Peter Mærsk Møller

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(1836-1927)


Captain Peter Mærsk Møller took part in one of the most significant changes in shipping; the move from sail to steam in the late 1800’s. He first went to sea as a cabin boy in 1850 and passed his mate’s examination in 1855. After having gained experience both on land and on the seas, in 1862 Peter Mærsk Møller took up a position with Jeppesen, a leading ship owner in Dragør, just south of Copenhagen. Not only did Peter Mærsk Møller captain Mr. Jeppesen’s ships, he also became his son in law when he married Anna in 1864. They had ten children, among them A.P. Møller.

Following an unfortunate wrecking of the barque Valkyrien in 1883, Peter Mærsk Møller took the life-changing decision to move his family to Svendborg, then one of the leading shipping towns in Denmark and also to move into steamships. He bought a steamer, the Laura, in 1886 and started educating his sons to take part in his new venture. One son became a navigator like his father, two became engineers and the fourth, A.P. Møller, was trained within shipping. In this way, Peter Mærsk Møller formed a small team to take over the family business in due time.

While A.P. Møller was working in St. Petersburg during 1899-1903, father and son discussed the possibility to set up a new steamship company. The result was the Steamship Company Svendborg, today’s A.P. Moller – Maersk. Peter Mærsk Møller was instrumental in acquiring the needed share capital to buy the company’s first ship in 1904 and remained interested in the business as it evolved until his death in 1927.