Maritime sector shows resilience in heavy weather

The global shipbuilding and repair sector has experienced a major crisis since late 2015. The order intake dropped dramatically in 2016 to a level not seen in the past 25 years. The causes are clear: overcapacity of tonnage, the reduced growth in global trade and low oil prices combined with a strong growth in the offshore fleet over recent years. Within the constraints of this sober reality, the innovative Dutch shipbuilders and maritime suppliers put up a good fight in 2016, managing to limit the fall in turnover to just 14 per cent.

The Dutch maritime technological sector has seen many ups and downs since the 1970s, including times when it was forced to scale back, then grow again while making investments in innovation. Now the time has again come for companies to take action. The minor adjustments in late 2015 evolved into far more public and radical measures in the second half of 2016. Over the past year, employment dropped from 31,100 to 29,400 FTEs, and this reorganisation process will continue this year.

Dutch yards and suppliers experienced a turnover reduction of nearly 14 per cent in 2016, from €8.2 billion in total turnover in 2015 to €7.1 billion in 2016. The prospects are difficult to estimate. Although the average trend is declining, there are still niche markets in which the Netherlands (and Europe) is performing well, including superyacht construction, fisheries, naval vessels, the dredging sector and the cruise industry (including river cruises).

Increasing the sustainability of global shipping

“The Dutch maritime technological sector has shown its resilience in the past and will weather this storm too,” says Hans Voorneveld, chairman of the Netherlands Maritime Technology trade association. “Dutch shipbuilders and maritime suppliers are flexible, innovative and have solutions to help increase the sustainability of global shipping. Our sector is able to make a major contribution to compliance with the Paris climate agreements, and we hope to achieve this in partnership with the Dutch government. A first step towards this goal was taken with the allocation of the SDS scheme for the application of sustainable technologies in new builds and refits/rebuilds; technologies that can also be used for the export markets.”

The Dutch shipbuilding cluster in 2016

The Dutch maritime technological sector had a turnover of €7.1 billion in 2016 (2015: €8.2 billion) and the total employment was 29,434 FTEs (2015: 31,108 FTEs).

New seagoing vessels

A total of 72 seagoing vessels were delivered in 2016 (2015: 63). The order intake involved 42 vessels (2015: 64 vessels) with a value of €642 million (2015: €693 million). The export percentage was 79% (2015: 83%).

Maritime suppliers

The turnover of the approximately 670 Dutch maritime suppliers was €3.5 billion in 2016 (2015: €4.2 billion). The employment among Dutch maritime suppliers totalled 17,031 FTEs (2015: 18,005 FTEs). In addition, the maritime supply sector employed an average of 1,590 temporary FTEs in 2016.

Repairs on seagoing vessels

The turnover in 2016 was €442 million (2015: €562 million) while employment involved 2,020 FTEs (2015: 2,231 FTEs).

Inland shipping, fisheries and small seagoing vessels

The industry delivered 116 vessels in 2016 (2015: 111 vessels). The order portfolio on 31 December 2016 contained 126 vessels (2015: 128 vessels).

Superyacht construction

The sector delivered 19 superyachts in 2016 (2015: 23 superyachts) with a value of €1 billion (2015: €1.1 billion) and took in 17 new orders (2015: 28) worth €1.3 billion (2015: €1.1 billion). In late December 2016, the order portfolio listed 66 superyachts (2015: 72 superyachts) with a value of nearly €4.6 billion (2015: €4.2 billion).