Our History

A+ is a new school based on an old campus with a rich history. The school was established in 2015, but our ship, the Sørlandet, has a long tradition of educational endeavours. In its second year, the new school is filled to capacity as it completes the world’s first ever circumnavigation by a Nordic School Ship.

Over the past 90 years, the Sørlandet has welcomed more than 10,000 students, providing them with a complete marine education, teaching them to be navigators, engineers, and seamen. Not only was she the first Ship in the world to welcome women to co-ed marine education, she has, in recent years, been the platform for coeducational high school education programs. Sørlandet is a living legacy and an historic leader at the forefront of didactic practice.

The history of Sørlandet

The story of the Sørlandet begins with Norwegian philanthropist and ship-owner Oluf Andreas Tollefsen Skjelbred, who was born into a poor family in 1854 and orphaned at a young age.

During his teenage years, Skjelbred studied to become a navigator. Skjelbred quickly became a deft and practiced ship captain. In 1927, the Sørlandet was launched as a School ship constructed with the funds donated by Mr. Skjelbred. Nicknamed “the Pearl of Kristiansand,” its native city, the Sørlandet is currently the oldest operated fully rigged Ship in the world.

In 1933, without the use of an engine, the Sørlandet crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and traveled all the way to Chicago for the World’s Fair. It was the first fully rigged sailing Ship from Northern Europe to ever navigate through the Great Lakes.

Enamoured of life at sea, and convinced of the value of a maritime education, Skjelbred included  a special provision for the future use of the Sorlandet in his last will and testament.

There are 4 cornerstone values outlined in that stipulation that guide the educational mission of the school to this day:

The Importance of Values and Attitudes

Understanding Teamwork

The development of social skills

The pursuit of knowledge

Between 1972 and 1978, the ship was purchased for private use and retired from active duty as a school. It was then re-acquired by Skjelbred’s great-grandson, Kristian, and donated to the city of Kristiansand. The City created a new Foundation to oversee the operation, maintenance and, most importantly, the mission of the Sørlandet. It is this same foundation, The Sørlandet Foundation, that still owns and operates the Ship and A+ World Academy. The Foundation receives generous support from the Norwegian Government in recognition of the Ship’s significance in Norway’s maritime heritage.

You can visit the foundation’s website at www.sorlandet.org.