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Focus on the maritime sector




90% of global trade is transported by sea. The industry should be celebrating, but established maritime nations face the challenges of environmental regulations and declining freight rates while emerging countries jostle to capture market share.

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Front line
Shipping’s global paradox

On one hand, the total volume of goods transported by sea just keeps growing. On the other, the economic crisis is putting pressure on shipping companies while emerging countries continue to gain market share from the traditional maritime nations.

By Morten Andersen, journalist

Container or cardboard? Dockers at the Creek in Dubai go for cardboard.


The Danish maritime cluster

With 633 ships, the Danish merchant fleet is bigger than ever before. Denmark also has the strongest growth among EU countries.

The increasing number of Danish ships is particularly due to the influx of container ships and ships involved in the installation of offshore wind turbines and offshore supply vessels.

Approximately 100,000 people work in the Danish maritime sector and affiliated industries supplying the shipping industry.

In 2013, the total volume of goods transported by sea worldwide passed the magic figure of 1 billion tonnes, or more than double the total in 1996.

Such a rapid boom in business would be cause for celebration in most industries, especially considering that the global economic crisis of 2008 made no impact whatsoever on the industry’s growth pattern – on the contrary, volumes have grown even faster in recent years.

Yet the industry is marked more by the challenges it faces than high spirits, particularly in the western nations with a longstanding maritime tradition. When customers are affected by economic crisis, the shipping companies are too. Prices – known as freight rates in industry jargon – have come under pressure, while a number of the world’s emerging economies have stormed ahead in shipping.

“The financial outlook for the industry has been strained for some considerable time now, with the global crash of 2008 being followed almost immediately by the European debt crisis and throwing the financial foundations of global society into turmoil. What makes things worse, at least in the world of shipping, is that the period immediately up to the financial crisis of 2008 was one of great expansion. The huge investment in new ships during that time is now coming back to haunt the industry as overcapacity drives down freight rates,” said Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO), at the latest ICS International Shipping Conference in London in September 2013.

Photo of Koji Sekimizu

“In the longer term, shipping has great cause for optimism.”

Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General,
International Maritime Organization (IMO)


Growth plan for The Blue Denmark

The Danish government has adopted a growth plan to support its merchant fleet. The aim is to attract international partners and investors in the areas of environmental friendliness, servicing the offshore industry, sailing in Arctic waters and other niches where Danish shipping is a world leader.

The shipping industry growth plan is based on three main objectives:

  • Denmark is to be Europe’s maritime centre.
  • Denmark must lead the way with green solutions in shipping.
  • Growth in the maritime cluster will primarily be in “advanced shipping”, e.g. sailing in difficult waters, including the Arctic, supporting offshore activities and environment- and climate-friendly sailing.

Chart: 1996 – 450,000*; 2013 – 1,000,000*
* In 1,000 GT
Source: Danish Shipowners

The global merchant fleet transported more than 1 billion GT (gross tonnage) in 2013.

This figure has more than doubled since 1996, when the total volume weighed in at approximately 450,000 GT.

The global division of labour is changing

The growing volume of goods shipped by sea is largely a result of increased global trade. Meanwhile, maritime shipping is significantly cheaper and emits far fewer environmentally harmful substances and greenhouse gases per transported tonne/kilometre compared to air and ground transport. Approximately 90 percent of global goods transport is conveyed by sea.

“The fortunes of shipping are directly related to the strength of global trade; and, despite the current global economic problems, growth in the longer term seems inevitable.

A global population that has passed 7 billion people and is still rising should ensure that is the case. So, in the longer term, shipping has great cause for optimism, with a strong future ahead of it,” said Sekimizu at the London conference.

But even though all indicators point to continued growth in the industry, there will undoubtedly be major shifts between countries, according to Henrik Sornn-Friese, associate professor and director of CBS Maritime at Copenhagen Business School.

“The old way of doing things, where you designed a ship in the West, built it in the East and marketed and operated it in the West, is disappearing. At the same time, there are lots of well-qualified shipping personnel in many of the emerging economies.”

Over the past decades, the western merchant fleets have outsourced a wide range of tasks. First it was the rank and file crew, followed by a large share of the ship officers.

“This obviously helps to keep companies competitive, but it also means that these competencies are disappearing. The same is beginning to happen in shipping,” says Sornn-Friese, who stresses the importance of shipping companies in traditional maritime nations adapting to the new reality:

“Today you can re-register a ship in about five minutes. You can also move the headquarters of a shipping company abroad quite fast, so you still have to consider your reasons for keeping the base in, say, Denmark.”

Growth in the largest European national merchant fleets, 1980–2014

Graph showing growth in the largest European national merchant fleets (Danmark, Italy, Germany, Greece, Great Britain and Sweden), 1980–2014 Source: Danish Shipowners

Danish focus on “advanced shipping”

Some of the traditional maritime nations, such as the United Kingdom and Sweden, have chosen to accept the trend of declining market share. However, Denmark is one of the countries that continues to pursue an offensive strategy. This is not only due to the country’s geographical advantages for shipping – a long coastline, numerous ports and the fortuitous position as the link between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea – but also because the absence of natural resources and heavy industry enhances Denmark’s strategic interest in maintaining growth in other sectors.

