GSCC Chairman’s New Year’s Speech
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the G.S.C.C. annual Vassilopitta reception could not take
place this year. Therefore, the G.S.C.C. Chairman, Mr. Haralambos J. Fafalios, delivered his
New Year’s speech during January’s Council Meeting. The speech of the Chairman can be
“It is the first time in my tenure as Chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee
that I am delivering my January address online and not at our usual venue, the Baltic Exchange.
The shipping world last year managed, as it has dealt with all major changes, to deal with the
issue of the transition to low sulphur fuels as smoothly as possible. However, we are still not
fully aware of the long-term consequences of the new fuels and how they will affect the safety,
smooth running, longevity and maintenance of vessels main and auxiliary engines.
We also had to deal with a lot of vocal lobbying at IMO on the 2030 and 2050 dates for the
reduction of carbon emissions.
It is everyone’s sincere hope that we can provide practical short, medium and long-term
solutions to these issues as they will affect us globally.
However, it is the deafening silence from ship and engine builders and all other marine
propulsion manufactures that is most obvious.
Where are the solutions that we desperately need in order to proceed along the path to zero
carbon emissions? None are forthcoming.
Whilst many shipping companies are committing themselves to zero net carbon by 2050,
nobody yet has come up with a viable alternative to our tried and tested fuels and machinery
and we urgently require a much greater input from engine/ship builders in order to make the
quantum leap that we so desperately need.
Looking around the world, we have Europe in a deep recession with COVID-19 restrictions at
their highest levels.
We have Great Britain, which is slowly adjusting itself to its Brexit status. Will it become a
great trading nation or will it wallow in a sense of self-pity?
The United States has just elected a new president who promises to reverse all his predecessor’s
policies and to transition away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas as quickly as possible.
A fairly fearful prospect for dry and wet bulk shipping.
And finally, China and the Far East, which still seem to be powering ahead industrially and
The various shipping markets have enjoyed very different fortunes over the past 12 months.
The dry bulk market started last year in an appalling state and took eight months to reach a
more normal freight environment. Since the beginning of this year, it has reached breakeven
levels but no one is certain whether these levels will remain or whether the USA’s anti energy
cargo policy causes a lot of damage.
Whilst the tanker market enjoyed a very exhilarating period last spring, it has since fallen
greatly and has been lying in the doldrums ever since.
Due to a general economic stagnation the container/car carrier sector was looking rather
negative early last year but in the last quarter recovered very strongly to give one of the best
performances in a long time.
The LNG/LPG sector also recovered in the final quarter of 2020 to give, in the case of LNG
carriers some of the highest rates ever seen.
The big issue of the year was and still remains – our crew members at sea.
The difficulty of repatriation and joining ships was and is so great that many crew members
were obliged to spend a lot more time at sea than they would have wanted.
The G.S.C.C. strongly has lobbied Governments and IMO to make crew changes easier and
more convenient. It has also lobbied that our crew members are among the first to be inoculated
against COVID-19 and recognized as essential key workers.
The mental health of those serving on board ships is paramount as they have no opportunity to
go ashore at most ports and cannot leave ships in order to be repatriated from many nations.
We strongly urge Governments, legislators, charterers and even airlines to take a more
considerate attitude to solving this massive humanitarian crisis and permit seafarers to travel
freely to and from the ships they are serving.
It is an enormous contradiction that countries eagerly await and welcome the merchandise that
ships carry around the world but will not equally welcome the seafarers who so selflessly man
the world shipping fleet.
This last year has been equally challenging for the shore staff and the superintendents, who
visit ships on a regular basis.
Getting to a ship in a far-flung port is virtually impossible due to Government restrictions and
limited airline schedules let alone our partially manned offices, which have been a challenging
environment to work from.
One cannot therefore overstress the gratitude that is felt towards all our people on board and
ashore for their magnificent efforts at keeping world trade flowing smoothly and silently with
so little disruption.
In Greece we hope that the Government will improve the marine education system through
investment and private sector involvement. We will continue to stress the necessity for longer
serving individuals to represent Greece at both IMO and the EU, always never forgetting the
importance of the Hellenic Coast Guard and its contribution to Greek Shipping abroad and at
Finally, I would like to thank all my G.S.C.C. colleagues for their dedication and hard work
and in particular to Kostas Amarantidis and Maria Syllignaki for running this organization so
smoothly in these challenging times.