You will never see a seagull following a ship from Groningen. This funny line refers to the tradition of never throwing anything overboard and consuming every resource. In other words: a rather calvinist attidude to saving costs, and keeping things as simple as possible. This is, in short, the world of the Dutch general cargo fleet. Surviving every crisis by tightening the belt, and thus building up a successful tradition of Dutch seamanship. Marstrat dives into the world of this specific dry cargo segment.
The Dutch general cargo fleet consist of a range of ship types. Typically they are relatively small ships, decreasingly ice classed, geared with cranes, especially in the larger segments. Single or tween decked, generally with box shaped holds and some vessels hold open hatch notation. In smaller sizes, sea-river type vessels are sometimes fitted with hydraulic wheelhouses in order to reduce air draft. All vessels are fit to purpose resonating the wish of charterers to serve specific markets. The total Dutch owned fleet consists of 1,985 ships, with a total cargo carrying capacity of 18 million dwt. a quarter of this fleet consists of general cargo and multipurpose vessels up to 20.00 dwt. These small work horses of the maritime industry carry a range of cargoes within the bulk and breakbulk markets. As such they are an essential part of the logistics chain. The breakbulk transported includes forestry products from Scandinavia, grain from the Black Sea region, ores and minerals for the British market, fertilisers and big bags for North Africa. Special cargoes include pipes and wind mill blades, dredging material, steel tanks, coils and cranes and much more.
The European players
The market of GC/MPP ships is dominated by players around the border of Groningen, a province in the North of the Netherlands. The largest player in this segment is Briese Schiffahrts from Germany, a shipowner that combines chartering with another big player form just across the border: W. Bockstiegel. Their BBC Chartering from Leer is responsible for the commercial management of a versatile fleet of medium-sized heavy lift vessels and general cargo ships. Second and third player are Dutch: Wagenborg Shipping and the combined fleet of Spliethoff Group. Another shipowner not mentioned here is Norwegian Wilson AS, with 80 …………………..
Got curious? This article was previously published in Maritime Holland #3 – 2016. Subscribe and contact us for old magazines.