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GSCC 2024 Vassilopitta

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Following the AGM, the Annual Vassilopitta event of the GSCC (Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee) took place last Thursday at the Hall of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in Staple Inn just off the Committee’s offices, in one of London’s and indeed UK’s landmark buildings with unique history since Norman times…

UK Deputy Minister for Shipping Lord Davis attended and delivered a short but very interesting message!

….from the drinks reception

Nearly 150 guests were there and together with the members of the Committee celebrated the New Year, 2024, a year that alike 2023 looks like everybody will remember forever given what takes place today in all fronts, particularly the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the upheaval in the Middle East AND the mess in Red Sea with ships crew in danger, plus a possible Chinese – Taiwan confrontation; not to mention the US Presidential Elections and over 60 more elections… Add the fact that Actuaries use their mathematical skills to help quantify the probability of, and the risks associated with, future events; it could not be a better place of GSCC’s chairman to deliver once again his speech!

The process begins

This is the event which marks the beginning of the year for Greek and International shipping in the Square Mile and beyond…

John Faraclas was there with his camera:

The Very Revd Archimandite Nephon Tsimalis, Councellor representing His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain officiated; he was assisted by Father George. Following the Blessings, Archimandrite Nephon cut the Vassilopitta in the traditional order …

Smiling faces: the first lucky punter LR’s Thomas Sakellariou with LR’s Elina V. Papageorgiou

Three lucky punters won respective half sovereigns, Thomas Sakellariou from Lloyd’s Register, former GSCC’s secretariat assistant Chryssi Klavdianou and the third went to the Cyprus’ High Commission representative.

Immediately after the teletourgy and cutting of the Vassilopita, GSCC’s chairman Harry J. Fafalios delivered yet another well-construed speech as he does during all these years of his tenure and as all chairmen do in similar circumstances… (please read same at the end of this coverage).

…smiling faces, l to r: Elina Pothitou, Radm (HCG) Kostas Amarantidis, Tenia Koronaiou and Eleni Crockett

H.E The Greek Ambassador Yannis Tsaousis was present with the Commercial Attaché Mrs. Vivi Kampouroglou and his social Secretary Mrs. Elina Pothitos.

The ever present Haralambos Simantonis, president HSSA (Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners Association) attended too.

A strong team from Maritime London was present too headed by Chief Executive Jos Standerwick and Olga Jaques…

Members of the Baltic Exchange’s Secretariat were present too …what a gathering…

HESGB Dimitris N. Monioudis, LR’s Elina V. Papageorgiou, Wordley Partnership’s Costas Frangeskides and LR’s Patty Apostolopoulou

The biggest group, as always was that of the HESGB (Hellenic Engineers Society of Great Britain) headed by its president Dimitris N. Monioudis; Alex Xenakis, George Foustanos, Takis N. Pappas, Capt. Theodore Lembessis, Christos Kottas were there too…

Lloyd’s Register made its presence felt with members from the UK offices – headed by Nick Brown, CEO, Patty Apostolopoulou as well as from the Greek office headed by vice president and head there Mrs. Elina V. Papageorgiou – the previous day at Trinity House LR held its Vassilopitta event, hence the presence of this team. Lambros Varnavides from Lloyd’s Register Foundation attended too… What a turnout… (see picture below)

Representing the Maritime Affairs Section at the Greek Embassy in London was Maritime Attaché Captain (HCG) Angeliki Iatropoulou, the newly arrived Deputy Maritime Attaché Lt. Commander (HCG) Evanthia Kassotaki and Mrs. Tenia Koronaiou…

Also from Greek Defence Attaché’s office were Commander (HN Eng) Stefanos Filtikakis, Colonel (LEGAD) Mrs. Eirini Iliopoulou and Major (HA) Mrs.Varvara Manaras.

More from Class Societies – DNV’s UK office with Costas Papadakis and Olga Karali from DNV’s Athens office (pictured above), BV’s Yiannis Calogeras, ClassNK’s Dr. M. Abdul Rahim, Eleni Crokcett from ABS and members of the CCS (China Classification Society)…

From the GSCC Council: Diamantis J. Lemos, treasurer of GSCC, Antonis P. Palios, member also with his son Pavlos, John M. Hadjipateras – also president Oinoussian Benevolent Fund, member, Pandelis Hatzipateras, member, Alexandros C. Kedros, member, Dimitris Sarakakis, Deputy Treasurer of GSCC, Markos Lyras, member and Michael Papaioannou, member…

George Anastasiou, Anastassis J. Fafalios, Dimitris J. Fafalios chairman of Intercargo with secretary-general Dr. Kostas Gkionis, Nicholas Skinitis, Harry Hadjipateras, John P. Hadjipateras, LISCR’s Costas Ladas and Maria Davari, Vasso Giadikaroglou-Souvaliotis – who just joined the GSCC Secretariat with her husband Stathis Souvaliotis, Dr. Nickos Mikelis, Nikos Nerantzis and Yiannis Hilas as always present… Good to see Lou Kollakis after so many years in this London event!

