Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

The cult of cheapness

Shipping, famously said the maritime economist Dr Martin Stopford, “is a branch of the social services”, offering a series of endless and wonderful bargains to the delighted souls who use ships to carry their goods around the world. If you are in the business of shipping goods by sea, you scarcely notice this cost in the total production process, even though shipper bodies get terribly exercised with any attempts of shipping companies to charge a little more. Continue reading

Don’t buck the markets

When sail gave way to steam, did governments demand that great piles of the new fuel were stored in ports around the world, just in case any passing ship wanted to use them? Continue reading


Attend any given conference on shipping, particularly maritime finance, and you will hear, and see, many presentations, accompanied by PowerPoint, predicting a recovery some time in 2013. Read some articles in the trade press, and you will learn that “cash-rich Greek shipowners” are heavily invested in second-hand and newbuilding-resale purchases, notwithstanding ominous economic and market signs. Continue reading

Prosperity is not around the corner.

My eye was caught by a recent article: “Tanker Sector May Be Over the Worst”, quoting a Norwegian bank’s analysis that the tanker market, including VLCCs, suezmaxes, aframaxes, panamaxes and medium range clean product tankers, has bottomed out. Continue reading

Quality squeeze as rates fall

As more ship operators call in the friendly receiver as the grim shadow of overcapacity falls over most shipping sectors, should we be surprised if standards start to diminish? Continue reading

The Greeks have a word for it……

“Cataclysm” is, like most words of its type, of Greek derivation. A Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, told us nearly 2,500 years ago that one thing above all was certain: “all things change”. Continue reading

Worse to come for shipping

The true state of the world economy was shown on August 1, with the release by JPMorgan of a series of indicators making up the global manufacturing purchasing managers’ indices (PMI). Continue reading

What do oil spills, piracy and the Greek crisis have in common?

There are at least three “received truths”, as one of my college professors sarcastically called them, that, in the world of shipping, may be open to challenge. One is that last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion had nothing to do with the rest of the shipping industry, being only about wells and rigs — and not ships Continue reading

A logistical bridge over troubled waters

Sometimes, great events reveal important facts. Logistics, also known as the supply chain, is more and more important on reliable carriage of goods by sea. Continue reading

Flexibility is vital for future ship design

A memorable description of how a ship is planned, designed and built is in “The Building of the Ship”, written by a poet named Longfellow in the late 1840s: Continue reading

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