Sølvtrans, Myklebust Verft and KONGSBERG collaborate to create sustainable solutions

Partners by design

KONGSBERG has reinforced two long-standing business relationships with the news that it is to design and equip the third wellboat in a series to be built for Sølvtrans Rederi by the Myklebust Verft yard in Gursken, Norway.

  • Gunvor Hatling Midtbø
    Vice President, Communications

From its earliest days in the mid 1980s, Sølvtrans has been a company with its eye on sustainable practice. Their first vessel was a cargo ship, which current CEO Roger Halsebakk, along with his father and other family members, converted into a wellboat – putting them among the pioneers of humane and environmentally-responsible fish transportation for the aquaculture industry.

Roger Halsebakk, CEO, Sølvtrans

Its dedication to sustainable practice and fish welfare has helped Sølvtrans to become, in just over 30 years, the world’s largest wellboat company for the transportation of live salmon and trout.

Today’s fleet of 20 vessels operates not only in Norway but in Australia, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Shetland and Scotland. The company also has 48 per cent ownership of Sølvtrans Chile, which operates a further five boats.

A focus on fish welfare

“We bring them on board gently, and once they’re in our closed system they can be treated for lice and other diseases. We also have cooling systems to gradually reduce water temperature during transportation – that helps to keep the fish calm and stress-free and leads to improved fish quality.

Harald Nesvik, Global Marketing and Communications Manager, Sølvtrans

“None of the water from our systems goes into the ocean during transportation or offloading, and once the fish are delivered the water is treated to make sure we don’t release or spread lice or disease from our wells.

“For the fish, it’s almost like being on a cruise ship – they’re treated just as well as wealthy passengers on a luxury cruise would be while they’re with us. We aim always to deliver the best for them and for our customers. That’s why partnerships with companies like Kongsberg Maritime and Myklebust are so important to us.”


The relationship with KONGSBERG began in 2009, with the design of a vessel to meet new standards for fish welfare and disease control. This same collaboration also saw Myklebust Verft create the first of several vessels for Sølvtrans, and established a three-way partnership that continues to this day.

"Our goal as a company is not to be the biggest – we already are. It’s to be the best. And that’s why we want to work with the best. That’s what we get from KONGSBERG and from Myklebust." Harald Nesvik

“It means we buy everything from the top shelf. And if what we need hasn’t been developed, we can all work together to find the best existing solutions and plan future adaptations. Relationships like these are the reason this sector is working as well as it is.”

Myklebust Verft had been a long-time partner of Kongsberg Maritime even before the first Sølvtrans commission. For the shipbuilder, that existing relationship was important when moving on to the new project.

“Building on an earlier project with a client means there’s already a relationship in place,” says Managing Director Inge-Jonny Hide. “That’s very important. These are complex products, so when you can have open dialogue between all parties, the designers and builders, the suppliers and the client, it creates a lot of open doors. That helps us all to trust each other and to share thoughts, experiences and ideas openly.”

Design driven by change

“For example, in water treatment methods we’ve moved from the use of various additives to the use of pure freshwater. That’s driven a lot of design changes. The size of the vessels has increased significantly over time, and they’ve had to meet new safety standards.

“The safety of the crew and vessel is a priority and has led to various design changes, for example in areas of the ship that might traditionally have been exposed to weather and sea conditions but are now enclosed to protect the people on board.”

"Sølvtrans knows fish welfare and handling. We know ship design. Myklebust are world-class builders. We combine that expertise to create the vessels Sølvtrans needs." Einar Vegsund, Director of Ship Design Solutions, Kongsberg Maritime

Sølvtrans is also looking for ways to increase energy efficiency, from making small changes like installing low-energy LED lights to real design innovations like fuel efficiencies and introducing battery technology.

Each and every change, whatever the scale, has an impact across the collaborators – and not only in terms of design, but in terms of how they do business, too

Inge-Jonny Hide, Managing Director, Myklebust Verft

“It’s definitely more on the agenda,” says Inge-Jonny Hide. “Sustainability has always been part of our business, because it’s what our customers want, but we had never put a label on it as something we were doing for ourselves.

“But as a shipyard we’re starting to look at our sustainability dashboard and how we can use it. We’re increasing our focus in terms of daily production, we’re much more aware for example of things like loose plastics and our transportation systems.

“In part, those efforts are coming about because they’re what our customers want – customers are pulling us into a more sustainable future!”

Similarly, KONGSBERG’s sustainability drive is also influenced and supported by customer demand. In fact, the company’s ship design business has been involved in research programs with customers in the aquaculture sector, including Sølvtrans, focusing on understanding the impact that transportation and handling has on both the fish and on the ocean.

"When you can have open dialogue between all parties, the designers and builders, the suppliers and the client, it creates a lot of open doors. That helps us all to trust each other and to share thoughts, experiences and ideas openly.” Inge-Jonny Hide, Managing Director, Myklebust Verft

It’s research that has come in extremely useful in the company’s work with Sølvtrans and Myklebust Verft.

Fish welfare and environmental impact has been KONGSBERG’S main focus, and resulted in a continuous development of the vessel design and the technology offered.

The development has been fast-paced, often resulting in modifications during the building and after the vessels have entered operation. Continuous development requires close cooperation between owners, designers and shipyards, not only to ensure the best result but also to reduce the impact on cost and time.

A relationship with a future

“Sølvtrans knows fish welfare and handling. We know ship design. Myklebust are world-class builders. We combine that expertise to create the vessels Sølvtrans needs,” says Einar Vegsund.

“The reason this sector is working so well is that everyone’s contribution is just as important as everyone else’s,” adds Harald Nesvik. “That means the designers, the builders – and the crew. The people on board are a vital part of everything we do.

“They see potential problems or issues before anyone else, and their input means there are always some details we have to change as we design and build our vessels. That’s why our technical crew works directly with KONGSBERG and Myklebust Verft, helping to achieve the final design.”

The fact that KONGSBERG has already designed seven of the vessels Sølvtrans operates, and that Myklebust Verft is now working on building three more, is testament to the success of this partnership.

“For us it’s a major goal that customers want to come back to us,” says Myklebust Verft’s Inge-Jonny. “So taking on more vessels for Sølvtrans is just how we like to work. “This way we already know the customer, and the customer knows us and our quality, standards and capabilities.

“We also understand the vessel and the technologies and design, so we can build on that existing relationship, knowledge and experience. It’s how we work with Kongsberg Maritime too – and it’s how we’ll always be able to achieve the best possible results.”

Harald agrees: “It’s important that everybody working on a project shares the same goals. When we look into the future of our industry we need people like Roger Halsebakk to keep innovating to ensure we progress responsibly and sustainably.

“We also need partnerships with companies like KONGSBERG and Myklebust Verft. They’re crucial to realising that goal. I’m sure we’ll have many more years of working together to continue finding the solutions this industry needs.”

https://www.myklebustverft.no/ (Norwegian only)