More than a century-long history within the shipping industry

J. Lauritzen offers a unique combination of generations of know-how and a modern outlook towards the future of the shipping industry. More than 135 years after Ditlev Lauritzen founded the company, J. Lauritzen continues to showcase our capacity to adapt and transform while also remaining true to our company’s heritage and core values.

In 2022, J. Lauritzen was designated by Lauritzen Fonden as the value creating owner of the foundation’s portfolio of maritime and maritime related investments.

  • 2000 – NOW
    Strategic business transition forms the new J. Lauritzen
  • 1960 – 1999
    DFDS becomes part of J. Lauritzen combined with diversified growth
  • 1931 – 1959
    Shipbuilding, tankers and polar vessels become part of the business portfolio
  • 1884 – 1930
    Founding and a growing focus shipping market focus

Strategic business transition forms the new J. Lauritzen

Beginning of a new era for J. Lauritzen

In 2022, the Lauritzen Fonden announced that all current and future maritime and maritime related investments controlled by the Foundation (apart from investments in DFDS) should be consolidated and managed by J. Lauritzen. 

Lauritzen Kosan merger

In 2021, Lauritzen Kosan merged with Epic Gas Ltd. creating BW Epic Kosan Ltd. The merger created the World’s largest owner and operator of gas carriers in the 3,500 to 12,000 cbm vessel segment. Following the transaction, J. Lauritzen became shareholder in BW Epic Kosan Ltd.

Lauritzen Bulkers in strategic transition

Lauritzen Bulkers completed its strategic transition journey in becoming a short-term trader and operator primarily in the handysize bulk carrier segment.

Sale of shuttle tankers

In 2014, J. Lauritzen sold its fleet of shuttle tankers to Knutsen NYK Offshore Tankers (KNOT).

Fouding partner in Hafnia Management

Lauritzen Tankers was in 2010 a founding partner of Hafnia Management A/S, fulfilling the strategic aim of placing the product tanker activities in a partnership with greater market penetration. In 2013, J. Lauritzen sold its fleet of product tankers to Hafnia Tankers and at the same time acquired a minority shareholding in the company. Today, Hafnia is a world leading product tanker company.

Re-entering the offshore industry

In 2007 the conversion of the ‘Dan Swift’ – originally a RoRo ship – to a dynamically positioned Accommodation and Support Vessel began, marking the re-entering into the offshore accommodation industry.

Acquisition of Cool Carriers

Acquisition of Cool Carriers in 2001 from Leif Hoegh, Norway created Lauritzen Cool, the world’s largest operator of specialized refrigerated vessels. In addition to sea transportation of reefer cargoes, LauritzenCool Logistics was developed, providing integrated logistics services for shippers of perishables. In 2005 J. Lauritzen sold 50% of its reefer activities to NYK of Japan and in 2007, NYK acquired the remaining 50% of J. Lauritzen’s reefer activities.

DFDS becomes part of J. Lauritzen combined with diversified growth

Royal Arctic Line

Lauritzen established Royal Arctic in cooperation with the Greenland Home Rule and transformed the North Atlantic service to a fully containerised operation. Upon completion of the strategic transition of the North Atlantic service, including modification of port and terminal facilities and delivery of container carrier newbuildings, J. Lauritzen withdrew from the partnership in late 1995 and the Greenland Home Rule became the sole owner.

Acquisition of Kosan Tankers

In 1989, J. Lauritzen explored yet another business area and entered the gas tanker industry with the acquisition of Kosan Tankers forming Lauritzen Kosan Tankers. The company was subsequently renamed Lauritzen Kosan.

Acquisition of ferry lines

In 1984, J. Lauritzen acquired the two biggest private domestic ferry services in Denmark from DFDS, i.e the Mols Line and the Grenaa-Hundested Line. Both lines were sold in 1988.

Rebranding to: Lauritzen Bulkers

Lauritzen Bulkers became the brand name for J. Lauritzen’s bulk carrier activities.

Pearl of Scandinavia

Lauritzen took delivery of its first cruise ship, the ‘Pearl of Scandinavia’ in 1982. The ship sailed in the Far East with mainly American passengers onboard. The cruise activities ceased in 1987.

Heavyweight transport

As a spinoff of the drilling activities, J. Lauritzen entered the heavyweight transport industry and took delivery of the first heavyweight newbuilding, ‘Dan Mover’ from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan. The heavyweight activities ceased in 1985.

