Greek ship reg­is­ter springs a leak

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ILIAS BELLOS

The re­moval of 62 ves­sels from the Greek ship reg­is­ter within the space of a year high­lights the Greek flag’s de­clin­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness. Along with the losses ob­served in 2015, the Greek reg­is­ter ap­pears to have shrunk by 100 ocean­go­ing ships in just two years.

Al­though the Greek-owned fleet re­mains the world leader in terms of both ship num­bers and ca­pac­ity, the Greek flag has dropped to third among those that Greek shipown­ers pre­fer, ac­cord­ing to the an­nual re­port of the Greek Ship­ping Co­op­er­a­tion Com­mit­tee in Lon­don.

Top­ping the chart is the Mar­shall Is­lands, with 791 Greek- owned ships at end-Fe­bru­ary (74 more than a year ear­lier). Liberia is in sec­ond place with 774 Greekowned ves­sels (up 31 on last year). There are only 747 left sail­ing un­der the Greek flag, al­though their to­tal ca­pac­ity is largely un­changed from last year. That is be­cause while cer­tain own­ers switched reg­is­ters or sold their ves­sels, oth­ers with newer and big­ger ships raised the Greek flag.

The rea­son ships are leav­ing the Greek reg­is­ter is that, com­pared with for­eign reg­is­ters, it is ex­pen­sive and over­loaded with bu­reau­cracy, and that is cause for con­cern.

Fewer Greek-flagged ships – al­beit with a big­ger ca­pac­ity – means fewer Greek of­fi­cers on the bridge and in the en­gine room. It is es­ti­mated that the loss of 100 ves­sels since 2015 sig­ni­fies the job losses of 400 Greek of­fi­cers, along with the rev­enues lost both from reg­is­ter fees and sea­men’s taxes.

“In a coun­try with­out a col­lec­tive la­bor con­tract since 2010 and where the unions still de­mand salaries un­heard of by global stan­dards while those hired have in­creased un­cer­tainty if hired on market terms, it is nor­mal that ships are dis­ap­pear­ing from the reg­is­ter,” one ex­pert com­mented.

The Greek-owned fleet cur­rently num­bers 4,085 ships, ac­cord­ing to IHS Markit data pro­cessed by the Greek Ship­ping Co­op­er­a­tion Com­mit­tee, seven less than last year. In ca­pac­ity terms, though, it ex­panded by 8.1 mil­lion dead­weight tons to 328,763,767 dwt.

Greek­flagged ships – al­beit with a big­ger ca­pac­ity – means fewer Greek of­fi­cers on the bridge and in the en­gine room. It is es­ti­mated the loss of 100 ves­sels since 2015 sig­ni­fies the job losses of 400 Greek of­fi­cers, along with the state rev­enues lost from reg­is­ter fees and sea­men’s taxes.

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