Factory ship

A factory ship, also known as a fish processing vessel, is a large ocean-going vessel with extensive on-board facilities for processing and freezing caught fish or whales. Modern factory ships are automated and enlarged versions of the earlier whalers and their use for fishing has grown dramatically. Some factory ships are equipped to serve as a mother ship.

Kiel (Ship 1973) -Deutsche Fischfang Union- Cuxhaven 2008 by-RaBoe 01
The German factory ship Kiel NC 105.


Floating fish processor Atlantis docked in Astoria, Oregon

Contemporary factory ships have their origins in the early whalers. These vessels sailed into remote waters and processed the whale oil on board, discarding the carcass. Later whalers converted the entire whale into usable products. The efficiency of these ships and the predation they carried out on whales contributed greatly to the animals' steep decline.

Contemporary factory ships are automated and enlarged versions of these earlier whalers. Their use for fishing has grown dramatically. For a while, Russia, Japan and Korea operated huge fishing fleets centred on factory ships, though in recent times this use has been declining. On the other hand, the use of factory ships by the United States has increased.

Some factory ships can also function as mother ships. The basic idea of a mother ship is that it can carry small fishing boats that return to the mother ship with their catch. But the idea extends to include factory trawlers supporting a fleet of smaller catching vessels that are not carried on board. They serve as the main ship in a fleet operating in waters a great distance from their home ports.


Fish processing ships consist of various types, including freezer trawlers, longline factory vessels, purse seine freezer vessels, stern trawlers and squid jiggers.

Factory stern trawler

Cuxhaven 2006 Wiesbaden (ship, 1973) by-RaBoe
The Polish factory trawler Wiesbaden

A factory stern trawler is a large stern trawler which has additional onboard processing facilities and can stay at sea for days or weeks at a time. A stern trawler tows a fishing trawl net and hauls the catch up a stern ramp. These can be either demersal (weighted bottom trawling); pelagic (mid-water trawling); or pair trawling, where two vessels about 500 metres apart together pull one huge net with a mouth circumference of 900 meters.

Freezer trawler

A freezer trawler fully processes the catch on board to customers’ specifications, into frozen-at-sea fillet, block or head and gutted form. Factory freezer trawlers can run to 60 to 70 meters in length and go to sea for six weeks at a time with a crew of over 35 people. They process fish into fillets within hours of being caught. Onboard fishmeal plants process the waste product so everything is utilized.


Arctic Warrior freezer trawler working out of Hull in England


The Spanish Trawler Nuevo Virgen De La Barca in North Atlantic waters

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The giant pelagic factory trawler Atlantic Dawn

The world's largest freezing trawler by gross tonnage is the 144-metre-long Annelies Ilena ex Atlantic Dawn. In 2015, the Annelies Ilena was detained by the Irish Navy and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency for breach of regulations.[1] The owners were subsequently fined 105,000 Euros for illegally fishing in Irish waters. She is able to process 350 tonnes of fish a day, can carry 3,000 tons of fuel, and store 7,000 tons of graded and frozen catch. She uses on board forklift trucks to aid discharging.

Factory bottom longliner

These automated bottom longliners fish using hooks strung on long lines. The hooks are baited automatically and the lines are released very fast. Many thousands of hooks are set each day, the retrieval and setting of these hooks is a continuous 24-hour-a-day operation. These ships go to sea for six weeks at a time. They contain factories for processing fish into fillets, which are frozen in packs, ready for market, within hours of being caught. These vessels sometimes also have fishmeal plants on board.

Purse seiner

Albatun Dod cropped
The factory tuna purser Albatun Dos operating around the Seychelles Islands

A purse seiner is a fishing vessel which uses a traditional method of catching tuna and other school fish species. A large net is set in a circle around a school of fish while on the surface. The net is then pursed, closing the bottom of the net, then pulling up the net until the fish are caught alongside the vessel. Most of these types of vessels then transfer the fish into a tank filled with brine (extra salty refrigerated water). This freezes large amounts of fish quickly. Trip lengths can vary from 20 to 70 days depending on the fishing. The fish is held in refrigerated brine tanks and unloads either directly to the canneries or is trans-shipped to carrier vessels to freight to the canneries, leaving the purse seine vessel close to the fishing grounds to continue fishing. Purse seiners longer than 70 metres are called super seiners.

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Squid jig

Factory squid jigger

A factory squid jigger is a specialized ship that uses powerful lights to attract squid and then "jigs" many thousands of hooked lures from hundreds of separate winches. These predominantly Japanese and Korean factory vessels and their crews may fish the oceans continuously for two years, periodically transferring their catch at the fishing grounds to larger refrigerated vessels.

