Swedish American Line
Swedish American Line (Swedish: Svenska Amerika Linien, abbreviated SAL) is a Swedish passenger shipping line. It was founded in December 1914 under the name Rederiaktiebolaget Sverige-Nordamerika, beginning ocean liner service from Gothenburg to New York in 1915. In 1925 the company changed its name to Svenska Amerika Linien / Swedish American Line.
|Industry||Cargo and passenger shipping|
|Successor||Rederi Swedish American Line AB|
|Defunct||1984 (former SAL)|
|Subsidiaries||South Atlantic Lines, Home Lines, Hoverlloyd, Swedish Atlantic Line, Atlantic Container Line|
The Swedish American Line was amongst the first companies to build liners with provisions for off-season cruising, as well as the world's first company to build a diesel-engined transatlantic liner. Increased operational costs and stronger competition from aeroplanes forced the company to abandon passenger traffic in 1975, but cargo operations continued until the 1980s.
Rederiaktiebolaget Sverige-Nordamerika (literally, "shipping corporation Sweden-North America") was born from the idea of Wilhelm R. Lundgren, the owner of Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic, with the purpose of offering ocean liner service from Sweden to North America. Both Norway and Denmark already operated their own transatlantic liners, and the establishing of a Swedish company for the trade was a matter of national pride. Lundgren died in September 1914, but his successor Gunnar Carlsson managed to attract the attention of Dan Broström of the Broström Concern, and on 4 December 1914 the new Rederiaktiebolaget Sverige-Nordamerika was founded in Gothenburg. The Broström Concern had already operated freighters across the North Atlantic since 1911 under the name of Swedish American Mexico Line (often abbreviated SAML). Originally the new company had planned to commission two purpose-built 18000-ton ships, but this plan was never realised. Instead, in September 1915 the company acquired the 1900-built Holland America Line vessel SS Potsdam, which was renamed SS Stockholm. On 11 December 1915, in the midst of World War I, the Stockholm left on her first crossing from Gothenburg to New York. En route she was stopped by a British naval vessel and forced to make a stop at Kirkwall, where all mail onboard was confiscated. In the end, the Stockholm's first transatlantic crossing took no less than 15½ days. Initially the new company concentrated on immigrant trade, with substantial provision made for passengers traveling in steerage. Despite the difficulties caused by the war, the Stockholm continued transatlantic services until 1917, when Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare forced her to be laid up in Gothenburg until June 1918, when she resumed service.
In February 1920 RAB Sverige-Nordamerika acquired a second ship, the former Allan Line vessel SS Virginian from Canadian Pacific Steamships. The ship had most recently been used as a troopship by the British Admiralty. She was renamed SS Drottningholm and entered service for her new owners on 30 May 1920. In 1922–1923 the Drottningholm was refurbished, re-engined and her superstructure enlarged. As a partial replacement, the 1902-built SS Noordam was chartered from Holland America Line as SS Kungsholm from 27 February 1923 until 18 December 1924. In April 1924 the company acquired SS Borgholm, a small coastal steamer that became the first in a series of feeder ships used to transport passengers from ports around the Baltic Sea to Gothenburg.
In March 1923 RAB Sverige-Nordamerika placed an order for their first newbuilding, the first MS Gripsholm, with Armstrong Whitworth & Co in Newcastle upon Tyne. She was the first diesel-engined liner to be built for the transatlantic service. The Gripsholm was launched and christened on 26 November 1924, and delivered on 7 November 1925. On the same date her owners officially changed their name to Svenska Amerika Linien / Swedish American Line, and on 21 November the Gripsholm set out on her maiden voyage from Gothenburg to New York. Encouraged by the success of the Gripsholm, SAL placed an order for a ship of similar but larger design with the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg on 28 October 1926. In 1927 the company decided to enter the cruise market, offering various cruises during the northern hemisphere winter season.
