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The first Finnish tramp steamer (Russian flag) was 2400 dwt ss HEROS ex British UMBERTO ARBIB. The HEROS was delivered at South Shields February 1893.

Rederibolaget Heros was founded in Kristinestad (Kristiinankaupunki) 1893 by Erik Alfred Tötterman, Alfred Carlström, Gustaf Hydén, Gerhard W. Snellman. Steamer HEROS was registered first in Hanko 1893, but removed to Kristinestad during the same year. (According to a source the company name was changed to Kristinestads Rederibolag). The HEROS was sold 1898 to Sweden.

Meeting for founding Rederiaktiebolaget Navigator was held 24th November 1898 in Kristinestad. The official founding date was 13th March 1899. Captain Gerhard Snellman was the manager, board members were Alfred Carlström, E.A. Tötterman, Hans Estlander, Gustaf Hydén. Already 7th December was new HEROS of 4300 dwt ordered from Anderson Rodger and Co., Port Glasgow. The ship was biggest in Finland at the time. The steamer was sold to U.K 1915 and torpedoed by submarine 1918.

The third steamer was sistership of the HEROS (2), named HYLLOS, purchased 1907 and sold to Sweden 1915.

The company was moved to Helsinki 1912. The next year ss NAVIGATOR was purchased at the price of 25000 £. 5500 dwt, the biggest ship in Finland at the time. The NAVIGATOR was laid up in Viipuri 1914. The ship was captured to Petrograd by Red Finns April 1918, and renamed KARL LIEBKNECHT. To the owners this steamer was returned 1922.

Gerhard Snellman was primus motor  for A/B Finland -Amerika Linjen that was founded 18th September 1916 (board chairman  Viktor Ek, members R.A. Paloheimo, Pentzin, Hans Estlander, Axel Sundström, P. Parviainen). Intention was trading between Finland and North America. Steamer NAVIGATOR was purchased to the company at the price of 2 800 000 FMK. Also ss MERCATOR (Helsingfors Rederi Ab) was chartered for this service. Because of the WWI trading to America did not succeed.

G.W. Snellman

Gerhard Wilhelm Snellman (12.9.1861 Joroinen - 11.10.1916 Helsinki). Kuva kirjasta Purjeiden Kaupunki, Kristiinankaupungin merenkulku vuoden 1809 jälkeen. Christer Norrvik. Kuva: Kristiinankaupungin merimuseo.

Finland-Amerika linjen was sold to Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolag 1922. The only ship ss NAVIGATOR was later trading to South America in AL service.

Rederibolaget Navigator activities ceased 1st of December 1918.

Photo gallery


Christer Norrvik: Purjeiden kaupunki, Kristiinankaupungin merenkulku vuoden 1809 jälkeen
Navis Fennica Suomen Merenkulun historia II
Yrjö Kaukiainen: Ulos Maailmaan, suomalaisen merenkulun historia


The boat shipped copper bars from the inner part of the fjord Saltenfjorden i Nordland county. In 1905 it sank on its way westbound, in Saltstraumen, a strong tidal currant. Described i norwegian HERE. (


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