Ship Repairs and Maintenance Are a Major “Headache” for Ship Owners Looking to Capitalize on a Booming Freight Rate Market

Ship owners are looking to minimize time spent on ship repair/maintenance, in order to avoid losing out to a surging freight market. However, the task is extremely hard, given that COVID has wreaked havoc on yards’ scheduling and time frames. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal said that “assessing the ship repair sector during this first half of the year, we continue to come across surprises and new restrictions which are trembling the repair market and not letting it to stabilize. As we have seen in similar situations, any disruption on the ship repair market has an immediate effect to shipyard’s available slots, costs, and repair time. Taking into consideration also the elevated dry bulk freight market, the pressure of the shipping companies to perform is tremendous. Therefore, they are trying to control the ship repairs to the maximum extent possible, to avoid pit holes and last moment changes. A task which is almost impossible following the changing dynamics of COVID”.

According to Mr. Vassilis Vassileiou, with Interyards, “one of the greatest disruptions we experienced in the ship repair sector lately was the regulations adapted by the shipyards in Zhoushan area in China. A sudden decision caused mainly due to the outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID in India. From end May till beginning July, all the yards located to Zhoushan area adapted so strict regulations which practically have rejected without prior notice most of the vessels already fixed to enter the yards for scheduled repairs. This reaction, apart from great inconvenience and losses caused to the Owners, resulted in vessels staying idle for a couple of days waiting for decisions, vessels deviating, in order to reschedule their repairs and ultimately created a very high demand and consequently overbooking on the rest of the shipyards in China with more relaxed measures”.

Vassileiou added that “this is only a fraction of the last-minute regulations we encountered this year, but is a very good example to evaluate the consequences they have in the ship repair market. On the one hand, we have a severe waste of vessel’s operational time for Owner’s side and waste of resources and manpower for the yard’s side. And on the other hand, we have a competitive disadvantage for the yards in specific areas and on the same time a huge demand to the yards in areas with looser regulations. This is a phenomenon we go through very often during the COVID era and has indisputably damaged a lot of entities being on the wrong side”.

Interyards’ analyst also noted that “trying also to dig out a positive impact of COVID. Besides the facts and the day-to-day challenges shipowners and shipyards are facing, both are now more matured from the pandemic. We have noticed a deep cultural change on the working pattern, crisis management and decision making. Both Owners and Shipyards are prepared for random changes and sudden problems to all directions. With different principals in place, all Owners have built up their resilience to new changes and they are ready to find amicable solutions to promote their businesses no matter how tough the problem to overcome is”.

Apart from COVID, it’s been almost 2 years from the first massive wave of scrubber retrofits. Now we do have a complete picture of the scrubber installation problems which now have sufficient time in operation. Corrosion on the overboard pipe for example is a very common defect we met in most of the retrofits. Those systems will add some routine inspections and works to be done on the forthcoming scheduled dockings of those vessels. Finally, trying to speculate the impact on the ship repair sector of the latest MEPC 76 session carried out and particularly the reduction of GHG Emissions from shipping, we believe there is no effect on the ship repair sector for the time being and we will not see the need of new retrofits and modifications which will affect the repair yards on the existing fleet very soon”, he concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


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