Factory ship

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The fishing ship Kiel of the German Fishing Union

A factory ship is a large deep-sea fishing ship that is specially equipped and used to process the catch of large quantities immediately afterwards on the high seas in a consumer-friendly way (dismantling / filleting and gutting, packaging, deep-freezing). If it can not only be processed, but also caught, this type of ship is called a catching and processing ship .

Originally, the term was used in whaling synonymous with mother ship for the actual whalers . Whales are harpooned from the fishing vessels, but because of their size, they are then heaved directly onto the mother ship. Trawlers are used in trawling .

Today's factory ships process more in a single hour than the average fishing boat could overtake in an entire season in the 16th century. Of a total of around 3.5 million fishing vessels worldwide (according to information from Greenpeace ), only around 1% (38,000) are industrial vessels , but they have 50 to 60% of the global fishing capacity.

Since sometimes the entire catch of an exit does not fit on the factory ship, a supply ship is sometimes used for support , which takes over the already processed part of the cargo on the return journey and brings it to a port. In addition, tankers were used for the whaling fleets and refrigerated ships in particular for the fishing fleets .

The factory ship of the Japanese whaling fleet is the Nisshin Maru , often featured on Whale Wars .

Between 1936 and 1939 there was also a German whaling fleet - supported by the self-sufficiency policy of the Third Reich to reduce the “ fat gap ” . German whaling factory ships or combined tankers and factory ships at this time were the Jan Wellem , the Unitas - at that time the largest whaling factory ship in the world - the Walter Rau , the Südmeer and the Vikings . In these ships there was a slipway for the whales at the stern, while the entire width of the deck was used as a slaughter deck. In addition, the first German fishing factory ships were completed in 1940 and 1941, first the Hamburg, which was converted from a freight steamer in 1939/40 as a mother ship in the flotilla fishery, and in 1941 the Weser, converted from a conventional fish steamer, as an independently operating unit. Both ships were no longer used as planned because they could not call at their fishing grounds due to the war events - the Weser was turned back into a conventional fishing steamer in 1945 and the Hamburg sunk by British destroyers in Norway on March 3, 1941.

One of the largest whaling factory ships was the Dutch Willem Barendsz , completed in 1955, with 26,800 GRT , 207 meters in length, two 10,500 HP engines, a speed of 14 knots and a crew of 500.

The largest pure factory ship in the world in 2019 is a converted former oil tanker, the Lafayette , which operated as Damanzaihao under the Belize flag in 2018 and has been sailing under the Russian flag as Vladivostok 2000 since 2019 .


  • Whaling and factory ship “Willem Barendsz”: built by the Wilten-Fijenoord shipyard, Schiedam . In: Schiff & Hafen 1955, ISSN  0036-603X , pp. 703-710.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Entry in the Combined IUU Fishing Vessel List (English)