What Happened When the Shipyards Closed Down?

The closing down of the Danish shipbuilding industry may have been the end of an era but it also spelled the beginning of something new. More than 27 companies were founded, all around shipbuilding activities, in the aftermath of the closures. In his new book Thomas Roslyng Olesen, a researcher with CBS, tells the story of the fate of Danish shipbuilding.


In Da værfterne lukkede - Transformationen af den danske værftsindustri 1975-2015 [Closing the Shipyards - The Transformation of the Danish Shipyard Industry 1975-2015] CBS-researcher Thomas Roslyng Olesen recounts the closing of the great Danish shipyards during the 1980s and 1990s:   B&W in 1980, Nakskov Skibsværft in 1986-87, Aalborg Værft in 1987-88, the reorganized B&W Skibsværft in 1996, and Danyard Frederikshavn in 1999.

The book distinguishes itself from previous books on the Danish shipbuilding industry in its examination of the post-closure period as well.

The thing is that the closures did not spell the end only of an era in Danish industrial history. They also ushered in a new beginning.  From the rubbles of the closed shipyards emerged not less than 27 new companies that carried on various activities inherited from the yards.

Innovative entrepreneurs sought to employ existing production facilities and employee know-how in new ways, and today a number of these spin-offs are global market leaders in their respective fields. Thus, the shipyard closures should be viewed as a transformation rather than a termination only.

The book also tells the story of what happened to the 9.400 shipbuilders who were laid off when the yards shut down operations. This study relies on data from Statistics Denmark and shows how the workmen´s skills were reemployed in other sections of Danish industry.

Finally, the book traces the redevelopment of the former shipyards to their present-day re-incarnations as waterfront business parks, recreational facilities, office buildings, and housing estates, or simple wastelands.

Da værfterne lukkede helps shed new light on the closure of Danish shipyards in a time of intensified relocation efforts, involving more Danish manufacturing jobs than ever.


Thomas Roslyng Olesen is an assistant professor at Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics at CBS. He is also attached to the Business in Society Platform CBS Maritime.

The book is available at CBS Library.

You can also buy it at Academic Books.

The page was last edited by: CBS Maritime // 12/17/2017