SEA BREEZES DECEMBER 2009 • VOL 83 • NO. 768
In ports and anchorages all over the world ships of all types lie idle; the reality check highlighting the damage the global recession has wrought on the shipping industry. Especially hard hit have been the ‘Container’ and ‘Dry Bulk’ sectors. Container freight rates have plunged and charter rates for bulkers have headed south at a rate of knots. Not a good time to be a shipping broker.
This collapse in world trade is felt all the more keenly after the years of plenty. The recent banking crisis damaged the reputation of the banks badly and as a result there is little doubt the banks will now tread more warily and conservatively. The attitude to shipping loans will have hardened and a strong enforcement policy is now likely – just what the shipping industry doesn’t need at this difficult and challenging time. In such a climate even some of the ‘big boys’ will be feeling the chill. Such a situation points to ‘consolidation’ as the weak seek shelter and the strong see expansion opportunities. The picture is further complicated by oil prices, which after a period of calm and relatively low prices are again rising and showing volatility. One comfort, however, is that shipping has always been a cyclical business and that hopefully as the global picture improves so the industry will bounce back resiliently.
On a much happier note I was lucky enough to attend two most enjoyable “Trafalgar Dinners” to celebrate the life of a very English hero Admiral Lord Nelson. I found it heartening that well over 200 years after the Battle of Trafalgar he is so remembered and that his flagship Victory is still a commissioned vessel in the RN and sits so splendidly in Portsmouth Harbour.
I was also privileged recently, to attend, onboard The Honourable Company of Master Mariners’ fine HQ vessel Wellington, the inauguration of Mrs Vivien Foster as an Associate Member. Vivien who is National President of the Merchant Navy Association has been a doughty fighter for proper recognition of the Merchant Navy’s proud record and sacrifice in wartime. Please be sure to read her article in this issue.
This bumper edition of Sea Breezes marks our 90th anniversary. I hope you find it enjoyable, interesting and informative.
Finally from the Sea Breezes team, we wish you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Captain Hamish A C Ross (Deputy Editor)