Transatlantic service – 100 years old and still thriving

13:27 - 03 Dec 2015 / News

This year it will be 100 years since the founding of Swedish American Line. It is also 50 years since ambitious plans for Atlantic Container Line (ACL) first began to take shape. Within the near future, the fourth generation of ACL ships will begin operating to and from Gothenburg, ensuring that the service lives on, albeit in a different form.

The Swedish American Line was founded in 1915, at the time under the name Rederi AB Sverige-Nordamerika. That same year, they acquired their first ship, the Dutch steamer Potsdam, which made her first voyage between Gothenburg and New York for the newly founded shipping line on December 11, 1915. By then she had been renamed Stockholm.

By the time the ocean liner service was suspended in 1940 because of the Second World War, more than 500,000 passengers had sailed with the company across the Atlantic. In 1957, the one millionth passenger made the trip although this was followed soon after by a downturn as air travel rapidly took over transatlantic passenger traffic.

The company struggled on for a few more years before finally discontinuing the service in autumn 1975 and selling off the remaining vessels in the fleet.

Atlantic Container Line 
Commercial passenger traffic between Sweden and the USA may no longer exist but around 10 per cent of Swedish containers bound for export each year are transported to the USA, making it one of Sweden's most important export partners outside Europe. A large proportion of the exports take place using ACL's direct services from the Port of Gothenburg.

ACL operations commenced back in 1965. On September 2 the following year Atlantic Span was loaded for the first time at the new terminal at Skandiahamnen under the watchful eye of a group of experts. Pressure had been exerted on the Port of Gothenburg, which prior to commencement of the service had brought its first container crane into use. ACL's plans clearly acted as a catalyst for the development of container cranes at the Port of Gothenburg.

Now, 50 years after planning of the consortium first began, the fourth generation of ACL ships are about to be brought into service. They are the world's largest in their class and one of them, Atlantic Star, is expected to arrive at the Port of Gothenburg around December 20.

Atlantic Star, is expected to arrive at the Port of Gothenburg around December 20.

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