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Shetland ship operator to merge with Norwegian firm

Johnson Marine operates nine wellboats and six service vessels. Photo: Johnson Marine
Johnson Marine operates nine wellboats and six service vessels. Photo: Johnson Marine

Wellboat and service boat provider Johnson Marine is to merge with Norwegian counterpart GripShip AS to form a new company, AquaShip AS.

According to a statement by the companies, the move will eventually see AquaShip listed on the Norwegian stock market, but both Johnson Marine and Kristiansund-based GripShip will continue to operate independently, with the Johnson Marine head office remaining in Vidlin, Shetland.

The merger will go ahead after 3 July following completion of a capital raising process, with the proceeds going towards expanding the combined company.

AquaShip will have a total of 18 vessels with GripShip's three large fish carriers operating in Ireland and Chile. Combined, the merged companies' vessels are valued at about £66 million (NOK 725 million).

Johnson Marine managing director Ivor Johnson will be part of the board of the new firm along with Johnson Marine co-founder Angus Johnson and financial officer David Leask. GripShip managing director Sverre Taknes will be chief executive of the group. GripShip chief operating officer Gunnar Brekstad will also be on the board.

Ships and statistics

Johnson Marine

  • A combined live-fish-carrier, harvest vessel and service vessel owner and operator, focusing on Scotland, Iceland and Spain.
  • Johnson Marine has currently 105 employees, 15 vessels owned and operated by themselves, in addition to one service vessel under construction from Moen Marine.
  • Clients include Grieg Seafood, Marine Harvest, Scottish Salmon Company, Cooke Aquaculture, Loch Duart, Culmarex, Laxar, Ice Fish and Arnarlax.

GripShip

  • Owns and operates three live-fish-carriers, one in Ireland and two in Chile.
  • The company has 47 employees, and has its main business office in Kristiansund, Norway, with an additional office in Puerto Montt, Chile.
  • The company’s main clients are Cermaq and Marine Harvest Group.
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The Shetland News website quoted Ivor Johnson as saying: “Ultimately it is two small companies going together to leverage finance for going forward.

“The company that we have gone together with is a privately-owned company of similar size and a good fit – so it just made sense.”

Johnson said the company was looking to invest in new and larger vessels as there was still a lot of growth potential, mainly abroad in Iceland, Spain, but also in Chile and Norway.

Last month, the company announced that it had ordered a new 15-metre service vessel from the Norwegian shipyard Moen Marin AS to service the aquaculture industry in Iceland. The vessel is due to be delivered in spring next year.