring of the German transatlantic liner ‘Santos’ on the Norte dock. In the 1911 Annual Statement, an increase in this type of traffic was foreseen and argued along three lines: “Due to the importance of relations between Asturias and America. Due to the lower price at which the ships here can load with coal. Due to the conditions of the port.
History – El Musel transatlantic
El Musel transatlantic
The main advantages offered to this traffic by El Musel included its berthing draught and the low price of coal. However, the disadvantage was that many of its infrastructures remained incomplete. Espigón I, where transatlantic liners could berth on its SE alignment, was not complete until 1913 and the 1,185 metres of the Norte dock protecting it against storms were not built until 1930. Furthermore, connections with Gijón were rather deficient. To make up for the bad road and other shortfalls, a toll system was improvised with steamships between the local quays and the new port complex, given that the electric tram line linking the city and the port from La Calzada was not opened until May 1912.
Once the first Breakwater had been completed, a temporary building was constructed on its end between 1914 and 1915 to accommodate passengers and a customs office. Shortly afterwards, a new building was constructed in the centre of the breakwater with space for border guards and port police for the greater comfort of the growing number of passengers and for luggage inspection. In terms of passengers and luggage access, the situation visibly improved following the agreement reached in September 1917 between Sociedad Ferrocarril de Carreño, Sindicato Asturiano del Puerto del Musel and Compañía de Tranvías de Gijón to provide a combined service through the lines of the three companies.
Given that Espigón I was not the most suitable place for transatlantic liners, the construction of Espigón II, known as “transatlantic”, began in 1935, although the work was stopped by the Spanish Civil War. It was started again in 1941 and was completed in 1944 when transatlantic voyages lost ground to inter-continental aviation.