In November 2013, the Danish merchant fleet comprised 633 ships – the most in the nation’s history, representing the highest growth rate among EU countries. Denmark is the world’s fifth largest maritime shipping nation, only surpassed by Japan, Greece, China and Germany.

“Copenhagen is still on level with Singapore and other international ‘hubs’ for shipping, but a sharper profile will be necessary in the future,” says Sornn-Friese. “Even more so than today, Denmark needs to be known as a centre for what could be called ‘advanced shipping’, which includes sailing in difficult waters such as the Arctic, supporting offshore activities and environmental, climate-friendly shipping.”


Invest in Denmark, the national foreign investment promotion agency, helps companies to explore business opportunities and establish operations in Denmark in a range of sectors, including the maritime sector. The agency's specialized global staff has the corporate background, industry insight and well-connected networks to advise on every aspect of locating in Denmark.

indk@um.dk investindk.com


The Danish Maritime Authority is responsible for shipping policy, maritime law as well as industrial policy, both nationally and internationally. The authority oversees ship registration and the national pilot authority, and provides navigational information including navigational analyses, warnings, GIS and specialist publications.

sfs@dma.dk dma.dk

The Danish Shipowners' Association is a trade and employers’ organization for 40 shipowners and two owners of offshore facilities. The association plays an active role in dealings with authorities and decision-makers, nationally and internationally.

info@shipowners.dk shipowners.dk


Danish shipping saves fuel

In 2008, members of the Danish Shipowners’ Association launched efforts to reduce the Danish merchant fleet’s total carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020. The target was close to being met just five years later in spite of the tonnage being shipped having risen by 60 percent. Danish shipping companies have cut fuel consumption through technical improvements and implementing climate-friendly sailing, including optimised shipping routes and “slow steaming”, which saves fuel by reducing speed.

Danish shipping companies’ relative CO2 emissions

Even though the amount of goods transported has risen by 60 percent, the Danish merchant fleet has significantly reduced carbon emissions.

Chart showing development from 2008-2013 in carbon emissions versus total weight of goods transported Source: Danish Shipowners


Cleaning Ballast water

Ballast water
A new treatment system for ballast water prevents invasive species from spreading by using filters, UV light and ozone gas.

As the first company in the world, Danish-based DESMI Ocean Guard passed IMO testing to earn approval of a treatment system for ballast water. The IMO requirements included testing the system for saltwater, brackish water and fresh water.

The system removes plants and animals from the ballast water. These “stowaways” can otherwise present a major problem. Species spread to new areas where they do not have natural enemies and can grow so large in number that they destroy the existing balance. Examples of this phenomenon include mitten crabs from China, mnemiopsis (a species of jellyfish from North America) and sargassum (a species of seaweed from Japan), all of which have caused problems in European waters.

The treatment system from DESMI Ocean Guard cleans the ballast water using filters, UV light and ozone gas.


Green initiatives

Denmark advocates the implementation of binding global environmental regulation of the shipping industry, having also called for an overall global target for reducing carbon emissions from shipping.

Denmark has introduced three environmental proposals in the IMO. The proposals include a number of basic principles for the regulation of shipping industry carbon emissions, which have now been adopted by the IMO. According to these principles, future regulation must contribute to reducing total global carbon emissions, while the rules must be binding and globally applicable to all ships regardless of flag.

Denmark also proposed a “design index” that imposes strict carbon efficiency requirements for the building of new ships.

Lastly, Denmark proposed the implementation of a fuel contribution for ships in international shipping traffic. The contribution would be payable to an international fund whose activities would include funding climate initiatives in developing countries.


Danish Maritime Forum 2014

The Danish Maritime Forum will bring key leaders in the global maritime industry together with policymakers, experts, influential decision makers and opinion shapers.

Slated to take place on 8-9 October 2014, the event is part of Danish Maritime Days, which brings a broad spectrum of stakeholders from the global maritime industry to Copenhagen during the week of 6-10 October 2014.




International focus on Arctic shipping

The melting Arctic ice opens up for shipping routes, presenting new commercial opportunities and major safety challenges.

By Morten Andersen, journalist

Icebergs and fog
The cruise ship Clipper Adventurer passes through Arctic waters at IIulissat, Greenland.

The draws of sailing in the Arctic include scenic nature experiences for cruise tourists and the economic benefits of shipping via new routes. Although these voyages can also be extremely challenging experiences, one thing remains clear: the shrinking ice cover will result in increased shipping in the Arctic. Cruise ships increasingly sail along the coast of Greenland and booming activity in the search for oil and other natural resources will also lead to more traffic. Meanwhile, the shrinking ice cover means that the Northern Searoute north of Russia is open for traffic at least a few months each year.

