Ultramar was founded in 1952 by Captain Albert von Appen as a ship agency company, initially focusing on providing agency and logistical support services to foreign shipping companies. Captain von Appen was subsequently joined by his two sons, Sven von Appen and Wolf von Appen, who successfully developed and diversified the group into other shipping related activities and expanded the activities into a.o. Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama and in more recent times into Europe and the U.S. The Group is also active in South America in other areas, as a major operator of port terminals which is complimented by undertakings in industrial mining, power generation, gas storage and distribution, as well as sulphuric acid production.
The group was amongst the first to engaged in the transport of gas in liquid form, having acquired a 90 cubic meter capacity gas carrier newbuilding in 1960. With an overall length of 23 meters only, it was probably the smallest vessel of its kind ever built. Placed into service in the southern most Patagonia region of South America it vastly improved the logistics for local gas producers and consumers replacing the traditional transport of gas in steel bottles.
In deep sea shipping activities Ultranav today operates about 220 vessels, approximately 60 of which are owned vessels. To this can be added about 70 specialized vessels within harbour and deep sea towage, salvage activities, and off-shore drilling and production support in a number of locations throughout South America. The deep sea fleet includes tankers for the transport of crude oil, refined products, and chemicals, dry cargo bulk carriers, multi-purpose dry cargo and container vessels, as well as specialized vessels for the transport of liquefied gases.
The group is today jointly headed by Dag von Appen, and Richard von Appen.