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German fleet stabilizing after severe slump starting in 2009


Today, the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) released new figures on the situation of the German shipping sector. President Alfred Hartmann and CEO Ralf Nagel used this occasion to annonce German shipping has exited the slump that decimated the national fleet since when The German KG funding system, a major financing model that helped Germany quickly develop its merchant fleet to one of the largest in the world, collapsed in the past decade, resulting in the country’s fleet shrinking by more than one third.

“We have largely put the crisis that has preoccupied us since 2009 behind us and, in many segments, we have surprisingly also navigated through the pandemic unscathed so far,” said VDR President Hartmann, although he added that “At the moment, no one can predict whether this positive trend will continue, especially in the container shipping segment.” However, he continued, in today’s exceptional global situation, the shipping sector has demonstrated just how vital the role it plays in trade and supply is. “We have kept sailing, and we have delivered in the truest sense of the word,” Hartmann said.

VDR statistics state Germany’s fleet is the fifth largest in the world. Prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the country boasted the world’s third-largest merchant fleet. Still, after years of shedding tonnage, there are signs the fleet is finally stabilizing.

“Following the years of unusual growth in the early 2000s – especially in the container shipping segment – and the subsequent decline, we now have a new normal: The German fleet is roughly as strong and in large parts even stronger than it was before this boom,” CEO Ralf Nagel said. This applies, he continues, to the number of ships in various segments, of apprentices, of seafarers and of shipping companies, as well. “Despite the pandemic, we are seeing a new dynamic in some maritime shipping markets in which German companies are active,” he noted, adding that this makes it all the more important to have framework conditions that are reliable and support Germany as one of the most interesting and dynamic shipping hubs in the market.

Photo: Hapag Lloyd