Let’s review the events of 2019 that concern the maritime industry.
Not just another year but whole another decade is over.
It’s a little bit early to make a detailed review of the maritime industry’s past year performance since most of the official figures have not been announced yet.
However, we wanted to remind you 5 of the important events from the past year and give you a picture of what kind of a year 2019 was for the shipping industry.
- US vs. China: How serious is the damage?
2019 was a year of war for the US and China in terms of trades. Like many others, maybe even worse than them, the shipping industry was seriously affected by this war.
The official numbers would be updated shortly, of course, but an early October report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that the trade tensions between the US and China have affected an estimated 2% of world maritime trade volume. The reports also said that the trade war sparked concerns for many vulnerable economies and developing countries, especially in Asia.
On the other hand, despite this war, UNCTAD announced its expectation for the international maritime trade to expand at an average annual growth rate of 3.5% over 2019–2024.
- Satellite giant enters the game
We’ve known for a while that better data collection and analysis tools will shape the future of the industry. In 2019, we saw an important example of this. Spire, one of the world’s biggest satellite companies has made a move into the global maritime industry. The firm has been developing technology to support maritime radar, which helps ships avoid collisions at sea.
Spire Maritime made its first big move in September by launching Spire Forecast, a product that offers new weather forecasts dedicated to the maritime industry. The product features atmospheric and oceanographic weather attributes including, among others, sea surface temperature, ocean currents, wave height, surface wind, and air temperature, all available globally.
- $5bn fund unveiled for climate-friendly shipping
The environment has been a big concern for the maritime industry in 2019 as well. Aside from the completion of preparations for IMO’s 2020 regulations, a group of ship owners have announced plans for a $5bn fund to design zero-emission vessels in December.
The group says $2 should be levied on every tonne of ships’ fuel – to support research into clean engines.
This is another important step towards a healthier environment since shipping creates about 3% of the emissions that are over-heating the climate – equivalent to all of Germany’s CO2.
- Sailing cargo to reduce the carbon footprint
As we all know now, the International Maritime Organization agreed to reduce emissions from global shipping by at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. One of the steps that will make this goal achievable is using carbon-free shipping alternatives, the most obvious being sailing.
In July 2019, the U.K. based cosmetics company Lush used wind-powered sailboat, SV Gallant, to transport natural cork pots and sustainable ingredients from Portugal to Poole. The wind-powered journey took four weeks.
The company announced after the trip that ports in the south need to become more green-friendly if it’s to meet its ambition of using carbon-neutral sailing ships to transport its goods.
- Accidents to take lessons from
Even though the industry tries its best to find the safest ways to do business, accidents happen. The first bad news from the industry came in the third week of January. At least 11 people died in a fire involving two Tanzanian-flagged cargo vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait. One ship was a gas tanker, and the fire reportedly followed an explosion, which set the other vessel on fire. They were named as the Kandy (Venice), with a crew of 17 from Turkey and India, and Maestro, with 14 sailors.
Some other accidents that will be remembered when we think back 2019 were MSC Zoe, a 396m long containership capable of carrying 19,224 TEU that lost as much as 270 odd containers which went overboard in tough weather conditions; Yantian Express, a 7,510 TEU, 320m German-flagged ship of Hapag Lloyd that went up in flames while on its way from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal; and KMTC Hong Kong; that caught on fire at the Laem Chabang port in Thailand possibly due to undeclared hazardous containers on board.
Bonus: Zeymarine Opens Singapore Office
For us, 2019 will be also remembered as the year we continued to grow. Zeymarine Ship Agencies & Services expanded its agency services with its new offices. In 2019, our Singapore office was opened. To show how serious we are to become an important part of the maritime family in Singapore, we were one of the four main sponsors of Mariners’ Nite Dhamaka, Singapore’s most prestigious gala for the industry.