On 17 March 1928 the new MS Kungsholm was launched at Blohm & Voss. The Kungsholm's interiors were designed with off-season cruising in mind, with her passenger capacity shrunk from 1344 on liner service to around 600 for cruising. She was also one of the first liners with interior decorations in art deco style, following the lead of the SS Ile de France, built in 1927. The ship was delivered to SAL on 13 October 1928, and left on her maiden voyage on 24 November 1928. Coinciding with the delivery of the new ship, the first SS Stockholm was sold to Norwegian interests for conversion to a whale factory ship, SS Solglimt. With the Gripsholm and Kungsholm the SAL gained popularity with West European and American passengers, both in liner and cruise service. In May 1929 the United States and Canada imposed extensive restrictions on immigration. At some point after the delivery of the Kungsholm, SAL decided to abandon the traditional black hull colour and their entire fleet was repainted with white hulls.
The Swedish American Line continued operations with the Drottningholm, Gripsholm and Kungsholm throughout the 1930s. In November 1936 the company placed an order for a new ship, MS Stockholm, with Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico, Monfalcone, Italy. The planned delivery date for the ship was in March 1939, but she was destroyed by a fire during the final stages of construction on 19 December 1938. Construction of a second ship based on the same design, also named MS Stockholm, began soon after the destruction of the original.
Due to World War II breaking out in Europe, the Kungsholm made her last transatlantic crossing in October 1939, after which she was used for cruising around the West Indies until 1941. Also due to the war the Gripsholm and Drottningholm were taken out of service and are laid up on 24 November 1939 and March 1940, respectively. Meanwhile, the construction work continued on the third Stockholm in Italy, and she was launched on 10 March 1940. In October 1941 the ship was ready for delivery, but due to the war SAL had no service to place her on. As a result, the ship was sold to the Italian government on 3 November 1941 and converted to the troopship MS Sabaudia. The Sabaudia eventually sunk outside Trieste on 6 July 1944. Had the Stockholm ever entered service for SAL, she would have been the largest ship ever operated by the company.
In December 1941 the US Government confiscated the Kungsholm while she was in New York. After negotiations with the Swedish American Line, the company agreed to sell the ship to the War Shipping Administration (WSA) for $6 million which renamed the ship John Ericsson for operation under WSA contract by United States Lines with allocation first to the State Department and then in January 1942 to Army troop transportation until 1945 when she was laid up. The Drottningholm meanwhile was chartered by the US government 4 March 1942 for use as a repatriation vessel, to exchange official personnel between the United States and the Axis powers. As Sweden was a neutral country during the war, the Swedish-flagged ship could be used to transport passengers between the warring nations, under the command of Sea Captain John Nordlander. The Drottningsholm made two exchange trips for the US government, after which she was chartered for similar use by the British government. In June 1942 the Gripsholm was also chartered to the US government for the same use as the Drottningholm. For this purpose the Gripsholm was managed by the American Export Lines but kept her original Swedish crew and flag. Unlike the Drottningholm, the Gripsholm was chartered to the US government until 1946. Together the Drottningholm and Gripsholm made a total of 33 repatriation voyages during the war.
In March 1946 the Swedish American Line re-commenced commercial service, with the Drottningholm setting on her first post-war crossing from Gothenburg on 26 March 1946, while the Gripsholm set out on her corresponding crossing from New York on 31 March 1946. On 9 September 1946 the company's newest ship was launched at the Götaverken shipyard and named MS Stockholm. The new Stockholm was the product of an entirely different thinking from her two predecessors with the same name—instead of offering luxurious surroundings, the new ship was to offer cheap transportation for the masses with austere interiors—despite the protests from the company's chief executive and Stateside offices. During the same year the Swedish American Line founded Home Lines together with Cosulich Lines and the Greek businessman Eugen Eugenides. Additionally the operations of Swedish American Mexico Line were merged into those of the Swedish American Line in 1946, bringing five cargo-carrying ships to the fleet of SAL. On 18 July 1947 Swedish American Line bought back the USS John Ericsson from the US Navy, and restored her to her original name. The ship sailed to the Ansaldo shipyard in Genoa, where she was rebuilt for service with Home Lines under the name MS Italia.