Efforts emerging from Denmark aim to ensure that shipping traffic growth includes a focus on optimum protection for human life, ships, cargo and the vulnerable Arctic environment.

“It’s important to establish an international set of rules for shipping in Arctic waters,” says Andreas Nordseth, director general of the Danish Maritime Authority.

International “Polar Code” in the works

Denmark is playing an active role in developing a Polar Code through IMO, the International Maritime Organisation. This effort is the result of a close collaboration between the Danish Maritime Authority, the Greenland Home Rule Government and the maritime industry.

“A number of Danish shipping companies have experience sailing in Arctic waters. They know that it takes special equipment and special skills to sail in icy waters where weather and ice conditions can change by the hour,” says Nordseth, emphasising that the vast and sparsely used waters require additional safety measures:

“It’s unrealistic to maintain a rescue unit in the Arctic like we have in densely populated areas. So it’s vital that we have even greater focus on preventing accidents when sailing in the Arctic.”

Web service promotes safety at sea

To strengthen shipping safety in the region, the Danish Maritime Authority is developing a web-based tool to help prevent Arctic accidents. The system, called ArcticWeb, enables ships to see what other ships are in the area by using AIS (Automatic Identification System) data. The use of AIS is compulsory for ships over 300 gross tonnes, but is also used by many smaller ships.

“One way of increasing the safety on ships is by knowing where the closest ship is located. In the event of an accident, the captain knows how far away help is and can incorporate this information into his risk assessment,” explains Nordseth.

ArcticWeb also provides ships with detailed information on ice, weather conditions and navigation warnings, all in one place.

Opening a new sea route

In September 2013, the MV Nordic Orion navigated through the Arctic Northwest Passage north of Canada, making it the first commercial vessel to sail this route. The ship, operated by Copenhagen-based Nordic Bulk Carriers, transported a cargo of 73,500 tonnes of coal from Canada to Finland.

“We are thrilled with the accomplishment, which was many years in the making,” says Christian Bonfils, managing director of Nordic Bulk Carriers.

Bonfils adds that the company has great respect for Arctic waters:

“The voyage was conducted in close contact with Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard for safety reasons.”

A voyage via the traditional route through the Panama Canal would have been about 1,000 nautical miles longer. According to the company, the shorter route reduced fuel costs by approximately USD 80,000 – not to mention significantly lower carbon emissions and reduced transport time.

Moreover, the depth of the Panama Canal means that ships such as the MV Nordic Orion usually cannot exploit their full load capacity. This limitation does not apply when sailing via the Northwest Passage, enabling the ship to carry a 25 percent higher load than when taking the alternative route to the south.


Singaporean-Danish training

A new undergraduate programme in shipping will be just as international as the industry itself.

he Bachelor of International Shipping and Trade programme is the result of a collaboration between Singapore Management University (SMU) and Copenhagen Business School (CBS). The first class to enrol in the programme will comprise

25 Singaporean and 25 Danish students. The first two semesters will be spent at a school in the student’s respective home country. All of the programme’s 50 students will then be brought together, first for a semester at CBS, followed by a semester at SMU. The students will spend the last two semesters at the schools in their respective countries. However, the Danish students hardly spend the last two semesters exclusively at CBS:

“The Danish students will predominantly work in internships in Danish companies in the industry during their last year of schooling, interspersed with short intensive courses at CBS,” says Martin Jes Iversen, associate professor and head of studies for the programme.

“The result will be a new type of bachelor degree. Students can certainly choose to continue their studies at the Master level, but they are actually ready to go straight out into jobs in the industry if they so desire.”

The CBS professor stresses that the new type of bachelors are in strong demand from the industry:

“There is a great need in shipping for people who can work in an international environment and who have good cultural and social skills.”

The collaboration with SMU is by no means a coincidence.

“Firstly, Singapore is a strong maritime hub and, secondly, many Danish companies in the industry have chosen to set up offices in Singapore. With the new programme, we produce graduates who possess the competencies the companies are seeking, be they Singaporean or Danish,” says Iversen.

The new programme starts in summer 2014.

Advertisement: CBS Executive MBA in Shipping & Logistics (www.cbs.dk/mbs) — Page 1
Advertisement: CBS Executive MBA in Shipping & Logistics (www.cbs.dk/mbs) — Page 2


Majestic Maersk
A slow steaming giant

As the world’s largest ship, Majestic Maersk not only impresses with its sheer size, but even more with its technological advances. Never in maritime history has a vessel so big consumed so little energy and polluted as little as this ship.

By Henrik Kellberg, journalist

Twenty giants
Majestic Maersk is one of twenty Maersk Triple-E ships built at Daewoo shipyard in South Korea. The photo shows one of the sister ships, Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller.

