Turkish merchant marine fleet maintained a fast pace growth momentum from mid-2000’s through end of 2008, during the period where shipping market registered historical peaks of expansion. Following the global debt crisis in 2008, that momentum was significantly reduced however Turkish owners who seized the opportunities emerging with the crisis, managed to expand the fleet during 2010’s and breached the 30 million DWT limit.
Turkish merchant fleet, in context of this analysis, does not only include Turkish flagged vessels, but also features Turkish owned vessel under foreign flag. Regular and correct analysis of our fleet will allow proper understanding of strong and weak aspects of Turkish maritime assets, preparing projections and accurately assessing the place of Turkish shipping cluster among other nations with its pros and cons.
This study has been conducted by ISTFIX, within Istanbul Shipping Strategies and Research Institute A.S. in order to analyse tonnage of Turkish owned merchant marine fleet and its composition.
The study assumes that the Turkish owned merchant marine fleet consists of commercial vessels:
- controlled by shipowners residing in Turkey,
- operated either under Turkish flag or foreign flags,
- with a gross tonnage of an over 1,000 GT.
Vessels that ceased to operate under any circumstances whatsoever, or vessel that have been lost and no longer exist yet still appear on registries have not been filtered and calls for a separate study. A separate short analysis of the fleet under 1,000 GT that contains coastal traders and auxiliary crafts like port tugs have been provided within the scope of this study.
As at September 2016, Turkish owned merchant marine fleet,
- Consists of 1,505 units,
- with a total deadweight tonnage (DWT) reaching around 28.11 million tonnes,
- and an average age of 18.6 years. (According to Turkish Directorate General of Merchant Marine statistics based on vessel of 150 GT and above, number of vessels and total tonnage is slightly larger. Based on this gross tonnage limit, average age is calculated as 21.8 years.)
One year ago, or as of September 2015, Turkish merchant marine fleet consisted of,
- 1,448 units,
- with a total of 26.94 million DWT tonnage,
- and an average age of 18 years (According to Turkish Directorate General of Merchant Marine, 21.4 years).
Development of Turkish owned merchant marine fleet of 1,000 GT and over, since the year 2012 is depicted below (see Table 1 ve Chart 1).
1.3. DISTRIBUTION BY SHIP TYPES
On Table 2 and Chart 2, type distribution of Turkish owned merchant fleet is depicted. According to the figures, the fleet can be considered as predominantly “bulker” on the basis of tonnage while “general cargo/coastal traders” constitute the majority in terms of population.
Crude oil and oil product carriers, albeit being in small numbers, rank second in terms of tonnage. General cargo vessels, which top the list of vessels sorted by population, rank third in terms of tonnage, accounting for an aggregate of 3,5 million DWT.
Another point worth noting is the considerable population of chemical and container vessels separately. Especially in terms of chemical tankers, it can be seen that Turkish owners maintain a strong position in Europe.
As for average age of various components of the fleet, as presented on Table 3, bulker and chemical tanker fleet are the top two youngest elements of the Turkish merchant marine. Notable contributions of vessels ordered abroad (large bulkers) or at Turkish yards (chemical tankers) by Turkish shipowners between the years 2003 and 2010 manifest themselves clearly in these two segments. Meanwhile, the oldest segments remain the general cargo/coastal traders and RO-RO vessels.
1.4. DISTRIBUTION BY FLAG
Overall, 36.5 percent of Turkish owned fleet is Turkish flagged in terms of population which corresponds to 29 percent in terms of tonnage. As at end 2014, 37.6 percent of total fleet population was registered under Turkish flag, translating to roughly 30 percent of the fleet tonnage. This suggests that despite being at a slow pace, meltdown in Turkish flag remains an issue. As seen on both Table 4 and Chart 4, although number of Turkish flagged units lead the list of registries, majority of the fleet is registered under Maltese flag by tonnage.
1.5. FLEET UNDER 1,000 GROSS TONNES
Taking a specific look at the fleet under 1,000 gross tonnes, which constitutes approximately 1 percent of the total fleet with a total deadweight tonnage of 305,000, it is seen that tugs operated across Turkish ports and local sea transport craft are registered in this small vessel fleet.
It is also worth noting that 129 general cargo vessels plying in the Black Sea and Mediterranean engaged in Turkish domestic trade are in this segment.
1.6. COASTER FLEET
Perhaps the historical backbone of the Turkish merchant marine is the 1,000 to 12,000 DWT dry/bulk and general cargo vessels, colloquially dubbed the “coaster fleet”.
This segment also includes most of the cabotage fleet over 1,000 DWT mentioned in the preceding section.
Although Turkish owned coaster fleet suffered seriously in terms of unit and tonnage loss alike, during 2014-2016 period, as Turkish owners ramped up purchasing activity having found many historical opportunities to expand their fleets with reasonably young, quality vessel at affordable prices, fleet rose to 5 year peak as of September 2016.
With respect to flagging, share of Turkish flagged vessels within the total Turkish owned coaster fleet continues to slide. Although 43 percent of the fleet was Turkish flagged in 2011-2012 period, as of end-2015, only 35 percent fly Turkish flag.
Among the factor leading to dwindling Turkish flag, long and complicated Turkish flag registry procedure, less-than-desired compatibility of Turkish registry procedures to international finance and mortgage issuance system and high cost of operations once the vessels are registered under Turkish flag. Consequently, Turkish owner appear to be opting out of Turkish flag and running their vessels under other jurisdictions.
Following the Turkish registry, most popular flag states favoured by Turkish coaster owners remain Panama and Malta respectively. Rise of Cook Islands flag and the rich presence of Russian flagged sea/river going vessels are also noteworthy.
As for age, 43.25 percent of Turkish owned coaster fleet is over 25 years. Vessel that are above 20 years and might be scrapped in the coming 5 years constitute 55 percent of the overall fleet tonnage.