Joergen Lundbaek passed away on 15 March 2021 shortly before midnight.
About half a year ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and although he went into treatment, it was too late to stop it from spreading.
Funeral rites will be held at Wat That Thong Ekamai Sala 1 starting from Tuesday 16 March 2021 until Thursday 18 March 2021 from 6:30 pm. The Cremation will be on Saturday 20 March from 11:30 am. Wat That Thong is near the Ekkamai BTS station.
Joergen Lundbaek lived a most amazing life. At the age of 15, he left his home on Fyn on 23rd July 1960 to start on his life voyage. At first, he had to go by bus to Genova and from there he signed on as a crew member on Lica Maersk. Over New York he came to Japan and for the next one and a half year he was sailing on the East coast of Asia.
Two years later, he took the trip back to Fyn – by bus from Genova the way he had left. But he was hooked on Asia and soon was back sailing up and down the coast.
On 25 July 2020, Joergen Lundbaek celebrated the 60 year anniversary of that day, he first left home and showed several old documents from that very first journey.
Always looking for a good reason to throw a party, Jorgen Lundbaek had on 12 October 2019 just celebrated his 75 year birthday with a big party. But when people asked him, he laughed and said he was only celebrating his 25 years birthday – for the third time.
“Just wait until I celebrate it for the fourth time – then we will have a really big party!” he said.
Joergen’s colourful story has been told and re-told many times.
He had spent five years at sea when he decided to take on a dangerous job during the Vietnam War. In the middle of 1965 he signed off in Hong Kong, with a plan to make som serious money.
“I got off the ship in Hong Kong and I went straight to the American embassy. I had heard about a job that I really wanted, and the same day I got it,” says Jorgen Lundbaek.
Jorgen and his colleagues were working for an American company Alaska Barbs and Transport which had a contract with the US to distribute bombs and ammunition to the American forces during the Vietnam War. They lived and worked on small barges and the work also included picking up unexploded bombs from the bottom of the rivers, they sailed on.
“The job paid 3.000 dollars a month, which was three times as much as I made on the ships,” Jorgen Lundbaek said.
Little over a year later it was time for a small break for Jorgen Lundbaek, who planned on spending a month in Bangkok, but that plan quickly changed.
Jorgen Lundbaek celebrated on Wednesday, 2 November 2016, the exactly 50 years since he arrived Thailand for the first time.
“In Thailand, I got a similar job for an American company CONAM which had a US contract to distribute ammunition to the American forces based in Thailand,” he says.
“I started after my vacation on 1 January 1967. In this job, we picked up the ammunition from Satthahip Naval Base and took it up to the warehouses in Bangkok and send it onwards to the bases upcountry.”
At that time, when you got an employment and a work permit, you also automatically was given a residence permit, so Jorgen Lundbaek has been a permanent resident of Thailand since 1967. Later, he also obtained a Thai citizenship.
Later, in 1968 he founded the company Marine Surveys (Thailand) Limited where he worked with Sven Marquardsen, another Dane, and Captain Bent, a British national despite the name. The company worked as a middleman between the owner of a ship and the company renting the ship, making sure everything worked to satisfaction for both parties.
Jorgen Lundbaek worked at Marine Surveys for ten years, before starting up his first Mermaid company providing safety equipment to ships and offshore structures, including underwater welding.
“I started in the Marine Surveying business and doing that I realized that nobody was selling marine safety equipment services. Then I started that business with Viking from Denmark and that was the start of the success.”
In an interview in 2014, looking back, Jorgen Lundbaek defined the turning point for his business success as the time when Mermaid joined Thoresen & Co.
“We started up as a small company and build it up slowly but then after a few years we joined the Norwegian company Thoresen & Co. and from that moment, things changed.”
“We had been talking to the Norwegian Mr. Teigen, who at that time was the owner of Thoresen, and he asked us if we wanted to make a joint venture. We talked about it and he said he was interested in buying. He made it clear that the price didn’t matter, as long as we didn’t just put the money in our pockets, but left it in the company,” Jørgen said in a ScandAsia interview in 2006.