Factory barges

Some barges are floating fish processing factories, which can be towed across navigable waters to receive catches from commercial fishing vessels. The barges often contain living quarters for the factory workers.[2]

Whaler factory

The 8,145-ton MV Nisshin Maru is the mothership of the Japanese whaling fleet and is the world's only remaining whaler factory ship.[3] The ship is owned by Tokyo-based company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. and is contracted by the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research.[4]


Commercial fish processing ships can affect birds, whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks by their broad reach methods of catching fish.

Purse seine ships, with nets up to two kilometres in circumference, can encircle whole shoals of pelagic fish, such as mackerel, herring and tuna.

A major international scientific study released in November 2006 in the journal Science found that about one-third of all fishing stocks worldwide have collapsed (with a collapse being defined as a decline to less than 10% of their maximum observed abundance), and that if current trends continue all fish stocks worldwide will collapse within fifty years.[5]

The FAO State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2004 report estimates that in 2003, of the main fish stocks or groups of resources for which assessment information is available, "approximately one-quarter were overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion (16%, 7% and 1% respectively) and needed rebuilding.[6]

The threat of overfishing is not limited to the target species only. As trawlers resort to deeper and deeper waters to fill their nets, they have begun to threaten delicate deep-sea ecosystems and the fish that inhabit them, such as the coelacanth.[7] In the May 15, 2003 issue of the journal Nature, it is estimated that 10% of large predatory fish remain compared to levels before commercial fishing.[8] Many fisheries experts, however, consider this claim to be exaggerated with respect to tuna populations.[9]

From 1950 (18 million tons) to 1969 (56 million tons) fishfood production grew by about 5% each year; from 1969 onward production has raised 8% annually.[10] It is expected that this demand will continue to rise, and MariCulture Systems estimated in 2002 that, by 2010, seafood production would have to increase by over 15.5 million tonnes to meet the desire of Earth's growing population.[1] This is likely to further aggravate the problem of overfishing, unless aquaculture technology expands to meet the needs of human population.

The world's total wild catch has remained constant for almost 30 years.[11]

Overfishing has depleted some fish populations to the point that large scale commercial fishing, on average around the world, is not economically viable without government assistance. Many states offer subsidies to their fishing fleets, which is unsustainable in the long term. According to Oceana, the global fishing fleet is currently up to 250 percent larger than it needs to be to catch what the oceans can sustainably produce. [12]

See also


  1. ^ Irish Times retrieved 23 November 2013
  2. ^ US Court of Appeals (2002) Can a fish processing barge qualify as a "vessel in navigation".
  3. ^ Darby, Andrew (18 July 2009). "New rules for safe shipping may save whales". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  4. ^ 21 January 2011
  5. ^ BBC (2006) Factory fishing: facts and figures Archived February 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ FAO (2004) The Status of the Fishing Fleet The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.
  7. ^ The Guardian (2006) Dinosaur fish pushed to the brink by deep-sea trawlers
  8. ^ Nature (2003) Rapid Worldwide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities
  9. ^ Nature (2005) Decline of Pacific tuna populations exaggerated Page 434:E1-E2, 28 April 2005.
  10. ^ FAO (2000) World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.
  11. ^ FAO (2012) The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2012 Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Rome. ISBN 978-92-5-107225-7.
  12. ^ Home | Oceana Book Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine

External links

Carl Anton Larsen

Carl Anton Larsen (7 August 1860 – 8 December 1924) was a Norwegian Antarctic explorer, who made important contributions to the exploration of Antarctica, the most significant being the first discovery of fossils, for which he received the Back Grant from the Royal Geographical Society. In December 1893 he became the first person to ski in Antarctica on the Larsen Ice Shelf which was subsequently named after him. Larsen is considered the founder of the Antarctic whaling industry and the settlement at Grytviken on the British-administered island of South Georgia. In 1910, after some years' residence on South Georgia, he took British citizenship. The Norwegian whale factory ship C.A. Larsen was named after him.

Christensen Glacier (South Georgia)

Christensen Glacier is a glacier 4 nautical miles (7 km) long, flowing south into the eastern part of Newark Bay on the south coast of South Georgia. It was surveyed by the South Georgia Survey in the period 1951–57, and named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee for Chr. Fred. Christensen, Norwegian naval architect who, in cooperation with the shipowner H.G. Melsom, first solved the practical problems of building a slipway on a whale factory ship by converting the Lancing in 1925; he also made important improvements in the machinery for treatment and extraction of whale products.

Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau

Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau Aktiengesellschaft (abbreviated Deschimag) was a cooperation of eight German shipyards in the period 1926 to 1945. The leading company was the shipyard AG Weser in Bremen.

