Per Fagerlund improved Swedish shipping

Shipbuilding engineer Per Fagerlund has died at the age of 80. Four colleagues remember a responsive, committed and creative Renaissance man who never retired.


The son of a sea captain and with 300 years of shipping tradition in his genes, Pelle was born into Swedish shipping. He went to sea early as a motor-skilled cook on the motersailer Ann from Färjestaden. In addition to a solid seamanship education, his interest in sailing was founded here and the realization that even for cargo ships with engines, it is a waste not to also use the wind, renewable and free as it is.

After a year of studying mathematics in Uppsala, Pelle got into Chalmers University of Technology where he graduated in 1969. After a short time at the Swedish Ship Research Foundation, he started at Navire Cargo Gear where he developed the groundbreaking sloping cargo ramp for rolling cargo, which is still used on every ocean-going ro-ro ships.

Between 1973 and 1991 Pelle was technical director at Rederi AB Transatlantic. Here, Pelle renewed the shipping company's fleet by systematically replacing older tonnage with modern, rational cost- and energy-efficient vessels. As chairman of the Swedish Shipowners' Association's Technical Committee, he also succeeded in uniting conflicting interests with knowledge, sensitivity, firmness and a disarming humor.

After his time as director of Transatlantic, Pelle designed a three-masted schooner, Blue Clipper, which was built at Marstrandsverken. Pelle worked with charter during the first half of the 1990s where the adventurous maiden voyage went to Shanghai to market Hennesy Cognac.

One area that particularly engaged Pelle was education. After all major Swedish shipyards were closed down, a restructuring of the shipbuilding engineering education was required in order for it to remain relevant. As a member of the Board of Mechanical and Ship Engineering at Chalmers, Pelle made a very solid contribution when the training was adapted from a shipyard perspective to a shipowner and cargo owner perspective.
During the latter half of the 90s, Pelle returned to designing innovative ro-ro vessels where Spaarneborg is a milestone with its engine room in the bow and a 130 m long propeller shaft.

During the 2000s, Pelle participated in several pioneering projects for increased maritime safety and reduced climate and environmental impact, and in 2008 he was awarded the Gustav Dalén Medal for his efforts for shipping. This is the finest award you can get as Chalmers alumni. With a never-ending stream of ideas to improve, both shipping and the world, it was never an option for Pelle to retreat or take it easy.

In 2010, Pelle established contact with Nobel Laureate George Olah and began a collaboration that, among other things, led to methanol being established as an alternative renewable marine fuel. As result of this Stena Germanica was converted to methanol operation in 2015. Pelle also contributed very actively in developing the climate roadmap for shipping, which then became Swedish Shipsowner´s associations submission to the government's general Climate Roadmap 2050.

Until recently, Pelle was active in finding funding to further develop what he was perhaps most passionate about, namely new opportunities to use the wind to run merchant ships.
Pelle was a Renaissance man with a fantastic breadth of knowledge. His strong curiosity, drive and social ability were directed in many directions, it was everything from seamanship and shipping conditions to innovative ship concepts and research on the sustainable shipping of the future. The loss of Pelle is great, but his life's work provides inspiration for the continued development of shipping.

Bengt Ramne, Shipbuilding Engineer
Anders Ulfvarson, Shipbuilding Engineer, Professor Emeritus
Bengt-Olof Petersen, Shipbuilding Engineer
Dag Engström, Sea Captain