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Norway America Line

History

The 1905 dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden created a patriotic desire to see the Norwegian flag on the North Atlantic. In 1910 Den Norske-Amerikalinje (The Norwegian America Line) was founded. Many of the original shareholders were Americans of Norwegian descent. Two 11,000 ton passenger ships were ordered from Cammell Laird in 1911 and were delivered in 1913 as Kristianiafjord and Bergansfjord, establishing the company's naming policy.

As Norway remained neutral during WW1, the ships operated westbound at near capacity because of returning Americans in the early years of the war. The demand was so great that in January 1915, the company ordered a third liner from Cammell Laird. As the U-Boat campaign had not built-up its full intensity, the ordered was accepted, but later cancelled by the British Government. Sadly Kristianiafjord was wrecked near Cape Race in 1917 and after considerable diplomatic pressure the British Government agreed to re-instate the order, which became the Stavangerfjord (13,156 grt) of 1918. During the war the company also bought 6 freighters and a coastal steamer and chartered other ships to carry supplies from North America to Norway. All these war-time activities generated large profits for the new company.

After WW1 the company continued with its two passenger ships but rapidly expanded its cargo fleet and had 19 ships by 1923. Like many other shipping companies, NAL suffered from the depression in the late 1920s and the curtailment of immigration by the USA. The company successfully diversified into cruises however, and in 1936 ordered a better adapted dual purpose ship, Oslofjord (18,673 grt) from Germany, which entered service in 1938.

At the outbreak of WW2 Stavangerfjord was in Oslo and was captured during the German invasion. The new Oslofjord was mined off South Shields in 1940. Bergansfjord survived the war, but was sold to Home Lines when she was released from war duties. Stavangerfjord survived, was refitted in Sweden and resumed transatlantic passenger operations in 1946. Eight cargo ships survived the war and others were added to the fleet.

A new Oslofjord (16,844 grt)was built in Holland and delivered in 1949. An elegant, modern, single funnel liner, she set the style for the remaining passenger ships built for the company. She was joined in 1956 by a new Bergansfjord (18,739 grt) built by Swan Hunter. There was a short post-war peak of transatlantic journeys in the 1950s, but business took a downturn in the 1960s. Stavagerfjord was withdrawn in 1963 and scrapped the following year. Sagafjord (24,002 grt) was delivered from France in 1965. For the first time the company had a ship suitable for the up-market American cruise market, with private bathroom facilities for every cabin and full air-conditioning.

In 1967 company ships only performed 15 North Atlantic sailings, reducing to 7 in 1968. NAL tried to sell Oslofjord but were unable to find a buyer. She was chartered to Greek Line for 1968, operated cruises for NAL in 1969 and chartered to Costa in 1970. In July 1970 she suffered an engine room explosion, caught fire and sank 140 miles off Las Palmas. NAL had greater success selling Bergensfjord, which went to French Line in 1971. The company’s final liner, Vistafjord (24,292 grt) was delivered by Swan Hunter in 1973. Towards the end of the 1970s NAL disposed of its cargo liners and during the 1980s began to invest in car carriers, both directly and through a 70% shareholding in Norwegian Specialised Autocarriers (NOSAC) and bulk carriers through the Trinity Bulk Carrier Pool.

In 1980 the 2 remaining cruise ships were transferred into Norwegian American Cruise Line and the following year the company was sold to Leif Hoegh, who sold it on to Cunard in 1984.

By 1995 NAL operated 5 car carriers and NOSAC a further 12. In that year the company was bought by Wilh. Wilhelmsen and absorbed into its structure. Both NAL and NOSAC were wound-up in 2000.

Ships

Vessel Name Vessel Type Launched/Completed Tonnage DWT Builder
Altafjord Cargo 578,640 G. 11/08/1962 Yard No: 427 Gross: 6299 Net: 3953 8540 Bergen Mek. Verkstad, Bergen
Bergensfjord No Info
Edvard Grieg No Info
Kongsfjord Cargo 564,006 G. 30/03/1951 Yard No: 1061 Gross: 5934 Net: 3408 1700 Lithgows Ltd. Port Glasgow
Oslofjord No Info
Sagafjord No Info
Topdalsfjord Cargo / Passenger 570,750 G. 1959 Yard No: 1062 Gross: 5840 Net: 3343 7720 A/B Lindholmens Varv, Gothenburg
Vindafjord Cargo 605,280 G. 1959 Yard No: 174 Gross: 8742 Net: 4907 12504 Uddevalla A/S Uddevalla, Sweden