Kathrin Lau, Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Editorial of Ship&Offshore 1/2022: Highlights and lowlights

At the turn of a year, it is good custom to review, and explore perspectives – both personally and professionally. A turbulent year lies behind us; an eventful year lies ahead.

2021 continued to be strongly influenced by the Corona pandemic – which naturally also led to major disruptions and changed market conditions in the maritime industry. In this context, however, it is particularly pleasing to note that, due to the increase in shipping, freight and charter rates have developed from an all-time low to an extraordinary high across most sectors within a very short period of time.

As far as the consequences for shipbuilding and shipping are concerned, it is worth taking a look at Germany. In a recent study, a large majority of German shipowners said they are optimistic about the future, even though pandemic-related impairments are still occurring.

The fears that many companies would not survive the pandemic have not materialised, at least so far. Shipping companies are using the rising revenues to hire new staff and invest in the fleet. And while challenges continue to prevail in terms of access to capital, environmental regulations and climate targets, the current upswing holds tremendous opportunities for shipbuilders, suppliers and technology developers.

In this context, however, it must of course be mentioned that it is primarily Asian shipyards that are benefiting from the boom in construction and continuing to outstrip European facilities. Even now in cruise ship construction – a sector in which European shipbuilders have been top dogs for decades – Chinese competition is now close on their heels.

With the first Carnival China Cruise Shipping newbuilding being floated out at the end of December, it might only be a matter of time before other (American and European) owners order their ships in Asia in a big way. Having said that, the cruise segment remains the hardest hit sector in the crisis. Whether and when the industry can return to the boom of the pre-Corona years remains uncertain.

And this is where Germany has just delivered some very dramatic headlines. The shipbuilding group, MV Werften, which belongs to the Asian tourism giant Genting Hong Kong, had to file for insolvency at the beginning of January. Lloyd-Werft in Bremerhaven, also part of the group, met the same fate.

It is completely unclear how and whether things will continue at the various locations and when and where the world’s largest cruise ship, the Global Dream, which is currently being built at MV Werften, will be completed. What is certain, however, is that Germany as a shipbuilding location is facing yet another major crunch with much extensive knowledge and many jobs endangered.

Some might argue that the beginning of the year has not shaped up too well so far. It is indeed again a bit difficult to look optimistically into the future. 2022 will doubtless be a busy year with more important maritime events than ever before. This, at least, will hopefully give us more opportunities to meet in person and discuss all the highlights and lowlights, all the challenges and chances.

Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore
Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore