Sailors recount stories, it is mentioned in songs and it is still the focus of practically every Hamburg postcard. Over the years in operation, it has forged shipbuilding history and set standards in technology and design. Today? More than ever, Blohm+Voss is one of the world’s leading providers of innovative solutions for repairs and refits for well-known giants of the seas.
Another renowned visitor to Blohm+Voss, the Queen Mary 2.
Since it was founded in 1877, Hamburg’s largest and most famous shipyard has come to meet the ever-changing requirements of the industry and its customers with innovative ideas and to break new ground. In the early years, the shipbuilders from Hamburg, Hermann Blohm and Ernst Voss, already recognised the zeitgeist and it was the first shipyard outside of the United Kingdom to produce steamboats made of steel. The shipyard quickly gained notoriety for quality and punctuality.
With the creation of the Prinzessin Victoria Luise, Blohm+Voss launched the first passenger ship for the Hamburg America Line in 1900 and early on, a successful partnership was already established with the major cruise lines. Starting out with a relatively small area of 15,000 square metres and 250 metres of waterfront, the shipyard grew steadily and it currently dominates the Hamburg skyline with a massive area of 450,000 square metres and over 2,000 metres of waterfront. Blohm+Voss now boasts seven docks at its site, two of which are covered for those customers who wish to keep repairs confidential. The shipyard continued to make waves in the cruise sector, building vessels for White Star Line and United States Lines in the late 1930s.
Building hundreds of vessels over the last century, Blohm+Voss has always been a respected name in marine construction. Now, as a member of the North German, family-owned company, Lürssen, another decidedly reputable name in the maritime world, Blohm+Voss specialises in highly complex repairs, conversions, and maintenance of passenger ships. As such, it has established itself as a reliable contact for globally renowned cruise liners.
Not least, it has had and still has the ability to constantly adapt due to the experience gained over decades and to find innovative solutions for even the most demanding projects. This is what makes Blohm+Voss what it is today: a shipyard that finds drive and purpose in new challenges and has the passion to achieve the best possible result for, and together with, the customer.
Shipbuilding challenges were however never lacking for Blohm+Voss and complicated projects seemed to be its speciality. In particular, for instance, this can be said with regard to a specific, intricate conversion of a passenger vessel that was initially considered to be impossible. It was announced that the lengthening and refit of two cruise liners from the UK-based, Norwegian owned company, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines would need to be completed within a given timeframe of just a few weeks. As Blohm+Voss was characterised by its ability to complete The Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, which spans across over 450,000 square metres. unfathomable projects with minimal downtime, the Hamburg shipyard was chosen for the prodigious task. After being awarded the contract, the shipyard used its entire repertoire of experience, knowledge, and expertise to convert the MS Norwegian Crown, built-in 1988, and another ship, the Braemar, into 4-star luxury cruisers.
The mighty Norwegian Crown having her new middle section inserted to become Balmoral as it is today.
The first ship to undergo the extension would be the Norwegian Crown. In order to successfully meet the set timetable, Blohm+Voss prefabricated and partially outfitted numerous elements, including the new middle section that was to be inserted into the ship. Projects this tricky need meticulous planning and preparation. Therefore, when Norwegian Crown changed hands and was turned over to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in New York, at that time around 100 shipyard employees boarded the vessel to get her ready for the shipyard stay in Hamburg during the Atlantic crossing. On the high seas, Blohmers tore apart the bulkheads and walls, severed pipes, and cut hundreds of cables. Upon arrival in Hamburg, nothing stood in the way of removing the midsection.
Within Dock Elbe 17, which is over 350 metres long and one of the largest graving docks in Europe, the middle section was already waiting. The dock width allowed Norwegian Crown to be moved in alongside and the dock emptied so that the vessel laid directly next to the new middle section. Over the next five days, the ship was sliced in two amidships like a loaf of bread, and a total length of 1500 metres was cut. Subsequently, the 9000- ton foredeck was heaved 40 metres forward to provide sufficient space to insert the new section. Only three days later, the millimetre-accurate assembly of all three parts of the ship took place. With the successful coalescence, the MS Balmoral was born.
Thanks to the new middle section, 186 new passenger cabins and 53 additional cabins for crew-members were created. The vessel, at an original length of 187 metres, was extended to a monumental 217.91 metres. A masterpiece that could only be brought to fruition thanks to tenacious teamwork, the harmonious interplay of all trades and a little daring. Needless to say, the second lengthening project on the Braemar was also efficiently and fluidly achieved, headache-free. The projects laid the foundation for a successful cooperation with the customer that stays strong to this day.
With this and numerous other notable projects, Blohm+Voss has developed the reputation of a reliable and competent partner throughout the industry. Above all, customers appreciate the reliability of the Hamburg shipyard and the certainty of knowing that they have a flexible and accomplished partner at their side. The shipyard welcomes the opportunity to undertake problem-solving for cruise lines and to ease their repair troubles, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The shipyard’s repair portfolio for cruise and commercial ships also flanks the comprehensive refit activities of another type of vessel. With the takeover by Lürssen, one of the world›s leading yacht builders, Blohm+Voss having considerable understanding after the build of several extraordinary yachts itself, and its optimal location, is increasingly becoming a hot-spot for extensive conversions and upgrades of high-quality, luxury mega-yachts in northern Europe.
The product portfolio is then rounded off by the construction of extremely complex naval vessels. As part of the cohesive Lürssen team, Blohm+Voss is able to offer and provide almost any service for any vessel, all from one source. Each and every customer, no matter which arm of the business they want to engage services in, benefits from the same exact high standards of quality, efficiency and reliability from their shipyard partner – a claim that Blohm+Voss has been living up to for more than 140 years.