FV Athena

Athena is a 7,805 GT factory ship which was built in 1992. In October 2010, she caught fire off the Isles of Scilly. In May 2011 she caught fire while lying at the harbour of Runavík in Skálafjørður, Faroe Islands. It happened at night, and people who lived on the other side of the fjord, where the smoke was headed, were evacuated. Some months later the ship was sold to Smedegaarden in Esbjerg, which took her apart.

FV Margiris

FV Margiris is the world's second largest fishing boat. It is a 9,500 GT super trawler and factory ship.

Fishing trawler

A fishing trawler is a commercial fishing vessel designed to operate fishing trawls. Trawling is a method of fishing that involves actively dragging or pulling a trawl through the water behind one or more trawlers. Trawls are fishing nets that are pulled along the bottom of the sea or in midwater at a specified depth. A trawler may also operate two or more trawl nets simultaneously (double-rig and multi-rig).

There are many variants of trawling gear. They vary according to local traditions, bottom conditions, and how large and powerful the trawling boats are. A trawling boat can be a small open boat with only 30 horsepower or a large factory ship with 10,000 horsepower. Trawl variants include beam trawls, large-opening midwater trawls, and large bottom trawls, such as "rock hoppers" that are rigged with heavy rubber wheels that let the net crawl over rocky bottom.

Hauken Rock

Hauken Rock (62°1′S 57°33′W) is a rock lying nearly 1 nautical mile (2 km) east of the Ornen Rocks and 2 nautical miles (4 km) northeast of Cape Melville, the eastern extremity of King George Island, in the South Shetland Islands. It was named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee in 1960 from association with Ornen Rocks. Hauken and Ørnen, the first two modern whale catchers, accompanied the floating factory ship Admiralen to the South Shetland Islands in January–February 1906.

Hell Below Zero

Hell Below Zero (1954) is a murder mystery Technicolor film, starring Alan Ladd in the second of his films for Warwick Films.

The film was directed by Mark Robson, and was written by Alec Coppel and Max Trell. The film was based on the novel The White South by Hammond Innes, and presents interesting footage of whaling fleets in action.

Lancing Glacier

Lancing Glacier (54°20′S 36°56′W) is a glacier 3 nautical miles (6 km) long, flowing south from Mount Corneliussen and Smillie Peak to Newark Bay on the south side of South Georgia. It was surveyed by the South Georgia Survey in the period 1951–57, and named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee for the Lancing (formerly Flackwell), built in 1898, and converted to a whale factory ship in 1923. It was the first factory ship to be fitted with a slipway.

Nisshin Maru

The 8,145-ton vessel MV Nisshin Maru (日新丸) is the primary vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet and is the world's only whaler factory ship. It is also the largest member, and flagship of the five-member whaling fleet, headed by research leader Shigetoshi Nishiwaki. The ship is based in Japan in Shimonoseki harbor, and is owned by Tokyo-based company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd which is a subsidiary of the Institute of Cetacean Research.

RV Belgica (1884)

Belgica was a barque-rigged steamship that was built in 1884 by Christian Brinch Jørgensen at Svelvik, Norway as the whaler Patria. In 1896, she was purchased by Adrien de Gerlache for conversion to a research ship, taking part in the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–1901, becoming the first ship to overwinter in the Antarctic. In 1902, she was sold to Philippe, Duke of Orléans and used on expeditions to the Arctic in 1905 and from 1907–09.

In 1916, she was sold and converted to a passenger and cargo ship, serving Spitsbergen from the Norwegian mainland under the name Isfjord. In 1918, she was sold and renamed Belgica, being converted to a factory ship. Requisitioned by the British in April 1940, she was used as a depôt ship, being scuttled when the Franco-British Expeditionary Force evacuated Harstad. In 2007, plans to build a modern replica of Belgica were announced.

SS Lancing

SS Lancing was a Norwegian whale factory ship, originally the British merchant ship Knight Errant. She passed through a number of owners, being named Rio Tiete, Omsk, Calanda, and Flackwell at different stages in her career. She was sunk off Cape Hatteras on 7 April 1942 by the German submarine U-552.

SS Medic

SS Medic was a steamship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line which entered service in 1899. Medic was one of five Jubilee Class ocean liners (the others being the Afric, Persic, Runic and Suevic) built specifically to service the Liverpool–Cape Town–Sydney route. The ship's name pertained to the ancient Persian region of Media and was pronounced Meedick.Medic was the second Jubilee Class ship to be built for the Australia service. Like her sisters she was a single funnel liner, measuring just under 12,000 gross tons, which had capacity for 320 passengers in third-class on three decks, she also had substantial cargo capacity with seven cargo holds, most of them refrigerated for the transport of Australian meat.After a long career with White Star, Medic was sold in 1928 and was converted into a whaling factory ship and renamed Hektoria, she remained in service in this role until being torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic whilst sailing in a convoy in 1942.

