It is often said that to predict the future one must look at the past. Identifying trends and patterns is essential to setting goals and determine strategies for reaching them. The general slump the global maritime transport industry has been under for the past couple of years is in much need of a retrospective analysis that can put the business into perspective.
The Equasis 2015 merchant fleet report analyzed the global industry by vessel size and type of ship, in order to determine commercial and regulatory pros and cons in the race towards recovery.
The 100-page-long report collected data from more than 50 providers in a dozen different vessel categories by type and four sizes, from local transport to transatlantic and transpacific giants.
The Merchant Fleet population
There are nearly 88,000 merchant ships in the world. The largest market share belongs to tugs, with almost 20% of the global fleet. General cargo ships come in second place with 18.7% and oil and chemical tankers come in third with 14.6%. Bulk carriers, offshore vessels and passenger ships add up a third of the total market share, while containerships take up only 5.9% of the global merchant fleet.
By tonnage, bulk carriers carry the heaviest burden, representing nearly 35% of the global capacity. Oil and chemical tankers have 25.4% of the general tonnage and the containership segment comes in third place with 17.9% of the overall capacity. As far as size goes, ships under 25,000 GT –considered as medium sized- take up 81% of the global fleet.
Another conclusion reached in the report is the average age of vessels. Almost 34% of the entire fleet is comprised of ships between 5 and 14 years of age, and 33% is 25 years or older. Almost half the younger fleet is being scrapped between ages 15 and 24, therefore those who are 25 or older are what’s left of the golden era of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In terms of location, almost 50% of the global fleet transits the East, South and Southeast Asian regions followed by 17% that navigates West and North Europe. 15.7% sails through the Mediterranean Sea, 10.3% is East/West North America and 7.6% is East/West South America.
The extensive industry-wide X-ray analysis should prove useful only if it is read with truthful eyes and clear minds… the future of the maritime transport industry relies on it.
Panama Maritime XIII
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