Maya Dan

The company purchased its first jack-up drilling rig, Maya Dan. The first employment was in Pemex, Mexico. J. Lauritzen’s drilling activities ceased in 1995.

First drill ship

The company took delivery of ‘Danwood Ice’, not only J. Lauritzen’s first drillship, but the first Danish owned drillship ever. The ship was designed for offshore drilling and equipped with derrick, cranes and helicopter deck. The first contract was off the shores of Ghana, West Africa.

First dedicated bulk carrier

Sea transportation of dry cargo commodities has been part of the DNA of J. Lauritzen since the very beginning of our history. With the purchase of the 15,574 dwt bulk carrier ‘Silja Dan’, J. Lauritzen entered the dedicated bulk carrier industry. 


After ongoing investments, J. Lauritzen became the majority shareholder of The United Steamship Company (DFDS), including its shipyards in Elsinore, Århus and Frederikshavn.

Shipbuilding, tankers and polar vessels become part of the business portfolio

The red hull

To make ships more visible in icy waters, the hull of Kista Dan was painted red in 1955 and shortly after the remaining fleet followed and were painted in the red color that became the symbol the diversified J. Lauritzen fleet.

Polar trades

In 1952, the polar vessel ‘Kista Dan’ was delivered from Aalborg Shipyard. The cargo and passenger ship was especially designed for expeditions in the polar regions and the destination for her maiden voyage was Greenland. Kista Dan was later chartered to Australian National Antarctic Expedition (ANARE) to build a permanent station for Australia in the Antarctic.

Lilla Dan

The schooner ‘Lilla Dan’ was built as a training ship in 1951 and has been with the company ever since. Taken out of service as a training vessel in 1996, the Lilla Dan was completely renovated and put to work as a charter ship and today it offers companies and private groups a unique meeting place in maritime surroundings operating out of the port of Copenhagen.

Tankers became part of the portfolio

With the delivery of the tanker ‘Nerma Dan’ in 1951, J. Lauritzen entered the tanker business. After a downturn in the market, J. Lauritzen decided to exit the tanker business in 1993. However, in 2004 tankers once again became part of J. Lauritzen’s business portfolio until 2013.

Foundation of Lauritzen Fonden

The Lauritzen Foundation was established by brothers, Ivar and Knud Lauritzen and their sister Anna Lønberg-Holm in 1945. The establishment of Lauritzen Fonden marked the 50th anniversary of the “Dampskibsselskabet Vesterhavet”, the shipping company founded by their father Ditlev Lauritzen.

Aalborg Shipyard

In 1937, the dream of the then late Ditlev Lauritzen to own a shipyard was fulfilled when J. Lauritzen acquired Aalborg Shipyard. Apart from newbuilding contracts, J. Lauritzen also placed a number of dockings, modernizations and rebuilding’s at the shipyard.

West Coast Line

A liner service was inaugurated in 1933 between the two American continents when the steamship ‘Jonna’ loaded apples, plums and onions in Valparaiso, Chile destined for New York.

A history of welfare

In 1931, J. Lauritzen initiated a welfare program improving living standards for vessel crews. As one of the first shipping companies, J. Lauritzen provided single cabins with radios for almost all of their crews. Additionally, bicycles, libraries, and a photo-development facility were made available on all vessels.

Founding and a growing focus shipping market focus

The Finland trades

In the early 1920’s J. Lauritzen became engaged in sea transport of wood-pulp from Finland to ports in the United Kingdom and the European Continent, often with coal as backhaul cargo.

The beginning of an era - the refrigerated trades

J. Lauritzen was a pioneer in the development of the reefer trades, carrying citrus from Spain to England as early as 1905. During the 1930s, J. Lauritzen expanded its reefer activities and in 1931, performed its first shipment of bananas from West Africa to France. The first purpose-built reefer vessels were contracted and delivered in the mid-1930s. After the second World War, Lauritzen Reefers became one the world’s leading owners and operators of specialized reefer vessels.

Purchase of first steamship

Seeing promising business opportunities in shipping, Ditlev Lauritzen acquired his first steamship, the ‘Uganda’, in 1888


In 1884, at the age of 24, Ditlev Lauritzen founded founded a timber merchant trade in Esbjerg, Denmark. Because of his young age, he was required to commence business under his father’s name, Jørgen Lauritzen, and named the business ‘J. Lauritzen’s Timber Yard’.

During the years following, Ditlev Lauritzen became one of Esbjerg’s most dynamic businessmen, establishing a large number of trading and manufacturing companies.