SS Potsdam (1900)

SS Potsdam was an ocean liner built in 1900 by the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany for the Holland America Line (HAL) for transatlantic service from Rotterdam to New York. She was the largest ship operated by HAL at the time.

In 1915 the ship was sold to the newly founded Swedish American Line and renamed SS Stockholm for transatlantic service from Gothenburg to New York. In 1929 she was sold to Norwegian interests and converted to the whale factory ship SS Solglimt. Following the German invasion of Norway in 1940 Solglimt was captured by the Kriegsmarine, transferred to the First German Whaling Company and renamed SS Sonderburg.Sonderburg was scuttled by German troops in 1944 to block entrance to Cherbourg harbour. In 1946 she was partially demolished to clear the shipway, with the final remains towed to the United Kingdom in 1947 to be scrapped.

SS Runic (1900)

The SS Runic was a steamship built at Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line which entered service in 1901. Runic was the fourth of five Jubilee Class ocean liners built for White Star's Australia service along with her sister ship SS Suevic, where she ran on the Liverpool–Cape Town–Sydney route. She served this route until she was requisitioned for use as a war transport between 1915 and 1919, before returning to the Australia service.

She was the second White Star ship to be named Runic, an earlier ship of that name had served the company between 1889 and 1895.

In 1930 Runic was sold and converted into a whaling factory ship and renamed New Sevilla, she remained in service in this role until September 1940 when she was torpedoed and sunk off the Irish coast with the loss of two lives.

SS Suevic

SS Suevic was a steamship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line. Suevic was the fifth and last of the Jubilee Class ocean liners, built specifically to service the Liverpool-Cape Town-Sydney route, along with her sister ship SS Runic. In 1907 she was wrecked off the south coast of England, but in the largest rescue of its kind, all passengers and crew were saved. The ship herself was deliberately broken in two, and a new bow was attached to the salvaged stern portion. Later serving as a Norwegian whaling factory ship carrying the name Skytteren, she was scuttled off the Swedish coast in 1942 to prevent her capture by ships of Nazi Germany.

Shipbuilding in Russia

Shipbuilding is a developed industry in Russia.

The main short-term plan of the industry is the Complex Program to Advance Production of the Shipbuilding Industry on the Market between 2008 and 2015, which was approved by the Russian Government in October 2006. It envisages the establishment of a scientific center at the Krylov Institute, two engineering centers and three shipbuilding centers, the Western, Northern and Far Eastern Centers.

The main long-term plan is the "Strategy for developing the shipbuilding industry until 2020 and the future perspective".

Type R ship

The Type R ship is a United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) designation for World War II refrigerated cargo ship, also called a reefer ship. The R type ship was used in World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and the Cold War. Type R ships were used to transport perishable commodities which require temperature-controlled transportation, such as fruit, meat, fish, vegetables, dairy products and other foods. The US Maritime Commission ordered 41 new refrigerated ships for the US Navy. Because of the difficulty of building refrigerated ships only two were delivered in 1944, and just 26 were delivered in 1945 and the remainder in 1946–48. The 41 R type ships were built in four groups. Two of design types were modified type C1 ships and two were modified type C2 ships. The United Fruit Company operated many of the R type ships in World War II. The type R2-S-BV1 became the US Navy Alstede-class stores ship and the type R1-M-AV3 became the US Navy Adria-class stores ship.


A whaler or whaling ship is a specialized ship, designed, or adapted, for whaling: the catching or processing of whales. The former includes the whale catcher – a steam or diesel-driven vessel with a harpoon gun mounted at its bow. The latter includes such vessels as the sail or steam-driven whaleship of the 16th to early 20th centuries and the floating factory or factory ship of the modern era. There have also been vessels which combined the two activities, such as the bottlenose whalers of the late 19th and early 20th century, and catcher/factory ships of the modern era.

Whaleships had two or more whaleboats, open rowing boats used in the capture of whales. Whaleboats brought the captured whales to the whaleships to be flensed or cut up. Here the blubber was rendered into oil using two or three try-pots set in a brick furnace called the tryworks.

At first, whale catchers either brought the whales they killed to a whaling station, or factory ship anchored in a sheltered bay or inlet. With the later development of the slipway at the ship's stern, whale catchers were able to transfer their catch to factory ships operating in the open sea.

The World War II Flower-class corvettes were based on the design of the whale catcher Southern Pride.

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