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9 December 2020 - Jann Raveling

13 shipping companies in Bremen

Maritime economy and logistics

Container, bulk, and break-bulk shipping in Bremen

Bremerhaven: The two largest container shipping companies in the world are Maersk and MSC. Pictured here is MSC Gülsün.
Bremerhaven: The two largest container shipping companies in the world are Maersk and MSC. Pictured here is MSC Gülsün. © bremenports GmbH & Co. KG

Shipping companies form the backbone of global logistics. Many of them are based at the long-established ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven or operate a branch here.

In Germany, around 2,000 merchant vessels are in service with 316 shipping companies. The majority (80 percent) of the fleets consist of fewer than ten ships, and the industry is dominated by small and medium-sized companies. The German merchant fleet occupies 5th place in the world rankings, even though the number of ships has been declining for years. With its long maritime heritage, the state of Bremen is also home to a large number of shipping companies. Shipowners were already setting sail for the North and Baltic Seas from the Hanseatic city as far back as the Middle Ages. Many of today’s shipping companies are members of the Bremer Rhederverein (German)(Association of Bremen Shipowners), which represents the interests of the industry.

13 shipping companies from Bremen
The OOCL shipping company from Hong Kong also has a Bremen branch. Here is the OOCL Germany with a length of 400 metres
The OOCL shipping company from Hong Kong also has a Bremen branch. Here is the OOCL Germany with a length of 400 metres © bremenports GmbH & Co. KG

  1. B. Dettmer Reederei GmbH & Co. KG
    Dettmer Reederei is part of the group of companies of the same name that operates across many segments of the logistics chain. The shipping company division has specialized in inland shipping for 70 years, with a range of services covering both tank and dry transportation.
  2. Carl Büttner GmbH & Co. KG (CB KG)
    Originally founded in the East Frisian shipping centre of Leer, Carl Büttner is today a Bremen-based shipping company with oil, product and chemical tankers operating mainly in Europe. Its fleet consists of ten ships. The company sets great store by modern technologies and was one of the first German shipping companies to install exhaust gas purification systems, or ‘scrubbers’, in its ships.
  3. Sloman Neptun AG
    Virtually no other German shipping company boasts a history as long as that of Sloman Neptun. The product of a merger between Bremen-based Neptun, founded in 1873, and Hamburg-based Sloman, founded in 1793, the public limited company now operates some 50 chemical and dry cargo ships as well as gas and oil tankers, around half of which are owned by Sloman Neptun itself. The company has just over 460 employees, 420 of whom are maritime crew.
  4. F.A. Vinnen & Co.
    Founded in 1819, Vinnen is one of the oldest shipping companies operating exclusively in Bremen. The company operates nine ships, each with up to 5,000 TEUs (standard container equivalents) of capacity. They are mainly used by large liner companies who charter the ships from Vinnen. In addition to operating its own ships, the company also manages third-party ships and, through another company, provides crews for the ocean liners.
  5. Bremer Bereederungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
    BBG offers services in many areas of commercial shipping, including technical and operational management, crew management, construction supervision for new builds and conversions, and shipping repairs and consultancy. Its fleet includes 15 ships ranging in size up to the post-Panamax class (larger than the Panama Canal’s lock chambers), the majority of which are bulk carriers.
  6. Harren Shipping Services GmbH & Co. KG
    Harren also operates in many areas of international shipping besides operating and crewing ships, including technical inspections, assistance with new builds, the purchase and sale of ships, and even IT services. The company’s core business covers the operation of an astonishing range of around 75 of its own or chartered ships – from container ships and tankers, bulk carriers, dock ships and multi-purpose vessels to heavy lift vessels, offshore construction ships, and tugs. The company employs 250 people onshore and around 2,300 maritime staff.
World no.1: Maersk from Denmark, here with the nearly 400 meter-long Maribo Maersk from 2014
World no.1: Maersk from Denmark, here with the nearly 400 meter-long Maribo Maersk from 2014 © bremenports GmbH & Co. KG

The international container heavyweights

As part of the global supply chain, Bremerhaven’s ports are regular destinations for the largest container giants. These are mostly operated by international groups that have opened branches in the state of Bremen to handle business locally. The groups include:

  1. Maersk Deutschland GmbH
    The world’s largest container shipping company has 687 ships in its fleet with enough combined capacity to transport 53 pyramids of Giza at once. The group is based in Denmark.
  2. MSC Germany S.A. & Co. KG
    Despite its relatively minor importance on the international port scene, Switzerland manages to have the second largest container shipping company in the world, the Mediterranean Shipping Company. However, the ocean liners have no home port in their own country, admittedly.
  3. CMA-CGM (Deutschland) GmbH Shipping Agency
    With around 500 ships, this French shipping company occupies third place among the largest container shipping companies. In recent years, the title of the largest container ship in the world has regularly gone to a CMA-CGM vessel. And the company is currently building ships of unprecedented size, capable of carrying up to 24,000 TEUs.
  4. Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. (OOCL)
    Asia is home to the largest transshipment ports in the world. And the region also boasts Hong Kong-based OOCL, one of the shipping giants. Business for Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe is handled by the Bremen branch.
A specialist in vehicle transportation: the shipping company KESS
A specialist in vehicle transportation: the shipping company KESS © bremenports GmbH & Co. KG

Specialist international shipping companies

  1. “K” Line European Sea Highway Services (KESS)
    K-Line is a Japanese multinational. Its German subsidiary KESS is based in Bremen and operates a fleet of eleven RoRo carriers (Roll on Roll off = transport of movable goods such as cars and trucks). By its own account, the company moves one million vehicles per year, primarily in the North and Baltic Sea region.
  2. Wallenius Wilhelmsen
    The Norwegian-Swedish shipping company is a global heavyweight in the RoRo business with a fleet of 125 ships. Bremerhaven is a regular port of call for the shipping company, and the AutoTerminal operated by BLG Logistics is the largest automotive hub in Europe. For this reason, the group also operates a branch here.
  3. SACO Shipping GmbH
    Originally from Hamburg, the company now has locations in Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary in addition to its Bremen base. SACO is a non-vessel operating common carrier, or NVOCC. In simple terms, it is a shipping company that does not own any ships, but instead combines cargo into groupage shipments and organizes these shipments through third-party ships. The company is one of the largest providers in the NVOCC sector.
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