• Photo 1 shows Mr Knudsen on the right, myself second from the left, Mr Sverre Stavseth, Managing Director of Borgestad and his wife; the photo gives an idea of the temperature.

The company
The initial ordering was done under the names of Johnson Line and JO Odfjell. While this was Johnson Line’s first venture into the tankers business, JO Odfjell had already inherited a fleet of smaller tankers from the split with the original Odfjell Group. All the ships were initially being commercially operated by a shipbroker, 50% owned by Abraham Odfjell and called Crown Hill Chartering. The ships sailed under the name Odfjell-Johnson Chemical Tankers and bore the flag and funnel markings of the individual owners.

With the development of a larger fleet with larger ships, it was decided to make some structural changes. A new company owned 50/50 between JO Odfjell and Johnson Line was formed and named Jo Tankers. All the ships above 17,000 dwt were to be operated by the new company and fly the Jo Tankers flag and funnel markings with effect from Jan 1, 1982. The smaller ships were to be operated by a company located in Rotterdam and owned by JO Odfjell with the name Winterport Tankers.
Thus when the Jo Tankers doors opened on Jan 1, 1982, there were three ships sailing, another three due within the year and a further three due the year after. There were no Contracts of Affreightment and the ships were trading on the spot market, mainly with the support of trading companies who were looking for alternatives to Stolt Tankers and Odfjell Tankers.

The further development of Jo Tankers is another story.

After Borgestad agreed to build a sister ship to the Jo Clipper and Jo Lind, they asked Jo Tankers for some assistance. The captain and chief engineer appointed to supervise the construction in the shipyard were seconded from the JO Odfjell company. Borgestad had owned a very early chemical tanker that had been operated by Stolt Nielsen. Built in 1952 she was 13,300 dwt of a very simple design, named Stolt Brattland.

I was asked by Mr Knut Knudsen, Chairman of Borgestad A/S, if I would be willing to organise the naming ceremony and party. As the delivery of the ship and naming should be in Floro in February when the weather is guaranteed to be cold and miserable, I said I would agree, but only if they agreed to hold the ceremony in Rotterdam, the first port of loading. Mr Knudsen readily agreed but asked that I attend the launching of the stern part in Floro in November 1985.

I duly arrived in Floro in November only to be told that the launching had to take place at 5.30am, which is the coldest part of the day. We duly woke up at 4.30am, drank hot coffee and proceeded into the cold dockyard with an outside temperature around 0 degrees Centigrade.

Unfortunately it was too dark to get any good photos or film but the launching was rather dramatic. As it was only the stern half of the ship, there was no sharp bow to part the water as she entered the fjord. There was an enormous bow wave that obscured the other side of the fjord and when it receded, we noticed that the boat-houses that had been on the other side had completely disappeared!

The shipyard manager, who had been making a lot of last-minute calculations just prior to the launching, relaxed and told us that they factored the cost of rebuilding the boat-houses into the price of every ship they built. His calculations prior to launching were to ensure the ship did not hit the rocks on which the boat-houses were built.


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