Sten Allan Olsson 1916-2013
“Si monumentum requiris, circumspice”. I was prompted to think of this wonderful Latin phrase – which is inscribed on Sir Christopher Wren’s tomb in St Paul’s Cathedral – following the recent sad passing of Sten Allan Olsson, founder of the Stena group of companies.
“If you seek his monument, look around”.
From relatively humble beginnings in the 1940s with a metal trading company, Olsson became one of Sweden’s leading entrepreneurs of the 20th century. Today the Stena Sphere group of companies cover a wide range of activities – including recycling, drilling, bulk carriers, tankers and freight and passenger ferries. It is perhaps best known to many of us as being a dominant force in the European ferry industry.
In the July 2013 edition of Sea Breezes, Scott Mackey reflected on the history of Stena Line’s ‘HSS’ high speed ferry – one of many notable episodes in the history of a company that has always been dynamic and innovative. There has also been much recent coverage of Stena’s half century of involvement in the ferry world which began in the early 1960s with a route between Olsson’s home city of Gothenburg and Skagen in Denmark.
Olsson almost immediately displayed his wider ambitions by commencing a cross channel service between Calais and Tilbury with the Londoner in 1965. That was a relatively short lived adventure however, as the following year British Rail’s shipping division (later to become known as Sealink) chartered the Londoner for service on its Stranraer - Larne route.
Renamed the Stena Nordica, the vessel became an integral part of the development of the North Channel route. In fact when I joined Sealink at Stranraer early in 1971 she was still in service. When her charter ended the Stena connection continued as a succession of Stena vessels served on the route in the years to follow - the Stena Trailer (renamed Dalriada), the Stena Carrier (ulidia), and the Stena Topper (Darnia). Little did we know then that the connection would later become something more permanent with the acquisition of Sealink British Ferries by Stena Line in 1990.
By then Sten Allan Olsson’s son, Dan Sten, was in charge and displaying the same determination and ambition as his father. Sea Breezes sends its condolences to him and all the Olsson family and notes with admiration a truly remarkable career which has left a firm and very lasting impression on the world of shipping .
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR