The members of the federation cover a broad range of business as e.g. car ferries, fast passenger crafts, coastal express steamers, tugs, cargo ships, tankers, reefers, cable ships and rescue boats.
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Maritime transport is of great importance to Norway. A brief look at a map of Europe, and of Norway, will give you an idea of why that is so. Norway is situated on top of Europe, separated from the continent by the sea, or from a maritime point of view, connected to the continent by the sea. The country has a narrow and long-drawn shape with a coastline of nearly 3000 km, supplemented with numerous fjords and islands. About 80% of the population of 4,5 mill inhabitants are located less then 10 km from the coast. On this background it is easy to understand why the seaway has been the traditional mode of transport in Norway.
Maritime activity along the Norwegian coast must be regarded to be about as old as the habitation of the country and coastal shipping has at long tradition in Norway. Coastal shipping in the meaning of transport has a tradition, which goes back to the time of the Vikings. Stockfish, grain and other items were traded along the coast. With the introduction of the steamships in the middle of the 19th century one also saw a development of the passengertraffic along with specialisation in the cargo trade. The significance of the seatransport, however, has been declining the last decades. This is mostly due to the extensive use of road transport.
To day the coastal fleet consists of about 1250 ships (100 GT and more) of a broad variety of types and trades. The majority is different types of cargo ships doing unscheduled transport of many different kinds. Transport of fish still plays an important role and the strong increase in fish farming industry makes this an interesting challenge.
Some 300 ships do scheduled routes. Half of these are car-ferries, connecting roads across the fjords and islands to mainland, and the other half are passenger-ships, mostly fast crafts. There are also about 400 ships in the size of 50 - 100 GT which are playing an important role in making life easier for the inhabitants of the small communities along the coast.
A product that is very special for the long Norwegian coast is the service since 1893 by the Coastal Express. The Coastal Express consists of 11 ships that on an 11 day round trip calls upon 34 ports from Bergen to Kirkenes. This schedule implies that each port has two daily calls, one northbound and one southbound, all the year around. The ships have facilities both for passengers and cargo and the passengers can bring their cars along as well.