The numbers say it all. One of the five largest fleets in the world. A 10% share of the offshore-related supply sector. Eight to ten percent of the global ship's gear market. From the traditions picked up through centuries of shipping activities - including some of the best cold-weather competence and ship's gear equipment available - to the present and future-oriented achievements in the areas of maritime IT applications, maritime trainee programmes and legislation, the Norwegian shipping industry exudes excellence and quality in all disciplines.
|Berge Stahl is the largest bulk carrier cargo ship in the world, weighing in at a massive 364,768 dwt. The boat, built in 1986 and operated by Bergesen Worldwide Gas, travels rough and cold waters around the world.
© Bergesen Worldwide Gas
Quality in Extreme Conditions
Due to the country's traditions navigating rugged Arctic waters, Norwegian ship's gear manufacturers have the experience to produce first-class products and technological solutions able to face the most extreme conditions on the world's oceans.
One of the world's leading classification societies, Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has worked to improve safety at sea since 1864. According to the head of DNV Maritime's marketing department, Wilhelm Magelssen, the class society has gained superior knowledge on how to operate in cold climates and ice-infested waters. "As the major class society for tankers with ice strengthening, and with almost 1,800 classed vessels of different types prepared for operation in cold climates, we have gained many years of valuable experience for developing rules covering different operational needs," says Magelssen.
As the largest gas shipping company in the world, Bergesen Worldwide Gas (BW), transports liquefied petroleum gases (propane and butane) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) all over the world. Alaska and rough Arctic waters are important business areas for BW Gas, and the bulk of the fleet is classified by DNV.
"We have very good experience operating in a rough Arctic environment with extreme weather conditions and in maintaining quality and safety in these surroundings," says Assistant Director and Fleet Manager Jan Flatseth.
Magelssen agrees with Flatseth about the importance of quality in rough conditions. "Managing cold-climate risks is increasingly important both for tankers and for commercial vessels," he says, adding that new trade routes have increased the importance of considering environmental concerns in fragile Arctic waters.
"With the opening up of new Arctic trade routes that encompass cold climates and heavier weather than before, we predict that ships in the future will most likely be specified with additional class notations to minimize risks and the environmental impact of shipping," Magelssen says.
Raw Power to Break Ice
Norwegian designers in Rolls-Royce Marine are world leaders in developing thrusters to meet the challenges of shipping in icy conditions. "We are combining ice-breaking vessels without compromise," says Svein Kleven, Design Manager for Rolls-Royce Marine. "At the moment, three ice-breaking offshore supply vessels are under construction for Prisco Swire Offshore, and on delivery they will operate in the Sakhalin region."
However, designing a vessel with the combined purpose of a platform supply vessel and an icebreaker is a big challenge. "We need a large deck area, high deadweight and the ability to carry large quantities of cargo on deck, combined with the hull form and manoeuvrability of an ice-breaker," Kleven explains. "In this vessel, the high level of ice-breaking capability does not detract from the essential supply vessel function," he says.
When operating in ice 1.5 metres thick and in ridges of up to four metres, you need raw power to fight against the forces of nature, and Rolls-Royce Marine is up to the task. "We are supplying the two main azimuth thrusters and two large tunnel thrusters for each vessel. The icebreakers have to operate independently under these conditions without getting stuck," Kleven says.
|The Rolls-Royce UT 758 icebreaker can not only navigate independently in thick ice - carrying both deck and bulk cargo - but can also operate in safety standby, fire-fighting and pollution prevention roles.
© Rolls-Royce plc
Supplying the World
When it comes to ship's gear and shipping services, Norway is a principal player. Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA (WW) has a goal of becoming the leading international supplier of maritime transport and associated services. The company moved a couple of steps closer to this target through its June 2005 purchase of 90 percent of the shares in Unitor - one of the world's leading service providers for the international maritime industry.
"This is a strategically appropriate acquisition for us," says Ingar Skaug, Group President and CEO of WW. "Wilhelmsen Maritime Services has ambitions of taking a leading role in the maritime service industry. Unitor complements its range of services, and substantially expands the potential customer base. This purchase will provide considerable synergies."
However, smaller details are also important elements for Norwegian ship's gear suppliers, and Norac is an example of this. The company is a leading supplier of marine furniture, fire-rated walls, ceilings, doors, prefabricated wet units, glazed partitions and doors, floating floors and windows for use onboard cruise ships, ferries, commercial vessels and offshore installations. Norac supplies companies such as Danish Odense Steel Shipyard with furniture solutions and interior systems.
|The British Royal Navy utilized cameras from Kongsberg Maritime in the rescue of the crew on the Russian mini-submarine Priz AS-28 in August 2005. The cameras enabled navigation 625 feet below the surface.
