Nor-Shipping 2015 a success
Shipping’s future is on display in Oslo’s yearly conference
M. Michael Brady
Nor-Shipping is a week-long maritime sector trade fair held in the Oslo region every other year since 1965. Initially Nor-Shipping was held within the city. In 2002 it relocated to purpose-built trade fair facilities in Lillestrøm, a suburb 21 km to the northeast. Its program includes conferences, exhibitions, product launches, and social events. It attracts owners and builders in the shipping and offshore sectors, classification societies, and related industrial and business sectors, and has become one of the major annual international shipping events.
The 2015 fair, held from Monday June 1 through Friday June 5, celebrated the 50th anniversary of Nor-Shipping. It featured more than 100 conferences and meetings, as well as more than 1,000 stands and exhibitions that drew more than 35,000 visitors. King Harald V and Prime Minister Erna Solberg attended the Opening Conference on Tuesday June 2.
The Opening Conference began with a succinct overview of the status of shipping today, given by Lars Peder Solstad, President of the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA). He pointed out that though the world economy is entering uncharted waters and the shipping sector is troubled, with vessels laid up and people laid off, shipping remains a precondition for ongoing globalization. So the principal question of the day is “What’s next?”
Prime Minister Solberg observed that innovation is the key to assuring the viability of the maritime industry. For Norway, she remarked that “the future lies in being smarter, not cheaper,” and that the country had identified its goals in a National Maritime Strategy launched the previous week.
In the keynote presentations, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft pointed out that a change to the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) may be crucial to the future of the maritime industry, as countries around the world seek greener power industries.
The three Nor-Shipping Awards for 2015 suggest that more innovation and change may be the answers to the question of “What’s next?” The Energy Efficiency Award went to Harvest Frost, the first of three vessels built primarily for grain carriage by the growing fleet of Archer Daniels Midland in the U.S. The Next Generation Ship Award, honoring the most promising design for ships that will be at sea in the coming decade, went to X-STERN, a new design by the Ulstein Group of Norway that has already been commissioned for an offshore wind service vessel for Bernhard Schulte/WINDEA Offshore of Germany. The Young Entrepreneur Award went to Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of Ocean Cleanup of the Netherlands, for an array of floating barriers that catch and concentrate ocean debris and may comprise a financially viable system for cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
As it does in odd years, Nor-Shipping 2015 hosted the presentation of the Ship of the Year, an annual distinction awarded by Skipsrevyen (Shipping Review), the leading maritime trade journal for the Nordic countries. The Skandi Africa, an offshore support and construction vessel built at a Vard Holdings yard in Norway and finished at Huisman Equipment in the Netherlands, was named Ship of the Year 2015, with the award handed over by Monca Mæland, Minister of Trade and Industry.
Innovation and change were evident in the many presentations of advances in technologies, from ship motors to maritime satellite communications, from shipping policy and politics to finance to executive programs dealing with the business challenges of the day. And of course there were the thousand-some stands in nearly a quarter million square feet of exhibition space, spread over six halls divided into 15 national pavilions (including a U.S. one). Nor-Shipping has become one of the three leading international maritime sector trade fairs. The other two are the giant annual Shipbuilding, Machinery, and Marine Technology (SMM) trade fair held in Hamburg, Germany, and the Posidonia International Shipping Exhibition held in even-numbered years in Athens, Greece.
Nor-Shipping is the oldest of the shipping trade fairs. It began modestly in the early 1960s, as a national industrial fair named Deck and Engine Room that focused on Norwegian seafarers and their shipboard workplaces. Its focus soon broadened, and the first International Shipping Exhibition was held in Oslo in May 1965. One of the early signs of Nor-Shipping’s international focus was that from the start, its working language has been English, long the lingua franca of shipping. At Nor-Shipping 2015 nary a word in any other language was seen or heard; the website at messe.no/en/nor-shipping is completely in English.
Even the Nor-Shipping logo has an international background. It was designed in 1969-70 by Czech painter and graphic artist Jan Kristofori (1931-2004), then living and working in Norway as an illustrator for a book club. It depicts a mermaid, symbolizing the allure of the seas, standing on an anchor, symbolizing solidity, continuity, and security.
Nor-Shipping celebrated its 50th anniversary by donating a new rescue boat to the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (NSSR). The new boat will be a supplement to the 43 vessels now continuously manned and on standby along the coast of Norway. It is now being built and is scheduled for launch in the first half of 2017.
Looking ahead, in 2013 Nor-Shipping initiated the Ocean Talent Camp recruitment drive to attract young people to careers in shipping, offshore energy, and seafood sectors. The 2015 Ocean Talent Camp was held in the in the Oslo City Hall Square from June 1 through June 4 and drew more than 10,000 visitors.
Moreover, Nor-Shipping is renewing itself. At Nor-Shipping 2015, Birgit Marie Liodden was appointed the youngest-ever (32 this year) and first woman Director of Nor-Shipping. From 2011 on, she’s worked alongside Nor-Shipping management, and now has assumed full directorship for Nor-Shipping 2017. She holds an MBA from the BI Norwegian Business School and is most known for her international work in founding YoungShip International, an organization for young shipping professionals, now with 18 chapters in 12 countries, link at: www.youngship.com/.
This article originally appeared in the June 19, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.