SRS’s view on the impact of Covid-19

Posted by SRS

SRS Ltd is the UK’s oldest independent shipping agency and provides ship repair, engineering
support and maritime solutions to the UK owners, ship managers and operators worldwide through its
global network of ship repair yards.

SRS Ltd holds exclusive UK agency rights with 15 shipyards across the Mediterranean, West and
Southern Africa, the Middle East, China, Singapore, North America, Panama and South America.
SRS Ltd is led by Managing Director Roderick Wordie.

Q: What has been the impact of coronavirus on the ship repair industry?

A: In 2020, ship repair yards were entering into one of their busiest periods, with docks booked for
routine class dockings and scrubber and ballast water treatment retrofits, with the Chinese ship repair
yard being the main beneficiary.

However, the onset of coronavirus, the associated implications of 14-day quarantine, the repatriation
of workers and restriction of movement of workers into yards between borders have all had a serious
impact on labour supply and the ability of ship repair yards to operate at capacity.

Certain territories have been hit harder than others. Governments have issued legislation to restrict
the movement of workers and several ship repairs yards have had to close temporarily, which has
impacted the ability of owners to find a yard that is operative. As such, many ship owners and
managers are now applying to class and flag state for extension of their class docking date. For
those yards that are still operative, the 14-day quarantine rule is blocking the ability of
superintendents and service technicians to attend scheduled dockings.

However, the maritime sector is responsible for 90 per cent of movement of goods (International
Chamber of Shipping) and the ship repair community is trying to adapt its operations to allow seaborn
trade to continue.

We have seen several owner operators with ships in drydock which require repair. Their
superintendents are working remotely from their vessels and are co-opting local superintendents in
that territory and using third party contractor services and managing the project remotely.
The question is, what will be the impact of delayed class extensions coinciding with planned class
dockings on ship repair capacity in six to 12 months’ time? One would be thinking there will be a
surge in demand for ship repair facilities. Several owners have recognised this conundrum and have
started planning and issuing their specifications now to ensure they secure dock space for their vessel
in the facility of choice with the most appropriate capabilities.

Q: When do you predict ship repair will return to normal?

A: We are seeing regions returning to some form of normality with facilities in China back at capacity.
Interestingly we are receiving daily enquiries for ship repair, voyage repair and dry dockings for bulk
carriers, container vessels, product tankers and LPG vessels from superintendents who are looking to
dock in the next three to six months. This is promising for the world-wide ship repair industry.

We are also receiving daily enquiries from owners, who due to the impact of coronavirus, have had
vessels returned from charter ahead of time. They are now looking to complete their routine
maintenance as soon as possible so their vessels can be returned to charter unencumbered for the
next two and half years.

The reality is that it is going to take time for activity to return to normal – both in terms of ship repair
and workforce. We must all hope that the virus isn’t going to re-emerge and that we will continue to
see green shoots of recovery.