• ITVI.USA
    15,536.540
    74.080
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.754
    0.002
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.490
    -0.180
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,507.170
    69.970
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,536.540
    74.080
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.754
    0.002
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.490
    -0.180
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,507.170
    69.970
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShipping

Niels W. Johnsen, International Shipholding founder, deceased

Central Gulf and later International Shipholding founder’s successful career in the U.S.-flag shipping industry spanned 60 years.

   Niels W. Johnsen, former chairman of International Shipholding Corp., died at his home in Rumson, N.J. on Friday, Aug. 7. He was 93.
   Born and raised in New Orleans, he attended Tulane University in the late 1930s and then enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. He served three and half years at sea (1942-1946) during the war and two of the ships he served aboard were torpedoed. 
   After the war, Niels W. joined States Marine Corp., a U.S.-flag shipping company, chaired by his father-in-law, Henry Dickson Mercer. He served as vice president of chartering for States Marine in New York.
   In 1947, Niels W. also joined his brother Erik F. Johnsen and their father, Niels F. Johnsen, to start Central Gulf Lines with a single, World War II-era Liberty ship, called the Green Wave in honor of the brothers’ alma mater, Tulane University. He left States Marine in 1957 to devote himself fulltime to Central Gulf.
   During its early years, Central Gulf expanded by acquiring other ships and companies, including forming New York-based ship brokerage N.W. Johnsen & Co in 1957. By the mid-1960s, Central Gulf was the top U.S.-flag operator from the United States to the Middle East and South Asia. 
   In 1971, Central Gulf merged with Trans Union Corp., and during the 1970s expanded its number of LASH (lighter aboard ship) vessels, a fleet it started to build in 1967. Central Gulf eventually became the largest operator of these barge-carrying vessels.
   International Shipholding was formed in 1979 when Trans Union spun off the LASH services and ships of Central Gulf. The Johnsen brothers strengthened their interest in the company to maintain operational control. Niels W. was named chairman, located in New York, while Erik F. became president, based in New Orleans. Their sons also came into the company to hold senior management positions.
   As the LASH ships were phased out of the fleet, International Shipholding filled the void with other types of vessels, including specialized pure car/truck carriers, and in recent years added a railcar all-water transport service between Mobile, Ala., and Mexico’s east coast.
   Niels W. retired as chairman of International Shipholding in 2003.
   Over the years, Niels W. served on the boards of various industry organizations, including the American Bureau of Shipping, Seamen’s Church Institute, Atlantic Mutual Insurance Corp., Centennial Insurance Co., and National Cargo Bureau.
   During his 60 years of maritime industry service, he also received various awards, including the Seamen’s Church Institute Silver Bell Award in 1988 and the Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award in 1993.
   The Johnsen family has long been known for its conservative approach to the ocean shipping business.
   “We never enter a transaction without a thorough investigation of where there might be pitfalls,” Niels W. Johnsen told American Shipper during a wide-ranging interview about International Shipholding in the mid-1990s. “We’ve been able to select those areas of business where we can be successful.”
   Niels W. Johnson’s wife, Millicent Mercer Johnsen, predeceased him in September 2013, as well as his daughter, Gretchen Johnsen Bryant, in June 2014. He is survived by his son, Niels M. Johnsen ,and wife Marlene, and daughter, Ingrid J. and husband, William B. Barrett, along with seven grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Erik F. Johnson and wife Barbara V. Johnsen.
   A service will be held today at Elberon Memorial Church in Elberon, N.J., followed by a private internment. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Niels W.’s memory to the Elberon Memorial Church or Twin Lights Historical Society, Twin Lights Historic Site, Lighthouse Road, Highlands, N.J. 07732.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.

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