This summer, after months of (semi-)lockdown, we were enjoying the freedom of meeting with our friends and family again, visiting the zoo or other outings, starting up our sporting events, going out for dinner, having a drink, making small journeys – all so nice because we were prevented from doing this since March. And while economists were discussing the V- or W-shape of the crisis and the moment of resurrection of the economy the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard again with a second wave.
Now we find ourselves in a lockdown for the second time and economists are gloomier than before. All eyes are on the pharmaceutical industry, expectantly for the vaccines which will make our lives normal again.
Harbor towage sector is facing stiff challenges due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The sector is witnessing downward pressure from the maritime industry in line with declining demand and in-turn downfall in the manufacturing activities.
COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of long supply chains. The crisis started with a supply disruption, as the Chinese manufacturers were unable to produce and transport because of the local lockdown. As the lockdown shifted to Europe and the USA, customer demand was also substantially impacted. It is inevitable that new trade routes will occur. The already started regionalization of trade will be accelerated by the pandemic, the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative with arising trade routes is in full steam; the Arctic Passages are initiatives have less impact, though they are being developed. These new trade routes allow the emergence of new ports or contribute to the growing or diminishing importance of ports.
These changing trade flows will undoubtedly reflect the developments in towage operation and tug design: different requirements on versatility and power of tugboats increases the need for custom made vessels. But not only the trade flows influence tug development, decarbonization and digitization are having major influences on designs. Furthermore, new service concepts will appear.
These items will be discussed in this Newsletter. And as every year we have made our overview of selected towage operators worldwide: where are they towing, how many vessels do they operate and has the fleet grown – you will find the answers in our Overview of Selected Harbour Towage Operators.