International Maritime Statistics Forum (IMSF) considers the possibility for a standard measurement of ship types.

The Working Group on “Standard Measurement of Ship Type” of the International Maritime Statistics Forum (IMSF)* reported at its Annual Conference in Valencia that a vessel’s volumetric characteristics could provide a better tool than those commonly used to compare dissimilar ship types. 

The IMSF identified the difficulty of comparing vessels/fleets of dissimilar ship types when using the commonly-used measurements of GT/NRT and Dwt. As an example, the graph below depicts the different distributions when measuring the fleet using a number of alternative criteria, including dwt, GT, number of vessels.

A standard measurement would provide a means of assessing a fleet from a new perspective, including an economic element, enabling a representative view on the importance of a fleet. This could be used by such bodies as policy makers, ports etc. allowing them to better formulate strategy, decisions and marketing efforts. 

The Working Group has explored a number of approaches including the annual cost per unit of cargo as well as using standard measures including tonnages, dimensions and type-specific capacities. Using similar sized vessels of different types, it showed that when converting GT and NRT to their cubic metre equivalents, and comparing these to cargo capacities expressed in cubic metres, there were significant discrepancies that called into question the accuracy and validity of using GT and NRT for measuring cargo capacity. 

Cubic capacity alone would not be enough to make the vessels/fleet comparable; a universal factor – differing according to ship type - would need to be applied to determine the actual carrying capacity/economic space. 

The approach was well received by the forum consisting i.a. of representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation/Maritime Administration (MARAD), U.K. Chamber of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), EUROSTAT, Braemar Seascope, Polish Ministry of Shipping, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit (LMIU) and LRFairplay. 

The Working Group has undertaken to refine an existing proposal and then seek comments from IMSF members as well as other members of the industry.  

Also at the conference, Russell Byington, Chief Economist, MARAD, reported on the development of the U.S. tank vessel market. Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs) have proven to be more efficient than the older Integrated Tug Barges (ITBs) and are generating a higher return on investment (ROI) than conventional tankers. It was also shown that the U.S. Tanker Vessel Fleet has been considerably enhanced by the addition of many new ATBs considerably reducing the average age to 9 years. 

Braemar Seascope Director Colin Cridland introduced the concept of Dwt Tanker Demand in order to overcome the issues concerning using tonne mile measurement which actually measures cargo and not ship demand and under-estimates demand as it does not take port time properly into account. Dwt Tanker Demand is more difficult to calculate but it would provide a more accurate method to compare tanker demand and supply. 

LRFairplay Research and the Maritime Institute of Gdansk covered environmental issues, highlighting problems concerning emissions and other marine pollution in the Baltic Sea Area. From their presentations it was clear that a pollution hot-spot along the Swedish coast was the result of high levels of RoRo/Passenger traffic rather than tankers. Also the emissions from tankers appeared to be considerably below those of RoRo/Passenger vessels on a per tonne of cargo carried basis. However, it was pointed out during the discussion that the increasing traffic of tankers, especially those lightering at Skaw, will need to be closely monitored. 

At the Valencia meeting, an INTERTANKO representative was elected to serve on theIMSF Steering Committee and it is looking into possibilities for further collaboration. The Chairman of IMSF, John Dowden, (U.K Chamber of Shipping), expressed his delight at INTERTANKO’s participation. 

* The International Maritime Statistics Forum (IMSF) is a platform and network for individuals and organisations that have an interest in, and need for, maritime statistics. The Forum is interested in improving the quality of maritime statistics and expanding the amount and scope of statistics available. 

Contact: Chantal Cheung Tam He