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Can anyone explain what happened to British shipping? where did we go wrong! here am I now working for a French company whom also by the way work the North sea, Im on a ship with multi national crew (nothing wrong with that I hasten to add there a good bunch of lads).
The North sea oil fields are mostly run by American companies.
Delmas shipping is still going strong after 30 years that I know of, infact there are two here in Takoradi at the moment.
Companies no longer treat there personnel as an asset but just a number thats keeps crewing levels legal.
One time we were te best in the world, british crews were head hunted and if you had a ticket the world was your oyster,
Just what in the hell happened?????
 

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Unfortunately this is the way it goes and I could add, apart from costs, and the regs set by the government , think about the very strong maritime unions they had/have in the U.K., their demands for shipmanning and their conditions so they were no longer competitive with Philippino crews and the like.
How come you would say that the Danes are so successful, i.e. having the best maintained and one of the largest shipping companies with head offices in Copenhagen.
Their pay packet would be minimum that of the British.
I guess they are a lot smarter with the way they control the maritime industry.

Same demise in the shipbuilding industry.
Britain (esp. Scotland) had one of the best new construction yards in the world.
Where are they?? Guess they won't come back in today's competitive climate.
 

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When discussing the decline of the once mighty British merchant fleet it is a good idea not too get carried away with the emotive side of things. Whilst membership of the European Union did lead to trade diversification away from the traditional liner routes most owners in these trades had prepared for this well in advance of it happening. Besides, the British fleet had always had a strong presence in cross trades. Costs, militant unions etc had little to do with; British crews were not on the expensive side compared to those of the rest of the traditional flags. In the early seventies I considerably enhanced my earnings by swapping from British flag to a Scandinavian flag owner. And it was not a failure to diversify and modernise on the part of owners; British owners were at the fore front of containerisation, specialised tankers etc. It is worth remembering that in 1979 the UK fleet was the largest it had ever been in tonnage terms and was a very modern fleet it terms of age of vessels. It also ranked fifth in world terms and when it is also recalled that the four above it were Liberia, Panama, Japan and the Soviet Union, that was quite an enviable position. So when did the apple cart capsize? The answer is in the first Thatcher/Howe budget when the move was made to end accelerated depreciation for UK shipowners. This meant that the cost of new vessel acquisitions could not be offset immediately against profits. This put any owner using the UK flag at a massive disadvantage against those using flags of convenience or just about any other traditional flag. If I recall correctly it was phased out over a three year period and the fleet declined accordingly. Why did the government do this? Well that is another lengthy question, but the quick answer is ideology.
Regards,
CBoots
 

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Yep I agree, the key was in the loss of accelerated depreciation allowances, from that time on unfortunately the rot really set in. It not only affected the British Shipping Companies but also the ship builders as well.
Doug
 

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Welcome back Doug! We've all missed you and anxiously await details and photos from your trip. - the other Doug
 

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Hi Doug..
Thanks for the words of welcome, do have some pictures but have got to get them processed on the computer first..that may be a little while as lots of other things to catch up on first. Good trip but had to address a family problem with a sick Aunt and that took time so the trip was a bit restrained!!.
Will catcha again soon.....Other Doug
 

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(Jester) Hi Doug,

How come you get two flags???
What is the meaning of that bright flag?
One gets a headache when staring at it.

How can I get another flag? Suck up to the administrator or how does that work...?

Cheers
 

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It is rather bright - must be freshly washed....... (Gleam)
It's an Avatar, Jan. You can set one up too - a fitting one for you I think would be a tin of antifouling paint................ (*))
 

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(LOL) Well guys it is freshly minted, I havent done much on the site since the return..been a bit busy but that was one thing that I did manage. Its the P & O houseflag, would have liked to have used a couple of others as well but one appears to be the limit!!.Perhaps I should draw up a schedule for different ones.
I dont know about a tin of anti fouling..perhaps in line with Jan's other talents a wind turbine might be more appropriate.
 

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Yes perhaps so but personally I welcome all the people from different companies, thats what gives the site its interest and stimulation...well my thoughts anyway!!.
Doug
 

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Greed

There is one word which, I think we have all forgoten "Greed" Please let me explain. When I started off in this industry, on Blue Funnel ships some 38 years ago, they had over 50 ships, and apart from a few under the Dutch flag, they were all British crewed, (apart from the Chinese lads down below) so thats about 40 ships, with about sixty British crew members on every one of them. When containerisation came along in the early 70's (and I had no problem with that) these old ships were gradualy replaced. Now this is where the "greed" comes in, these new super duper ships carried ten times the cargo of the old ones, they could do a round trip to the Far East in two months instead of three or four, their turn-around in the U.K. was two days instead of a month, and they only had about forty of a crew on each of them. So I think this is simple arithmetics, before containerisation, there were approx 2400 skilled men employed on these ships, to be replaced by eight ships with only 320 total. And the ship owners still maintained that crew costs was the reason, that they reverted to "Shaking the nearest tree" for a crew, this they said was essetial, for them to stay in business. And yes, I and many other called it "GREED". and still do. Regards Tony. (Scribe)
 

