Maritime economy

Hamburg Metropolitan Region – Maritime economy

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The sector – Maritime North Germany

The ports of Hamburg, Brunsbüttel, Stade, Cuxhaven and Glückstadt look back on a long maritime tradition. Proximity to the sea has shaped the region over the centuries and forms the basis of their economic success. The ports are the motor for this. Ocean-going shipping, shipbuilding, steel and metal construction, electronics, plant construction, navigation technology, environmental technology, marine and offshore technology, hydrography and hydraulic engineering, as well as the complementary services and research areas, are amongst the Hamburg Metropolitan Region’s most significant economic factors.

The innovative core of the sector consists of shipbuilding, suppliers, marine and offshore technology, complemented by services and research institutions. The Hamburg Metropolitan Region has outstanding expertise in these sectors and, in view of the growing global demand for maritime technologies, good chances of development, too.

Focal points – Modern shipyards – modern ships – a modern region

North German shipyards have an excellent reputation world wide. They build cruise ships, container feeder vessels, mega yachts and the latest generation of tankers. North Germany is world leader in naval shipbuilding – particularly submarines. The yards build highly innovative roll-on, roll-off ships, gas tankers, tugs, passenger ships and rescue boats. Almost 3,500 work in the ship and boatbuilding sectors alone in the Metropolitan Region. Constant revenue and full order books are also the case in the ship repair branch – although visits from luxury liners like the Queen Mary are not an everyday occurrence.

The oldest shipyard in Hamburg that is still in operation is J.J. Sietas KG. The company has been building ships since 1635. In 1966 it delivered the world’s first specially designed ship for standard containers. Another constant on the scene is the Blohm + Voss shipyard, belonging to the ThyssenKrupp group. State-of-the-art naval ships take shape here, such as frigates for the German forces, but also unusual yachts.

The region is also characterised by myriad small and medium-sized shipyards that specialise in boat and yacht building, construction of inland waterways vessels, as well as ship repair: some examples are the Hitzler yard, which is mainly known for production of barges and tugs, Peters Schiffbau GmbH, where container ships and mega-yachts leave the slipway, Mützelfeldtwerft GmbH, known for its innovative tugs, or Hatecke GmbH, which is a world leader in free-falling rescue boats.

Added to these are specialised services companies that assist maritime industries in planning, project development and financing. Both the most important classification societies, Germanische Lloyd and Bureau Veritas, are based in Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

Most of the supplier industries and marine and offshore technology companies in Hamburg Metropolitan Region are of small and medium size. Cuxhaven and Brunsbüttel are two important offshore development and shipment locations in the region, underlining its significance for the promising offshore market, for which a tripling of sales is forecast up to 2010 alone.

Underlying much of the infrastructural planning for the offshore wind energy branch in Cuxhaven is the “offshore base master plan” dating from 2003, in which, for instance, details of the heavy load platform, the port-related industrial and commercial sites, the offshore testing area and the expansion of Cuxhaven’s port installations are laid down.

Education, research & development – Getting to the bottom of things…

Maritime research

Germany’s maritime economy sailed through the last structural crisis, primarily thanks to its high level of specialist knowledge and the technical solutions resulting from that. For that reason specialist shipbuilding is the spearhead of the North German shipyards. Excellent training of its skilled workers is therefore of strategic significance for the sector.

Naval architects enrol in Hamburg-Harburg technical university, at the Kiel and Flensburg universities of applied sciences, and Bremen university. All these educational establishments have excellently equipped research and testing facilities, such as ocean current simulators. The state seafaring school in Cuxhaven has been guarantor of skilled and practice-oriented training of ships’ officers for merchant shipping for many decades.

Closely linked to maritime technology and important stimulators of innovation are the private and public research institutions, including GKSS research centre in Geesthacht, IFM Geomar in Kiel, and Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt (HSVA).

At the end of 2006, MariCube was set up in Schleswig-Holstein, very close to the Büsum-based West coast research and technology centre. Its target group is small businesses active in marine biotechnology and related areas, which still work closely with academia and benefit from the vicinity to research institutions.

Business development – Cooperation throughout North Germany

Cluster management for the maritime economy was introduced in Schleswig-Holstein in 2005 to push forward development. The cluster management initiates and integrates activities of maritime businesses and university-level institutions at local, regional and inter-regional levels. In addition to information and communication, its priorities include initiating joint projects. Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein plan to cooperate closely in future and forge ahead in developing any activities promoting the North German maritime economy that overlap the regions.

In Lower Saxony, Süderelbe AG, the growth initiative that straddles state and district boundaries, has made it a priority to encourage development of the maritime economy cluster. Potential areas of activity and joint projects in the Metropolitan Region are being defined in close cooperation with Hamburg.

Both the Hamburg and Lower Saxony governments are currently ensuring ongoing development of existing potential and investigating future needs. The objective is to create optimal conditions which will enhance companies’ ability to compete.

The German shipbuilding and marine technology association (VSM), the foremost federation for the sector, is headquartered in Hamburg. It groups 110 companies in Germany, 37 building ocean-going ships, 19 building inland craft and 54 marine technology companies, as well as suppliers and services specialising in shipbuilding and marine technology.

The Maritime technology society (GMT) is also based in Hamburg. GMT looks after the interests of German companies and research establishments in the marine technology and maritime technology branches.

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