Four generations of shipping

– The roots, the family & the founding

Today, the fourth generation has taken over at the helm of Tärntank, a classic family business firmly anchored in the coastal community of the Swedish west coast. The company’s roots can be traced back to the early 20th centrury.

It all began in a grocery shop on the island Donsö in the archipelago of Sweden’s west coast. In 1904, Kristen Andreasson and his wife Adela (great grandparents of today’s leading Tärntank generation) opened the shop, selling groceries and fuel to the many fishing vessels of the archipelago.

At this time, the number of fishing vessels that had their sails replaced with engines grew steadily, and so did the demand for fuel oil. Kristen Andreasson had built a large facility for storage of fuel oil for fishing vessels at Tärneskär.

Kristen Andreasson was grandfather to Sven-Olof Kristensson, the founder of Tärntank.

Anna-Maria combined bunker and fishing vessel

In 1911, he took delivery of a combined bunker and fishing vessel, built in Risør, Norway, with bunker oil carried in barrels. The ship was fit to ship goods and fuel for the shop, and was named Anna-Mari after Kristen and Adela Andreasson’s eldest daughter. In 1923, a new concept of distributing oil, bulk shipping, was introduced and the Anna-Mari was converted to a tanker with capacity for 15,000litres of oil.

A few years later Kristen Andreasson had a new ship built in Marstrand, Sweden, and in 1929 one of the very first ships of its kind was delivered, a purpose-built bunker tanker. This ship was also named Anna-Mari. His son Olle Kristensson began working on board the Anna-Mari with oil shipments already in his youth.

That was not what I had in mind, it was tankers that interested me

Sven-Olof Kristensson.

By this time, the merchant and shipowner Kristen Andreasson had well proven his good sense of taking advantage of the emerging market of oil shipping. His grandson Sven-Olof Kristensson, born and bred in these entrepreneurial conditions, had at a young age set his mind on becoming a shipowner, running his own tanker business.

But his very first ship was not a tanker, it was the W Y C of 155 dwt, a lugger built in 1905 that had been converted from a sailing trawler to a motorised cargo ship. Sven-Olof Kristensson was working on board the W Y C, but had other dreams for the future than being in the saltpetre and timber trade on a dry cargo ship:

“That was not what I had in mind, it was tankers that interested me. So when we were on route with Norwegian saltpetre from Norway to Malmö, Sweden, we heard over the radio that one of Shell’s tankers had had an engine breakdown in Stockholm. I thought that this was our chance, no one else would dare to buy a tanker that had just had such an accident”, says Sven-Olof Kristensson.

He was proven right when Shell a while thereafter greatly reduced the price of the tanker – the Neithea, built in Nacka, Sweden, in 1926, which made it possible for Sven-Olof Kristensson to raise enough funds to make the purchase. Friends, family, a bank on the neighbouring island Hönö and not least Shell all helped by believing in the young shipping entrepreneur and securing the financing of the deal. Sven-Olof formed a partner shipping company on Donsö together with Einar Fhager and Sven-Olof Kristensson’s mother Karin Nordin.

In February 1958, the tanker, renamed the Tärnsjö, was taken over by the partner shipping company on Donsö. Thus, the shipping company Tärntank Rederi AB saw the light of day.

The first pair

The first tanker, the Tärnsjö of 370 dwt, was employed in the Baltic Sea and made good money for Tärntank Rederi AB right from the start. The ship was built in 1926 at Finnboda shipyard in Nacka, Sweden, and sailed under the name of Neithea for her first owner Shell. In 1959, the year after she was transferred to Tärntank Rederi AB, the ship was refit with a new engine to match the tough traffic on the Baltic Sea.

The same year, Sven-Olof Kristensson heard of another Shell tanker for sale, the Nerita of 460 dwt, built at Eriksberg, Gothenburg, in 1937. Tärntank Rederi AB resolutely put a higher bid than the previous bidder and closed the deal by December 1959.

1958

In February 1958, the tanker, renamed the Tärnsjö, was taken over by the partner shipping company on Donsö. Thus, the shipping company Tärntank Rederi AB saw the light of day.

The name and the stepfather

This tanker got the same name as the company, the Tärntank. A clear naming trend was now visible, and all of the company’s ships have been named accordingly ever since, with the prefix “Tärn”. One could think that the name derives from the seabird, the tern, which adorns the company’s logotype. But the first tanker, the Tärnsjö, was named after the birthplace of Sven-Olof Kristensson’s stepfather, Reverend Olof Nordin, who played an essential role in the foundation and development of Tärntank Rederi AB.

When Sven-Olof Kristensson was only ten years old, his father passed away. Twelve years later, the widowed Reverend Olof Nordin of Donsö married Sven-Olof Kristensson’s mother Karin. “I am so very grateful for that, he was a wonderful man. He had such belief in the future and ability to see ahead, not at all afraid to make investments. He was responsible for the bookkeeping and his way of always paying bills the day they arrived gave Tärntank a solid reputation as good payers, which meant a lot”, Sven-Olof Kristensson says.

He had such belief in the future and ability to see ahead, not at all afraid to make investments

Sven-Olof Kristensson, about his stepfather Olof Nordin.

1963

The first newbuiling of 850 dwt was named the Tärnfors, delivered from Karlstad shipyard.

Stepping up

The purchase of the new tanker Tärntank soon proved to be a good affair as well. The contract with Shell was extended and other new contracts were signed as the company became more well known. It was time for the company to take the next step by ordering a newbuilding. The newbuilding of 850 dwt was named the Tärnfors, delivered from Karlstad shipyard, Sweden, in June 1963. To finance the order the company’s first ship, Tärnsjö, was sold. But when Sven-Olof Kristensson wanted to pay the shipyard with the money from the sale of the Tärnsjö, the shipyard urged him to put the money in another, larger tanker that the yard had under construction. Thus, merely one day after the delivery of the Tärnfors, another tanker was ordered. This newbuilding inherited the name Tärnsjö and could take 1,090 tons of cargo.

The delivery of the Tärnsjö meant that Tärntank Rederi AB had three tankers in operation by 1964. The oldest of the three, the Tärntank, was sold in 1966 and an business was going so well that an order was placed at the West German shipyard C Lühring in Brake for a substantially larger tanker of 2,850 dwt. At delivery in 1968, the tanker took over the name Tärntank. Another tanker followed two years later from Karlstad shipyard in Sweden, the Tärnvik of 2,100 dwt. The next ship was a large one of as much as 4,000 dwt. This was the third tanker in the company fleet to have the name Tärnsjö (the previous Tärnsjö had been sold to another Donsö shipowner). The order was placed at the same yard that built the Tärntank, C Lühring in Brake, West Germany, and the delivery took place in 1972. In 1974, yet another even larger vessel was added to the fleet, the Tärnhav of 7,062 dwt from Kleven shipyard in Norway. ¶