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Fair comment indeed but nothing is forever, as the saying goes.."there is a time under the heavens"....." a time to"..etc etc.
But many of us might not be around to see it of course!!.
Doug
 

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Nobody regrets the demise of the MN more than I do. But it must be remembered that no industry can survive if it is not competitive. Rhiw.com says that approx 2400 men were required to run the Blue Funnel conventional cargo ships. The important word here is REQUIRED. These number of men are not now REQUIRED to carry the equivalent cargo. If Blue Funnel were still employing these 2400 men to carry widgets from Japan or wherever, their freight rates would have put them out of business years ago and this is effectively what happened.

After I was made redundant for the reasons outlined above, I did a spell in home trade tankers where the owner was forced to cut our manning level to the legal minimum in order to compete for cargos. But even that was not enough, running a 10,000 ton tanker with a crew of 10 could not compete with someone with a peculiar flag on the stern who was running with less than half that number. So, inevitably, the company went under.

Crew costs are not by any means the biggest item of expenditure for the shipowner but they are one of many areas where attempts have to be made to save money. Don't forget, I'm not trying to make excuses for the owners: I'm one of those who suffered through their actions, but we must be realistic.

Derek
 

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"They mark our passage as a race of men, earth will not see such ships as those again.”
John Masefield 1878-1967
 

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Here is a quote from the book " SHAW SAVILL & ALBION " written by Richard P de Kerbrech. I think he got it spot on when he writes about the demise of SSA, to which I think reflects the rest of the once great M.N. He said, " There is no great pleasure in observing a once great company, a household name of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, disapear into obscurity. No one is directly to blame but extraneous market forces, high fuel and manning costs and recent recession have been contributors. So too have been the lack of investment by the goverment into the industry and, perhaps, the monopolistic nature of the conference system. The change in cargo handling from break-bulk cargoes to containerisation, meaning more volume carried in fewer ships, has been an added factor. I feel, too, that some of the responsibility must be borne by those unions directly concerned with the wellfare of British Seafarers, Merchant Navy and Airline Officers Association (MNAOA) and the National Union of Seamen (NUS). In striving over the years to improve conditions of service and wages (a very commendable thing) they have unwittingly helped to price them out of the market. WOW, Jonny Prescot youve got a lot to answer for ! all the best Sherloc.
 

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There may be very few British Flagged Vessels on the High Seas at present but the number of British owned though under foreign flags has certainly not declined.Alot of money still pours into the coffers but as anything its swings and roundabouts. Even the Fillipinos feel the heat now as they are replaced by much cheaper Ukranian crews. Shipping companies these days are about accountants not people its that final little box called profit which determines the way of the world.

My last trip was with a compliment of 360 persons and that was made up with 27 different nationalities myself being the only Brit onboard.Though we may never see jobs for the boys anymore we can still retain memories even Governments cannot take that from us.
 

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I couldnt agree with you more Gydnia, Im driving a truck now, for my sins, and the old flag of convienence is in the driving industry. We have 20 Polish drivers at our company, Tesco's at Crick near Northampton have over 100 driving for them. Geest have over 50 Lithuanians driving for them, and everywhere you go to load up its either an Iraci, a pole, or a lady from the Ukriane (sporting a tash and side-burns) that load you. I think its the sign of the time's Gydnia. (hope your not a pole) they are very nice people! all the best Sherloc.
 

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Maersk is a case in itself, as they swiftly moved to being one of the most cut price, cheapest and meanest companies around, almost to the point of stupidity. They still believe in that philosophy and are still here. Though they have far more Filipinos and Indians in their fleet (officer wise, never mind the ratings) than any other nationality.
P&O Nedloyd (part of Maersk now) have moved the same way, paid off the last of the Brit crews in 2001 (surprised they lasted so long), and are now moving towards British top 2, or 1, with Fillipino officers.
As for the likes of Evergreen, OOCL, as mentioned before, they had much lower overheads than your average British company.
As for Brits pricing themselves out of the market, to an extent yes, but relatively, no.
Although our 'replacements' (whoever they may be) recieve what can be described as a pittance compared to our wage, despite that, when they go home, they live like kings.
On this ship, my watchkeeper (Filipino AB) earns about 8 or 9 grand, but at home, he has a massive house, can afford to send his kids to university with no worries, and has TWO maids! For your average Brit to afford anything like that in the UK, he would have to be earning 80 grand plus (back of a *** packet)!
Britain as a country, has priced itself out of the market for just about everything.
 
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