Federal states

Five federal states – federal diversity for a strong maritime location

With an added value of around 30 billion euros, the maritime industry plays a key role in Germany’s prosperity. At the latest count, the sector employed nearly 450,000 people here. The maritime industry made a particularly important contribution in the five coastal federal states of Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, with widely varying areas of focus among the different regions.

The three largest German sea ports are Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven (Lower Saxony). For the particularly export-oriented German economy, they are of outstanding importance as transhipment points. The coasts abound with regional ports. 1.5 million jobs in Germany are directly or indirectly dependent on the port industry. Today, the northern German ports face robust international competition and are under strong pressure to adapt.

All five northern German federal states are shipbuilding locations with mainly medium-sized companies. They, too, are having to prove their worth in the face of stiff competition. German shipbuilding suppliers are highly innovative, international companies. Here, research and development are key to creating opportunities on innovative growth markets.

Today, German shipping companies control the fifth-largest trading fleet in the world. The sector is dominated by medium-sized companies, while thinking and acting on a global scale. Most shipping companies are based in Lower Saxony and Hamburg. Digitalisation and environmental and climate protection are important drivers of innovation.

As part of the energy transition in Germany, Bremerhaven, the Lower Saxony North Sea ports of Emden, Norden/Norddeich and Cuxhaven, Brunsbüttel in Schleswig-Holstein and the sea ports in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have developed particularly strongly to become important offshore wind energy sites.

Research and development also play an important role in other areas of maritime technology, such as environmentally-sensitive drilling and extraction technology for oil and gas. The Ocean Technology Campus (OTC) in Rostock is a unique facility with a test field close to the coast. Here, underwater technologies can be developed and tested which are important for operating offshore wind farms, for example. As a result, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which has a strong tradition of ship- and boat building, as well as delivering supplies, is now becoming a leading hub for underwater research.

Maritime research and training also plays a particularly important role in the coastal federal states. Private and state research facilities are developing innovative technical and logistical solutions, and are creating a competitive advantage for the industry. Universities, technical colleges, shipping training facilities and other institutions train engineers, shipping officers and maritime logistics specialists with a focus on practical experience. Maritime research is also a prominent feature of several northern German locations.

All the northern-region German federal states – Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein – are represented by their own office in the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany (MCN). The MCN offers companies, research and training institutions and other players, such as stakeholders from the administrative and political fields, a cross-state, cross-sector platform with regional focal areas and specialist contact persons on location.

More information on the focal areas and activities of the federal states in the maritime industry

Free Hanseatic City of Bremen:
The senator for economics, ports and transformation of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
Maritime industry/logistics in the federal state of Bremen

Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg:
Maritime industry in the Hamburg metropolitan region

Federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania:
Maritime industry in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Federal state of Lower Saxony:
Maritime industry in Lower Saxony

Federal state of Schleswig-Holstein:
Maritime industry in Schleswig-Holstein
Maritime policy in Schleswig-Holstein