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A Tribute to the Swedish American Line
About the SWEDISH AMERICAN LINE
Welcome on Board!
Welcome to this tribute to the Swedish American Line.
The Swedish American Line meant so much to so many people. SAL played an important role connecting Scandinavia and America during the 20th century, before the days of air travel. Up to the mid 1960's the passengers on the company's ships were emigrants, businessmen, and tourists from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Whenever you wanted to send a letter or package from Sweden to USA or Canada, it was important, especially at Christmas time, to know when the next SAL ship would sail from Göteborg. During the 1960's and 70's, the cruise sailings, which had started as early as in the 1920's, took over more and more.
Since 1998, when this site was launched, many friends of SAL, especially former crew members, have contributed information and pictures to make the over 250 pages possible. There is still a great deal of information waiting to be published. We all hope you will enjoy these memories of The White Viking Fleet and all "the happy ships, with the happy crew".
The Swedish American Line was founded in November 1914. After 60 successful years, the company's passenger ship operations were dissolved in 1975, suffering severely from a weakened cruise market.
SAL:s Atlantic route played an important part in the 20th century emigration from Scandinavia to North America, as well as for business and recreational travel. The company and its ships were the pride of the nation and the youngest of the liners was always regarded as the flagship of the Swedish merchant fleet.
The ports of call were Göteborg (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark) and/or Oslo (Norway), Halifax (Canada), and New York, N.Y. Anticipating a decline in the North Atlantic passenger traffic sales, SAL decided to enter the cruise market in 1927. As cruise liners, the ships were renowned for their beauty, luxurious comfort, and the highest quality service provided by the Swedish crew. The name Rockefeller appeared on the passenger list more than once.
The first ship in the SAL fleet was the steamship Stockholm. The ships in the years to follow were:
| During World War II the Drottningholm and the Gripsholm were used as repatriation ships and made 33 voyages to exchange approximately 30,000 prisoners of war, diplomats, women and children, between the warring nations.
Read about the repatriation voyages here.
|The photos on this page were taken by T. Hemingstam on a Gripsholm Atlantic crossing in 1954.|
SAL in Göteborg:
A = SAL Crew Office, Postgatan 3A
D = Stigbergskajen
SAL's terminal building in Gothenburg,
"Betongskjulet", at Stigbergskajen (D on the map above).
The "Seaman's Wife" overlooks the inlet.
SAL in New York:
The SAL sales office was located at 636 Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center.
Pier 97 was located at the end of W 57th Street.
Contributed by Carl-Gustaf Edhardt
SAL Offices World Wide in 1968:
Båtologen Magazine, Sweden, Nos. 3 and 4, 1992, SAL Fleetlist Feature by Thomas Johannesson.
De Flytande Palatsen, The White Viking Fleet, by Algot Mattsson, Tre Böcker, Sweden, 1987. ISBN 9185414174
Golden Age of Shipping, Robert Gardiner and Ambrose Greenway, Brasseys, U.K. Ltd, 1994
Great Passenger Ships of the World, by Arnold Kludas, Patrick Stephens, Cambridge.
North Atlantic Seaway, by N R P Bonsor, Brookside Publications, Jersey 1980.
Vägen mot väster, by Algot Mattsson, Askild & Kärnekull, Sweden, 1982. ISBN 9158203745
|1914||Dec. 4||The shipping company Rederiaktiebolaget Sverige-Nordamerika is formed in Göteborg, to be renamed Svenska Amerika Linien in 1925.|
|1915||-||Holland-American Line's Potsdam, built in 1900 by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, is acquired, and renamed Stockholm|
|-||Dec. 11||The Stockholm departs from Göteborg for New York on the company's first service. She is stopped by British naval vessels and forced to head to Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands. This is in the midst of World War I. All of the mail carried on the Stockholm is confiscated. The Stockholm arrives in New York 15 and a half days after leaving Sweden.|
|1916||May 16||The first baby is born on the Stockholm at sea. The little girl's parents name her Svea Atlanta.|
|1920||Feb. 14||The Virginian, built 1905 by Workman Clark at Belfast, is acquired from Canadian Pacific Ocean Services Ltd.|
|-||Feb. 21||The Virginian is delivered in Glasgow and renamed Drottningholm, arriving in Göteborg on February 25.|
|-||May 30||The Drottningholm departs on her first sailing for New York.|
|1922||-||The Drottningholm is re-engined with single reduction geared turbines.|
|1923||March||The Noordam is chartered from Holland-American Line and renamed Kungsholm.|
|-||March|| The Swedish American Line announced that Armstrong Withworth & Co in Newcastle had received an order for a new transatlantic liner. |
Read a SAL advertisement from 1923.
