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Our history

The history of DNV goes back to 1864

Det Norske Veritas (DNV) was founded as a membership organization in Oslo, Norway in 1864. Norway’s mutual marine insurance clubs banded together to establish a uniform set of rules and procedures, used in assessing the risk of underwriting individual vessels. The group aimed to provide “reliable and uniform classification and taxation of Norwegian ships”.

Skibsregister 1912 Image

At the time, the Norwegian shipping industry was experiencing rapid growth and breaking out of its traditional local boundaries. An emerging, nationwide market for marine insurance was needed. Three years later in Germany, a group of 600 ship owners, shipbuilders and insurers gathered in the great hall of the Hamburg Stock Exchange. It was the founding convention of Germanischer Lloyd (GL), a new non-profit association based in Hamburg. 

In 2013, DNV and GL merged to form DNV GL, which was renamed to DNV in 2021.

Social drivers
Society became an increasingly demanding stakeholder in the predominantly private, liberal maritime industry. Load lines developed by Samuel Plimsoll became compulsory on every British ship from 1891, saving the lives of seamen along the British coasts. Load lines became mandatory in Norway in 1907. 

The Titanic disaster in 1912 brought safety at sea to the forefront of public concern. International classification societies played an important part in discussions on ship safety. Nevertheless, GL’s managing director Carl Pagel and Johannes Bruun from DNV were the only official classification industry delegates at the adoption of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). 

After WWI, the transition from sailing ships to steamers brought a fundamental change in technology and skills needed for the classification industry. The outdated classification rules for construction of ships were no longer in harmony with the shipbuilding methods of the time. Between 1920 and 1940 DNV was technically independent, and established a new culture prioritizing engineering, construction and design. 

Hamburg harbour image
Hamburg, Germany
Ship in sea image

New vision
When Georg Vedeler was appointed DNV’s managing director in 1951, he introduced a more scientific approach to ship construction. His vision was to build safer ships in a more efficient way, using scientific competencies and skills. New rules based on an analytical and theoretical scientific approach were introduced, and a significant step was taken towards establishing a dedicated research department. This provided opportunities for DNV in the more demanding segments of shipbuilding, which initially involved the new super tankers and later extended to gas and chemical tankers. The fleet was still predominantly Norwegian, but internationalization was taking off.

GL also took a scientific approach in developing the organization after WWII. This led to the introduction of high-powered computer analysis, enabling the design and construction of larger and more modern ships. GL’s research investments resulted in new construction rules for container ships, and the company soon dominated this segment within international shipping. 

North Sea oil boom
DNV was well prepared in terms of competence and impact when commercial oil was discovered in the North Sea. The firm came to play an important role in this new industry within Norway as an advisor for both authorities and oil companies. DNV used its experience and technological competence within the maritime industry to develop and introduce oil and gas verification, inspection and risk management services.

The world’s first pipeline rules were published by DNV in 1976, setting a global standard. From the early 1970’s, DNV was offered most of the building supervision and inspection assignments on the Norwegian continental shelf. Offshore floating rigs and supply vessels also became a strong new segment for DNV in traditional ship classification.

Emerging industries
In 1977, wind energy was introduced as a new business segment. This, and other climate-friendly service areas represented new opportunities for organizational growth from a strong, research-driven technology base. New rules were developed, and certification of land-based and offshore turbines became an important growth area for DNV. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the new industry of management system certification based on ISO-standards emerged, and both DNV and GL took global positions in the expanding Testing Inspection and Certification (TIC) industry.

Age of alliances
Alliances, mergers, and acquisitions became a strong strategic driver in the late 2000s. The acquisitions of Advantica (UK) in 2008 and Trident (Malaysia) in 2009 broadened GL’s service scope to consultancy services in the oil and gas sectors. The merger with Noble Denton in 2009 further expanded its activities in offshore technical services. This was supported by the acquisitions of PVI (Canada) in 2007, MCS (US) in 2008 and IRS (Singapore) in 2009, which advanced the inspection business.

In 2009, GL acquired the world’s largest wind energy consultancy, UK based Garrad Hassan. GL had already acquired the Canadian wind energy consulting and engineering company Hélimax and the German company WINDTEST, experts on measurements for wind turbines and wind farms. This, coupled with the offshore wind expertise of Noble Denton, meant that GL was able to deliver a full service approach with a comprehensive service portfolio towards the wind energy sector. 

In 2005, DNV acquired CCT (US), a specialist in corrosion control and pipeline and plant integrity analysis. It followed up with the acquisitions of US-based Global Energy Concepts in 2008 and Behnke, Erdman and Whitaker (BEW) in 2010. To support prevailing strategies within the new climate-friendly service fields, DNV established its Sustainability Centre in Beijing in 2009 and a Clean Technology Centre in Singapore in 2010.

In 2012, DNV and KEMA joined forces to create a world-leading consulting, testing and certification company for the global energy sector. KEMA was established by the Dutch electrical power industry in 1927, and had subsequently developed into a high profile international brand that provided services to the global energy sector. These included renewable energy, carbon reduction and energy efficiency, power generation, transmission and distribution. The company operated a number of state-of-the-art laboratories, including high-power and high voltage labs, one of which was extended in 2017 to become the world’s first facility capable of testing ultra-high voltage electrical grid components. 

On September 12, 2013 DNV and GL merged. GL was owned by the private equity firm Mayfair, who became a minority owner (36.5%) of the merged company, while the remaining 63.5% was owned by the Foundation Det Norske Veritas, an independent, self-owned foundation. In 2017, the Foundation Det Norske Veritas became the 100% owner of the merged company, which in 2021 changed it name from DNV GL to DNV.

Today DNV is a globally leading quality assurance and risk management company operating in more than 100 countries. With over 100,000 customers across the maritime, energy, food and healthcare industries, as well as a range of other sectors, DNV empowers its customers and their stakeholders with facts and reliable insights so that they can make critical decisions with confidence.