Greek-owned fleet hits record 350m dwt (source: Lloyd’s List)

World’s largest shipowning community shrugs off coronavirus impact and shows faith in bulkers to record third-highest annual fleet growth since the end of the supercycle

The world’s largest fleet has grown by 70 vessels and 9.6m dwt in the past 12 months to stand at 4,038 vessels of 350.6m dwt, according to an annual survey for the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee.

CONFIDENCE in the dry bulk market has helped drive the Greek-owned merchant fleet to a record 350m dwt over the past 12 months, but tankers are the dominant tonnage type in a threadbare orderbook for the country’s shipowners.

The world’s largest fleet has grown by 70 vessels and 9.6m dwt in the past 12 months to stand at 4,038 vessels of 350.6m dwt, according to an annual survey for the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee.

Although by no means a record leap, it counts as the third-largest annual increase in capacity for the fleet since the boom years of 2006–2008.

The largest net increase in the past year came in the dry bulk and ore carrier sector, where there was a net addition of 35 vessels and more than 4.4m dwt.

The other notable gains in capacity came from an increase of 10 vessels and about 2.5m dwt in crude oil tankers, and a net gain of 15 containerships, of an aggregate 2.3m dwt.

While the Greek-controlled fleet has been growing and renewing through acquisitions, the orderbook is at a near historic low of 134 vessels under construction.

According to the data provided to the GSCC by IHS Markit, the existing fleet represents 15.8% of the world fleet by capacity although the share rises to a staggering 26.4% in the crude oil tanker sector.

Tankers and gas carriers are the only sectors where the Greek-owned share of the orderbook matches their established presence in the market.

Of Greek orders, more than half — 70 — are crude carriers, which represents 29% of tankers on order worldwide.

In gas carriers — including both liquefied natural gas carriers and liquefied petroleum gas carriers — Greek owners control 11.2% of the fleet and 15.6% of the tonnage on order.

Despite recent political initiatives to make the Greek registry more attractive to owners, the Greek flag has not so far received a bounce.

It suffered a further net loss of 52 vessels and 3.3m dwt over the 12 months and now represents just 17% of Greek-owned shipping capacity, behind Liberia with 24.9% and the Marshall Islands with 20.3%.

Cyprus and Malta also lost Greek-owned tonnage over the past year.