After more than a decade of painful decline, world shipbuilding may be set for a modest revival.
Although more shipwrights’ jobs are likely to be lost, particularly in Europe, order books are beginning to fill up at some yards that survived the lean years since the mid-1970s.
“There is now unmistakable evidence of an upturn in world demand for shipping,” said Bryan Gould, who is trade spokesman for Britain’s opposition Labor Party.
With many old ships unsuitable for modern requirements, this means new ships must be built.
“It is undeniable that hundreds of merchant vessels built before the industry’s survival struggle started in Europe in the 1970s are due to be scrapped,” a shipping analyst for the European Community said.
“They are outdated by the standards of modern technology.”
However, he added that demand for dry cargo ships and tanker replacement is rising. Prices for ships have risen roughly 25% since 1986.
Worldwide orders rose in the second quarter of this year to 23.97 million gross tons, the highest in 2 years, according to figures from Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. The London-based company lists shipbuilding orders worldwide.
It said new orders by the end of June comprised 2,142 ships against 2,120 on March 31, including 249 oil tankers and 326 general cargo ships of 2,000 tons and over.
More than 87% of the tonnage is due for delivery by the end of 1989.
The mid-1970s saw hundreds of yards around the world close as the industry was hit by shrinking trade. High OPEC oil prices sent the West into recession and arrested a rise in demand for petroleum, meaning a surplus of supertankers.