Maritime giant AP Moller Maersk will register more than 30 new ships under the Singapore flag, a move that will significantly boost the local shipping industry, analysts said.
The new ships will come on stream over the next three years and eventually bring AP Moller Singapore’s 77-vessel fleet to above 100 for the first time.
More vessels are seeking to be registered in Singapore due to a range of government incentives like tax breaks, but the ships must also meet stringent safety rules.
Managing director Bjarne Foldager told The Straits Times: “There is a good match between what we want and what Singapore wants. Our desire for safe and good quality shipping is supported by Singapore and that’s what we like.”
Foldager said AP Moller could already have the largest fleet in Singapore.
The additions will be more than half of the 58 new-buildings the Danish shipping conglomerate plans to add to its fleet of vessels. Its container arm Maersk Line is the world’s largest.
“The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) listens to the industry.
They reach out to us, call us up and ask for input,’’ said Foldager, who also heads Maersk crew management, which oversees about 370 ships and 12,000 seafarers for the AP Moller-Maersk Group globally.
“What we like in Singapore is there is a stable government, and we trust them, that when they say they want to grow the shipping industry, they will do it.’’
The firm’s big fleet addition will underpin Singapore’s drive to be an international maritime hub beyond just its port operations.
There are already banks focused on shipping, as well as shipping law firms, protecting and indemnity clubs, and classification societies.
Global shipping firms are also increasingly moving their headquarters here.
Foldager said that Singapore also provides access to Asia’s growing pool of seafarers, and the company can find managerial talent here as well.
“Overall, it gives a good framework for managing the business here from Singapore. The shipping that we do is international, the ships that we have trade all over the world, and it’s important that there is a framework that accepts this and promotes free trade,’’ he said.
The maritime industry contributes about seven per cent to economic output, with around 5,000 maritime-related companies employing 100,000 people.
The Singapore ship registry has grown from 3,219 vessels in 2005 with a gross tonnage of 33 million, to about 4,000 vessels with a total gross tonnage of 47 million, according to the MPA. It is among the top 10 largest ship registries in the world.
A ship flagged in Singapore is subject to the rules and regulations of the flagged state. The MPA regularly inspects vessels and their equipment and crew, and issues safety and pollution prevention documents. Only ships owned by Singapore-incorporated companies are accepted into the registry.