|1924||April||The Borgholm, 518 tons, is acquired to serve as a feeder vessel for SAL passengers across the Baltic Sea.|
|-||Nov. 26||The first Atlantic motorship is launched and named Gripsholm. The two funnels aren't really necessary from a functional view point.|
|-||-||At the end of 1924, the Kungsholm is returned to the Holland-American Line.|
|1925||July 24||SAL's founder, Dan Broström, is killed in a car accident.|
|-||Nov. 7||The Gripsholm is delivered, and the company is officially renamed Ab Svenska Amerika Linien.|
|1925||Nov. 21||The Gripsholm leaves Göteborg on her maiden voyage.|
|1926||Oct. 28||A new liner is ordered from Blohm & Voss in Hamburg.|
|1927||Feb.||The Gripsholm makes the first cruise to the Holy Land|
|1928||March 17||The Kungsholm is launched in Hamburg.|
|-||Nov. 24||The Kungsholm leaves Göteborg on her maiden voyage.|
|-||November||The Stockholm is sold to Norwegian buyers and renamed Solglimt.|
|1929||-||The Kungsholm commences the first pre-spring cruises in the Caribbean.|
|-||March||The second feeder ship, Kastelholm, 900 tons, is bought and put into traffic in the Baltic.|
|-||May||The United States and Canada impose extensive restrictions on immigration.|
|1934||-||The feeder ship Marieholm is put into traffic across the Baltic Sea.|
|1936||November||A new ocean liner is ordered at C.R. dell'Adriatoci, Monfalcone, Italy.|
|1938||May 29||The Stockholm is launched in Italy.|
|-||Dec. 19||The Stockholm is destroyed by fire. The nearly completed ship caught fire at Monfalcone during the night, strong winds and toxic smoke hampered fire fighting, but the large quantities of water pumped in to her caused a loss of stability and she sank at her berth, investigation on causes of the fire were inconclusive but she was beyond salvage. A new ship is ordered by SAL from the same shipbuilder. Equipment that has not yet been installed in the damaged ship, including the main parts of the engines, is to be used in the new vessel.|
|1939||October||The Kungsholm makes her last Atlantic crossing, and makes 40 West Indies cruises until 1941.|
|-||Nov. 24||The Gripsholm's last sailing from Göteborg. She is to be laid up until used as a repatriation ship.|
|1940||March||The Drottningholm's last sailing from Göteborg. Just as the Gripsholm, she is to be laid up until used as a repatriation ship.|
|-||March 10||The new Stockholm is launched in Monfalcone.|
|1941||Nov. 3||The Stockholm is sold to the Italian Government and is used as a troop ship under the name Saubadia. In 1944 the Germans drill holes in her hull, and the ship sinks outside Trieste in 1944.|
|-||December||The US Government confiscates the Kungholm in New York harbor. In the following negotiations, USA buys the Kungsholm for 6 million dollars, to be used a troop ship, and renames her John Ericsson.|
|1942||April 19||The Drottningholm starts serving as a Red Cross repatriation ship.|
|-||May||The Gripsholm makes her first repatriation voyage from New York to Goa, to leave Japanese diplomats and embark American POW's. The two ships make 33 special voyages during World War II.|
|1944||Oct||SAL orders a new liner from Götaverken, Göteborg.|
|1946||March 26||The Drottningholm departs from Göteborg to New York on a regular Atlantic crossing.|
|-||March 31||The Gripsholm leaves New York for Oslo and Göteborg.|
|-||Sept 9||The new SAL ship is launched in Göteborg and named Stockholm.|
|-||Autumn||The Drottningholm is sold to Home Lines, Genoa and renamed Brasil.|
|1947||July 18||SAL buys back the John Ericsson, damaged by fire, and gives her back her former name, Kungsholm. She was repaired by the Italian shipyard Ansaldo in Genoa, sold to South Atlantic Lines Co., and later to Homes Lines, renaming her Italia.|
|1948||Feb. 21||The Stockholm starts her maiden vaoyage from Göteborg to New York.|
|1949||Dec.||The Gripsholm is rebuilt and equipped with modern navigation instruments, broader funnels and reduced passenger capacity - from 1.557 to 976.|
