Further growth for commercial fleet

The fleet flying the Greek flag has grown by 8 percent in the first few months of the year, compared with 2006, as the 46 vessels added to the register have raised the total capacity to 33,980,782 registered tons, from 31,595,941 tons on December 31, 2006. The increase in the number of ships bearing the Greek flag is the result of positive moves by the shipping community to the Merchant Marine Ministry’s measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the country’s register. Since the beginning of 2007, 46 ships with a total capacity of 2,581,088 register tons and an average age of 6.6 years have joined the Greek register. Of these ships, 21 are new constructions with an average age of 0.3 years and a capacity of 1,576,734 tons. The new entries on the register consist of 23 dry-cargo ships, 21 tankers and two chemical-product and liquid natural gas (LNG) carriers. «We believe that, with the measures taken, we will attract more ships to the Greek flag, rendering it even stronger,» ministry sources told Kathimerini. The ministry recently took a significant leap forward by overcoming certain impediments of the past. The two measures it introduced have clearly begun bearing fruit to the benefit of the Greek register. First, it decided to proceed with a more flexible approach to the composition of crews for oceangoing ships. It ruled that the restriction on the number of Greeks should be six, including all officers and crew. Second, the social insurance contributions of Greek seamen serving as low-level crew are to be subsidized. However, if a shipping company decides to have more than six Greek seamen and they are low-level crew, then the state, as an incentive, will subsidize the contributions, not only of seamen but also of shipowners.

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