“From that day on, the company had so much money that we could go out and buy a lot of new things. We invested in diving systems and the rest is history. Today we operate seven ships, four of which we own. And we have two drilling tenders which are our own,” Jørgen added with a smile.
“Back in the old days, when we tried to borrow money the banks looked at us, as if were we crazy. Today they come to us asking if we want to borrow!”
As Jorgen enjoyed his success in the shipping business he added a bar to his portfolio, taking over the Sportsman Lounge, situated close to the Oriental hotel.
“At that time it was actually just to have a little bit of fun, but it ended up being an OK business,” says Jorgen Lundbaek.
Since then a handful of bars, restaurants and hotels in Bangkok and Pattaya have had the Jorgen Lundbaek name on the contract. For several year, he was also a partner in the famous Stable Lodge hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 8.
The businesses Jorgen entered went all really well, and a lot more where opened, with the most successful one being Mermaid Maritime Services. At one time this company alone employed more than 1.000 people.
In 2006, Jorgen Lundbaek sold his shares in the Mermaid Maritime Group to Thoresen Thai Agencies in October for reportedly 234 million baht.
“Before the transaction, Thoresen had 63% of the share in Mermaid Maritime,” Jorgen Lundbaek told ScandAsia about his business transaction and continued
“Now it has become the major shareholder of the company with 80% totally. But I am still working as a CEO of the company,” he added.
It was part of the deal that Jorgen Lundbaek and the current MD of Mermaid Maritime Tommy Hansen should be given the opportunity after the sale to buy back the company in Vietnam, Mermaid Maritime Vietnam, from Thoresen Thai Agencies. This transaction was finalized by the end of November 2006.
Jorgen’s business acitivities kept expanding also in Vietnam, where he in 2004 had established a Mermaid Maritime Vietnam company in Vung Tau some 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. In 2016, his Mermaid Maritime’s head office in Vung Tau expanded with an affiliate office in the port of Hai Phong in the North of Vietnam.
The year 2012 was the year, Joergen Lundbaek opened The Mermaid Hotel, which was inaugurated by none other than H.R.H. Prince Henrik of Denmark.
Friday 10 March 2012 was the night of the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Hotel Mermaid Bangkok. Prince Henrik performed first the official opening with cutting of the ribbon on the red carpet leading from Sukhumvit Soi 29 into the reception area of the hotel. Next followed a less formal inauguration in the Admiral’s Pub, where Prince Henrik rang an old ships bell wearing an old captain’s cap.
“I wish you every success with the hotel,” Prince Henrik told Jorgen Lundbak and Peter Singh Singhsachthep who showed His Royal Highness around the hotel. Peter Sing Singsachthep is co-investor in the Mermaid Hotel Bangkok and a third generation Indian with family roots in Thailand dating back to 1904.
During the tour of the premises, Prince Henrik showed special interest in the wine cellar of the hotel, and was offered a wine shelf of his own.
After the tour, the 60 distinguished guests were all invited for a buffet dinner in the Admiral’s restaurant next to the pub. Here, Prince Henrik met several of his friends with whom he has sailed in previous Phuket King’s Cup Regatta but told them that he was not planning to come back to sail in the regatta again.
By the end of the evening, His Royal Highness continued his journey back to Denmark. The Prince had arrived Bangkok only hours before from a visit to China, where he had inaugurated the new SAS route to Shanghai, and the stop-over was arranged on his way back.
This video is from the five year anniversary of the hotel:
The success has been huge for Jorgen Lundbaek, who has made himself a lot of money, but money is not a topic, he likes to talk about.
“I have been doing ok,” he said when ScandAsia journalist Dennis Krog in 2012 asked him how rich he was.
Dennis Krog also asked him, when he was going to retire and just enjoy all he had achieved?
“Retire! I wouldn’t know what to do all day,” was the answer.
Now, Joergen Lundbaek will rest in peace.
Below are some links to more details about the mazing life story of Joergen Lundbaek:
In 2014, he celebrated his 70 year birthday with a big party. Below is a report from that 70 year birthday. Great fun!
A few years ago, ScandAsia talked to him about his past many years in Thailand – and how it all started. That resulted in this story:
You want to know about his time in the Vietnamese jungle. Read this one then:
And the list goes on: