The number of UK registered ships is at its lowest level since 2006, according to the 2014 Shipping Fleet Statistics released by the Department for Transport (DoT) in London.
The report (link, pdf), issued towards the end of February, said: “The UK fleet experienced substantial growth between the late 1990s and 2008/09, when the industry started to feel the impact of the global recession.
“Since 2009, there has been a period of decline, with measures falling by between 16 per cent of UK managed ships and 27 per cent of UK registered ships. “The main cause for the decrease in the size was the net impact of ships transferring their registration to other countries, with relatively few ships transferring their registration from elsewhere to the UK. Of the 19 vessels registered in the UK in 2014, seven were newly built ships coming into operation for the first time.”
The report pointed out that despite the decline in recent years, the UK registered fleet is still four times the size it was in the late 1990s, having increased from 2.7mn dwt to 12.6mn dwt. Over the same period, UK direct owned tonnage more than doubled, from 7.2mn dwt to 16.5mn dwt.
In 2014, the majority of UK registered fleet comprised of container vessels (60 per cent of dwt) and nearly one fifth was accounted for by oil, or oil-chemical tankers (18 per cent). Eleven per cent of UK registered tonnage was formed of bulk carriers.
Since 2009, the combined deadweight tonnage of the world fleet has increased by 34 per cent to 1,669.7mn dwt. In comparison, the UK fleet has decreased by 27 per cent to 12.6mn dwt. In terms of the number of vessels, the world fleet increased by five per cent from 54,125 to 56,759 ships and the UK registered fleet decreased by 36 per cent, from 712 to 453 vessels.