At the Tradewinds Shipowners' Forum, there seemed to be several schools of thought about so-called 'Eco' ship designs.
One, championed by Maersk Maritime Technology's Niels Bjorn Mortensen, holds that new ships need to be prepared for the future with new technology solutions. However, Mortensen stressed above all that monitoring systems are very important in order to check that new technology is performing as it should.
Chris Wiernicki (President and CEO of ABS) added to this his view that new ships will carry lower capital and operating costs than the existing ships they compete with, and was one of several public speakers this week who brought up the possible prospect of a two-tier market
But many big names voiced the opinion that shipyards are increasingly keen to get orders as the orderbook shrinks, with little prospect of refilling while markets are so poor. As a result they have been asking whether yards are using the latest eco-design vessels as tool to persuade companies to order new ships at a time when earnings are low, largely because of tonnage oversupply from the last ill-advised ordering boom, and when additional tonnage is surplus to requirements.
There seems to be a common theme among the shipowners and other seasoned shipping people. 'Newbuilding hype' was how it was expressed by Angeliki Frangou, CEO and President of Navios.
Manolis Vordonis, former Thenamaris shipping boss, was of the opinion that the race of technology and eco-shipping would create a two-tier market that could end up forcing good-quality existing ships to be scrapped prematurely to be replaced by newer models - with a doubtful net benefit to the environment.
Jean Richards, CEO Secondwind Shipping and Director Quantum Shipping Services shared his doubts about making a big eco-newbuilding investment to save a few tons of fuel, wondering whether the industry may be making the same mistakes as before by adopting technology before it is proven.
Morten Arntzen, President and CEO of OSG, was of the view that cheaper ships in the secondhand market will wipe away the so-far unproven advantages of eco-newbuilding ships.
Evangelos Marinakis, Director and Chairman, Capital Group of companies, feels that there are doubts about the new generation of fuel-efficient ship designs, and an emphasis on the need to know how they will perform over a period of time in heavier weather.
Source : INTERTANKO