History

For over 50 years, ACL’s pioneering spirit has been the driving force that has made this company a leader in the North Atlantic Trade and one of the most respected names in the ocean transportation.

1965-67

A consortium of five major European steamship companies join together to meet the high capital investment involved in building and operating an innovative fleet of roll-on/roll-off containerships. This historic union, the first of the container age, results in the creation of Atlantic Container Line (ACL), serving the trade between Europe and East Coast of North America. The Atlantic Span, is the first of ACL’s four G-1 (first generation) vessels. These 700 TEU Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) Containerships are the most unique in the world and dramatically change the concept of transportation.

1965-67

1969-70

With the introduction of the first computerized intermodal transport system “Route Code,” ACL offers shippers a door-to-door service that continuously updates through-transport tariffs for repeat shipments. Six, 900 TEU, G-2 (second generation) RORO/Containerships are added to ACL’s fleet, increasing it to ten vessels. ACL becomes the only ocean carrier to handle both containerized and uncontainerized cargo with multiple sailings each week to/from every major port in Europe.

1969-70

1971-73

ACL introduces its simplified alternative to the bill of lading, “Datafreight Receipt,” the first electronically transmitted documentation system. Providing customers with added-value inland transport services in North America, ACL forms a wholly owned trucking company for improved short haul trucking capabilities and its own container and chassis maintenance and repair operation.

1971-73

1975-78

ACL pioneers SPEED (Europe) and COMPASS (North America), the first “real time” computer system in the transportation industry. The G-1 vessels are lengthened, increasing capacity to 1100 TEUs. ACL introduces direct service to the Canadian ports of Montreal and Halifax.

1975-78

1980-82

To better service customers through enhanced job performance, a record number of ACL staff attend further education studies and management courses. Intense project studies on the future G-3 vessel fleet are completed and new building orders are placed.

1980-82

1984-85

Five, newly constructed ACL G-3 (third generation) RORO/Containerships, the largest of their kind in the world (2160 TEUs), enter the North Atlantic service. The G-3s are fuel efficient and highly flexible for a wide mix of cargoes. The G-2 vessels are phased out and scrapped.

1984-85

1986-87

ACL receives the President’s “E” Award for Export Service for its outstanding contribution to the Export Expansion program of the United States. As part of an overall rationalization program on the North Atlantic, ACL enters a space sharing and charter agreement with Hapag-Lloyd. Focusing on long-term corporate strategies and successful growth, ACL restructures its US operations. A subsidiary is formed to operate ACL’s non-shipping sector in trucking, maintenance & repair, container storage, liner agency and stevedoring services. The G-3 vessels are lengthened (G-3L) to 292 meters increasing capacity to 3,100 TEUs. The G-1 vessels are phased out and scrapped.

1986-87

1989-90

Corporate headquarters are relocated from Southampton, England to South Plainfield, NJ. ACL’s original consortium ownership is dissolved. Transatlantic, a member of the Bilspedition Group, acquires 100% of Atlantic Container Line. Formal quality programs are set in place.

1989-90

1991-93

In a move to restore profitability, ACL streamlines its operations, concentrating solely on its core North Atlantic market. Support services (trucking, stevedoring and M&R) and support functions (documentation, EDP, accounting and logistics) in the US and Canada are outsourced. Slot exchanges with other container lines increase weekly sailings between North America and Europe.

1991-93

1994

A public offering for ACL by Bilspedition is successful and the company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. ACL passes the break-even mark after several years of losses and reports a profit. Every ACL European office achieves ISO 9002 certification.

1994

1995

ACL embarks on a corporate strategy to make operations more independent, self-reliant and quality-driven. As a result of this strategy, ACL modifies schedules to improve transit times and reliability. ACL purchases Atlantic Conveyor from Cunard. The Atlantic Compass becomes the first oceangoing cargo vessel to be certified by the Swedish National Maritime Administration under the ISM Code (International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention).

1995

1996

ACL’s pretax profit almost doubles. The company continues to gain financial strength. Number of shareholders increase, moving ACL to the Main List of the Oslo Stock Exchange. ACL acquires full ownership of its fleet with the final purchase of the Atlantic Cartier from CGM. The Atlantic Concert and Atlantic Companion receive ISM certification. ACL consolidates operations with one customer service center per country in North America and Europe. Preparing for the new age of electronic communication, ACL launches its web site.

1996

1997

ACL celebrates its thirty year anniversary of service. The ACL ATLAS software is developed. With the certification of the Atlantic Cartier and Atlantic Conveyor, ACL’s entire fleet becomes ISM certified. The price of the ACL stock hits all time high on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

1997

1998

Ship management functions were taken over by ACL Ship Management AB. ACL share was split 2:1.

1998

1999

The slot charter with Polish Ocean Line ends. A third Gulf Service is added increasing our services to 6 sailings. ISM Safety and Environment Certificates for all vessels are endorsed. Phase II of ATLAS is implemented.

1999

2000

ACL Ship Management outsourced to B&N Nordsjofrakt. Grimaldi Group, Naples becomes the largest ACL shareholder with 44%. All 5 vessels completed dry-docking in Brest. Additional new service increases ACL’s portfolio to 7 weekly transatlantic sailings. ACL sold their stake of 49.5% in Columbus Intermodal Joint Venture. A record high Return On Capital Employed (30%), compared with (12%) in ’99.

2000

2001

The Board of Directors increased to 6 members. ACL started a new, weekly Container/RORO transshipment service from North America to West Africa. The Grimaldi Group’s shareholding exceeded the 45% threshold and launched a mandatory bid for all the outstanding shares at NOK 97 per share, then increased its stake in ACL to 81%, and then to 91%. ACL started a new, weekly RORO transshipment service between North America and the Mediterranean. ACL signed a multi-year contract with Virginia International Terminal.

