One of the most well attended events in recent years – 200 plus members and guests, was last night’s Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC) traditional Vassilopitta ceremony at the Baltic Exchange with Archbishop Gregorius of Thyateira and Great Britain officiating.
Blessing the four Vassilopittas His Eminence gave his wish as well as that of Patriarch Vartholomeos for good health and continues success and development of the GSCC members and all present there, as well as for the heads of States and government of the United Kingdom and Greece.
As always short and to the point, Committee Chairman Harry J. Fafalios delivered an excellent message focusing on the tax regimes, shipping markets and the impact of the Greek elections for the Greek shipping industry, the number one fleet in the world.
Harry J. Fafalios, inter alia, stressed that this year is especially significant for the GSCC as it represents the 80th year since its inception. Since 1935, the GSCC has been representing Greek shipping on the global stage, commencing with the Great Depression, the Second World War and all the challenges that have faced the global shipping industry ever since.
He added that this year starts with no fewer challenges, whether they be economic, political or legislative.
“We face great uncertainty in the global economy with China slowing down, Europe trying to decide whether to indulge in a money printing exercise and a market where global commodity prices seem to be falling to new lows.
In shipping itself we still have a huge number of new ships being built in every category. We have large numbers of bulk carriers, tankers, gas carriers and mega-containerships entering what is a challenging environment in dry cargo, but a very positive market in tankers and LPG, at levels not seen since 2007-2008.
For the tankers – long may this continue, and for the bulkers, let us hope recovery is around the corner.
Scrapping has picked up a bit for Bulk Carriers albeit at lower prices due to a deluge of low-priced Chinese steel.
The Greek shipping industry itself is still growing with deliveries of Bulk Carriers, Tankers, LNG/LPG Carriers, Containerships as well as more specialised vessels such as Dynamically Positioned Drill Ships and offshore support vessels.
The Greek fleet is probably the largest in the world, the average age is coming down significantly and the Greek Flag fleet is on the white list of Port State Inspections.
As regards legislative issues, we are still involving ourselves actively in trying to deal with the following major ones:
1. Ballast water management;
2. M.R.V’s and E.E.D.I’s;
3. Cargo liquefaction;
4. Piracy in all its forms;
5. Common structural rules;
With regard to these issues we find it tragic that 18 lives were lost on the m/v “Bulk Jupiter” due to cargo liquefaction. This should not happen. We are spending more time dealing with the eradication of invasive species than saving the human species. The GSCC believes that there should be an emphasis on higher shipbuilding standards, greater scrutiny of terminals, more cargo vetting and swifter and more transparent casualty investigations.
The GSCC does not hesitate to lobby on national and international matters at the highest levels when necessary, to deal with problems faced by its members.
Working together with the Union of Greek Ship Owners in Greece makes our voice stronger and our message clearer.
Although based at the Baltic Exchange which we consider to be the spiritual home of world shipping and having good contacts with British maritime organisations of which we are very proud, we do see a dark cloud on the horizon. The fiscal environment in this country has become uncertain and as a result, more and more shipping companies are decamping to more stable locations. Let us not allow London to suffer the fate of New York, which in Shipping terms became a backwater after a negative tax environment in the early 1960’s caused a complete exodus of most maritime companies.
I think that any discourse on our industry would be incomplete without recognising the huge contribution made to Shipping by all the seafarers who man the vessels that ply their trades on the seven seas. Without their hard work and sacrifice, Greek shipping would not be in the prominent position that it finds itself in.”
The Chairman ended by thanking all his colleagues and the GSCC Secretariat.
He was warmly applauded by the members and guests!
The Greek Ambassador Constantine Bikas, the Cyprus High Commissioner Evripides L. Evriviades, the Greek Maritime Attaché Antonios Doumanis, the Cypriot alternative representative at the IMO Nicholas Charalambous , Theofanis Karayannis from IMO’s Marine Environment Division where there…
Present were also the members Baltic Exchange staff, Lloyd’s Register’s Tom Broardley Marine Director with Costas Papadakis from the same society, Kirsi Tikka head of Europe from ABS with Dimitris Kostaras and Vassili Kroustalis; John Vanezos from IACS was there too!
Good to see Tryfon Kedros at 102! with his nephew Alexander Kedros and Alexios Scopelitis all from Southern Shipping and Finance; Pandi Empirikos, Spyros Polemis, Katharina Stanzel CEO from INTERTANKO one of the shipping world’s most powerful woman, Stavriana Asprogiannidou from Willis, David Jones from Intercargo and Chris Papathanassiou from Clarksons and Lilian Evgenidis, former social events correspondent of allaboutshipping now with TeeKay.
Markos and John M. Hadjipateras, John Hadjipateras, Stathes Kulukundis and Dimitris Monioudis (president of the HESGB) from R&K, Mathew T. Los chairman of the West of England P&I Club, Joe Hughes from the American Club, Karl Lumbers from the UK P&I Club, Andreas A. Tsavliris from the Tsavliris Group, Andreas Bisbas from Tsakos’ London office, shipbroker Nicholas Skinitis from Hermes Shipbrokers, Antonis Alexandropoulos from the RBS Shipping Group. Mr. Posidonia – the ever present Themis Vokos was there too, with a lot to say on every shipping market and media history!
Captain (HN) Apostolos Trivlides, the Greek Defence Attaché, Christina Ntaouti, Captain Theo Lebessis and Sotiris Millissis from ELKA Shipping where there too, as did Gallia Bereti from A.M.Nomikos, Captain (Rt.HCG) Elias Sampatakis from the Union of Greek Shipowners in Athens, Marcus Bowman, partner from Holman Fenwick Willan, Alderman for Cheap from the City of London Jeffrey Evans; good to meet newcomer Jonathan Saul from Thompson Reuters – very interesting on the Greek coming elections saga…
Congratulations to Committee’s Director Commodore (Ret. HCG) Costas Amarantidis for organising the event; the excellent buffet and drinks and the very tasty Vassilopittas. Sylvana James, head of the GSCC Secretariat was for the first time absent due to her health and wish her quick recovery!
Three lucky guests won the sovereign coins, Vasso Souvaliotis from Intermar Chartering UK Ltd, Mr. Posidonia….err Themis Vokos and our John Faraclas; good luck to all!
There was a lot of discussions and exchange of views focused on the current state of the markets and the geopolitical situation, with focal point that of the Greek elections this coming Sunday…