The History of Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä was established in 1834. For 190 years we have been at the frontier of engineering innovation. This vision and ingenuity means that we deliver ever smarter solutions that keep our customers one step ahead. Together, we move beyond boundaries and shape the market.

Highlights from the past

    1834 - 1979


    Wärtsilä is established when the governor of the county of Karelia approves the construction of a sawmill by a rapids in the municipality of Tohmajärvi on 12th April. Some years later the sawmill becomes the property of N. L. Arppe.


    The sawmill and iron works company is renamed Wärtsilä Ab, which becomes a new company called Ab Wärtsilä Oy in 1907.

    Wartsila Iron Mill 1852


    Wärtsilä acquires a majority holding in Kone- ja Siltarakennus Oy (Machine and Bridge Construction Ltd), gaining also control of the Hietalahti shipyard (est’d 1865) in Helsinki and the Crichton-Vulcan shipyard (est’d 1741) in Turku. Kone- ja Siltarakennus Oy manufactures for example paper machines and Abloy locks. Soon Wärtsilä's headquarters move from Karelia to Helsinki.

    Kone- ja Siltarakennus oy


    Kone ja Silta (Machine and Bridge) group is merged with Wärtsilä, along with the iron mill Taalintehdas (est’d 1686) just acquired, and the Turku, Pietarsaari and Vaasa subsidiaries.

    After that Wärtsilä-Yhtymä O/Y (Wärtsilä Group Ltd) is established under Chief Executive Wilhelm Wahlforss.

    The diesel engine era begins when Wärtsilä signs a licence agreement with Friedrich Krupp Germania Werft AG in Germany. The first diesel engine sees the light of day in Turku in November 1942.

    Wilhelm Wahlforss


    In the beginning of 1954, Wärtsilä made the decision to commence the design of its own diesel engines in Vaasa. Wilmer Wahlstedt, a young civil engineer, working then at the Wärtsilä Turku shipyard, was called to Vaasa to lead the design work for that future engine.

    In June 1959, the first Wärtsilä designed diesel engine, the Wärtsilä Vasa 14 (with only three cylinders), was started for the first time. This baby engine was so beloved by the design team that their families would visit the factory premises on Sundays just to see it running. 

    The first commercial engines, the Wärtsilä Vasa 614 with six cylinders, were sold to Silja Line’s m/s Skandia, sailing between Finland and Sweden. In 1984, one of these engines was returned to Vaasa and can still today be seen in the Wärtsilä factory area.

    Story: The birth of the first Wärtsilä diesel engine

    Wartsila's first diesel engine


    Wärtsilä begins to build a new shipyard to Perno, Turku, where the whole Turku Shipyard will move by 1983.


    Acquisition of 51% of the NOHAB diesel business from Bofors in Sweden, marking the beginning of Wärtsilä’s international manufacturing operations. The remaining shares are acquired in 1984.

    Story: The Day The Flywheel Broke In Half

    Perno Turku

    1980 - 1999


    Wärtsilä floats a share series on the Stockholm stock exchange.

    Story: The Focus Remains on People

         Photo: Raphael Andres


    Wärtsilä floats its second share issue for international investors and is the first Finnish company to be quoted on the London stock exchange.

    Story: A Mighty Soviet Beauty 

         Photo: Hugo Sousa


    A crisis in the global marine industry that had lasted several years leads Wärtsilä to pool its marine resources with Valmet, resulting in the establishment of Wärtsilä Marine Oy. Valmet’s shipbuilding activities are joined with Wärtsilä’s while Wärtsilä’s paper machines are transferred to Valmet.

    Wartsila and Valmet


    Wärtsilä and Lohja sign a merger agreement. Lohja becomes a major shareholder in Wärtsilä after a privileged share issue.


    Wärtsilä is merged with Lohja. An extraordinary meeting of Lohja shareholders approves the new name of the company, Metra Oy Ab, and appoints a new Board of Directors. Metra is defined as “an international industrial corporation whose key areas of focus are building-related activities and the diesel engine business”.

    Story: Do they sell toilets here?



    European Works Council is born.

    Wärtsilä Diesel signs a co-operation contract with its employees leading to the establishment of a European Works Council.

    European Works Council


    Metra and Fincantieri agree on the merger of Wärtsilä Diesel, New Sulzer Diesel and Diesel Ricerche in 1997, the new company will be called Wärtsilä NSD Corporation. This makes Fincantieri a minority (15%) shareholder in Metra’s largest division.


    Metra plans demerger into three listed companies: a diesel and gas engine company, a bathroom products company and an investment company. Despite the postponement of the decision on demerger Metra will further increase the independence of its divisions.

    Story: Surrounded By Civil War And Under Curfew: Yes We Can!

    Wartsila NSD Corporation

    2000 - 2019


    Metra becomes Wärtsilä.
    An extraordinary meeting of Metra shareholders on 13th September approves the Board of Director’s proposal to rename the group Wärtsilä. 


    Wärtsilä expands into biopower and acquires Finnish company Sermet Oy, which specialises in small and medium-sized boiler plants running on biofuels, oil and gas.

