John T Essberger

Our History

John T Essberger is proud of its unique history, a history that has resulted in a state of the art fleet manned and operated by highly committed and experienced personnel, known and trusted by shippers of bulk liquids in Europe.

Celebrating 100 Years of John T. Essberger

As we celebrate the centenary of John T. Essberger in 2024, we reflect on a legacy of resilience, innovation, and excellence in maritime shipping.
Over the years, we have grown from a pioneer in tanker shipping to a leader in European chemical shipping, with a modern, efficient fleet and strategic partnerships.

To mark our 100th anniversary, we have completed the construction of four state-of-the-art chemical tankers in China. The christening of two of these vessels in the port of Hamburg, along with a Senate reception at the historic town hall, highlights our deep-rooted connection to this maritime city.

Our success is built on the hard work and dedication of our employees, both at sea and ashore, who embody the values instilled by our founder. The centennial celebrations are not just a look back at our storied past but a testament to our commitment to future growth and excellence.

As we look ahead, we remain dedicated to sustainability and innovation, embracing environmentally friendly technologies and digital advancements. Our ongoing focus on fleet modernization and strategic planning ensures that we continue to lead and shape the future of chemical shipping.

The centennial celebrations will be complemented by a special exhibition at the International Maritime Museum Hamburg, reflecting on a century of maritime heritage and forward-looking vision.

Here's to another century of tradition, excellence, and maritime leadership.

Strategic Focus on Chemical Tankers

On 1 June 2022, the container liner business of Deutsche Afrika-Linien was sold to Hapag-Lloyd. This strategic decision by JTE facilitated the seamless integration of DAL’s liner services into Hapag-Lloyd’s operations. Consequently, John T. Essberger has shifted its complete focus to the chemical tanker business, further strengthening its position as a leader in European chemical shipping. This decision underscores our commitment to specializing and excelling in our core competencies.

Modern Heritage of John T. Essberger

JTE which has meanwhile become highly diversified, is managed by the third generation of the Essberger/von Rantzau family. The company headquarters are based on Palmaille 45-49 in Hamburg-Altona overlooking the river Elbe. The ensemble of buildings, a classical 18th century palais accompanied by contemporary steel and glas architecture, reflects both historical and modern views. The company consists today of the shipping lines Deutsche Afrika-Linien, the traditional liner services to Southern Africa, as well as the DAL service to the Islands of the Indian Ocean and the group’s tramp shipping and Shipmanagement activities are pooled in John T. Essberger. With an annual turnover of around 350 million Dollar this independent mid-sized private group of companies today employs a staff of about 1,200 worldwide – large enough to serve the ever growing demands of international shipping in the new millenium. Small enough to offer the personal touch.

Joint venture with Stolt Tankers

On 9 Nov 2020 Essberger announced it would enter into a joint venture with Stolt Tankers to form E&S tankers, together operating a combined fleet of 48 parcel tankers ranging in size from 2,800 to 11,300 deadweight tonnes, trading in Europe and in particular within the Baltic, Mediterranean and Northwest Europe

Essberger Tankers

In 2008, following the adoption of standardised procedures within the Chartering and Operations departments of both offices, the brand name of the company was changed to Essberger Tankers. Chartering and Operations for both offices was consolidated in Hamburg in 2014. Meanwhile, Ship Management, Vetting and Crewing activities remain in place in Hamburg.

Joint Forces

John T Essberger joined forces with VOPAK Chemical Tankers in 2001 and the two companies operated under the name VOPAK Essberger Chempool until VOPAK Chemical Tankers was acquired by Essberger in 2004.

A new Generation

In the 1980s the third generation comprising Dr. Eberhart von Rantzau and Heinrich von Rantzau adapted the company to new requirements, to a time when liner services allied with international partner shipping lines could be further strengthened and tanker shipping found an attractive market in the transport of chemicals.

Rebuild after second world war

After World War 2 the Essberger-fleet had vanished. But John T. Essberger soon managed to build up his company once again. In 1959, after his death, his daughter Liselotte von Rantzau-Essberger (1918-1993) took over the helm of the group.

Becoming a Pioneer

In the pioneer days of tanker shipping John T. Essberger soon became one of the primary names in the transport of liquid bulk. His success was built on break-through innovations in design and construction of tankers combined with a careful selection of top officers and crew, a policy that has been continued to the present day. In 1941 Essberger invested in the dry cargo market by taking over of the Deutsche Afrika-Linien (DAL), a liner company engaged in the Africa trade for decades.

Naval Officer John T Essberger

John T Essberger, a German Naval Commander, founded his own ship owning company in Hamburg in 1924