2001

2002

ACL Deutchland GmbH became a direct subsidiary of Atlantic Container Line AB. The Oslo Stock Exchange resolved to de-list the company, following a resolution from an extraordinary shareholders meeting. ACL Belgium N.V. was renamed Atlantic Container Line Benelux, N.V., reflecting the new geographical territory covered from the Antwerp office. AIM (Automated Information Messenger), ACL’s innovative e-commerce tool, is introduced. ACL begins providing agency services for the Grimaldi Group in the northern UK. ACL purchases the RORO multipurpose vessel, Grande Argentina and time charters it to the Grimaldi Group. The Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement (TACA) receives antitrust clearance from the European Commission after years of litigation. Atlantic Container Line LLC, a U.S. limited liability company (LLC) is formed.

2002

2003

ACL centralized its vessel planning and haz-mat screening departments to Liverpool, England. ACL’s vessels received their ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Certification. Atlantic Cartier and Atlantic Conveyor reflagged as Swedish vessels, putting the entire fleet of GIII-Class vessels under Swedish flag. ACL purchases the Grande Brasile and time charters it to the Grimaldi Group. The ACL/Grimaldi logistical operations were combined in Antwerp. ACL resigns from the Canadian Conferences. ACL moved G3 port operations in Halifax from Halterm to Ceres.

2003

2004

ACL G3 vessels drydocked and performed extraordinary refurbishments in accordance with Lloyd’s Registry’s (SLEP) Ship Life Extension Program securing a classification rating consistent with vessels having an age of between five and ten years. Licensed ATLAS, ACL’s computer system to an industry shipping Line.

2004

2005

Released I-ATLAS, ACL’s NET based version of ATLAS. Purchased Eurostar Barcelona for charter to parent company Grimaldi Group. Concluded a long term contract agreement with the Port of Liverpool.

2005

2006

Direct Service to West Africa commenced. Purchased Grande DetroitGrande Sicilia for long term charter to Grimaldi Group. Transfers New York RORO port operations from Maher Terminal to FAPS Terminal. Launched “TACS” Terminal Handling & Accounting System.

2006

2007

ACL becomes a wholly owned unit of The Grimaldi Group. ACL celebrates 40 years of service. G3 vessels are drydocked as per their 3 year schedule. Carried a record breaking cargo volume of 265,000 teus for the year. New regulations require the use of low-sulfer fuel throughout the European operating range. Purchase of Grande Africa for charter to Grimaldi Group. ACL moved G3 port operations in New York from Maher Terminal to PNCT and in Germany from Bremerhaven to Hamburg’s Unikai Terminal.

2007

2008

ACL sells Eurostar Barcelona. ACL purchased Grande Benelux and Grande Atlantico vessels for long term charter to Grimaldi Group. ACL purchases a new headquarters building in Westfield, NJ. New regulations enacted in Brussels totally eliminates conference system in October. Project study commences on G-4 (fourth generation) RORO/Containerships.

2008

2009

ACL reflags four Grande class vessels, which are on time-charter to Grimaldi from Swedish to Gibraltar Registry.

2009

2010

ACL commences rate restoration program after the worst year in the history of contianer shipping. The ACL corporate headquarters is relocated to Westfield, New Jersey. The G-3 container operations in New York moved to APM Terminal. Phase out plan of carrier supplied chassis announced in the U.S. G-3’s Atlantic Conveyor, Companion, Compass complete scheduled dry-dcok. Ship management services for ACL’s G-3 vessels switch to Bibby Ship Management.

2010

2011

ACL moves G-3 port operations from Portsmouth to Norfolk, Virginia. Construction of 7×80′ 150T special purpose mafi trailers constructed for heavy duty project cargoes. Newly constructed, wholly-owned ACL Grimaldi office opens in Antwerp.

2011

2012

ACL signs contract with Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding to build G-4 RORO/Containerships.

2012

2013

The 90 Duke Street, Liverpool property development for ACL’s European Customer Service Center  commences. ACL added Baltic RORO service with Grimaldi sister-company, Finn Lines. Company commences combination of European Documentation to North America & Europe. Steel cutting for first ship, Atlantic Star begins.

2013

2014

Complete combining worldwide documentation in Liverpool, England. G-4 Vessel, Atlantic Star is launched.

2014

2015

The first G-3 vesselss to leave service, Atlantic Companion, exits the service in July. Atlantic Star joins the Company’s trans-atlantic service December 9, 2015 at Unikai Terminal in Hamburg after sailing from China at the end of October.

2015

2016

Atlantic Sail joins the Company’s trans-atlantic service May 12, 2016 in Antwerp after sailing from China at the end of March. With the arrival of the second G4, Atlantic Compass exits. service.

2016

2017

The in-house computer software I2G Atlas goes live. Remaining three ACL G-3 vessel are decommissioned. ACL ceased direct Gothenburg port call, replacing with a dedicated weekly feeder service. ACL celebrates 50 years of service on the North Atlantic.

2017

2018

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for all ACL systems are reviewed. All five ACL G-4 vessels are reflagged to British ensign. In June of 2018, a G-4 passenger vessel service commences in cooperation with ACL’s parent-company, Grimaldi Group of Naples, Italy. 

2018

2019

A quiet year for Atlantic Container Line as vessels and schedule are fine-tuned. 

2019

2020

March 2020 ACL successfully transition offices & staff to an unprescedented work from home business environment as COVID-19 pandemic globally affects worldwide economy. All five ACL G-4 vessels are reflagged to Malta ensign.

2020