Memorandum by Captain R B Bradbury (FUS
1. It is doubtful whether there is any national
action the industry and government could take to achieve this
goal. Any action would have to involve and international initiative
to restore the standards of vessel inspection, certification and
maintenance and the levels of education, training and qualifications
of officers and crews, which obtained when the international shipping
industry was largely the preserve of the developed countries.
Only then would the UK fleet be able to compete on quality and
customer service with third world fleets whose crew costs would
inevitably remain well below ours. Such initiatives seem unlikely.
2. It is difficult to see any viable method
of encouraging UK ship registration, short of compulsion. The
unfortunate fact is that the proper and safe manning and management
of ships is expensive and that cargoes will always gravitate towards
the cheapest operator with a sporting chance of safely delivering
(ii) From a seaman's point of view, the IoM
register has simply been a device whereby owners transferring
to it impose much poorer conditions and salaries than are allowed
under UK registry.
3. No commentwhat are those objectives?
4. The present UK fleet could not sustain the
nation's strategic needs in a time of large scale conflict. However,
such a scenario seems increasingly unlikely. As to our international
obligations, these also seem to be progressively diminishing.
It is often said that the UK fleet could not sustain another Falklands
campaign. Perhaps we could but certainly nothing larger.
5. There is already a shortfall of qualified
experienced officers even for the present truncated UK fleet.
This is because there is no longer a progressive career structure
with appropriate salary levels in place. It is unfortunate that
the establishment of a sufficiently large fleet to provide the
former would be prejudiced to a great extent by the implementation
of the latter.
6. The only EU country which could claim any
success with similar problems is Denmark. They are world leaders
in the operation of very large, very fast containerships, with
Maersk Line. This is a vertically integrated company in that they
design, build, engine, man and operate their fleet entirely "in
house". This, and the fact that container shipping is highly
technologically sophisticated, must give them great advantages.
At the same time Denmark has one of the highest wage economies
in the EC, yet is able to compete successfully with third world
fleets. What are they doing right?
7. The insurance and shipbroking services in
the City do not rely upon UK Owners for their business. They are
lucky to operate in the truly global market where only quality
and value are the criteria for success.
Captain R B Bradbury
Deep Sea Pilot
George Hammond plc
2 November 1998