Norwegian factory trawlers
The first Norwegian factory trawler, “Longva”, was delivered to Longvatraal AS, Aalesund, in 1962. However, the history started many years earlier. Skipper John Longva, who fished off West-Greenland with the longliner “Longva”, had in 1954 been visiting the English factory trawler “Fairtry I”, when both vessels were in harbour in Greenland. “Fairtry I” was owned by the Salvesen company in Leith (Scotland). “Fairtry I” had many problems in the early period, especially in the production, but Longva registered that the concept: Fishing and processing on the same vessel, was the future.
John Longva contacted the Liaaen yard in Aalesund, and together with Nils Liaaen and Reidar Saetremyr, both Naval architects, they started designing the first Norwegian factory trawler. After many years of experiencing difficulties with obtaining financing, the newbuilding contract was signed between A.M. Liaaen AS and Longvatraal AS.
“Longva” did also meet a number of problems in the beginning, but these were solved, and after a relatively short period “Longva” was a success. In the sixties there were built a few more factory trawlers for Norwegian owners. The Liaaen yard was the leading shipyard. Later owners in other countries, especially the Faroe Islands, ordered the same type of vessels.
The building of Norwegian factory trawlers continued in the seventies and eighties. In the mid-eighties the outlook for the cod and haddock stocks in the Barents Sea was very good, and almost all the Norwegian factory trawlers were replaced by newbuildings in the period 1985-89. In 1990 the fleet numbered 25 vessels. Then, even before all of them had been delivered from the yards, the stock situation had changed dramatically, and some of the trawlers had to be sold to other countries – the Argentines, Greenland and New Zealand - or rebuilt for offshore services.
It is safe to say that the Norwegian factory trawler concept and technology has been a success story in many fishing nations, not least thanks to Norwegian ship designers, yards and key personnel (skippers, chief engineers, trawl bosuns and factory managers).
The outlook for the resources in the Barents Sea is now very good, especially for cod and haddock. We have to go many decades back to find a similar stock situation. This – together with first class products – means that the Norwegian factory trawlers will continue to be considerable suppliers of first class seafrozen fillets to the international market.