She does not feature the round contours so often beloved by sailors, yet Majestic Maersk steals the spotlight wherever she goes.

“Everyone wants to come aboard – colleagues, journalists and especially the pilots, whose eyes light up when they stand here on the bridge,” says Captain Dick Simon Danielsen, welcoming Focus Denmark aboard while the ship is docked in Singapore.

Captain Danielsen is clearly used to the frequent visits. During our tour of the gigantic ship, he points to places where visiting photographers typically like to take pictures. Yet there is nothing monotonous or automated in the way he speaks of the ship’s technical features, even though he must have conveyed this information hundreds of times.

Captain Danielsen exudes a personal fascination with this ship, one of 20 such ships ordered by the container shipping company Maersk Line from the South Korean shipyard, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.

Most of all, he is impressed by the manoeuvrability of the ship, which measures in at 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and a dead weight of 165,000 tonnes.

“The new thing about these ships is that they have two main engines instead of one. By running one forward and the other in reverse, I can get the ship to sail laterally (sideways) and we can sail into wharfs even slower than previously,” he says, openly admitting to his pride in being one of the ship’s two captains. “I have always been fascinated by sailing. As a child,

I always urged my parents to choose holiday destinations where I knew we would have to sail to get there. So standing on the bridge of the world’s largest ship is definitely a boyhood dream come true.”


In our app: Watch Triple-E video

Maersk Triple-E class specifications

Length 400 metres
Height 73 metres
Beam 59 metres
Dead weight 165,000 tonnes
Maximum speed 23 knots (43km/h)
Crew 22 (standard), 34 (maximum)

Triple-E pollutes less

Grams of CO2 to transport 1 tonne of goods / km

Triple-E: Economy, Energy, Environment

Majestic Maersk is the second of Maersk Line’s Triple-E ships from the shipyard in the South Korean city of Okpo, which will build a total of 20 of these ships for the Danish shipping company. The three Es stand for the principles underlying the new design: economy of scale, energy efficiency and environmentally improved. Transportation time is no longer one of the primary competition parameters. Price and environmental friendliness are what now move the needle for customers.

So Maersk Line asked its in-house technology company Maersk Maritime Technology and external suppliers to brainstorm ideas and develop proposals for maximising the three Es: better economy, lower fuel consumption and a smaller environmental footprint.

The first E, economy of scale, was achieved through fundamental design changes. Instead of a V-shaped hull, the Triple-E hull is much more rectangular and closer to U-shaped.

The second E, energy efficiency, was already made possible by the decision to sail slower. This decision provided the opportunity to re-think the engine, leading to the design of two smaller main engines instead of the standard design employing just one. In practical terms, this enables the ships to reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent compared to Maersk’s E-class ships, which were also the world’s largest at the time of their building in 2006.

Delving into the heart of the ship, the ship designers did themselves a favour by consulting some of the leading experts available in the field: Maersk Line’s own marine engineers. Majestic Maersk’s marine engineer Michael Sort was among those consulted.

“There had been a brainstorming process throughout the company about ways to reduce daily operating costs, and we marine engineers were also asked to participate,” he says. For example, he points to the Majestic Maersk’s electricity production system, which in many ways resembles a system straight from the mind of a marine engineer.

“We no longer need diesel engines to produce energy at lower loads. Now we can produce directly from the main engines and as a marine engineer, it’s great to be able to turn off some things that would otherwise require personnel to keep up and running – instead, we can spend our time focusing on other tasks.”

The final E, environmentally improved, consists in part of the Triple-E ships consuming less fuel for propulsion. For each tonne of cargo transported one kilometre by Majestic Maersk, the ship emits just three grams of CO2. This is far less than any other form of freight transport, even though the shipping volume and the distances covered by Majestic Maersk means that the ship still makes a rather large environmental footprint. But as Captain Danielsen says:

“This is just the first step on the way towards more environmentally friendly ships.”

Another initiative for improving the third E is that the Triple-E ships are built for recycling. All of the ships' components and materials are described, traced and listed so that when the ship is scrapped, the materials can be quickly divided into various recycling categories while the rest can be destroyed.

A giant in perspective

400 metres long, 59 metres wide and a dead weight of 165,000 tonnes:

Due care

A general sense of pride in the Triple-E ships emerges in conversations with Captain Danielsen, marine engineer Sort and the staff of Maersk Line who arranged the permits to visit the ship in Singapore. This pride not only comes from being part of a shipping company that has developed a new technology or built the largest ship, but also from equipping the company for a future where environmental awareness will be a competitive factor. It is also reminiscent of the mindset of founder A.P. Møller, which has made A.P. Møller - Mærsk A/S and thereby Maersk Line one of the world’s largest companies.

