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Cono Industrie Groep Annual Report 1982_cover

Cono Industrie Groep

Out of Centraalstaal the successful Central Industry Group – CIG – was created through expansion and broadening of activities. However, their fifth year was tough due to the world wide recession as can be read in the annual report:

“1982 was our fifth year of operation. The world economic situation has changed greatly in this period. Since mid 1982 the economy has weakened and this situation has not changed.  The poor order position for shipbuilding has been felt worldwide, and not only in Europe. In Japan, for example, the order book fell from about 10 million tons in 1981 tot 4.8 million tons in 1982; however Japan still has more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping orders. Korea, with low wages and government subsidies, can build ships for about 35 percent less that Japan or Western Europe. As a result it has risen from the 70th place in world shipbuilding to 2nd place in ten years. It is our policy to improve the quality of the order book through our joint approach to the highly-competitive market.”


Cono Industrie Groep Annual Report 1982

Conoship Centraalstaal

Founding Centraalstaal

“The cooperation within Conoship also led to the members deciding to set up a joint workshop where shipbuilding steel could be centrally pre-finished. On April 13, 1973, Centraalstaal was established in Groningen. Here the construction drawings were made, after which all parts were coded in order to be cut by computer-controlled flame cutting machines. The shaping of plates and profiles was also carried out here, so that the shipyards received all parts completely pre-processed and coded as a kit per section.”

“Over the years, Centraalstaal has developed further and further and has become a renowned supplier in the shipbuilding industry, not only for its own members but also for various shipyards in the Netherlands and abroad.”

At a later stage, Central Industrie Group (C.I.G.) was set up, which includes various companies that carry out work related to shipbuilding or supply products. This concerns electrical installations,
installation of engine rooms, supply of ship’s equipment, etc.

(Source: 150 year Barkmeijer Shipyards)

Conoship French Brochure_front cover

Conoship is founded

The exact date (or even year) of establishment is actually unclear; various documents mention different dates. In the Conoship Bulletin of October 1977 the year 1952 is considered to be the ‘year of establishment’.

It reads as follows:

“The oldest record we can find of Conoship in the making dates from 2 September 1953 when nine directors of shipyards met in “de Faun” in Groningen, on the initiative of Mr T. Barkmeijer in Hoogkerk, to jointly process an application for one hundred coasters (which later turned out to be only 20) on behalf of Indonesia, which became independent only a few years ago.
However, it is a fact that already a year before, support was sought and partly obtained from and by the shipyards belonging to the Shipbuilding Association “Hoogezand” but which were not members of the “Noordergroep”, to deal with important requests and/or export orders in a co-operative manner. That is why we can trace the initial activities of what was later to become Conoship back to the autumn of 1952, i.e. 25 years ago now.”
Conoship Bulletin 1977_25 years_frontcover

Conoship Bulletin October 1977 – 25 years front cover


Team Conoship 1977

Conoship 25 years

On October 28, 1977, Conoship celebrated its silver jubilee. A symposium was held on this festive day during which the future of shipbuilding and shipping was discussed.
The invited guests could also participate in an excursion to Centraalstaal and witness the opening of the new premises of Wolfard & Wessels B.V., by Mr. J. Bijlholt chairman of the Combinatie Noordelijke Scheepsbouwers Conoship.

The day concluded with a reception and buffet.

Team Conoship 1977

Team Conoship 1977 

The October 1977 bulletin, written for all employees of Conoship’s cooperating companies, reported extensively on Conoship’s 25th anniversary.


Conoship_Planting second from the left

Formalizing the organization

The organization is further formalized in 1965 by the establishment of the Cooperative Purchasing Association Coopship.  “At the end of 1965 the decision was already taken to house all of Conoship’s departments in the Oosterhaven premises and to appoint Mr. Plantinga (…) as director of the entire organization.” according to the report of the 12-year anniversary.


Oosterhaven 1956

A large demand for supply ships

In the 1960s there was a large demand for supply ships and tugs, to support the growing offshore industry. The Dutch Smit-Lloyd became a major player in that market in 1964 with ships of its own design. The so-called supply ship, in ship terms ‘supplier’, looked like a tugboat, but had the function of supplying drilling rigs and providing them with crew members.

The ships were characterized by a high head, detached chimneys placed to the rear so that there was a good view out of the wheelhouse while maneuvering near drilling rigs. The rear deck also presented itself differently. They were flat back decks to carry as much cargo as possible in the form of containers.

At record speed, the suppliers came off the Dutch shipways. Wherever you went or looked at that time, you saw the Smit-Lloyd ships. Not only in the waters but also on a regular base in the periodical newsletters of Conoship. For several series, Conoship provided the design and engineering, also for the first of a series of four vessels, the Smit-Lloyd 72. 

1981 Newsletter Conoship_Smit Lloyd 72         Conoship_Smit Lloyd 72_launch       Conoship_Smit Lloyd 33_launch

The working area of the supply vessels was soon extended from the North Sea to other parts of the world to South America and Australia. In the U.S.A. and ‘down-under’ new suppliers were even built by order of Smit-Lloyd of exactly the same type as they had built in the Netherlands. The naming of the ships was simple: Smit-Lloyd 1, Smit-Lloyd 2, Smit-Lloyd 3, etc. Contracts were concluded for these ships even before they were properly finished. Although the number of suppliers was initially set at a maximum of seven, the shipping company continued to build as long as there appeared to be employed for the ships.

As the market began to become overcrowded and little work remained, certainly on the North Sea, the entire company was sold to the American Seacor in 1996. The former Smit-Lloyd suppliers of the second generation were multi-purpose ships. Because of this, a considerable number of these ships are still sailing the world seas. 

Read more about the particulars of the Smit-Lloyd 72.