Greek shipowners invested a total of more than $9 billion in new and secondhand vessels in the last 12 months.
Greeks placed orders with shipyards for 85 newbuilds for the sum of $5.5 billion, according to data Golden Destiny shipbrokers shared with Kathimerini. Furthermore, Allied Shipbroking figures showed local shippers acquired another 233 ships on the secondary market for $3.59 billion.
In total the Greeks bought 318 oceangoing vessels last year, while according to Allied they also sold 175 ships for $2.55 billion on the secondary market and another 57 ships for scrap value.
This intensive investment activity forms part of the typical renewal and modernization cycle of the Greek-owned merchant fleet, the world’s biggest.
Therefore Greece remains the country with the highest ownership in the world in absolute figures: Although Greece’s population takes up only 0.16% of the global population, Greek shippers control 20.67% of the global fleet capacity and 54.28% of the European Union capacity, according to the annual report by the Union of Greek Shipowners.
The report highlighted that Greek shipowners more than doubled their fleet’s capacity from 2007 to 2019. They have invested to a great extent in new and energy-efficient vessels, with the average age of the Greek-owned fleet (9.17 years) being lower than that of the global fleet (9.61 years).
Nevertheless the Greek register lost more ground in terms of gross tonnage, shrinking by 5.7 million GT in 2020, according to data published by Lloyd’s List Intelligence at the end of October. Therefore the Greek flag barely represents one-fifth of the Greek-owned fleet.
Lloyd’s List commented that while the Greek flag has reached historic lows, a new government initiative could give it the chance to recover. It referred to the introduction of legislation last summer allowing shipping companies to employ low-ranked crews via international contracts with unions, in a bid to restore the lost competitiveness of the country’s register.
In the meantime China has been particularly aggressive in acquiring merchant vessels, as last year it bought 179 ships on the secondary market, as well as constructing several newbuilds.