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”.

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 The outdated classification rules for construction of ships were no longer in harmony with the shipbuilding methods of the time.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.