Safmarine Runs at Full Capacity as Rivals Slip

Shipping company Safmarine has kept all its ships running despite the global economic downturn

The entire industry had been affected by the euro zone troubles and the dampening of the US economy, and freight rates had been cut to “less than would have been paid in 1995”, according to the company's chief executive in a report in UK newspaper 'The Independent'.

Safmarine’s sister company, Maersk, has 9 percent of its capacity out of service at present while 294 vessels in the entire industry have been laid up, with 19 percent less capacity in use on trade between Europe and Asia.

Safmarine, originally a South African company, was taken over by Scandinavian group AP Moller-Maersk several years ago although it retains its individual character and is under separate management. It is now based in Copenhagen where it moved last year from Belgium to share a head office, and the costs of running it, with Maersk.

He said 90 percent of South Africa’s exports and imports came by sea, a large proportion of this with Safmarine. Its distinctive white container ships call regularly at Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

But the last of its ships to be listed on the South African registry of shipping, the Oranje, was deleted from the list in January last year. The ships in the Safmarine fleet are now on the registers of the UK, Belgium, Hong Kong and Singapore.

It is now an official policy of the South African ministry of transport to attract shipping back to the South African registry and rebuild the country’s reputation as a maritime nation. Daly said Safmarine was working with both the Department of Transport and the National Treasury in exploring opportunities to make the ship register more attractive and globally competitive.

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