The company was founded in 1904 by Arnold Peter (A.P.) Møller and his father, who was a captain. Although the company performed well, it was developing too slowly for the tastes of young A.P. Møller. In 1912 he founded another shipping company which he controlled and where one of his most obvious talents was the courage to look into the future and act accordingly. He was among the first to recognise that the old shipping pattern of sailing from port to port depending on demand would shift to dedicated route traffic, which A.P. Møller adopted for the company’s ships in 1928. This foresight proved pivotal to A.P. Møller’s growth into one of the world’s largest shipping companies.

The company has always just been “A.P. Møller” or “Mærsk” to most Danes, as A.P. Møller and later his son Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller were prominent owners and leaders in the Danish public sphere. This remains true to this day, though Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller is now dead and the company is currently headed by a professional CEO. Many Danes are particularly familiar with the Møller family’s company motto that exhibiting due care can prevent many problems.

In many ways, the Triple-E ships are testimony that the motto of “due care” is still very much alive in the company.

“Customers are demanding lower prices and greater respect for the environment,” says Captain Dick Simon Danielsen.

“Standing on the bridge of the world's largest ship is definitely a boyhood dream come true.”

Dick Simon Danielsen Captain, Triple-E

Triple-E engine
Two small engines instead of one large enables the ship to reduce fuel comsumption by 20 percent.

A stroll around Majestic Maersk

As Captain Danielsen speaks, he follows the cranes loading the ship out of the corner of his eye. Not that it is necessary. The harbour in Singapore is one of the most efficient in the world, with almost full automation, but there are so many new things about the ship that he likes to observe as much as possible. He knows that all of the experience he gathers will benefit captains and officers on the other Triple-E ships.

“When the pilot boarded the ship before departing for Singapore, I let him conduct an exercise on the ship that we have practiced many times in the simulator. And he was really, really glad that we did, because it turned out – and I already knew this – that the ship didn’t behave quite like in the simulator,” says the captain to illustrate how it takes time to get to know a ship. This was also why, after taking over this ship for the first time in South Korea, he spent three days “tossing her around to see what she was capable of”, as he puts it.

The bottom of the ship also has plenty of new equipment to get used to, says Michael Sort.

“Many of us marine engineers are used to the Maersk ships built at the Danish shipyard Lindø. So we have to get used to the fact that the South Koreans don’t think quite the same way,” he says when Focus Denmark asks about the biggest challenge aboard the Majestic Maersk.

But isn’t it nice that the ship is so large that your cabin is no longer right above the engines?

“No, not really. A marine engineer always wants to feel the vibrations from his engine. Otherwise, he thinks that something is wrong and the engine has stopped running,” says Michael Sort with an ironic smile.


To sail is to live

Throughout Denmark’s history, shipping has played a vital role for the country and made its mark on everything from the economy and employment to urban development, architecture and cultural history.

By Jan Aagaard, journalist

The narrow Oresund Strait is the only sea route to and from the Baltic countries. 500 years ago, Denmark took advantage of this by imposing a toll on ships that passed through.

Every year, more than 30,000 ships sail through the Oresund Strait, the narrow waters between Sweden and Denmark. Vessels of all kinds sail this route on their journey to or from the Baltic Sea, from container ships and coasters to bulk carriers and cruise ships. Standing on the beach in front of Kronborg Castle in Elsinore and looking to Sweden, one can practically wave to officers on the bridges of large ships passing through the sound.

As the gatekeeper to the Baltic Sea, Denmark’s geographic location has made its mark on the country’s history, providing much of the basis for Denmark’s development into one of the world’s leading maritime nations.

The seas represent the easiest and cheapest method of transporting goods. Ninety percent of the goods we consume have been transported by sea at one time or another. Maritime transport lies at the heart of globalisation and modern consumer society.

The need for maritime transport has always existed, growing hand in hand through the centuries with increasing international trade. Shipping has always been a source of income; Danes have been active in the business from the Viking era until the present day, where 10 percent of global trade is transported by ships under Danish control.

Surrounded by the sea, Denmark is a country with more than 400 islands and a total coastline of over 7,000 kilometres. The 1,000-year history of Denmark’s capital is largely a story of maritime shipping and trade, as suggested by its name, Copenhagen, meaning “merchant’s harbour”. The same can be said for many of Denmark’s largest cities and the majority of its island communities.

Denmark now holds a position as the world’s fifth largest shipping nation and Danish shipping companies currently control approximately 2,100 merchant ships that sail around the world; most of these ships are rarely in Denmark. But sometimes you can see one of them in the Oresund Strait, the Great Belt or other Danish waters, where it all began about 1,000 years ago.

“There are three types of people: The living, the dead and the mariners.”

Anarcharsis, Greek philosopher, approx 650 BC


M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark

At the Danish national maritime museum, M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark, you’ll experience a colourful world of interesting exhibits, which tell the story of Denmark as one of the world’s leading shipping nations – of the past and present. The museum’s maritime collections are presented in evocative and dramatic exhibitions, with video installations projected directly onto the architecture of the building.


