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ClassNK continues aggressive growth in Europe

ClassNK continues aggressive growth in Europe
Japan’s ClassNK is continuing to grow its presence in Europe with three German owners and one Norwegian officially transferring vessels at Nor-Shipping.

ClassNK is currently the world’s largest classification society by gross tonnage with 215m gt of vessels on its books at the end of May, however, it stands to be overtaken by the merger of DNV and Germanischer Lloyd (GL).

Over the last two years it has expanded aggressively in Europe, particularly in Germany, where its Hamburg office has a high level of authority headed up executive vice president Yasushi Nakamura. In addition GL’s former head for the Asia – Pacific region, Volkmar Wasmansdorff, is now a senior advisor to the executive board of ClassNK, based in Germany.

“As a result, since the beginning of 2012 German owners have transferred or signed newbuilding contracts to NK class for nearly 70 vessels and more than 2m gt,” Noburu Ueda, chairman and president of ClassNK said.

“Over that same period Norwegian owners have transferred or signed newbuilding contracts under NK Class for more than 20 vessels and more than 650,000gt, and Europe has become one of ClassNK’s fastest growing markets."

Thursday saw ClassNK officially welcome new vessels from German owners Orion Bulkers, Johann Blumenthal and Medallion Reederei, as well as Norwegian owner Stove Rederi.

Stove Rederi transferred four existing vessels, previously with DNV, and one newbuilding to the Japanese class society. Tor Christensen of Stove noted they did not expect a non-profit organisation to increase their charges.

Nakamura stressed that ClassNK was solely involved in the maritime business unlike some of its competitors.

Continuing its European growth ClassNK plans to add five new offices to its existing 22 over the next two years. These will be in Lithuania, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Finland, and there are plans for two more in Ukraine and Sweden.

Wasmansdorff said the move the move to expand in Europe and Germany was not a reaction to the DNV and GL merger announcement, with Nakamura moving to Hamburg at the end of 2011. He said it was a process that dated back Gunter Herz taking over ownership of GL in 2006 when “things began to change”.