(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) On 16 March 1867, a group of 600 shipowners, shipbuilders and insurers met in the big hall of the Hamburg Stock Exchange on the occasion of the founding convention of Germanischer Lloyd. On behalf of the founding committee, the merchant and shipowner August Behn signed the statute of the young institution. The founding committee consisted of representatives of shipowners J. C. Godeffroy & Sohn, A. J. Schön & Co., A. J. Hertz & Söhne, as well as R. M. Sloman. The new society was founded as a non-profit association based in Hamburg.
The reason for forming a German classification society was to achieve transparency. Merchants, shipowners, and insurers used to get little information about the state of a ship. As an independent classification society, Germanischer Lloyd was created to evaluate the quality of ships and deliver the results to shipowners, merchants, and insurers.
First classifications were based on construction rules developed by Friedrich Schüler, a shipbuilder from Stettin-Grabow, Prussia (later the German Empire). GL's first international ship classification register from 1868 reports 273 classed ships – 26 of them under a foreign flag. In 1877, ten times more classed ships were registered. As a consequence, the surveyor network extended rapidly. By 1869, GL had surveyors in a dozen German seaports and outside Germany in St.Petersburg, Copenhagen, London, Liverpool, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Swatow, Amoy, Penang, and Singapore.
Iron and steam ships became more and more popular, slowly replacing wooden sailing vessels. After years of economic difficulties, Imperial Chancellor Bismarck took charge of the situation by announcing a commission. Its advice: The association ought to turn into a public company. The change was finalised at a general assembly which took place on 5 October 1889.
In 1894 as the economic situation improved, Germanischer Lloyd decided to extend its service by teaming up with the German maritime authority See-Berufsgenossenschaft (SeeBG), which was founded in 1887. While the SeeBG issued rules for accident prevention and checked for their compliance, GL provided support as technical adviser. The collaboration between both parties has lasted until today.
As a classification society, Germanischer Lloyd has always focused on ship safety. The importance of the subject became clear with the Titanic disaster in 1912. Two years later, a GL director attended the "Titanic" conference as a representative of the German government. At this point, 10 per cent of the world's merchant fleet was classed by Germanischer Lloyd. The First World War, however, was a severe set-back.
International relationships were discontinued and foreign ships changed class. After the war things started to improve again. By 1939, the register contained 4.7 million GRT (gross register tons). Then the Second World War left its mark: the headquarters was destroyed, offices bombed out, and overseas agencies lost. Most files were abolished or confiscated. The Allied Control Council eventually allowed advocates from the shipping, shipbuilding, and ship insurance industry to obtain a temporary licence for the company; it became permanent in 1948. Following the war, Germany's economic recovery led to rapid development: within seven years the classed tonnage increased from 400,000 to three million GT.
Growth and Diversification
The company continued to grow. Large-capacity computers enabled the design and construction of bigger and more modern ships. Container ships were developed to satisfy the increasing consumer demand for goods. These open vessels were a lot more vulnerable to torsion and a particular challenge for design engineers. GL invested in research resulting in new construction rules for container ships.
On 11 Sept 1968 IACS was founded at a meeting at the office of Germanischer Lloyd in
- Germanischer Lloyd
- American Bureau of Shipping
- Bureau Veritas
- Det Norske Veritas
- Lloyd’s Register of Shipping
- Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
- Registro Italiano Navale.
At the beginning of the 1970s, offshore technology became an important field of activity for Germanischer Lloyd. In 1973, working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Research and Technology, the society surveyed the construction of the research platform “North Sea and supervised its installation to the north-west of the German island Helgoland. GL was also involved in the installation of the first German oil production platforms “Mittelplate, located in the Wadden Sea, and Schwedeneck, located in the Baltic Sea at the German Bight off Kiel, Germany.
In 1977, wind energy was introduced as a new business segment. This diversification, originally started in the 1960s, prevented the society from being severely affected by the shipbuilding crisis in the first half of the 1980s.
In the autumn of 2006, French rival Bureau Veritas launched a hostile takeover bid, but this was defeated through the support of Hamburg-based entrepreneur Günter Herz. Subsequently, 100% of the shares of the company had been acquired by the Herz family office Mayfair.
Status Preceding the Merger
GL ceased to exist as an independent entity in September 2013 as a result of its merger with Norway's DNV (Det Norske Veritas) to become DNV GL. In March 2021, DNV GL was renamed to DNV. 154 years after founding, GERMANISCHER LLOYD finally disappears.