UK Owned Tonnage Drops despite Rise in Registered Fleet

The UK registered trading fleet has increased for the first time in four years, rising by 8%, however, the figures also show a fall of 18% in UK owned tonnage, according to the UK Chamber of Shipping.

The total tonnage of trading vessels on the UK Ship Register has risen from 12.6 to 13.7 million deadweight tonnes (dwt) from 2014 to 2015, while the UK flag declined at an average rate of 3% per annum during the period between 2010 -2015. Over the same period the total world fleet grew by 5% per annum, data released by the Department for Transport show.

UK direct owned tonnage, where the registered owner of the vessel is a company registered in the UK, declined by 18% year on year, from 16.5m to 13.5m dwt. Between 2010 and 2015 UK owned tonnage has declined by 36%.

The UK managed fleet fell by 1% to 53.4m dwt and parent owned fleet rose by 3% to 31m dwt.

“The rise of 8% of UK flagged tonnage, for the first time in four years, is a positive sign of the nascent recovery in confidence in the UK Ship Register, and follows the government’s commitment to undertake significant reform of the Register and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA),” UK Chamber CEO, Guy Platten, said.

“That the UK share of the global fleet has fallen significantly at a time when global tonnage has increased by 5% clearly demonstrates the necessity of these changes and highlights the urgent need for these reforms to be delivered. It is also clear that if the UK is to reach the government’s own target of 2% of world tonnage and reverse the recent decline of the UK flag, that there remains a long way to go.”

On the decline in UK ownership, Platten said that, if the UK is to compete and grow as a maritime nation, “we must build a business environment where shipowning is attractive to entrepreneurs and investors, and ensure that these businesses are given the necessary support to enable them to grow into the major shipowners of the future.”

Furthermore, Platten said that the UK government must recognise the serious long-term threat the decline in UK ownership represents, and work with the industry to ensure that they do not lose further ground to global competitors.

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