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Look to Denmark for Maritime Innovation

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Over 100 years ago, Danish engineers built the first advanced ocean-going diesel driven ship. Her name was Selandia, and she was crammed full with innovative technology. When it comes to shipping and maritime technology, Denmark's reputation as 'green' and 'intelligent' persists to this very day.

By Lars Gert Lose, Ambassador of Denmark, and Jenny N. Braat, CEO, Danish Maritime

It was a Danish ship in its design, with a Danish engine and built in Denmark, which set out to cross the Atlantic as the first neither steam nor sail-driven ship.

When the motor ship M/S Selandia headed out of Copenhagen en route to Bangkok on its maiden voyage on 22 February 1912, it represented a great scientific breakthrough. Replacing the two-stroke engines most diesel engine producers were building at the time, shipbuilders Burmeister & Wain had given this heavy ship of 7,410 tons two eight cylinder, single-action, four-stroke diesel engines with a combined power of 2,500 HP. Back then, that was more than twice the power of other commercial ships.
As early as 15 years before Selandia set sail, Burmeister & Wain had been experimenting with diesel engines. The ship was to be the first which saw the large smoke-belching funnel replaced by just a small exhaust pipe. Design-wise, the owner, the East Asiatic Company Ltd., wanted something that was markedly different from the average steamship at that time, which is why the exhaust was 'camouflaged' on the back of the aft mast.

The interiors were also different. The usual tiny portholes were replaced by large windows, and it had tall ceilings and electrical lights in the saloons. Needless to say that Selandia caused quite a stir and quickly got a reputation for being a 'clean' ship, as there was no soot coming from its smokestack.
This was more than 100 years ago, but the reputation of the Danish maritime industry being 'green' and 'intelligent' is still alive today - and with good reason.

Although Denmark is a small country, we are to this day one of the biggest maritime nations in the world. We set the standard that others hope to emulate. We are home to the world's largest container shipping company, Maersk Line, and we hold the title of World Champion in other maritime fields, as well.
It takes about two thousand businesses to deliver all of the equipment and assorted components that are needed to build a new big ship; and many of those suppliers are Danish. Copenhagen-based MAN Diesel &Turbo designs the major part of the diesel engines used on ocean-going ships worldwide. The Danish company Alfa Laval is the world's largest developer and builder of marine boilers, and they have begun building the world's largest test center for liquid gas as ship fuel. More than every third life raft used professionally worldwide comes from VIKING Life-Saving Equipment, located in Denmark. Danish paint producer Hempel is the world's largest supplier of silicone based anti-fouling bottom paints. Pres-Vac Engineering is the world leading supplier of pressure/vacuum valves to tankers. Cobham SATCOM, also based in Denmark, is the world's largest supplier of satellite communication equipment. The shipyard Karstensens Skibsvaerft in northern Denmark is the biggest worldwide in pelagic trawlers. The world's largest electrically driven ferry will be built in Denmark next year, and Danish OMT (Odense Maritime Technology) is behind the design of many of the latest and most advanced ships.
From November 16th to 19th, as part of an export promotion trip, one of the world's newest frigates, the Danish designed Peter Willemoes, will be anchored in Baltimore, Maryland. We take great pride in showing off this frigate, which has been hailed as among the best in its class.

Nine Danish companies have chosen to participate in the export promotion trip: Brüel & Kjær, Denkrypt, DESMI, GOMSpace, OMT, Saab Denmark, Teledyne-Reson, Terma and Weibel. These companies are all members of Naval Team Denmark, Danish Maritime, and FAD.

This visit follows a similar trip in 2014 that saw great interest in the Danish modular concept. This time, it is our hope that we hope that the Danish companies will take it one step further and hopefully engage with American companies on optimizing products.

We would like to have a closer collaboration with our American maritime colleagues about the development of intelligent design of ships and equipment for ships, in the commercial as well as governmental fleets.

Come January, the United States will have a new government. Among the likely changes, many expect the new government and Congress to agree on an increase in defense appropriations, which could be good news for Danish exports to the U.S., including maritime solutions. The U.S. is Denmark's largest trading partner outside the EU. In 2015 alone, Denmark exported goods worth almost 46 billion DKK (6.6 bill US$) to the United States.

The years to come offer challenges but also great opportunities, not least when it comes to developing the right technologies to safeguard the most sustainable traffic on the seas. This includes such areas as the treatment of ballast water, sulfur and nitrogen.

All the seven seas are connected. Ships move between continents. It follows that the challenges of the maritime sector, and the need for solutions, are not nation-specific but global in scope. We must think, develop and act internationally.