Almost exactly two years ago, at Europort in Rotterdam, a very dear friend and outstanding journalist introduced me to some of his acquaintances. It would be important for our publication to cover the repair and retrofit markets more extensively, he said, as these sectors would become fundamental to the future of our industry. Looking at the current commercial ageing fleet, upcoming climate goals, and likely regulatory requirements, global ship repair capacity could well prove inadequate.
On this particular morning in November 2021, however, it was less about repairs and retrofits. At the first meeting with a Spanish shipyard before 10.00 am, I was offered some red wine produced from grapes grown at their own vineyard. At the second one – this time with a Polish yard – three glasses of vodka followed … before lunch. Needless to say, the rest of the day is slightly blurry.
I think back fondly of that morning; not least because this very dear friend and outstanding journalist passed away very suddenly just over a year ago. Europort will never be the same without him ...
I am talking about Mr Shiprepair, Alan Thorpe, who knew and shaped the industry like no other. He is dearly missed – by his family, by his colleagues, and by the great number of people he knew in the repair business. But his legacy lives on.
The editors of Schiff&Hafen and Ship&Offshore are very proud that with this issue of Ship&Offshore comes the first issue of the new Ship and Offshore Repair Journal, which will be produced six times a year from the beginning of 2024. Meanwhile, Alan’s pride and joy, Ship Repair Newsletter, which he produced every week without a single break for more than 40 years, will also be relaunched at that time. Our thanks go first and foremost to his family, especially Anne and Samantha, for the trust they have placed in us.
Above all – Alan had been right: the situation the shipbuilding and shipping industries currently face is without parallel. All of shipping’s stakeholders face new challenges, but repair yards in particular will play an essential role in upgrading and retrofitting today’s ships for effective operation tomorrow.
Starting on page 47 in the current issue of Ship&Offshore, you will find the new SORJ, slightly modified in layout but hopefully with the same editorial quality you are used to. We have assembled a team of knowledgeable writers and have engaged the support of Alan’s long-time deputy (and ours), Paul Bartlett, as Managing Editor.
This issue of Ship&Offshore will, of course, give a small sneak preview of Europort, with an overview of the programme and exhibitor previews. And we have also included our annual GreenTech edition (starting on page 17), providing our readers with up-to-date reports on environmentally friendly technologies and sustainable developments. As you can see, with this last issue of 2023, we would like to present to you once again the entire range of relevant topics within the maritime business.
As for 2024, we will start into an uncertain future; the geopolitical catastrophes – whether in Ukraine or the Middle East – show us every day how vulnerable democracies can be. And the Tawain situation could blow up at any time. Of course, these developments always have a direct impact on international trade and transport by sea.
Nevertheless, let’s try to remain optimistic. Global shipping is extremely resilient, and we are lucky to work in an industry that continues to develop and offer many new opportunities.