Maritime technology

Maritime technology in the Netherlands is highly developed. A powerful maritime nation from days of old, with strong trading links around the world, the Netherlands also has the largest inland fleet in Europe and one of the strongest maritime clusters in the world.

A leading maritime nation

Four hundred years ago, Dutch naval entrepreneurs operated the world’s largest fleet and established the world’s first multinational company. Today, Holland is once again a leading maritime nation, operating Europe’s largest inland shipping fleet and with world-leading manufacturers of high-end yachts and special vessels specials. The Port of Rotterdam is Europe's largest port by far and Amsterdam is Europe’s fourth-largest. The Dutch maritime cluster comprises 11 different, yet complementary industries that operate within a 100-kilometre radius. This encourages close co-operation on innovation and production, allowing industries to build on each other’s strengths. The Netherlands also distinguishes itself with a globally competitive group of suppliers to the offshore (maritime) industry and specialised R&D institutes. Overall, the Dutch maritime cluster focuses on high-end, added-value markets that require high levels of expertise, exceptional craftsmanship and research-based innovation.

Key aspects & strengths

  • The Netherlands is renowned worldwide for its complex vessels, specifically: dredging vessels; high-speed patrol boats; construction vessels for the offshore cluster; mega-yachts for the rich and famous; and dedicated short sea ships. The Dutch Compensated Gross Tonnage in these areas is consistently one of the highest in the world.
  • The Dutch have a dominant position in luxury yachts, particularly (semi-)custom made vessels longer than 45 metres.
  • Several Dutch consultancies have world-leading positions in maritime engineering, dredging, and spatial planning, in part due to experience gained through the Rotterdam and Amsterdam ports. Dutch companies are frequently called upon to construct and maintain ports and waterways worldwide.
  • Specialist R&D institutes are laying the foundations for innovation in areas such as shipbuilding, maritime construction, materials technology, and marine ecology.
  • Research conducted by the Norwegian School of Management shows that the Netherlands is the most attractive location for investments in the maritime industry when compared to Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany.
  • The government, academia and the private sector are implementing a long-term innovation programme that focuses on the need of the energy sector to embrace LNG, the production of gas and oil in ultra-deep water, and the ongoing growth of global shipping.

Did you know?

  • The Dutch maritime cluster comprises 12 subsectors and 12,000 companies, which employ 224,000 employees and generate an annual turnover of € 26.3 billion.
  • The cluster has a strong international focus: over 60% of turnover was exported in 2015 and shipbuilders are establishing operations worldwide. Total exports amounted to € 22.5 billion.
  • The shipbuilding sector realised a turnover of € 7.3 billion in 2009, generating employment equivalent to 34,540 full-time jobs;
  • The 750 maritime suppliers generated an annual turnover reaching € 5.4 billion, representing 21,000 full-time jobs in 2009. These companies focus on technologies such as electronics, cooling equipment, and transport equipment.
  • In 2009, Dutch boatyards delivered 19 mega-yachts. Order intake in 2009 in this market segment was 8 new ships, valued at € 213 million. Of the 580-yacht total global order book in 2009, 77 super-yachts (worth € 2.7 billion) will be built by Dutch craftsmen. The Netherlands ranks third in the top ten countries of yacht build by gross tonnage.