The Norwegian Maritime community comprises shipowners, shipyards, gear manufacturers, ship designers, classification societies, research and education centres, national authorities, employee organizations as well as brokers, insurers and financial institutions. The dialogue and cooperation among key players and competitors help to build consensus around standards and to identify the needs of an industry employing 60,000 people.
Norwegian yards bring technically advanced ships into service worldwide. Kværner remains a leading builder of cruise ships and LNG/LPG carriers, while Aker Yards constructs some of the most modern commercial vessels in the world. In general, Norwegian shipyards offer a broad range of top-modern facilities and deliver a wide array of vessels.
Ship's Gear Manufacturers
Some 300 small and medium-sized Norwegian outfitters and five big concerns supply high-quality, sophisticated products and systems to the worldwide shipping and offshore industries. Designers work closely with national maritime research centres, incorporating the latest technological advances in their products. Norwegian ship's gear exporters cover eight per cent of the global market and employ over 10,000 people.
The importance of Norway's shipping industry in the national economy has prompted the growth of a significant maritime research establishment in Norway. Researchers and research facilities in the fields of ship design and hydrodynamics, shipbuilding and operation have won international acclaim. R&D services are exported to shipping companies and authorities worldwide.
Norwegian shipping companies own or operate a fleet of over 1,600 vessels, or 10 per cent of world tonnage. Two out of every three register under the Norwegian flag, giving Norway the second-largest nationally flagged fleet in the world. Norwegian shipowners have concentrated on specialized vessels such as gas tankers, ro-ro ferries, cruise ships and offshore supply vessels. The world's largest and second-largest chemical tanker operators are Norwegian. Close cooperation between shipowners and yards, ship's gear outfitters, maritime R&D institutions as well as finance and maritime authorities has been instrumental in creating Norway's dynamic maritime community.
Strict rules apply to both the building and the operation of sea-going vessels. Classification societies are responsible for ensuring that the rules for quality and safety are complied with for newbuildings and newly designed vessel types, as well as for safeguarding high standards of maintenance on board. Det norske Veritas is one of the world's largest classification societies, and is responsible for certifying some 15 per cent of the international fleet.
Norwegian shipbrokers help to devise new transport concepts and assist in the sale and purchase of vessels. Thus, they play an active role in the ongoing restructuring of the Norwegian shipping industry and in the development of national and international shipping services. Marine Underwriters Norway's marine underwriters have a strong domestic base and have extended their activities to the global market. The two mutual P&I clubs Gard and Skuld cover more than 20 per cent of the world's merchant fleet.
Norwegian finance institutions and banks cover 10 per cent of the global maritime banking market, and they offer their services to banks, shipowners and ship's gear manufacturers throughout the world. The Norwegian export credit agency, Eksportfinans, is afforded the same good credit rating as the Kingdom of Norway: AAA from Standard and Poor's and Aaa from Moody's. This first-class borrower status allows Eksportfinans to provide inexpensive medium to long-term export credits for deliveries of ship's gear and services.
There is extensive national and international legislation governing maritime activity. The Department of Shipping at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry is the top authority in charge of legislation and policy for the Norwegian maritime sector. The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority also acts in an advisory capacity on policy developments.