© Kongsberg Maritime
Advanced IT Applications
To be able to produce high-quality ship's gear, the Norwegian shipping industry is also dependent on good technological support from advanced IT applications. Norway has one of the most advanced Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC) in the world, and much because of this competence, Norwegian company C-MAP was able to secure a contract with Indian authorities for the official ENCs in Indian waters.
Norwegian technology from Kongsberg Maritime was also important when the British Royal Navy successfully rescued a crew of seven from the Russian mini-submarine Priz AS-28 off of Russia's far eastern Kamchatka region in August 2005. With cameras from Kongsberg, the Royal Navy was able to navigate in the freezing waters 625 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
In a partnership with DNV, Norwegian company Marine Cybernetics has also developed a ground-breaking new test certification standard for complex marine control and monitoring systems, commonly referred to as hardware-in-the-loop testing (HIL). This involves safety and performance testing of dynamic positioning (DP), nautical, power and automation and propulsion systems.
"The result is a situation where the test methods have been lagging behind the technology progress. This situation has raised a need for improved comprehensive testing of complex machinery systems," says Jon Rysst, head of DNV's maritime technology and production centre.
"Indeed, the process may well become the industry standard, and, compared to today's maritime test standards, enables a significantly improved testing regime," Rysst concludes.
New Maritime Trainee Programme
Starting in August 2005, the Norwegian Shipowners' Association (NSA) initiated a trainee programme to recruit the best competence possible. Choosing from 4,000 applicants, the programme recruited 25 top graduates with master's degrees in economics, technology, law or candidates from maritime colleges. Twenty-one companies - ranging from shipowners, shipyards, maritime equipment companies, drilling rig companies, classification societies, law firms, banks and shipbrokers participate in the programme.
Erik Gjerdene is in charge of the NSA programme, and he is excited to be able to recruit the best young professionals for the Norwegian shipping industry. The trainees will be employed in the companies for two years to learn the business from the inside.
"It is essential that the trainee programme ensures that the participants achieve a broad knowledge of the maritime industry," he says. "At the start of the programme the trainees will be given an introduction about the shipping and offshore industries, including topics like chartering and brokering, markets, insurance and shipping segments."
The NSA also wants its young professionals to have a proper understanding of the legal and political framework of the Norwegian maritime industry. "Other assemblies will touch upon such topics such as the industry's cooperation with governmental bodies, including the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, shipping registries and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The trainees will also gain insight into relevant processes that take place within international organizations such as the EU, International Maritime Organization and the International Labour Organization," Gjerdene says.
Facts & Figures
- Norway is Europe's leading maritime nation and controls one of the top five largest fleets in the world - 1,618 ships of 38.8 million deadweight tonnes in 2005
- The Norwegian fleet has a value of some $23 billion in 2005
- A total of 50,000 seafarers are employed on Norwegian-controlled ships in 2005
- Norway's maritime (shipbuilding, ship's equipment and shipping services) industry has an annual turnover of around NOK 200 billion
- Around 60% of Norwegian maritime products and services are exported
- Some 75,000 people are employed in Norway's maritime industries
- Norway controls around 10% of the world's offshore-related supply sector
- Norwegian ship's gear exports account for around 8-10% of the global market
- Annual export revenues for Norway's commercial shipping are in the region of NOK 52 billion.
- Norwegian ships transport around 110 million tonnes of cargo every year
A New Ship Safety Act
Although Norway has laws and regulations to ensure one of the safest and most quality-conscious fleets in the world, the Norwegian Seaworthiness Act from 1903 is outdated, and it needs to be adapted to the realities of a competitive and hyper-modern shipping industry.
At the moment, Norwegian shipping legislation, with demands of quality from the fleet, is complicated and unruly, and a government-appointed commission has been working on revising the old act. Professor Hans Jacob Bull at the University of Oslo has been the leader of the commission.
"The responsibility for the ship and its safety should be with the shipowner, not the captain. Since the shipowners have the economic interest, it is natural that they have responsibility for seaworthiness and safety," Bull says. "Now we have tried to compile a more modern act."
Norway elected a new government in October 2005, but the new ship safety act is not expected to make any political waves, and the commission was unanimous in recommending a new act adapted to the needs of the industry.
Another aspect of the act is that there will be a greater variety of ways to respond to those who do not comply with the rules and regulations.
"We have evaluated the penalty system, and we will only use the courts in the most serious cases. We believe in prevention more than penalties. If we emphasize prevention instead of penalties, we have a better chance of knowing the weaknesses in the system," says Bull.