    Story: “The entire town of Vaasa smelled like burnt bread” 

    Sermet Oy


    Wärtsilä to start propeller manufacture in China, Joint Venture with CME - Part of shipbuilding group CSSC


    Wärtsilä’s first wholly-owned production venture in China inaugurated in Wuxi.


    Wärtsilä and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd (HHI) signed an agreement to set up a 50/50-owned joint venture in Korea to manufacture dual-fuel engines for LNG (liquefied natural gas) carriers.

    Visiting China


    Joint venture with Metso combining Metso’s Heat & Power business and Wärtsilä’s Biopower business. Metso owns 60% and Wärtsilä 40% of the joint venture.


    Wärtsilä Services opened and expanded offices and workshops in Namibia, Chile, Brazil, Madagascar, Azerbaijan, China, Turkey and Dubai.


    Wärtsilä among 100 most sustainable corporations in the world.

    Wartsila and Metso


    EU approval for HERCULES-Beta Project to Wärtsilä and MAN Diesel. The project is a major international cooperative effort to maximise fuel efficiency combined with ultra-low emissions and to develop future generations of optimally efficient and clean marine diesel engines.

    Wärtsilä 31 engine


    Fuel cell unit installed on a vessel - unique SOFC technology provides power to Wallenius' car-carrier 'Undine'. This unique power unit is the first of its kind in the world, and will during the test period provide auxiliary power to the vessel while producing close to zero emissions.

    Story: What’s The Deal With The Irish Debt Crisis?

    Wallenius Undine


    Wärtsilä-led consortium signed a contract to supply the world’s largest tri-fuel power plant to Jordan.

    Power Plant Jordan


    Wärtsilä was given full notice to proceed from Manga LNG Oy for the supply of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Tornio, Northern Finland. This was the first order of its kind awarded to Wärtsilä.

    Tornio Manga LNG


    New Wärtsilä 31 engine was launched. The engine has been acknowledged by Guinness World Records as being the world’s most efficient 4-stroke diesel engine.


    Wärtsilä entered the solar energy business by offering utility-scale solar photo-voltaic solutions.


    Wartsila Solar Energy


    Wärtsilä successfully tested remote control ship operating capability. The U.S. based operator Gulfmark Offshore provided the vessel for the project. The test vessel was in the North Sea off the Scotland coast and the remote control navigating was carried out from the Wärtsilä office in San Diego, California, 8000 km away.


    The automatic wireless induction charging system was successfully tested on a hybrid powered coastal ferry. This is the first commercial ferry in the world operating with high power wireless charging capability for its batteries.


    Wireless Charging Test


    Wärtsilä opens two Experience Centres: one in Vaasa and the flagship in the new Wärtsilä Helsinki Campus in Salmisaari. The Experience Centre showcases how Wärtsilä's smart technology and innovative solutions work in real life through a memorable experience.

    Helsinki campus Experience Centre


    Wärtsilä starts a substantial investment in a new innovation and technology hub in Vaasa. The Smart Technology Hub will be a new centre of research, product development and production.

    Vaasa Smart Technology Hub

    2020 - 2022


    Wärtsilä powers the world's largest NGO hospital ship.

    Mercy Ships
    Photo: Mercy Ships


    Wärtsilä launched a major test programme towards carbon-free solutions with hydrogen and ammonia.

    fuel test programme


    Wärtsilä launched its new strategic framework, the Wärtsilä Way, to accelerate the development towards marine decarbonisation and the shift to a 100% renewable energy future.


    Wärtsilä commits to become carbon-neutral in its own operations and provide a product portfolio ready for zero-carbon fuels by 2030.

    The Wärtsilä Way 2021


    Wärtsilä released its Wärtsilä 32 Methanol engine and MethanolPac, a dedicated fuel supply system for methanol.

    In addition, Wärtsilä introduced its new Wärtsilä 25 engine, which will be the first Wärtsilä engine to run on ammonia as a fuel.

    Methanol milestone


    Wärtsilä opens the world-leading Sustainable Technology Hub to accelerate marine and energy decarbonisation.

    Sustainable Technology Hub opening


    Wärtsilä to supply a 500-megawatt (MWac) / 2-gigawatt hour (GWh) portfolio of energy storage systems in one of the world’s largest ever solar-plus-storage project portfolios.

    2022 energy storage systems

    Acquisitions and management changes



    Wärtsilä acquires most of the ceramics factory Arabia Ab’s share capital and later the entire company.


    Wärtsilä acquires the Nuutajärvi glass factory.


    Wärtsilä acquires the John Stenberg engineering workshop.


    Wärtsilä Diesel acquires the French SACM, a manufacturer of high-speed engines.

    Wärtsilä acquires a majority holding in the Dutch company Stork Werkspoor B.V., which makes medium-speed engines. This company is renamed Stork-Wärtsilä Diesel B.V.


    Wärtsilä acquires the Swedish service company Ciserv Ab.


    Wärtsilä acquires a leading global supplier of marine propulsion systems, John Crane-Lips, which continues to operate under the name Wärtsilä Propulsion.


    Wärtsilä acquires the marine engine maintenance company Caltax Marine Diesel BV, which is given the new name Ciserv Netherlands BV.


    Wärtsilä acquires DEUTZ  AG's medium and large marine engine service business.

    Wärtsilä acquires Automation equipment and servicing control company Gerhardt Holding Co. Inc.


    Wärtsila acquires supplier of power and automation systems Aker Kvaerner Power and Automation Systems AS.

    Wärtsilä acquires marine automation company Total Automation Ltd.

    Wärtsilä acquires German company INTEC Injectortechnic specialized in fuel injection equipment.

    Wärtsilä acquires the Swedish ship repair company Stockholms fartygsreparationer.

    Wärtsilä acquires the German ship design company group SCHIFFKO.


    Wärtsilä acquires the entire business of the South African propeller repair company Marine Propeller (Pty) Lts in Cape Town, South Africa. 

    Wärtsilä acquires the Swedish company Senitec AB specialized in environmental technology products for separating waste.

    Wärtsilä acquires the UK-based propeller repair company McCall Propellers Ltd.

    Wärtsilä acquires part of the marine business of Railko Ltd. in the UK, a company specializing in syntetic stern tube bearing technology.

    Wärtsilä acquires a Scottish company Electrical Power Engineering (Scotland) Ltd specialized in electrical power engineering solutions for marine, offshore, industrial and utilities segments.


    Wärtsilä acquires Maritime Service AS, a Norwegian company specializing in ship service, mechanical and reconditioning services.

    Wärtsilä acquires the Danish company International Combustion Engineering A/S (I.C.E) specialized in project engineering and the service and repair of steam boilers and ancillary burner systems.

    Wärtsilä acquires the German company Claus D. Christophel Messund Regeltechnik GmbH (CDC), which specializes in the design, delivery and service of automation systems for ship owners and yards. 

    Wärtsilä acquires the global ship design group Vik-Sandvik, a leading independent group providing design and engineering services to ship owners and the ship building industry worldwide.

    Wärtsilä acquires Navelec SAS, a French company specializing in marine navigation and communication systems, electrical marine services, and control and automation services. 

    Wärtsilä acquires a leading naval architecture and ship design company Conan Wu & Associates Pte Ltd (CWA), headquartered in Singapore.


    Wärtsilä acquires the Swedish company Cedervall, one of the leading manufacturers of shaft seal and bearing systems for the marine industry.


    Wärtsilä acquires Hamworthy, a global provider of specialist equipment and services to the marine, oil & gas and industrial sectors. 

    Wärtsilä acquires the assets and business of MMI Boiler Management Pte Ltd., a Singapore-based company specialising in the service and maintenance of boilers for marine and industrial applications.


    Wärtsilä Corporation acquires L-3 Marine Systems International, a business sector within L-3’s Electronic Systems business segment primarily focused on the commercial ship industry.


    Wärtsilä acquires Eniram, a Finland-based technology company providing the marine industry with energy management and analytics solutions.

    Wärtsilä acquires the USA and Canada based company Weir American Hydro, the leading supplier and installer of large equipment upgrades and servicing for the hydroelectric and water distribution industries.


    Wärtsilä acquires Greensmith Energy Management Systems Inc., a US-based leader in intelligent energy storage technology and solutions.

    Wärtsilä acquires Puregas Solutions, the Sweden based provider of turnkey biogas upgrading solutions.

    Wärtsilä acquires Guidance Marine Limited, a technology leader in the marine industry for sensor solutions relating to dynamic positioning and other vessel control systems.

    Wärtsilä acquires Trident B.V., a Netherland based company specialised in underwater ship maintenance, inspection, and repair services. 


    Wärtsilä is expanding the service offering of its QuantiServ business line with the acquisition of the American engineering company LOCK-N-STITCH. 

    Wärtsilä acquires Transas, a global market leader in marine navigation solutions.

    Wärtsilä acquires Burriel Navarro, S.L, a company operating in underwater services in the main ports of Spain.


    Wärtsilä acquires Ships Electronic Services Ltd, a UK based company specializing in navigation and communication electronics, installation, maintenance and repair services.


    Wärtsilä acquires PortLink Global, a global port solutions company. This speeds Wärtsilä along its path towards creating an end-to-end connected maritime ecosystem in which intelligent port logistics solutions play a nodal role. 

    Changes in management


    Wilhelm Wahlforss becomes President of Wärtsilä.


    Bertel Långhjelm is appointed Chief Executive Officer of the group after Wilhelm Wahlforss. 


    Tankmar Horn becomes Chief Executive Officer.


    Tor Stolpe becomes Chief Executive Officer.


    Pekka Laine is named President and Chief Executive Officer.


    Klaus Grönbärj appointed President of Wärtsilä.


    Georg Ehrnrooth is appointed President and Chief Executive Officer.


    Georg Ehrnrooth resigns. His place is taken by Ole Johansson, president of Wärtsilä NSD.


    Björn Rosengren was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer.


    Jaakko Eskola was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer.


    Håkan Agnevall was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer. He started in this position in 2021.