|1950||March||SAL places an order for a new passenger ship at De Schelde in Vlisingen, Holland.|
|1951||Jan. 18||The Stockholm resumes the cruise operations with a West Indies cruise.|
|1952||Oct. 18||The new ship is launched in Holland and named Kungsholm.|
|1953||Sept. 30||The Kungsholm is delivered.|
|-||Nov. 24||The Kungsholm leaves Göteborg on her maiden voyage.|
|1954||Feb. 1||The Gripsholm is sold to the Bremen-Amerika Linie (Norddeutscher Lloyd), and is renamed Berlin on January 7, 1955.|
|-||Sept. 14||A new liner is ordered from Ansaldo in Genoa, Italy.|
|1956||April 8||The last Gripsholm is launched in Italy.|
|-||July 25||The disastrous collision between the Stockholm and the Italian liner Andrea Doria occurs, east of Nantucket, about 200 miles from New York. The Andrea Doria and, with her, 46 of her passengers, go to the bottom of the sea 10 hours after the collision. Five crew members were killed on the Stockholm.|
|-||Nov. 5||The Stockholm is ready for operations after being repaired at Bethlehem Steel.|
|-||Dec. 8||The Stockholm is back in traffic.|
|1957||April 5||Mr. Nels B. Nelson of New York, boards the Stockholm in Halifax as SAL's one millionth passenger.|
|-||May 14||The Gripsholm starts her maiden voyage to New York.|
|1959||May 15||The Stockholm is sold to the East German Government and renamed Völkerfreundschaft.|
|1963||Aug. 23||A new liner is ordered at John Brown of Clydebank.|
|1964||May||SAL decides to sell the Kungsholm to Norddeutscher Lloyd,|
|1965||Oct 5||The Kungsholm arrives in Göteborg for the last time, is renamed Europa and sails for her new owners, under German flag, for the first time on January 9, 1966.|
|-||April 14||The New MS Kungsholm is launched.|
|1966||March 17||The Kungsholm is delivered.|
|1972||Summer||SAL acquires the Lindblad Explorer.|
|1975||March 22||SAL decides to cease all passenger ship operations.|
|-||Nov.||The Gripsholm is sold to Karageorgis Lines of Pireaus.|
|-||Oct. 6||The Kungsholm is delivered to her new owners, Flagship Cruises Ltd.|
|Other sites with information about SAL:s ships|
This site is not about refurbishings, altered doorways, or funnel colors. The purpose of the site is primarily to describe the life and people on board the "White Viking Fleet" - the emigrants, the tourists, and the business passengers who crossed the stormy North Atlantic to reach America, - and the cruise members, sailing smoothly from port to port in a world of luxury, many of them coming back for a new cruise, time and time again. And, of course the crew, who worked and lived on the ships for months and years - in some cases decades - regarding them as their homes.
For a more detailed technical description of the ships, however, we recommend the following fine sites:
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On the Bridge
and Anna-Greta Lindblad
Ship's Doctor and Nurse
|Leif Vickberg Officer's Apprentice|
& SAL Timeline
Life as a Crew Member
|Torsten Torstensson's webpage about the Swedish American Line||Exchange and
Sea Personnel Manager
|Bridge & Crew Page||Reunions|
| Curt Dawe
| Carl-Gustav Kruse
|Poul V Lange
| Jörgen Areskough
| Ingvar Torstensson
|T Odenlund Cashier||L-E Jansson
|The SAL Office in New York||The SAL Office in
| David Chisling
| Hanna Owen
| Anita Poli Olsson
| Anthony Bloomfield
|Dining Room Menues||Gerhard Kummer
|Ingwar Gemzell & Rolf Mayer||
|Gustav Weber Petterson
|Hans "Hasse" Gustafsson
Hyttnisse, Assistant Deck Steward
|The Women of SAL||Lois MacNeil
|The Tenders||SAL Ads|| SAL Trivia
|The Passenger Area|
Family, Gripsholm and Kungsholm
|The Lindholm Family,
|The McDonough Family,
Family, Gripsholm and
|The Sandholm Family,
|The Storck-Petersen Family,
Passenger in the Post-SAL Era
More than 250 web pages developed and maintained by Lars Hemingstam ©1998-2018
Hasse Gustafsson and Tommy Stark have interviewed crew members and contributed many of the stories.
The SAL Blog
The New SAL Guestbook