There were 2,440 vessels which had delivery dates scheduled for 2017 according to research by VesselsValue. However with two months to go of 2017 only 1,220 had hit the water, meaning 50% of the 2017 orderbook was outstanding at the beginning of November.

Vessel deliveries tend to slow down towards the end of the year. If the owners wait a few weeks, allowing delivery to slip into the New Year, then the vessel is considered to be a whole year younger.

It is interesting to note that of these 2,440 new ships, 1,909 orders were from yards in three countries, China, Japan and South Korea. China gained 1,160 orders, Japan 440 and South Korea 309, leaving a mere 531 orders for the rest of the world.

What a contrast from the days where the majority of world orders were given to British shipyards. Since the early 1800s the United Kingdom had the world’s largest shipbuilding industry in terms of tonnage produced and vessels constructed and was unchallenged despite shipbuilding industries developing in Germany, Japan and the United States from the late 1890s and with a strong Japanese performance during World War One. From 1950 onwards, competition from Western European nations such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany, as well as a resurgent Japanese shipbuilding industry started to gain a larger share of what was traditionally a British market. The shipowners were taking advantage of the increasing imports of crude oil for western nations, whose consequent growth led to the shipowners requiring larger vessels, the so-called ‘Supertankers’ ,vessels of over 100,000 tons in carrying capacity. Although this was a boom period in the output of shipbuilders globally, the United Kingdom’s share of the market declined.

The decline continued with South Korea developing as a leading player and then China entered the market in a big way and is now the world leader in shipbuilding.

What a tragedy it was to see the decline of our great shipbuilding industry, particularly on the Clyde, the Tyne, the Wear, the Tees and in Belfast.

Sadly those prosperous times will never come again.

Seafarers UK


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