Katerina Dimitropoulos, communications manager at the International Chamber of Shipping and Julian Bray, Editor of TradeWinds were there… Spotted also Lefki Papaharalambous and Andreas Bisbas…

Lawyers too with George Bairaktaris from Piraeus and London’s Kostas Frangeskides making their presence …felt, P&I Clubs , Marine Insurance Brokers – Stavrianna Asproyiannidou and Myrto Asteri from WTM…

The Greek Maritime Attaché Captain (HCG) Angeliki Iatropoulou
The Deputy Maritime Attaché Lt. Commander (HCG) Evanthia Kassotaki, with LISCR’s Maria Davari and Costas Ladas

Great to see Posidonia’s founder Themis Vokos once again in a great day “shooting” the momentum…

All in jovial mood enjoyed the dips and drinks from Brian’s Fine & Taste Catering as well as the excellent service in this exceptional venue with well mannered waitresses. Once again it was good and encouraging to see also young people from the international shipping fraternity; mainly Greeks’ offsprings of those attending the event and above all it was good talking to them and see how they respond to today’s perplexed shipping and crucial geopolitical challenges!

And here goes Harry J. Fafalios, the GSCC’s president, speech:

“Your Excellency, your Eminence, Minister, my Lord, ladies and gentlemen.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to our annual New Year Vassilopitta cutting in London.

Yet again, the world has moved significantly on from the pandemic into an era of several significant wars going on, namely the Ukraine and Gaza.

To add to that we have a regional conflict in Yemen, which very significantly affects our business.

Primarily from the perspective of crew safety as well as potentially severing one of the most significant arteries of world trade i.e. the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

In fact, as this problem has been spreading, it might even affect the access to the Persian Gulf.

Against this backdrop, the low water levels in the Panama Canal seems a bit less worrisome but the effects to world maritime trade are all there.

As usual, the world shipping industry has been doing its best to counteract these issues and see to it that all nations are still receiving their wet and dry commodities as well as manufactured goods on time and on schedule.

Inflation is slightly abating itself but still the world’s most significant economic zones are coping in different ways.
Europe itself is just short of recession and has many elections to decide on its future direction.

The Far East, except for China, is still progressing forward as is India. China will have to take some very difficult economic decisions if it is to resuscitate various ailing parts of its economy.

Whilst the U.S. economy is moving strongly, an election in the autumn will leave voters with two relatively stark choices so far.

The world has learnt to live with sanctions and its effects on maritime trade has been significant as it has created a parallel universe of a fleet with few controls, which is involved in the transport of sanctioned commodities.

In the last twelve months all these factors have helped some sectors of the shipping markets and hindered others.
The tanker sector, both dirty and clean, enjoyed a fruitful and positive twelve months.

The gas carrier fleet, especially the LPG sector, reached new record highs in their freight rates.

The container sector has cooled down a lot and a very substantial orderbook does not bode well for the future.

Interestingly, the car carrier market has been more fortunate with a record demand for vehicle transportation.

Dry bulk went through an unexceptional year, occasionally brought up by the odd FFA induced rally.

Apart from all these challenges, world shipping has been trying to adjust to a low carbon environment. Few realistic solutions at all have been provided by the technology suppliers such as ship and engine builders and the energy suppliers who have still not given us a real low carbon fuel on a well-to-wake basis. This is especially the case for tramp / bulk shipping.

The fuels that are being offered do not, at present, have a global bunkering network and in some cases are not proven to be safe, especially for seafarers.
So, it does the industry no good to add to its headaches with instruments such as ETS, CII, EEXI, which do not in any way encourage a path towards green shipping.

The fact that world shipping transports more than 90 per cent of world trade, in a manner which is more carbon efficient than any other mode of transport, speaks highly of shipping’s continuous aim of lowering its carbon footprint.

The Greek shipping industry itself, one of two largest in the world, is engaged in a very substantial newbuilding programme in all sectors in order to provide vessels suitable for the future.

As the Greek fleet itself carries most of the world’s tramp trade, i.e. dry bulk, gas and tanker, it has to be more versatile than any other fleet and adhere to the requirements of every nation and its legislative conditions.
In order to reach a net zero situation sooner rather than later, we urge all those who supply us with ships and fuels to increase their efforts to reach real solutions, to efficiently serve the tramp model.

We also think that legislators ought to supply more carrot and less stick in order to encourage progress as opposed to filling up their fiscal shortfalls.

The G.S.C.C. itself, being based in London, has the advantage of being close to all the major shipping bodies and has a close dialogue with all these organizations as well as non UK-based institutions. We are always working towards improving the global understanding of what Greek and world shipping does and how it goes about this in a seamless and low carbon manner.

We still urge the Greek government to upgrade the maritime education system and allow more private education establishments.
If the Greek flag is to survive the surrounding bureaucracy, it must improve itself significantly.
We cannot stress enough the need for Greece to have more permanent representation at the E.U. and the I.M.O. in order to increase the understanding of the maritime industry.

The Hellenic Coast Guard must remain an important backbone to the Greek maritime system with its global representation.

Most importantly, of all our gratitude goes to all our seafarers, who endure so many challenges every day and are rarely appreciated for their hard work.

World trade would not function without their selfless efforts every day of the year keeping ships trading from one port to the other whilst encountering rough seas and challenging port environments.

Those working in shipping offices ashore must also not be forgotten for all their hard work in keeping this vital industry functioning smoothly.

Finally, I would like to thank my G.S.C.C. colleagues for their dedication and hard work and in particular to Kostas Amarantidis and his team for running this organization so efficiently in these difficult times.

Thank you.”

Many Congratulations to the Committee’s director Radm (Rt) (HCG) Kostas Amarantidis and his team for organising such an event!

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