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From 1814 to the present day, Kongsberg Gruppen has evolved from being a local weapons manufacturer to becoming a global collaborator, producer, and innovator in security and technology. It has simply been an industrial adventure, ant it’s far from over! Join us on a journey back in time and take a look at some of the highlights so far.
The last decade has seen a continuous expansion, and today Kongsberg Gruppen is divided into four business areas: Maritime, Discovery, Defence and Aerospace, and Digital. There are many highlights from these years, but some stand out.
2016: Geir Håøy takes over as CEO of Kongsberg Gruppen, succeeding Walter Qvam. Håøy joined the company in 1993 and has been part of the management team since 2010.
In the same year that Kongsberg gets a new CEO, the company enters an exciting new partnership. They acquire 49.9% of the shares of Patria, Finland's leading defence supplier. Together, they become the largest defence supplier in the Nordic region, and one of the major actors in the European market.
2018: Kongsberg Gruppen come to an agreement with Rolls-Royce to acquire Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine, a world-leading technology company in maritime operations. This further strengthens the company's position in the global maritime industry.
2023: The latest chapter in the industrial adventure is the establishment of Kongsberg Discovery, a new business area focusing on advanced robotics and sensor technology, with the aim of mapping, monitoring, and conducting research in ocean areas. Sensors and robotics were previously part of Kongsberg Maritime but have grown into such a significant and important field that it's time to establish it as a separate entity.
2023: The "Norwegian" satellite "Juice" is sent into space to search for extra-terrestrial life on Jupiter. Kongsberg Gruppen deliver several essential components to the European Space Agency to make the journey possible. This includes struts that attach the side boosters to the main rocket and solar panels that provide power to the satellite throughout the expedition—even when it is hundreds of millions of kilometres away from the sun. The company becomes a key supplier to a historic space mission that could yield incredible results.
In extreme situations, the world turns to Kongsberg. Over the course of two decades, they work their way from ambition to reality, establishing a reputation as a leading global player in innovation and security. From the depths of the ocean to outer space, they deliver safe, future-oriented, and effective solutions across borders.
After experiencing a financial setback in 1987, the company refocuses on defence activities to restore economic stability. They change their name to Norsk Forsvarsteknologi (Norwegian Defence Technology) and, once the company is back on its feet, shift their focus back to civilian and maritime sectors, led by the new CEO Jan T. Jørgensen. He implements strict measures for financial control and quality assurance, helping secure customers and increase growth. The company is reborn.
1990: Norsk Forsvarsteknologi establishes a space division and develops booster attachments and release mechanisms for the Ariane 5 rocket system. They quickly become Norway's leading manufacturer of subsystems for space travel and satellites.
1993: They become a publicly listed company, resulting in many positive changes, including the establishment of Kongsberg Maritime as a separate business area in 1995. At the same time, they change their name once again, this time to Kongsberg Gruppen, which is still the name today.
After years of national focus in the post-war period, Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk starts shifting its attention outside national borders. With a finger on the pulse in a period where electronics and computer technology are flourishing, they develop their dynamic positioning system and pioneer missile technology. Gradually, they establish themselves as a leading technology manufacturer in the global market.
During this period, Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk becomes an important partner in several NATO projects and ventures into the oil industry, as well as the civil, maritime, and digital sectors. To meet the demands of the global market, they expand and open offices in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and the Middle East.
1972: The world's leading anti-ship missile is developed by the Kongsberg factory. The infrared, seeker-activated Penguin is introduced as one of the Western world's first anti-ship cruise missiles. Since then, the Penguin has undergone continuous testing and development, and is now used by navies worldwide, including Greece, Turkey, Spain, Australia, and Brazil.
1977: The Dynamic Positioning (DP) system is put into operation aboard the dive support vessel Seaway Eagle. Since then, Kongsberg's DP systems have become a global success.
Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk becomes an important link in building up and further developing Norwegian industry after the Second World War. The company grows with the development of the country, establishing important collaborations, notably with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), founded in 1946. They work together to make sure the Norwegian defence has the latest and most modern in defence technology, using the factory as a producer of technical solutions. In collaboration with the FFI and the defence force, they work purposefully to deliver defence systems of the highest quality to the nation.
1899: A dedicated hydroelectric power plant is built to make the work more seamless. Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk continues to grow and establish new relationships.
1903: They found their own gunsmith school, which becomes a boarding school during the 60s and 70s.
1921: The factory launches its first civilian production, a variety of different tools, later to become award-winning tools with international recognition. This is followed by the production of car parts, bicycles, and furniture. They expand their range considerably and reach out to new customer groups.
Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk is working to achieve international success. Innovation has always been key, and it was just as important in 1890 as it is today. In 1892, the Krag-Jørgensen rifle, developed by the factory, garnered international attention. The rifle became "weapon of choice" for the US military, winning over 53 other international defence suppliers, and it was used as the primary weapon for nine years.
"It stood out from competing weapons of the time due to a revolutionary magazine, allowing for faster loading time". Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk was the maker of Norway's first large-scale industrial export.
In 1814, the Norwegian Constitution is written. In that same year, Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk, one of Norway's first factories, is founded by Poul Steenstrup. In the following years, the factory is established and production begins. It becomes a crucial defence supplier, securing its place in the young Norwegian business community, creating many local jobs.
Journalist: Kathinka H. Wang | Kongsberg Gruppen
Photo: Historical photos from Kongsberg Gruppen
Art director: Marius Halvorsen