German shipping exits 12-year slump

Alfred Hartmann

The German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) has said German shipping has finally exited the slump that decimated the national fleet since 2009.

Few national fleets suffered more in the wake of the global financial crisis than Germany’s. The German KG (limited partnership) funding system, a major financing model that helped Germany quickly develop its merchant fleet to one of the largest in the world, collapsed in the past decade resulting in the country’s fleet shrinking by more than one-third.

“We have largely put the crisis that has preoccupied us since 2009 behind us and, in many segments, we have surprisingly also navigated through the pandemic unscathed so far,” said VDR president Alfred Hartmann in a release yesterday, adding: “At the moment, no one can predict whether this positive trend will continue, especially in the container shipping segment.”

VDR statistics state Germany’s fleet is the fifth largest in the world. Prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the country boasted the world’s third-largest merchant fleet. Still, after years of shedding tonnage, there are signs the fleet is finally stabilising.

“Following the years of unusual growth in the early 2000s – especially in the container shipping segment – and the subsequent decline, we now have a new normal. The German fleet is roughly as strong and in large parts even stronger than it was before this boom,” VDR CEO Ralf Nagel said.

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