Advertisement: Uni-Tankers (www.uni-tankers.com)


From viking ships to super tankers

The sea has always been an important means of transport for the Danes; waters did not separate, but rather connected the nation. To trade with other Danes and the rest of the world, you had to sail.

700 – 1100

Built around the year 980, the Viking ring fortress Trelleborg was discovered by chance in the 1930s when a motorcycle club applied for a permit to hold competitions on its rampart.

The Vikings build sturdy and seaworthy vessels – some powered by rowing, others equipped with sails. They set off on long voyages to destinations including the British Isles, Greenland and even North America. The Vikings also sail along the coast of Western Europe to the Mediterranean, reaching modern-day Istanbul, and along the Russian rivers.

From distant lands they bring jewellery, gold coins and other valuables home to Denmark. The Viking era marks the beginning of international shipping in Denmark while shaping the Danish kingdom. The Vikings meet in fjords and bays with a safe anchorage and a population to trade with, giving rise to the Danish port cities and towns in which shipping and trade have since evolved.

1400 – 1500


Denmark imposes a special toll, called Sound Dues, on foreign ships passing through the narrow strait between Helsingborg and Elsinore (photo), where Kronborg Castle – known as the home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – was built to guard the gateway to the Baltic Sea. The toll brings the Danish state great wealth from the growing trade between Western Europe and countries along the Baltic Sea. Danish ships also partake in trade, servicing harbours in the Netherlands, England and other countries. In the late sixteenth century, 4,000 to 5,000 ships pass through the Oresund Strait each year. Denmark also assists international shipping by establishing lighthouses and markings in the waters that ships sail through on the way to and from the Baltic Sea.



The Danish merchant fleet transports cargo for Dutch, German, English and Polish merchants. The Danish King Christian IV founds a number of trading companies that truly internationalise Danish shipping and trade. The companies equip large ships for multi-year trading expeditions and establish trading strongholds in India (photo), Guinea and the Caribbean. Ships can be away from Denmark for years. A journey to the Danish colonies in India typically takes 18 months, assuming the ship does not encounter any delays, which are common and often fatal. Of 76 ships sent from Denmark to India from 1616 to 1720, at least 11 sink; and many sailors typically die on voyages, mainly due to illness.


The Fredensborg Slot was a typical ship on the Danish-Chinese trade route. On its maiden voyage in 1765, the ship’s cargo consisted solely of lead and silver. The voyage took nearly eight months. The ship docked for five months in the Pearl River below Canton, during which time 1,231 crates of porcelain were loaded into the ship’s hold, followed by thousands of leadlined chests of tea on top of the crates. The return journey was completed in less than six months.

Wars between the great maritime powers in Europe trigger explosive growth in the need for transport under a neutral flag. Danish ships are virtually the only ones free to sail in the colonies, shipping goods to countries such as France, England and the Netherlands. With state support, Danish ships transport sugar from the French colonies in the Caribbean to France, cotton from India and tea from China to England, and colonial goods from Indonesia home to the Netherlands. The Danish capital Copenhagen blossoms economically, transforming into a European metropolis with connections across the globe. Wealthy merchants and ship owners build large mansions in the city.



At the beginning of the 1800s, the number of ships flying the Danish flag peaks at about 3,500 vessels. Danish merchants and sailors earn great wealth and the merchant fleet continues to grow; in relation to its population, Denmark becomes one of the era’s greatest seafaring nations. However, Denmark’s entry into the Napoleonic Wars on the French side ends catastrophically for Danish shipping in 1807. The nation loses hundreds of merchant ships and thousands of Danish sailors are held in British captivity. In the late 1800s, a number of steamship companies are founded, many of which play a central role in Danish shipping to this day.


Prospective East Asiatic Company envoys manning the import department’s typing room in 1957. They all learned to touch type and write their own correspondence. Only the directors used female stenographers and female secretaries.

Danish merchant ships sail in most parts of the world and increasingly operate scheduled traffic, including to Asia and the Americas. Shipping companies such as East Asiatic Company, or simply EAC, Maersk and J. Lauritzen become major industry players. In 1912, EAC introduces Selandia, the world’s first ocean liner with a diesel motor and in 1920 EAC is Denmark’s largest company. In the 1970s, Maersk successfully transitions to container traffic, while other shipping companies pursue other specialties, including reefer ships, gas tankers and bulk carriers.



Denmark is the world’s fifth largest shipping nation and around 10 percent of world trade is transported by ships under Danish control. Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipping company, with more than 600 ships, 35,000 port calls per year and 100,000 customers around the world. Other Danish shipping companies, such as Norden, DFDS, Clipper, J. Lauritzen and Torm, are strong in other highly specialised areas such as product tankers, bulk carriers and service vessels for the offshore industry.

Advertisement: The Blue Denmark, World Careers - the Danish recruitment campaign (www.worldcareers.dk)


Around shipping

On the following pages, we profile an assortment of companies and industry players with special competences and experience in shipping.

