The Pandemic proved expensive for the shipping industry. Ships lying idle due to lack of cargo became unseaworthy and had to be scrapped. The economy has started to pick up and this has led to a shortage of seaworthy ships, which means, new ships have to be built.
According to experts, there is an upward cycle coming in. The previous shipbuilding boom ended in 2008. In 2008, there were 700 shipyards operating globally. Now it’s only 300. In 2008, 1,200 new ships were launched globally, last year it was only 700. The ships built in the last boom cycle will not be relevant anymore, at most for next 4 – 5 years, mainly because of the decarbonization laws which has already been adopted in Europe and now being slowly implemented across the rest of the world.
This can open up opportunities for India. Our design capabilities are excellent and even European shipbuilders are surprised at the quality of some of the supplies made in India. There are lot of export opportunities too, and we can leverage this strength especially the developing countries.
Our vast coastline also means an inherent demand for seafaring vessels. Our docks are already building excellent warships and submarines and are getting a lot of inquiries for refits and repairs too. India is already into ship demolition and recycling in a big way, so why not in ship building too. It is a possibility we can be world leaders, not just play catch up.
We have domain advantages such as skilled labor. It’s got to be channeled in the right direction. We have only one institute in Goa that imparts training in ship building. We have excellent naval architects. But they are not the ones building a ship. It’s like the architect of a building. They can make an excellent plan, but it’s the masons who actually construct the building. The same way, we need ship constructors to make a ship and training needs to be imparted in that direction.
All this would also mean a welcome step for the marine coatings segment and with more opportunities opening up in the shipbuilding sector not only in our country, but all around the world.
In this issue, we look at the direction this is taking us in and of course all our regular columns and features.