On 7 February 1948 the new Stockholm was delivered to SAL. She set out on her maiden voyage from Gothenburg to New York on 21 February 1948. When the Stockholm entered service, the Drottningholm was transferred to South Atlantic Lines (a subsidiary of SAL) and renamed SS Brazil for traffic with Home Lines. Between 18 December 1949 and 14 February 1950 the Gripsholm was rebuilt at Howaldtswerke, Kiel with amongst others new funnels, a new bow and modern navigational equipment. In March 1950 the company placed an order for a new combined cruise ship/ocean liner with De Schelde shipyard at Vlissingen, Netherlands. On 18 January 1951 the Swedish American Line re-commenced cruise service for the first time since 1941, when the Stockholm embarked on a cruise to the West Indies.
The new ship under construction at De Schelde was launched on 18 October 1952 and named MS Kungsholm, becoming the third SAL ship to bear the name. The new Kungsholm was delivered on 30 September 1953, and set out on her maiden voyage from Gothenburg on 24 November 1953. Following the Kungsholm's delivery the Stockholm was rebuilt with larger passenger accommodations. Coinciding with the completion of the Stockholm's refit, the ageing Gripsholm was sold to the North German Lloyd, becoming their MS Berlin. On 14 September 1954 SAL ordered another new ship, essentially an enlarged version of the most recent Kungsholm, from the Ansaldo shipyard. The new ship was named MS Gripsholm (the second ship to bear that name in the SAL fleet) and launched on 8 April 1956.
On 25 July 1956 the Stockholm collided with the SS Andrea Doria outside Nantucket in one of the most famous maritime disasters of the 20th century. 47 people on the Andrea Doria were lost, while five members of the Stockholm's crew were lost in the collision. Several of the Andrea Doria's passengers were rescued by the Stockholm. She was able to return to New York under her own power, and was subsequently repaired at Bethlehem Steel, returning to service on 5 November 1956. On 14 May 1957 the new Gripsholm started on her maiden voyage from Gothenburg to New York. For the next three years the company operated with three ships. In May 1959 the Stockholm was sold to VEB Deutsche Seereederei, East Germany, with a delivery date on 3 January 1960, becoming their MS Völkerfreundschaft.
On 23 August 1963 the Swedish American Line ordered another new ship, this time from John Brown and Company, Clydebank. The new ship, named MS Kungsholm (the fourth SAL ship with that name), was launched on 14 April 1964. Her design featured several cruise-friendly innovations, including all-outside cabins and large lido decks. In preparation for the delivery of the new Kungsholm, the old (third) Kungsholm was sold to North German Lloyd on 5 October 1965, becoming their third MS Europa. The SAL operated with just one passenger-carrying ship until 24 April 1966, when the fourth (and final) Kungsholm was delivered. She began service with a transatlantic crossing from Gothenburg to New York, after which she was used for cruising around the world. In 1966 SAL's ships made only nine transatlantic crossings. In 1965 SAL had founded Hoverlloyd together with Swedish Lloyd to offer a fast hovercraft connection across the English Channel. Hoverlloyd begun operations in 1966 with two hovercraft, Swift and Sure. Another joint operation was formed in the mid-60s when SAL, Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic and Wallenius Rederiet founded Atlantic Container Line as a joint marketing entity for transatlantic freight operations. Some time later the decision was made to establish a new company, Swedish Atlantic Line (AB Svenska Atlant Linjen), for Swedish American Line's freight operations. In the early 70s another joint company, Atlantic Gulf Services, was founded, this time in collaboration with Finnlines.