The Danish maritime cluster comprises an array of shipping companies, industry subcontractors, and educational institutions. Many foreign-based maritime companies have set up shop in Denmark, allured by its industry expertise and the dedication to researching in energy-efficient shipping and training future mariners – not to mention the nation’s shipyards, which offer easy access from Northern Europe’s largest ports.

By Jan Aagaard, journalist

Full scale testing on shore

On shore
At the Alfa Laval test centre in Aalborg new marine solutions can be tested on the scale of a seagoing vessel.

In January 2014 Alfa Laval Aalborg, part of the Swedish Alfa Laval Group inaugurated a brand new Test & Training Centre in Aalborg, Denmark – the world’s first full-size maritime test centre on shore.

The centre strengthens Alfa Laval’s capacity for innovative marine solutions that optimise the performance of onboard equipment, conserve energy and help ship owners comply with environmental legislation.

As the very first of its kind, the centre enables equipment and application testing on the scale of a seagoing vessel – but with the control and convenience that only exist on land.

The centre’s 250-square-metre testing area, built around a 2 MW marine engine, comprises commercial and prototype equipment from all of Alfa Laval’s marine product groups.

“The centre makes it easier to test and verify new designs and helps us to bring energy-efficient, environmentally conscious and commercially viable systems to market more quickly,” says Lars Skytte Jørgensen, Vice President of Alfa Laval Product Centre Boilers.


Alfa Laval
Energy and environment


Setting up in Europe

In January 2013 Thoresen Shipping, a leading international owner and operator of dry bulk vessels, opened its first European commercial office in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Copenhagen office will serve the company's growing group of clients with dry bulk cargo requirements in Atlantic and Mediterranean routes.

“With the opening of our brand new European office, we position ourselves optimally and in line with our most pressing commercial requirements. We now have chartering offices with outstanding professional capabilities in our two most important regions, Asia and Europe,” says Ian Claxton, Managing Director, Thoresen Shipping.

Thoresen Shipping chose to establish its first European office in Copenhagen because of Denmark’s strong maritime sector with skilled personnel, expert knowhow and an extensive maritime network, combined with the speed and ease of setting up a business in the country.

“A presence in Europe is mandatory and the choice of Denmark as that first presence is indicative of the level of support we received from the Danish investment promotion agency, Invest in Denmark, coupled of course with the attractiveness of Denmark for our industry,” says Claxton.

The positive results in Copenhagen inspired Thoresen Shipping to establish a new commercial office in Capetown, South Africa based on the Copenhagen business model.

Thoresen Shipping is part of the Thoresen Thai Agencies Public Company Limited, a strategic investment holding company listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.


Thoresen Shipping
Owner and operator


Increased focus on dry bulk

New vessels
In 2013 and early 2014, Clipper received four new bulk carriers ranging from 38,000 to 66,000 dwt from Japanese shipyards.

Following some difficult years in the wake of the international financial crisis, the Danish shipping company Clipper Group chose to phase out a number of business areas, and focus on the group’s historical starting point – dry bulk.

The increased focus on dry bulk has led Clipper to make recent investments in a number of new bulk carriers.

“It’s important to us to maintain a modern, state-of-the-art and efficient fleet,” says Gary Vogel, Partner and Group CEO at Clipper Group.

The new bulk carriers represent the latest advances in ship technology and low fuel consumption; additional new ships are scheduled for delivery over the next few years.

In addition to its dry bulk operations, Clipper also has investments in project cargo vessels, ro-ro ships and ferries. Commercially headquartered in Copenhagen, Clipper has more than 200 employees in offices in nine countries worldwide.


Bulk carriers


Flexible rescue system

When full, the raft can sail away from the ship, propelled by battery-powered engines.

Is it possible to develop a vessel combining the manoeuvrability of modern lifeboats with the flexibility and comfort of today’s liferafts? The research and development experts at Viking – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of maritime safety equipment – asked themselves this very question.

The answer exists today in the form of the Viking LifeCraft System, a newly developed life-saving concept that sets new standards for safety on the world’s ferries and cruise ships.

The LifeCraft system comprises four rafts, each of which can hold 200 people. In emergency situations, the rafts are lowered from the ship to the sea surface, where they are automatically and rapidly inflated while remaining attached to the ship’s rail by a hydraulic system.

“Today’s larger and wider vessels mean that the number of passengers and the variation in trim height and list conditions can be enormous in a distress situation. The LifeCraft is a hugely flexible evacuation system that can cope with such extremes,” says Vice President Niels Frænde of Viking.

Viking offers marine evacuation systems for all vessel types and sizes, with more than 1,300 Viking evacuation systems currently in operation worldwide.


Life-saving equipment


Managing more than 200 ships

A strong maritime cluster attracted Thome Group to Denmark.

In 2013, Singapore’s leading ship management company, Thome Group, established a new ship management office in Copenhagen.

