Building boats and other vessels

In rural districts with good access to suitable timber there grew up rather large concentrations of specialized boat-builders. Well-known places were Salten, Rana, Bindalen, Åfjorden, Bjørkedalen, Os/ Strandebarm, Hardanger, Ryfylke, Lista, Søndeled, Hvaler, and others. And this does not take into account the town shipyards that delivered many of the larger sailing ships for overseas travel in the years of expansion after 1850. Several of these centres of construction picked up ideas from Swedish fishing smacks and imported clipper ships (1865–90) and evidenced considerable adaptability when motorization forced them to produce new, bigger, and stronger wooden boats in the two decades after 1905.

The two to three hundred steam-driven fishing boats were largely built by engineering workshops in the towns, but when especially the herring fishers shifted to steel-hulled boats for deep-sea fishing in the 1960s, many of the rural wooden-boat builders also took the opportunity to re-organize, at a time when the towns’ large shipyards had their hands full with orders for a rapidly expanding merchant fleet.

During the international shipping crisis in 1975–87 urban shipyards that could not adapt to producing oil rigs, platform superstructures, and sections were closed down. On the other hand, the fishing-boat yards, especially in Møre and Hordaland but also in towns and villages from Mandal in the south to Harstad in the north, continued to build increasingly larger fishing boats, including some for export, and in time even larger offshore vessels.

An internationally acknowledged leading competence was developed in both of these fields as well as in the building of lifeboats and express boats. The country’s largest producer of small leisure boats – Henrik J. Askviks Sønner AS i Hagavik in central Hordaland with brand name “Askeladden” – started as a builder of oselver – yet another example of historical continuity.
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