Memorandum by The Salvage Association
THE FUTURE OF THE UK SHIPPING INDUSTRY
This Association was founded in 1856 by London
marine underwriters to provide technical support to the London
marine insurance market. It continues to provide this support
to marine underwriters at Lloyd's and the International Underwriting
Association of London through its marine surveyors working from
branch offices in the major shiprepair centres of the world. These
offices are manned by over seventy very experienced marine engineers
and master mariners, the majority of whom are British and trained
in British shipyards and the British merchant fleet. The Association's
surveyors are known to be held in very high regard worldwide.
The Association surveys a large proportion of
the world's maritime casualties for hull and machinery underwriters.
The relevance of the Association's submission to the Sub-Committee's
Inquiry is that the Association:
Assists the London marine insurance
market which is the largest in the world to generate a valuable
contribution to Britain's invisible earnings.
Observes at first hand the very varied
standards of ships, their operation and their crews around the
world. (The Association's annual report on Worldwide Operations
which is widely circulated outlines some of the problems the Association
The case for a strong UK merchant fleet to earn
revenues for this country and to meet strategic needs is one on
which other organisations are better placed to comment. However,
the Association does identify a strong merchant fleet as a necessity
to assist in providing a strong maritime infrastructure and in
maintaining the considerable maritime services industry which
contributes to the British economy.
Britain is an island nation dependent
on shipping for its trade. It has an extensive seaboard to preserve
and to protect environmentally. The management and administration
of the extensive maritime infrastructure by both government and
commerce relies heavily on maritime based skills acquired in the
main from service in the merchant navy. The requirement for such
skills will undoubtedly continue and, it is suggested, may grow
as the nation demands ever safer and more environmentally conscious
The UK and particularly the City
of London provides maritime services to the international shipping
community. These contribute significantly to the British economy.
These services place considerable reliance on maritime skills
largely acquired from service in the British merchant fleet. The
Salvage Association, in supporting the London marine insurance
market, assists in contributing to the economy and relies heavily
on maritime skills acquired in the British merchant fleet.
The Salvage Association's experience
is that the skill base of many seafarers employed around the world
does not match the high standard achieved in the British merchant
fleet and those of other traditional maritime nations. To rely
on other nations to provide essential skills to Britain would,
we submit, be unsatisfactory.
The Salvage Association has, over
recent years, seen the pool of suitably qualified engineers and
master mariners from whom it can recruit becoming ever smaller
and it is aware that the current number of recruits to the industry
is far fewer than the number required to meet demand. We believe
the Association's experience is similar to that of other organisations
and that the situation is likely to deteriorate further. This
will ultimately be to the detriment of Britain's maritime infrastructure
and the maritime services industry.
How can the training and employment
of UK seafarers be promoted? Shipping has in recent years suffered
a poor press around the world. It is usually publicised when accidents
occur. Little attention has been given to the essential and significant
contribution that shipping makes to British and to world trade.
We believe that this has been one of many factors in the low level
of recruitment to the industry.
These submissions do not raise any new issues
but seek to demonstrate that the experience on the ground of this
Association supports the points made by others in recent years.
In particular, we believe there is an imminent skills crisis which,
unless addressed, could have a significant impact on the nation.
27 November 1998