In 1970 SAL's passenger ships made only three transatlantic crossings, and from 1971 onwards the only crossings made were repositioning cruises. In June 1972 the Swedish American Line purchased the expedition cruise ship MS Lindblad Explorer via their Panama-based subsidiary United Cruising Co. Unlike other SAL passenger vessels, the Lindblad Explorer was registered in Panama, not Sweden. Increased operational costs of Swedish-flagged ships forced the company to start negotiations with Swedish trade unions for re-flagging the Gripsholm and Kungsholm. The negotiations failed however, and 22 March 1975 the company decided to abandon passenger traffic despite protests from the company's United States offices, according to whom the ships would have continued to be highly profitable even under the Swedish flag. The Gripsholm and Kungsholm were taken out-of-service and laid up in August 1975. The Kungsholm was sold to Flagship Cruises in October of the same year for only 65 million Swedish krona, a half of what SAL had paid for her nine years earlier. Flagship maintained her under the name Kungsholm for cruising under Liberian flag. The Gripsholm found a buyer in November when she was sold to Karageorgis Lines, Greece, becoming their MS Navarino. The Lindblad Explorer however stayed under SAL's ownership. At the end of 1975 SAL withdrew from Atlantic Gulf Services.
SAL continued freight operations, maintained their share in Hoverlloyd and ownership of the Lindblad Explorer until the early 1980s. The Lindblad Explorer was sold to Lindblad Swire Cruises in 1980, and soon afterwards SAL withdrew from Hoverlloyd. Apparently the last ship owned by the company was sold in 1986. In 1984 the company was bought by competing ship owner Rederi AB Transatlantic, which in turn was bought by transportation company Bilspedition AB in 1988. The last vestiges of SAL disappeared in 1990, when Bilspedition closed down its shipping department.
|Ship||Built||In service for SAL||Type||Tonnage||Notes||Image|
|SS Stockholm||1900||1915–1928||ocean liner||12,835 GRT||Sunk 1942.|
|SS Drottningholm||1905||1920–1946||ocean liner||11,285 GRT||Scrapped 1955.|
|SS Kungsholm||1902||1923–1924||ocean liner||12,500 GRT||Scrapped 1928.|
|MS Borgholm||1899||1924–1934||liner||518 GRT||Used on feeder service from the Baltic Sea to Gothenburg. Scrapped 1953.|
|MS Gripsholm (1925)||1925||1925–1954||ocean liner||17,944 GRT
|MS Kungsholm (1928)||1928||1928–1942||ocean liner||21,250 GRT||Scrapped 1965.|
|SS Kastelholm||1929||1929–1952||liner||921 GRT||Used on feeder service from the Baltic Sea to Gothenburg. Scrapped 1965.|
|SS Marieholm||1934||1934–1940||liner||1,162 GRT||Used on feeder service from the Baltic Sea to Gothenburg.|
|MS Stockholm (1938)||1938||never entered service||ocean liner||30,390 GRT||Destroyed in a fire before delivery in 1938.|
|MS Stockholm (1941)||1941||never entered service||ocean liner||30,390 GRT||Sold to the Italian government after completed, sunk 1944.|
|MS Stockholm (1948)||1948||1948–1959||freighter/ocean liner||12,165 GRT||Collided with SS Andrea Doria in 1956. Sailing for Cruise & Maritime Voyages as MS Astoria since 2015.|
|MS Kungsholm (1953)||1953||1953–1965||ocean liner/cruise ship||21,164 GRT||Sunk 1984.|
|MS Gripsholm (1957)||1957||1957–1975||ocean liner/cruise ship||23,191 GRT||Sunk 2001.|
|MS Kungsholm (1966)||1966||1966–1975||cruise ship||26,677 GRT||Scrapped 2016.|
|MS Lindblad Explorer||1969||1972–1980||expedition cruise ship||2,480 GRT||Sunk 2007.|
|Ship||Built||In service for SAL||Type||Tonnage||Notes|
|MS Danaholm||1939||1946–1963||freighter||3,643 GRT||Transferred from Swedish American Mexico Line. Scrapped 1972|
|MS Rydboholm||1946||1946–1963||Kramfors||4,711 GRT||Scrapped 1978|
|MS Krageholm||1943||1946–1967||Kramfors||3,654 GRT||Sunk 1971|
|MS Tunaholm||1938||1946–1963||Kramfors||3,851 GRT||Transferred from Swedish American Mexico Line. Scrapped 1972|
|MS Uddeholm||1945||1946–1963||Kramfors||4,815 GRT||Transferred from Swedish American Mexico Line. Sunk 1977|
