National Geographic : 1971 Jul
of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association, overlooking Oslo harbor, and asked one of its directors, Mr. David Vik0ren. "We have to rely on skill and know-how," he replied. "We are always trying to anticipate new markets and trade routes, and find new ways to carry cargo more cheaply. When our older ships can no longer compete, we sell them and build better ones. Right now half our tonnage is less than five years old." To compete with the world's subsidized and low-wage fleets, Norway must constantly innovate, Mr. Vik0ren stressed over our sm0rbr0d-the ubiquitous open-faced sand wich. Lunching at their desks enables Oslo's businessmen to leave the office by 4 p.m. in summer, with five or six daylit hours left. "We concentrate on tailor-making ships for specific trades," he said. He cited Norwegian vessels built especially to carry paper from Canada; auto transports with folding decks that can ship Volkswagens one way and coal the other; the LASH (lighter-aboard-ship) ves sel that can pick up loaded barges in New Orleans and relaunch them in Rotterdam. Among the most important now are the OBO ships-oil and bulk-ore carriers. "Tankers are one-way vessels," Mr. Vik 0ren pointed out. "They travel empty half the time. But an OBO can voyage around the world, picking up oil here, coal there, iron ore somewhere else." A FEW DAYS LATER in a pasture near Larvik, where the Oslofjord meets the Skagerrak, I came across a curious echo of Mr. Vik0ren's theme. "Since the Stone Age we have used boats, we have needed boats, and we have been rather good at building boats," said Arne Emil Christensen, Jr., a curator of Oslo's Museum of Antiquities. He pulled back a plastic tar paulin in a rectangular pit, exposing a jack straw scattering of oak planks the color of strong tea-the remains of a Viking-age ves sel known as the Klastad ship. "We estimate she dates from the ninth century A.D.," the archeologist said. The hulk appears to be a merchantman, 60 to 70 feet long, probably wrecked and washed ashore here more than ten centuries ago. The Klastad ship has yielded few artifacts; even her iron rivets have corroded to mere black stains. But enough timbers remain to recon struct a classic vessel of the Viking era. "I suppose we have the only drive-in exca vation in Norway," Mr. Christensen said. Norway's national sport lures 100,000 avid fans to Holmen kollen ski jump near Oslo. Visi ble only as a speck, a jumper touches down on the landing slope. Another (right) shows perfect form on a soaring flight that carries him 250 feet. Norwegians introduced the exhilarating sport of ski jump ing to the world a century ago.