Welcome to the page of the steam icebreaker s/s Sankt Erik. A working museum ship from 1915. This page is run by the Friend’s of Sankt Erik, ”Föreningen s/s Isbrytaren Sankt Eriks vänner”.

Her main engine, a tripple expansion steam engine of 2800 hp, is probably the largest working marine steam engine in the world today.


s/s Sankt Erik, more than 100 years old, and still in working order

Short facts

The ship is 61 meters long and 17 meters wide. She was built at Finnboda varv (Finnboda ship yard). She has two engines, one main engine aft and one forward.

The aft engine room with the main engine

The main engine is three stories high. It powers a five meter high propeller.

The large propeller

Along with the main engine, there is also a forward engine of 1200 hp.  The forward engine as well as the hull, were specially designed for ice breaking.

The middle section, between the two engine rooms,  houses the boiler room. There are four boilers, with three burners in each, and also a donkey boiler in the middle.

The boiler room


The ship was launched in 1914, and taken into sevice in 1915. Then under the name Isbrytaren II (Icebreaker the second). With her 4000 hp steam engines, she was the first icebreaker that could keep the inlet to Stockholm harbour open during the winter months. She also served in the open sea.

Skärmavbild 2016-04-20 kl. 14.48.33
Sankt Erik in the ice

In 1958 she had oil burners installed instead of coal, to heat the four boilers, each of 30 cubic meters.

A picture from 1936, when Sankt Erik still was powered by coal

In the same year her bridge was re-built and raised. It was also the year she got her present name, after the patron saint of the City of Stockholm.

Sankt Erik before her bridge was  re-built

After more than 60 years in service, Sankt Erik got her retirement in 1977. In 1980 she became a museum ship. In the first years in her new career, she did a few tourist trips in the archipelago, but in 2007 she sailed for the last time. At least that was what everyone thought.

Her 100 years birthday

But in 2015 she turned a hundred years …
Volunteers were summoned from the Friend’s of Sankt Erik, ”Isbrytaren s/s Sankt Eriks vänner”, and we started to work on her main engine and to get one boiler certified for use. In the summer visitors could finally see her main engine working again.

Sankt Erik on her 100 years jubilee, with her call signal, SHRA, hoisted

To leave port though, her forward engine was needed for manoeuvres. A massive effort was done to get one more old engine woking again. But it was well worth the try.

Oiling the main engine means litterally stepping into it

Focus forward

Focus forward

During the winter and spring of 2015-16 the focus was on the forward engine, paint jobs and to do test runs on the help machines, like the rudder chain and the anchor (also running on steam).

In the summer  2016 there were two more weekends when visitors could see the engines work while the ship was in port. This year, both the aft and forward engines were under steam. Both boiler number two and three were now approved.

Checking the fire in boiler three

To leave port, paper work had to be done. The project was supported with a lot of help when it came to finding old documents or sorting out what was needed. Of course the owner, the Maritime museum, also had to approve for a technical test sail to happen. And they did.

The first sail in nine years

On September 21st 2016 Sankt Erik left port, under her own power, for the first time in nine years. A short voyage to Nacka and back., a trip of about one hour. Many agree that was the best hour of the year 2016!

Steaming out of the harbour

On the way out her main engine was tested at full power. Everything worked fine and congratulations started to come on the radio from other vessels that saw us.

On the way back, there was even time for a minute in the sun, enjoying the sail.

A minute to enjoy the sail

After, we raised a toast for the fine Lady, and for all the hours of work that finally had paid off.

Plans for 2017

In the winter 2016-17 focus will be set on maintnance, paper work, cleaning, painting and electricity work for new equipment on the bridge.

Everyone, from the captain to the deckhands, are working as volounteers, without pay. Work on the hull and deck, and the regular guided tours, are done by employees from the museum.

In 2017 there will be more opportunities to see the engines run again. You’ll find our big black Lady on the seaside of the Vasa museum in Stockholm. A visit in port is free of charge. We also hope to get the ship classed for some tours in the archipelago.

If you want to support us and keep Sankt Eriks’ engines working, please donate to the volunteer’s bank account in Nordea: 23 42 13 – 7. (If you have a swedish phone with a swish account you can also send it to: +46 123 56 24 358).

Thank you!

The ”steam team” of volunteers who took Sankt Erik for a test sail in 2016

For opening hours on Sankt Erik, see the Maritime museum’s homepage