The Hellas Committee of Germanischer Lloyd (GL) met today at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens. The annual Committee Meeting, now a longstanding tradition in its 35th year, very much reflected the mood of the industry, with great challenges foreseen for traditional markets, but opportunities on offer for those with expanding perspectives.
The Chairman of the Hellas Committee, Mr Panos Laskaridis, Managing Director of the Laskaridis Shipping Group, opened the meeting and introduced the new Vice Chairman, Mr Michael Bodouroglou Chairman and CEO of Paragon Shipping Inc. New members Mr. Philippos Efstathiou, Owner of Efnav Company Ltd., Mr. George Karageorgiou Director, President and CEO of Globus Shipmanagement Corp., Mr. George Mylonas General Manager of Avin International S.A. and Mr. Christos Stathis CEO of Athenian Sea Carriers Ltd., were also warmly welcomed.
Torsten Schramm, Chief Operating Officer of Germanischer Lloyd, examined how GL as part of the GL Group was expanding its focus beyond the traditional maritime services, while remaining true to its heritage as one of the great original classification societies. A number of recent projects illustrated the way in which the GL Group had been able to cooperate together, bringing an interdisciplinary approach to projects of incredible technical complexity.
The new Swire Pacific third-generation wind turbine installation ship ”Pacific Orca”, the largest wind farm installation ship ever built, was an excellent example of this collaborative approach, noted Mr Schramm. GL Noble Denton, the GL Group’s oil and gas business unit, undertook the engineering and design work for the legs, spud-cans and the jacking system, including FMEA, as well as integration of these components into the ship’s hull. They also provided the shipyard consultancy and site-specific assessment services. GL’s consulting sister company, FutureShip carried out the global strength and fatigue analyses for the ship afloat and was responsible for owner consultancy, while the initial conceptual and feasibility study was performed by GL Garrad Hassan, part of the Group’s Renewables business unit. Finally, GL as a classification society conducted the in-place analysis in jacked-up mode and provides the classification services for the “Pacific Orca”.
Looking ahead to the next year, the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) would bring sweeping changes to the maritime industry, said Mr Schramm. Ratification by the Philippines, meant that the MLC 2006 would enter into force in one year, and more than 50,000 commercial vessels would be affected, as well as crewing agencies, ship owners and operators. The GL Group, offered training, consulting and certification, relating to the Convention, he said, and taking early action to avoid a logjam closer to the entry into force date while benefiting from improved recruitment opportunities, was in the interest of every ship owner and operator.
GL Executive Vice President and regional manager for Region Europe, Middle East, Africa, Matthias Ritters, looked at the development of shipping markets in 2012. In the container market, he noted, overcapacity would continue to put pressure on freight rates, allowing carriers to cherry pick state of the art vessels. Vessel efficiency will become a key competitive advantage as bunker prices remain high and environmental regulations, for example the introduction of expanded emission control areas (ECAs), increase in number and intensity, he said. However, looking ahead, improving container port infrastructure on non-main trade lanes could lead to new deployment opportunities for carriers, as would the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014.
Software tools to manage crew and fleet will become ever more important in the years to come, said Dr Torsten Büssow, Head of GL Maritime Software business, in his presentation on IT supported strategic fleet management. Shipping is highly underinvested in modern software technologies, he noted, with only 0.7% of the investments that go into new vessels going into software technologies. By contrast, he said, in the Oil & Gas industry some 3.5% of CAPEX (capital expenditures) goes into comparable software technologies.
Dr Büssow looked at some of the many GL software products that can be used to improve efficiency, such as the GL ShipManager system. The platform can be used for controlling the technical and administrative processes between a fleet and onshore management. It simplifies operational planning processes; automates the administration of the ship and supports safety and quality processes. New advanced technical management systems, including GL HullManager and GL MachineryManager supported and could be integrated into strategic fleet management, he said. While new products such as GL EmissionManager, make use of already collected data to track emissions and facilitate environmental improvements and certification.
Mr Athanasios Reisopoulos, Vice President, Area Manager for Southern Europe, gave an update on GL’s activities in Greece. Greek ship owners have been very active in the last few years he noted, taking advantage of the market conditions to make newbuilding orders and acquire existing tonnage. Container shipping has become a new focus for many players in Greece, a fact reflected in the many orders that GL has received to class new container vessels for Greek owners this year.
A highpoint for GL and a particular success for the Piraeus office came in July, when Greek shipping company ENESEL signed a contract for the classification of 10 Ultra Large (13,800TEU) container ships, a total of approximately 1.5 mil total GT. This order followed closely on the heels of another ENESEL order for four 9800TEU container vessels which was signed last year.
An increased focus on containerships had also resulted in GL holding a very well received forum on the latest developments in container stowage and transport this year, Mr Reisopoulos added. GL Academy has also focused on another hot topic – energy efficiency, holding a course on voyage optimisation. The course is one of the five new energy efficiency portfolio seminars that correspond to the recommendation of the IMO model course for Energy Efficient Operation of Ships.
Following the conclusion of the meeting, a lunch time Press Conference took place with members of the local and international media.