A Tribute to the Swedish American Line
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Claes Feder

Architect and ship designer of the M/S Kungsholm IV (1966)

Page 1

Texts by Hans "Hasse" Gustafsson and Tommy Stark.

Claes Feder in his home in Algarve, Portugal, where he lived from 1970
with his wife Berit and their two daughters, Annika and Viveka.

The accompanying documents include rare and previously unpublished material emanating from the private archive of the late ship designer Claes Feder. It has been released and generously contributed to this website by his two daughters Annika Wennergren Feder and Viveka Nordling Feder, to who we are indeed grateful. It is an honour to receive such interesting material for sharing with all friends of the Swedish American Line worldwide. And especially so, bearing in mind that Claes Feder was the author behind the final and, by many considered, the most elegant and refined of all SAL Liners: the M/S Kungsholm, built in Scotland 1965-66 by the prestigious shipyard John Brown Clydebank & Co. It should also be taken to the record that, according to his daughters, Claes Feder was terribly saddened and could never quite get over it when the entire SAL fleet was sold from Sweden in 1975, and especially when his masterpiece the Kungsholm soon thereafter became subject to severe exterior alterations, redesign and rebuilding by its subsequent owners.

Claes Feder was born in 1928 on the Portuguese island Madeira, son of a Danish father and a Swedish mother. His father became Danish Consul in Madeira, and Claes attended a strict convent school. The lifelong interest of Claes was the Sea and ships! To his mother’s annoyance and worry young Claes would often go out to sea before dawn with local Madeira fishermen, returning home happy next afternoon or whenever...

In 1950, by the age of 22 and after a couple of years at sea, Claes Feder got an employment with the technical department of the Gothenburg based Broström Shipping Company. The company founded in 1865 had grown into a business empire owning not only the Swedish American Line but also numerous successful cargo shipping lines, together representing 1/3 of the total commercial fleet in Sweden by the company’s centennial anniversary in 1965.

From the early fifties, Claes alternated between years at sea and years of office work ashore, while also dedicating much private time to marine painting. By 1960 he started with the architectural challenge of designing the new Kungsholm, a project that kept him engaged until its completion and beyond! A few years after the launching of the Kungsholm, Claes moved with his family and his architectural studio to Portugal where he had his residence for many years until he died in 2009 at the age of 81 in Algarve. For further insight into the creative life of Claes Feder, please refer to the attached documents, press clippings and his obituaries, some of it written in Swedish and some in English.

This text and accompanying captions have been researched and edited by initiative of two former crew members 1971-73 of the Kungsholm, Tommy Stark and Hasse Gustafsson in coordination with the heiresses of the source material: Annika Wennergren Feder and Viveka Nordling Feder.

Read Claes Feder's obituary in The Portugal News.


List of Contents: Claes Feder’s archive material
Page 1. Photographs.
Page 2. Paintings and illustrations by Claes Feder.
Page 3. Sketches 1970 by Claes Feder for a new SAL cruise ship.
Page 4. Newspaper clippings, mostly in Swedish language.
Page 5. Correspondence 2001 on SAL ship design history, etc.
Page 6. A vision in 2007.

Young Claes Feder holding the tiller with a habitaual grip already at the age of 12. This photo was taken around 1940 when he grew up in Madeira. He knew all the local fishermen and often went out to sea with them to his mother’s annoyance.   In 1950, at the age of 22, Claes becomes an employee of the Broström Shipping Company that had been the founder and sole owner of the Swedish American Line since 1915.


Onboard one of the SAL ships, Claes Feder (left) in the company of Chief Purser Curt Dawe (in the centre) and an unknown person (name to be added).

When the SAL ships were sold in 1975, the ship’s bell of the M/S Gripsholm was given to Göran von Essen, Head of the SAL’s passenger division, and when von Essen passed away years later it was donated to Claes Feder.


Ships, ships and more ships... Claes Feder beams with sheer happiness as he leans over one of his drawing boards. At the far end of the desk he keeps his pencils in a yellow SAL jug, and there is a Kungsholm poster on the wall “For the Good Life!”


Claes Feder and his wife Berit in Algarve, Portugal, in the 1980’s.


Claes and his architect partner Clive Batchelor from Scotland.


Taking a rest on a jetty in the late afternoon somewhere in northern Portugal.


This is a snapshot of Claes Feder in a typical posture of his when involved in a discussion of ideas.
Photo from around year 2000.


A 1950’s SAL postcard from Claes Feder’s collection. Source unknown.


The graceful ship that Architect Claes Feder designed, the M/S Kungsholm.


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