A Thousand Years of Maritime Expertise

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A Thousand Years of Maritime Expertise

With one of Europe’s longest stretches of coastline and surrounded by over 400 islands, Denmark’s history, culture and traditions have always been closely connected to the sea. Just as Denmark’s economy remains tied to the international maritime industry, the country is continuing to strengthen its economic ties with China, which has become the world’s greatest exporter of manufactured products. China’s economic growth offers tremendous opportunities for merchant navies worldwide.


Beginning in the 9th Century, the Viking Age flourished for three hundred years as the Dane’s explored and traded with the outside world, travelling as far as east as Russia and Turkey, and using both sea and inland waterway routes. As a prosperous seafaring nation, Denmark established a prized shipbuilding tradition, a foundation on which the country has built its current maritime industry.

While the Danes have shifted the manufacturing of their vessels to shipyards in Japan, South Korea and China, the Danish shipping industry remains strong and internationally competitive.

The phrase ‘Blue Denmark’ refers to the shipping, ports, shipyards and equipment and service suppliers who cover the complete maritime supply chain. These various industries work in partnership to ensure that Danish maritime excellence remains at a world-class level.


Peter Bjerregaard, Managing Director, Danish Shipowners’ Association

Peter Bjerregaard, Managing Director of the Danish Shipowners’ Association: “Shipping is a driving factor within Denmark’s economy. ‘Blue Denmark’ employs around 100,000 people and generates a quarter of Denmark’s export earnings.”

The Danish Maritime Authority acts as a representative body under the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs and plays an important role in maintaining and developing Denmark’s role as a leading maritime nation.

“Our core strength as a shipping nation is the synergy created between Danish companies working together to drive the cluster forward,” says Andreas Nordseth, Director General of the Danish Maritime Authority.

Industry heavyweights such as Norden, Torm, J. Lauritzen and A.P. Moller – Maersk (the world’s largest operator of container ships and supply vessels) play significant roles in the Danish shipping industry.

However, privately owned medium-size companies such as Copenship and Navision Group are acting as drivers for some of the industry’s most important developments and innovations.

“We are seeing a large number of new players in the industry who are successfully competing against some of the larger and more established players,” explains Bjerregaard.

Once example is Copenhagen based, Nordic Bulk Carriers – the first non-Russian operator to use

the northern sea route for commercial transit purposes. As an increasing number of graduates are attracted to ‘Blue Denmark’ career opportunities, the younger generation is driving the Danish maritime industry into the future.

“In Denmark, shipping is considered to be a glamorous industry in which to work. Two factors influence this sentiment: our history within the maritime sector and the Danish shipping companies which have become international industry leaders,” says Carsten Mortensen, Chairman of the Danish Shipowners’ Association and President of Norden.

The Danish Maritime Authority supports the notion that Danish shipping represents quality shipping as Nordseth explains: “International shipping companies continue to acknowledge the importance of flying a Danish flag. As a true shipping nation, we adhere to the highest standards of health, safety and environmental protection”.

“We have over 500 ships – about fifteen million tonnes registered under Danish flags,” adds Bjerregaard. “We do not use flags of convenience as we believe in setting the highest standard in quality shipping.”

With Denmark’s relatively small economy, it is imperative that the country continues to build on its reputation as an international player and the country has developed strong ties with China.

Bjerregaard: “China is an important partner for Denmark and our relationship is strong. The China Shipowners Association recently visited Denmark and held discussions focused on strengthening China – European cooperation. Our relationship with the Hong Kong Shipowners Association is also very strong.”

As China continues to improve its ship-building capabilities, Danish shipowners have increased their orders for Chinese built vessels. Ships are increasingly being fitted with Danish equipment manufactured by companies such as Hoyer and Grundfos.

Bjerregaard: “We are pleased with the development of maritime policies in China and the quality-drive in Chinese shipbuilding. Today, thirteen percent of all new-builds are made in China.”

As ‘Blue Denmark’ sails forward, innovations in environmental technologies are set to increase and will provide opportunities for greater collaboration with Chinese partners.

The cluster cooperates extensively with the International Maritime Organization by developing technical and market-based solutions and submits proposals for the reduction of global CO2 emissions.

Nordseth: “We are at the forefront of ‘green-technology’. Danish shipping companies incorporate best management practices and an increasing number are marketing themselves as ‘Green’ companies”.

China’s development as a quality shipbuilder depends on its ability to move towards ‘greener’ technologies. Denmark’s capacity to provide environmental solutions to the maritime industry is the good opportunity for increased collaboration between China and Denmark.

Bjerregaard: “We want to develop partnerships between Danish and Chinese firms and are interested in providing our cutting-edge technologies and expertise to China. Our two countries understand that the opportunities which have already been grasped will facilitate further openings for us to work together.”

As a leader in the maritime industry, Denmark continues to innovate and create momentum within the global shipping business. By building on traditional values and nurturing a determination to succeed, Denmark will remain a leading international maritime power.


Andreas Nordseth, Director General, Danish Maritime Authority

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