The office enables Thome to deliver ship management services under the DIS (Danish International Ship Register) flag, in addition to the 20 other flags under which the group presently manages vessels.

In early 2014, the office in Copenhagen secured its first ship management order when Thome signed an agreement on technical operation of three tankers from Nordic Shipholding.

“The Copenhagen office positions Thome Group optimally and in close proximity to many of our existing Scandinavian customers. With the skill sets and well-developed networks available within the Danish Maritime cluster, we will be able to further elevate our already well-recognised selection of services for our existing and potential partners,” says Thome Group Chairman Olav Eek Thorstensen.

Thome offers a wide range of services including ship management, offshore structure management, port agency, vessel inspection and crew training. The company has more than 200 vessels under technical management.


Thome Group
Maritime services


Combating micro organisms

Algae and other microorganisms that latch onto ship hulls have always presented a challenge to shipping.

These creatures increase fuel consumption and rising fuel prices have only added to the problem in recent years. Meanwhile, ever-stricter environmental regulations limit the substances available for keeping organisms off the hull.

The Danish company Hempel, one of the largest coatings suppliers in the world, addressed this challenge by spending five years developing a more effective and environmentally friendly coating for the shipping industry.

Hempel’s efforts culminated in a new hull coating concept based on silicone-hydrogel and biocide called Hempaguard, which offers outstanding resistance to fouling during idle periods and significant fuel savings.

Upon immersion of the coating, a very thin hydrogel layer is formed. The biocides then diffuse from the coating and are kept at bay in the active hydrogel, keeping friction and biocide consumption to a minimum.

“Our tests have shown that Hempaguard retains its effectiveness when switching between slow and fast steaming anywhere in the world, as well as during extended idle periods of up to 120 days,” says Claes Skat-Rørdam, Fouling Control Marketing Manager, Hempel.


Marine paints and coatings


Solutions for slower shipping

In response to rising oil prices, large container ships on the high seas sail slower to conserve fuel. However, the ships’ engines and propellers do not operate optimally at these lower speeds.

Therefore, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has teamed with the shipping company Maersk Line and engine manufacturer MAN Diesel & Turbo to develop new technology and propeller designs adapted to the existing container ships.

The collaboration involves five hundred ships built for a world with lower energy prices and fewer environmental regulations. If the project succeeds, the ambition is to test a prototype at sea on one of Maersk Line’s ships.

The maritime industry has represented an integral part of DTU’s research and teaching for decades, with the university founding a dedicated maritime centre a few years ago.

DTU programmes of study include a two-year Nordic Master in Maritime Engineering, focusing on optimal operation of ships with consideration of environmental and economic conditions.


Research and education


Denmark's largest container port

Perfect view
The crane operators in Aarhus harbour work 24/7 to ensure high efficiency.

The large cranes at the Port of Aarhus operate day and night, loading and unloading some of the world’s largest container ships.

Each crane can move an average of 35 containers per hour – essential efficiency, as the Port of Aarhus is Denmark’s largest container port, processing 600,000 containers annually.

About 7,000 ships dock in the port each year, ranging from coasters and feeder ships, to oil tankers, bulk carriers and container ships, and arriving from destinations as far away as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

The Port of Aarhus is a key Northern European hub, with many weekly connections to important ports in the Baltic Sea, such as St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga and Gdansk, as well as major Northern European ports such as Hamburg, Rotterdam and Antwerp.

The port processes approximately nine million tonnes of goods annually. Among the many items passing through the port are wind turbine components – a key Danish export.


Port of Aarhus
Modern port facilities


Efficient repairs and installations

Fayard moved to new facilities to compete with shipyards in the Baltic region and Northern Europe.

The Fayard shipyard in Munkebo near Odense, Denmark is capable of working on the world’s largest ships. The yard boasts four large dry docks, the biggest of which measures 90 x 415 metres – big enough for vessels such as Maersk Line’s E-class container ships, which were built at the shipyard until 2008.

The extensive and modern shipyard facilities are situated less than 48 hours by sea from important international ports such as Hamburg, Rotterdam and Aberdeen.

Fayard performs major renovations, repairs and installations of new equipment. Recent projects at the shipyard include a major order from Norwegian-based Color Line.

The Norwegian ferry and cruise company chose Fayard for the coming installation of a scrubber system – a device that controls gaseous emissions – for its Super Speed 2 ferry.

The new scrubber system is necessary for ships operating in the North Sea and Baltic Sea due to new sulphur oxide emission regulations that take effect on 1 January 2015. The system provides a major reduction of sulphur and soot particle emissions.

Fayard is a privately owned company, founded by the Andersen family in 1916. Under the leadership and ownership of the family through three generations, the company has grown from a small boat builder’s yard into a large, modern and efficient repair yard.


Modern repair yard


This page forms part of the publication "Focus Denmark No. 02 – Summer — autumn 2014" as article 5 of 5.
Version no. 1.0, 2014-05-30
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/focusdk_0214/index.html