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I note many ships these days are being scrapped after barely 20 years in commission.
I know many factors are involved, type of ship, cargo carried etc, but is there a rough yardstick on how many years in service does it take to pay off the build cost ?
 

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Satanic Mechanic should answer this question because he knows. I have read in the past that some huge tankships repay the construction costs with its first voyage.

Greg Hayden
 

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In the past, the dim and distant past, accountants and financial officers decided when a ship had reached the end of its profitable life.
Nowadays that decision is made by the Board of Directors after taking into account the comments of the readers of Sea Breezes and Shipping Today & Yesterday Magazine.
 

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Insurance will have a part of it all, just like life, the older you get, the higher the premiums are, then you reach an age where-in the insurers will not even consider you. Ships are worked much harder these days for us oldies it was anything from 15 45 days at sea and then 4 - 6 weeks in port. Todays vessels 8 - 12 days at sea and 12 -36 hours in port, so virtually trading non-stop, so wear and tear more, even with new sophisticated paint systems on the weather surfaces. Trading patterns change, costs per unit changes, even in our oldie days when the fourth quadrennial survey was due, owners always had to decide whether it was worth keeping the vessel or not. Scrap market is high at the moment and scrap yards are actively seeking tonnage to demolish.
 

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Oil Majors have an input too - they don't want to charter older tonnage, even though very often there is nothing wrong with the ships, particularly gas carriers. It used to be 25 years old, then 20 became a norm, and some oil majors now want to turn away ships over 15 years old. Mind you, they don't want to pay higher rates to reflect this- it was ever thus...
 

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The classification societies reckon that the economical service life of a modern merchant ship today is but a mere 15 years, beyond that they become increasingly unviable to operate unless of course they are in some kind of specialist trade.
This is in part due to wear and tear, however for the most part it's due to the huge cost of dealing with equipment obsolescence and continued adherence to ever stricter regulations, particularly with regard to SOLAS and MARPOL.
For those reasons the big boys rarely keep a ship for longer than 12 years now before passing it on.
 

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There are, of course, honourable exceptions, my old company, China Navigation, has just started disposing of the Mk 2 Chief class at approaching 30 years of age. Well maintained throughout and to CNCo's credit being sold for scrap rather than descending through the ill run FoC network. Their successors, the Mk 3's were sold out of trade quite early on, being unsuitable for lengthening, and are now heading for the beach in various states of disrepair having been badly maintained by their new owners.
 

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Too young to die? - in the 70's

If memory serves, in the 70’s, Clarkson ships, fine new built ships under Denholm’s Management were sold on after eight years, apparently at the end of their ‘useful life’.
 

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It is also a fact of life that newbuilds are built, on the whole, with minimum classification requirements.

The "design service life" is also part of this, just like oil and gas equipment and plants under a Build Operate Transfer scheme, which ensures that when the plant is turned over at the end of the franchise, it is on the verge of being totally clapped out.

Long, long gone are the practices of "Holt's Class"!
 

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Cost of finance these last few years has been so cheap as well as subsidized building costs/ships prices that I imagine they're far more economical to buy than we realise.
 

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It is also a fact of life that newbuilds are built, on the whole, with minimum classification requirements.

The "design service life" is also part of this, just like oil and gas equipment and plants under a Build Operate Transfer scheme, which ensures that when the plant is turned over at the end of the franchise, it is on the verge of being totally clapped out.

Long, long gone are the practices of "Holt's Class"!
I never heard of "Holt's Class" but I guess they specified scantlings 1% /2% / 5% above Rule.
This could give the ship an extended life but the downsides are considerable, fuel consumption being but one. I would like to see Mr Meek's justification for such a decision.
Commercial shipping runs on Pound Notes and Dollars and it was ever such, did Holts have little competition on their routes?
 

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I never heard of "Holt's Class" but I guess they specified scantlings 1% /2% / 5% above Rule.
This could give the ship an extended life but the downsides are considerable, fuel consumption being but one. I would like to see Mr Meek's justification for such a decision.
Commercial shipping runs on Pound Notes and Dollars and it was ever such, did Holts have little competition on their routes?
It was long before Marshall Meek that this practice started, I believe it stemmed from the Owners carrying their own hull insurance and higher scantlings reduced the effect of weather and collision damage. IIRC on promotion each master had to post a bond against damage caused by his fault. Other companies (T&J Harrison being one) had higher company standards than rule.

I suspect the self insurance developed into an accountant's money making wheeze where directors became "Names" at Lloyds and started putting real money into the market to cover their own ships, this developed into "Well maybe we could cover other, good owners" then non marine ......
 

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I never heard of "Holt's Class" but I guess they specified scantlings 1% /2% / 5% above Rule.
This could give the ship an extended life but the downsides are considerable, fuel consumption being but one. I would like to see Mr Meek's justification for such a decision.
Commercial shipping runs on Pound Notes and Dollars and it was ever such, did Holts have little competition on their routes?
They were built like brick outhouses! Remember, Alfred Holt was first and foremost a Marine Engineer. It was his vision that put motor ships on the China tea run, wiping out the competition in time to matket.

One of the reasons for building such strong ships was their survivability in time of war. Holt's lost far fewer ships and, with their outward bound based survival school, lost far fewer seamen when a vessel was sunk.

But I digress.......an ex BF colleague who oversees gas tanker builds in Korea commented a few years back that I wouldn't believe the steel plates used today, very much the minimum. Reduces welds, cutting gas, dressing edges etc. In the long run, cheaper and faster construction to commercial service. Also, one of the reasons Asian shipyards destroyed British shipyards was modularisation: Which engine, what level of decor in cabins? Hatches, planned cargoes, cargo gear? Slap together the modules and you have a pre engineered ship, all specified, cutting patterns ready and skilled labour producing vessels on a production line method.

Rgds.
Dave
 

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I was told when i sailed with them Everards carried their own insurance.
Fred & Co.operated as insurers and brokers in their own right so no real surprise if they insured their own vessels.

Sailed on two of theirs - good little jobs really for sedate voyagers who didn't wish to sail very far .

BW

J(Gleam)(Gleam)
 

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A. Holt's were not insured. This has led to a general misconception from others regarding BF, as A. Holt once famously said, his "Deck and Engineer Officers and his crews were the best insurance!".
Rgds.
Dave
 

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Fred & Co.operated as insurers and brokers in their own right so no real surprise if they insured their own vessels.

Sailed on two of theirs - good little jobs really for sedate voyagers who didn't wish to sail very far .

BW

J(Gleam)(Gleam)
Try taking a yellow peril round Lands End on passage to Limerick in a force 9/10 you'd find it far removed from sedate. Having served on trawlers, coasters and ocean vessels, the rock dodgers certainly hone your navigation and traffic skills. You can be away from home for a long time on a rock dodger, 17 consecutive trips London - Antwerp - London and living oop-narth, your own pilotage at both ends,

Everards were the only British Company allowed to do their own pilotage into Antwerp locks and docks (1950's) consequently we got no linesmen either in the locks or docks to take our ropes so reminiscent of the lakes but didn't need the upside down T-board.

Stevie Clarkes were the best for getting home, Ropner's possibly the worst (22 month trip) but fortunately, good ship, good Master, good crew and good food and reaching ports even Heineken couldn't reach!
 

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Yes Seaman 38, I do recall a few rough voyages on Fred's Sanguity en route to/from Halmstad/Gothenburg/Murmansk. Awfully slow at best of times so all credit to the navigation skills of Masters and Mates and of course the helmsmen.

Didn't know that Fred was the only company to be allowed own pilotage in Antwerp.

BW

J(Gleam)(Gleam)
 
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