Hamburg: Helmut Ponath, ceo of Reederei NSB, is exasperated at Berlin’s intransigence on making the German flag more competitive and more in line with other European nations. As the shipping line with the highest number of German flagged ships in the world, his opinions ought to be heard but are currently falling on deaf ears in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.
The EU now allows seafarers to be relieved from 100% taxes on wages; Germany only allows a 40% cut however. Furthermore, at least five sailors of a crew on ships flying the German flag have to be German or European. Other countries do not have regulations regarding nationalities at all.
“With roughly 500 German and European sailors on our current 38 vessels with a German flag we had been the operator with the biggest number of German flagged ships,” Ponath says, adding: “We regret that, even with the involvement of politics and associations, we weren’t successful in bringing the framework of support for the German flag to another level, which would ensure a European employee at sea the long-term ability to compete internationally and secure maritime knowledge in Germany.”
With expectations that container shipping is set to be in the doldrums for some time to come, NSB has been diversifying a great deal in the past year.
The company continues to push itself as a third party shipmanager, opening a branch in Shanghai named Asia Marine Shanghai in November.
Last October the company founded NSB Marine Solutions, offering innovative solutions and state-of-the-art technology and shipmanagement processes. Customers can select from a broad portfolio of services, pick individual products or receive a full-service package.
While box shipping might still present challenges, Ponath is more optimistic about the offshore wind installation sector.
NSB has formed a joint venture with offshore specialist Offcon and has developed new designs for multipurpose offshore vessels (MPOVs).
“The MPOV-Wind family is tailor-made to the requirements of the offshore wind market and offers a highly efficient and cost-optimized concept which also includes logistics and maintenance to wind farm operators,” Ponath says.