View Full Version : Question about Åland Mercantile Marine

Sandy Witt
11-11-08, 19:08
According to his Mercantile Marine Fräjdebok, or inscription document, my grandfather - Johan Viktor Johansson Bäckman (1881-1960) enrolled at the Åland Mercantile Marine office at Wårdö (Vårdö in the Åland Islands) at the age of 18 on December 6, 1899. The Åland Mercantile Marine sailed under the Russian Flag because Finland was under Russian rule at that time. His Fräjdebok lists information about his service, the ports of call, and the names of the large sailing ships (barques or square-riggers) on which he served as the ship’s carpenter, second mate, and constable.

My question: Where can I locate information (online preferably) about the Åland Mercantile/Merchant Marine?

I am attempting to write an article about his experiences while serving with them from 1899 until 1905, when he left his ship (as constable) at Ship Island (near Louisiana, USA) and immigrated to America. I would like to add some general information about the Åland Mercantile Marine, if possible.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.


Sandra Johnson Witt

Ingemar Ekman
19-11-08, 18:49
Hi Sandy,
I have forwarded your question to two retired sea captains in Mariehamn.
I will let you know their answers.
Best regards,

Sandy Witt
19-11-08, 20:54
Hi, Ingemar,

Thank you for your assistance.

I had not been able to locate any general information on the Internet searching for "Åland Mercantile/Merchant Marine."

However, when I attempted to find some links using the translation you sent me - "Ålands segelfartyg tillhörande Finlands handelsflotta" and "Ålands handelsflotta" - I got quite a few hits, which I hope to follow up soon.

I really appreciate your giving me this information.


20-11-08, 07:11
What in he meaning of constable (konstabel) in merchant marine. My granfather had that position too.


Ingemar Ekman
20-11-08, 17:57
Hi Sandy / Harry
Ben-Eric in Mariehamn informed me about the link http://home.aland.net/skeppsbefal/lankar.htm
and the section Övrigt/OTHER have more links. I noticed that several pages also are available in English.
According to Wikipedia
"Konstapel var tidigare även ett befäl vid handelsflottan - en oexaminerad styrman på ett segelfatyg"

Best regards,

Sandy Witt
21-11-08, 00:38
Ingemar and Harry,

Ingemar, please thank Ben-Erik in Mariehamn for the links he sent you. They seem very promising.

Harry, I was not sure about the responsibilities of a "konstapel/constable" on a sailing ship, and am glad that you asked the question. My Swedish dictionary indicates that a "konstapel" is a "police constable" (not a helpful translation) and that a "styrman" is a "mate", a "första styrman" is a "first mate" or "officer."

The discharge roll of the barque Asia (January 4, 1905) was located at the Åland Maritime Museum (“Ålandssjöfartsmuseum”) in Mariehamn.

My grandfather Vicktor was listed as “Konstapl J.W. Johansson” (“Constable J. V. Johnson”) on the following discharge roll list of names.

Transcription of the names of the crew members on this discharge roll:


Stuvert A. Nordström
Jungm. R. F. Henriksson
Matros E. Jansson
Konstapl J. Mattsson
Matros E. Johansson
Styrman K. Karlsson
Stuvert P. O. Karlsson
Jungm B. A. Lundberg
Lättmatr. J. Mattsson
d: o J. A. Karlsson
Styrman J. W. Eriksson
Stuvert P. O. Karlsson
Konstapl J. W. Johansson
Timmerm. K. E. Karlsson
Lättmatr K. Danielsson
Matros K. W. Johansson
d: o K. J. Nystam
Lättmatr. J.K. Wilén
d: o K. A. Söderman
d: o J. E. Helminen
Styrman J. E. K. Melin


Other terms I don't understand: "Lättmatr." and "Stuvert" -

I will attach a copy of this document.


21-11-08, 23:43
Hello Sandy
Some translatons:
Jungman Deck-boy
Lättmatros Light hand; ordinary seaman
Matros AB; able-bodied seaman
Konstapel Leading seaman
Stuvert Steward

On the link below you will find some data about "ASIA"


Have a nice day

Sandy Witt
22-11-08, 02:11

Thank you so much for the incredibly helpful translations of the terms "jungman," "lättmatros," etc. None of these terms were in my Swedish dictionary.

And I appreciate the website link that has data about the Asia, the ship on which my grandfather served for two years.

Quick question: My grandfather told my father that crew members with the Åland Mercantile Marine had to serve for a certain number of years (five or six). If they did not want to continue, they had to "sign off." Do you know if there is any documentation about the "terms of service" for such crewmembers in the early 1900s?

I hope that you will have a nice day too ;-)


24-11-08, 08:57
Thank you for explaining the word constable. I had an idea like that, because he was mentioned in the list of crew after the officers.