Swedish American Line 1915-1975
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Swedish American Line (1915 - 1975)

Poster Swedish American Line - Göteborg till New York
Here you will get the history about the Swedish American Line (SAL) per year.

End of 1800´s - more and more countries started direct lines to America, so they didn´t have to stop in England.

1893 - Scandia Line started a direct connection between Gothenburg and New York .

1904 - Shipping Company AB Transatlantic was formed by Wilhem R Lundgren from Gothenburg (1856-1914). The traffic went to South Africa and Australia. He was also a strong prompter to start a direct passenger- and freight connection between Sweden and North America. This became real shortly after his death 1914 with the start of a passenger line between Sweden and North America - Rederi AB Sverige-Nordamerika (later Swedish American Line).

1912 - Swedish America-Mexico Line was opened, together with a norwegian shipping company they started a connection between Gothenburg and North America and Mexico. The connection were maintained with one trip a month from Gothenburg to Boston and Philadelphia (north area) and from Gothenburg to Newport News, Vera Cruz, Tampico, Galveston and New Orleans.

1915 - After Wilhem Lundgrens death, Gunnar Carlsson conducted together with the shipowner Dan Broström the idea further and started Swedish American Line (SAL) "The white fleet". Dan Broström became the MD. To be able to start their traffic, the shipping company had to have a stock with 10 million SEK.

Stockholm i Göteborgs hamnDec 1915 - The shipping company starts with STOCKHOLM I, who was bought from the Dutch American Line. 1915 Dec 11 at 13.00 PM she departs from Gothenburg to New York. Aboard are 150 passengers and the price for a ticket in first class was 350 SEK. The first trip became an adventure. The start was in the middle
of the burning war and STOCKHOLM was stopped by English naval men and was ordered to Kirkwall at Orkney for visitiation, there the steamers post was confiscated. The keep up in Kirkwall was for three days, and STOCKHOLM arrived in New York 15 days, 10 hours and 58 minutes after the ship had left the harbour in Gothenburg.

1914-1918 - During first World War the situation changed dramatically for the Swedish-American Line. When the submarines and the mines were at the most, they couldn´t make so many trips as before.

Drottningholm i Göteborgs hamnYear 1920 - Post-war period. It was during this time the number of passengers increased from Sweden. The country was poor and there was a lack of food. The emigration increased again. During this "last wave" of emigration SAL played an important roal. The emigrants were replaced by tourist passengers and SAL became a link between the children and grandchildren of the first emigrant generation and their home country, at the same time Swedes who had relativies in America went to the US to visit.

1924 - More ships were rented during a couple of years. From Holland the S.S NORRDAM was rented and she sailed under the Swedish flag as KUNGSHOLM. She was returned to the Dutch shipping company 1924. From 1924 they also went to Halifax before they came to New York. The hometrip always went direct to Gothenburg.
Greta Garbo
1925 - The fleet increases with one more ship, GRIPSHOLM from England. / Greta Garbo travel together with Mauritz Stiller to New York with DROTTNINGHOLM. / The founder, Dan Broström is killed in a car accident.

1928 - The fleet increases with one more ship, M.S KUNGSHOLM II which was built in Germany.

1935 - Greta Garbo returns to Sweden for a visit with KUNGSHOLM.

1936 - SAL order one of their biggest ships. She should be built at the Monfalcone shipyard in Italy and should be delivered 1939.

1938 - Dec 19, a fire breaks out on the ship and the ship is totally burnt out. A new ship will be built.

1941 - A new ship is built and it is ready 1941 and the ship was christened STOCKHOLM. The war is raging at it´s worst in Europe and the so called "Skagerrack restriction" had put the "lock" on Scandinavia and the shipping company could never bring back their new ship. The same year she is sold to Italy, this same year a story tells that the new STOCKHOLM is drawn on the back of a envelope. The new ship´s main focus was to be built for passenger traffic crossing the Atlantic. They also agreed on that the new ship should be a combination of cargo- and passenger ship, due to that a fast and regular freight service to America also was really important.

Dec12 1941 - KUNGSHOLM II was confiscated by the American government. She was rechristened Jan 2, 1942 to the John Ericson and served during the war as a ship to transport troops in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific Ocean. She also participated in the invasion of Normandie 1944.


1939-1945 - Second World War affected also the Swedish American Line. Several ships which had been used earlier years, were deassembled. During the war KUNGSHOLM carried approx 130.000 american soldiers to the front. Several other ships transported wounded soldiers and also German, English and American war prisoners. They also transported many Jewish prisoners from the concentration camps.

1945 - The shipping company re-established the traffic to North America and the hopes were big and the mood was high, but the competition from the aviation hardened. The activity changed to luxury cruises for among other American passengers. Swedish American Line became one of the worlds biggest cruise company with a very exlusive clientele.

1947 - SAL buys back the John Ericson and she is christened back to her former name KUNGSHOLM. Some months later she is sold further to Homes Lines, who christened her to ITALIA. She was injuryed by fire and her new owners repaired her at the Italian shipyard Ansaldo in Genoa. Now she started to go on traffic between Genoa and South America and later on the route Genoa-New York.

Stockholm kolliderar med Andrea DoriaJuly 25, 1956 - STOCKHOLM collides with the Italian Atlantic steamer ANDREA DORIA, east of Nantucket, 60 miles from New York. ANDREA DORIA succumbed to the sea bed with 46 members of it´s passengers. 5 persons on STOCKHOLM were killed. STOCKHOLM returns back to New York for reparation. ANDREA DORIA still lies on the bottom of the ocean fairly preserved .

Feb 7, 1948 - STOCKHOLM III is delivered to the Swedish America Line, built at Götaverken in Gothenburg. STOCKHOLM is SAL´s first ship built in Sweden and also the largest passenger ship which is built in Sweden. The maiden voyage is Feb 21, 1948 from Gothenburg to New York. Imagine if the old emigrants to America could feel and experience this luxury that now met the passengers. Luxury it was - for the passengers this was a fantastic experience to travel over the Atlantic Sea.


On board KUNGSHOLM and GRIPSHOLM there were barber shops, pools, cinemas, special playrooms for the children, fantastic cabins and society rooms and of course a wonderful dining room were they served a variety of delicious dishes. There were a lot of activities on board - you could participate in church service, listen to a lecture, watch a movie ones or twice a day, take dancing lessons and learn how to play bridge. Up on the main deck they also offered clay shooting (doves). For those who didn´t want to perform any activity, could rent a sun chair and just relax.

1975 - The competition was too hard and 1975 the SAL activity ended. The traffic over the Atlantic Sea had during the last years substantial decreased. The competition from the aviation and the increased ship prices led to an economic crisis. During the last years SAL made big economic losses on every trip.

The closure of the company

The extremely expensive, luxury and beautiful ship KUNGSHOLM was sold at the companys termination in 1975 for 65 million SEK. This sum was approx half of the payment that they have paid the shipyard who built her. Calculations were made, if KUNGSHOLM instead had been ordered 1975 the price had been approx 300 million SEK. The sale of KUNGSHOLM and GRIPSHOLM and the closure of the Swedish American Line considered to be a national tragedy by many swedes. In the US they became devastated. The traditional bounds between Sweden and America had been lost for ever. GRIPSHOLM II was sold to Nautilus Armodora SA in Greece and got the name NAVARONI. KUNGSHOLM IV was sold to Flagship Cruises Ltd in Liberia.

Source: sal.hagmanstorp.com

Links: Navy Museum in Varberg - http://hem.passagen.se/marinmuseet/
Information about Andrea Doria - http://www.titanicnorden.com/skepp/andrea.html

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