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What keeps me up at night

Concluding our series looking at issues shipping faces thanks to Covid-19, Graham Porter, the chairman of Tiger Group Investments, writes for Splash today. 

I was asked by this site what keeps me up at night. Well, the sound of the frogs outside my window is the obvious answer as I sit out Covid confinement in the south of France. I admit to heaving a great sigh of relief the other day as we could finally go to a restaurant . But what about the bigger picture – the rest of economic life?  

Having experienced first-hand the Hanjin collapse and its tidal wave of destruction, I have concerns that we will see similar failures

Covid has given me lots of time to reflect on the past years in shipping. For someone who at a peak travelled 200 days per year here I have been in one place for the longest time since my childhood. 

Like everyone in business, I found myself asking whether habits and behaviours will change forever or are we bound to just revert to the old ways and by extension what would this mean for shipping?

I am happy that my involvement with certain sectors of shipping has been reduced during this period. Having experienced first-hand the Hanjin collapse and its tidal wave of destruction, I have concerns that we will see similar failures if the world economy does not pick up, something I believe is unlikely given Covid and the continuing breakdown in US, China and European relations.  

I’m happy to remain in some rather niche trades , such as chemical, where ironically current rates have improved in these strange times to levels not seen since the ordering of the vessels several years ago. 

My latest thoughts are around crew changes. Worldwide, crew have overstayed their contracts.  Now fatigue and frustration is setting in.  Much has been focused on the crews of cruiseships , and repositioning cruiseships to, say, Manila , just to get the crew home. But the vast majority are on cargo ships that will pass no where near their homes. So how to get crew on or off? Flights are greatly curtailed other than from a few centres. 

So could we start to see industry-wide supply curtailment as crews refuse to sail or ships are unable to get replacement crews? 

Will crews start to demand guarantees that they can get off a vessel, or maybe get an extra bonus if they stay on?  And what will be the result ?  I do know the world needs to work together to find a solution and soon. 

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