Foreign firms park idle ships in Davao, Subic

Published by rudy Date posted on February 13, 2009

A GROWING number of foreign shipping companies looking to cut costs amid a global slowdown in trade are laying up their ships in Philippine ports, maritime officials said yesterday.

The trend became apparent this year, Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Elena Bautista said, adding Philippine ports were attractive because of their wide bays.

The vessels could be parked for three to six months, she said, noting that Subic Bay was already full of ships that had been laid up.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority confirmed that 22 vessels there were waiting out the recession.

On Malalag Bay in Davao del Sur, Greek-flagged carrier ZIM Shipping Lines had laid up five of its ships, while an Israeli company planned to park 10 of its vessels on Pujada Bay, Bautista said.

The two bays in Davao can accommodate as many as 100 ships for a daily rate of $90 to $120 per vessel.

Philippine Ports Authority general manager Oscar Sevilla said one company was discussing its plan to lay up 10 vessels at the South Harbor in Manila Bay.

Sevilla said Cebu was already full of parked vessels.

But the slowdown in shipping has hurt Filipino seamen.

At the 5th Philippine Ports and Shipping Conference in Makati yesterday, Transport Secretary Leandro Mendoza acknowledged that hundreds of seamen had lost their jobs after shipping companies mothballed their ships to wait out the economic downturn.

Mendoza said the signs had become bleaker for the industry as more shipowners laying up their vessels in the face of a decline in global trade.

The Global Institute of Logistics said the Philippines was the leading supplier of seafarers in the international market, with 266,553 Filipinos deployed in international passenger and cargo vessels in 2007 alone.

Bautista announced that domestic shipping companies were bringing down their fares and cargo rates this week to reflect a drop in the price of bunker fuel.

She said Solid Shippine Lines, Lorenzo Shipping Corp., Sulpicio Lines Inc., NMC Container Lines, and Oceanic Shipping were cutting their bunker fuel charge by 19.67 percent.

Negros Navigation had also cut its cargo rates by 28.6 percent, Bautista said, while Aboitiz Transport had reduced passenger fares by 19.6 percent.

The shipping industry has suffered a decline in its cargo business amid the general slowdown and competition from airlines.–Roderick dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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