Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by The Royal Institution of Naval Architects (FUS 26)

THE FUTURE OF THE UK SHIPPING INDUSTRY

  The Royal Institution of Naval Architects welcomes this initiative and interest in the UK shipping industry. However, it considers that the present state and potential of the UK shipping industry should be considered in the context of the broader UK maritime industry, including shipbuilding, repair and shipping services. Such activities are inter-related and in many instances, interdependent. Such relationships clearly indicate the importance of partnerships, not only between Government and the industry, but also between sectors of the industry. Whilst the commitment of those in the industry to realising its potential is essential, it is considered important that Government provides greater leadership and encouragement. Many sectors of the industry remain unconvinced that the Government fully recognises the importance and contribution of the UK marine industry to the UK economy.

SPECIFIC POINTS RELATING TO THE TERMS OF REFERENCE

Action and partnership, etc.

  The need for and commitment to such partnership is essential and should be clearly stated. In particular, Government must convince industry that it does indeed recognise the importance of both the UK shipping industry and the wider UK maritime industry. Such partnership and perceived commitment has been noticeable by its absence, not only between Government and shipowners, but between owners and other sectors of the marine industry. It is considered that Government's encouragement, interest and leadership are as vital as financial support, the scope for which it is accepted may be limited and inappropriate in an international, competitive market.

UK Ship Registration

  It is considered that an increase in UK ship registration would undoubtedly lead to better standards of safety and hence greater passenger attraction, lower insurance premiums etc. It should also be recognised that without such an increase, the UK runs the risk of being marginalised in such international organisations such as the IMO, and therefore less able to influence safety standards and other related issues.

The Contribution of Shipping, etc.

  It is considered essential that the contribution which UK shipping makes to the UK economy—some £2B of GDP—is more readily acknowledged. Without such awareness, it is unlikely that its needs will receive the priority they require.

  Shipping, as part of an integrated policy, provides an opportunity to reduce road transport through coast feeder routes. However, this will require a commitment to improving or developing port infrastructures.

The Countries Strategic Needs, etc.

  It is considered very unlikely that UK registered shipping could meet all but the most limited of strategic needs, and certainly not on a scale anywhere approaching the Falklands War. If such a capability is considered necessary, then its cost should be acknowledged. Financial commitment encouraging UK shipping registration, and indirectly construction, must be provided.

Levels of Employment of UK Seafarers, etc.

  Continued de-manning in modern ships, encouraged by better design, greater automation and increased shore-side support will reduce the impact on operation costs of pay differentials. However, levels of training and safety, and their enforcement, then assume even greater importance. There is clear evidence that the run down in UK seafarer numbers is leading to shortages in the number of skilled and experienced personnel required by related on-shore industries and services. It is believed that the time to recover from this situation is limited as training facilities and experience are lost through lack of demand.

Experience of other Countries, etc.

  Countries such as Denmark provide good example of the partnership and co-operation between all sectors of the marine industry—owners, operators, builders, repairers, etc.—that is essential to the success of the UK industry.

The contribution of On-Shore Shipping Services, etc.

  The importance of the contributions which on-shore shipping services make to the UK economy must also be publicly and convincingly acknowledged, as must that made by other sectors of the marine industry—shipbuilding, repair, equipment supply, R&D, consulting services etc. Together with on-shore shipping services, these contribute some £3 billion to the UK economy. Ports must also be acknowledged as an important element of the UK maritime industry, contributing a further £800 million.

4 December 1998


 
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