|MS Golden Quest||1945||1946||Kramfors||370 GRT||Sold to Rederiaktiebolaget Jake, Kramfors 1946. Still operating|
|MS Trolleholm||1946||1946–1962||tanker||4,430 GRT||Transferred from Swedish American Mexico Line. Scrapped 1965|
|MS Marieholm||1947||1947–1958||tanker||11,966 GRT||Scrapped 1974|
|MS Maltesholm||1951||1951–1969||Cargo ship||4,694 GRT||Sunk 1981|
|MS Vibyholm||1951||1951–????||Cargo ship||4,901 GRT|
|MS Vasaholm||1955||1955–1971||Cargo ship||4,694 GRT||Sunk 1979|
|MS Marieholm||1963||1963–1966||Cargo ship||8,488 GRT||Scrapped 1985|
|MS Sagaholm||1963||1963–1972||Cargo ship||6,916 GRT|
|MS Atlantic Saga||1967||1967–1986||Cargo ship||12,231 GRT||Scrapped 1987|
|MS Mont Royal||1972||1972–1985||Cargo ship||4,262 GRT||Scrapped 2004|
- Ian Boyle. "Swedish American Line". Simplon Postcards. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- "SAL Timeline". A tribute to the Swedish American Line. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Dawson (2005), pp. 80–82
- "Svenska Amerika Linien (1915–1975)" (in Swedish). Ellis Island. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
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- Henrik Ljungstöm. "Virginian/Drottningholm/Brasil/Homeland". The Great Ocean Liners. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "S/S Virginian (1905)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "S/S Noordam (1902)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "S/S Bornholm (1899)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "S/S Kastelholm (1929)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "S/S Marieholm (1934)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Gripsholm (1925)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- "About the Swedish American Line". A tribute to the Swedish American Line. Archived from the original on 29 January 2005. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Kungsholm (1928)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Stockholm (1938)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Stockholm (1941)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Dawson (2005), p.95
- Daniel Othfors. "Kungsholm (IV)/Sea Princess (I)/Victoria (II)/Mona Lisa". The Great Ocean Liners. Archived from the original on 13 August 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Matloff, Maurice; Snell, Edwin M. (1999). The War Department: Strategic Planning For Coalition Warfare 1941–1942. United States Army in World War II. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 117. LCCN 53061477.
- Ljungstrom, Henrik. "Kungsholm (II)/Italia". The Great Ocean Liners. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
- Miller, William H. Jr. (1995). The Pictorial Encycpedia of Ocean Liners, 1860–1994. Mineola: Dover Publications. p. 65. ISBN 0-486-28137-X.
- Lars Hemingstam. "The Exchange and Repatriation Voyages During WWII". A tribute to the Swedish American Line. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Dawson (2005), pp. 174–175
- Henrik Ljungström. "Stockholm/Völkerfreundschaft/Volker/Italia/Italia Prima/Valtur Prima/Caribe/Athena". The Great Ocean Liners. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Stockholm (1948)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Kungsholm (1953)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Dawson (2005), pp. 193–194
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Kungsholm (1966)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- "Hoverlloyd". Kommandobryggan (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "Hoverlloyd". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Lindblad Explorer (1969)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Micke Asklander. "M/S Gripsholm (1957)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Article on AB Svenska Amerika Linien in NE.se.. Retrieved 16 September 2011. (in Swedish)
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