Aug 9, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - The Greek-owned fleet is the largest #1 in the world

The largest fleet in the world

The Greek owned fleet is the largest in the world as it was recently restated in the “Posidonia international Maritime congress” ( a festivity around maritime affairs that is being organized every year in Athens since the mid-60’s. The Greeks hold today 18% of world’s tonnage which is by far the largest international merchant fleet the world has ever witnessed.

Today, the Greek fleet accounts for some 18 per cent of the world’s tonnage; this makes it currently the largest single international merchant fleet in the world. Greece is way ahead than its nearest competitors when it comes to modernizing fleets. Greece sunk a total of $9.2 billion in ship investments, followed by the Norweigens at $3.7 billion and the Germans $3.3 billion.

Shipping is arguably the oldest form of occupation of the Greeks. Greece has the largest merchant marine in the world at 170 mil. dwt, of which 50 mil.t. dwt under Greek flag. It is the second largest contributor to the Greek economy after tourism and forms the backbone of world shipping. As of 2007, Greek run companies controlled almost 18% of the world's fleet. Its key centers of operation are Pireaus, London and New York. Its fleet flies under a variety of flags, including flags of convenience. However, some Greek shipping is gradually returning to Greece following the changes to the legislative framework governing its operations and the improved infrastructure.

In the eighteenth century a substantial merchant marine, based on the three “nautical” islands of Hydra, Spetsai, and Psara, developed. This prospered from running the continental blockade imposed by Great Britain during the period of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The existence of a reservoir of trained sailors was to prove of inestimable advantage once the war of independence had broken out, when Greek fire ships became a formidable weapon against the cumbersome ships of the line of the Ottoman fleet.

These merchants also provided the material basis for the Neohellenic Diafotismos. Impelled by the sense of local patriotism that had always been strong in the Greek world, they endowed schools and libraries. The three most important schools-cum-colleges in the Greek world on the eve of the War of Independence were situated in Smyrna, Chios, and Ayvalik (on the coast of Asia Minor opposite the island of Lesbos), all three major centres of Greek commerce.

In the early twentieth century well-established Greek-run international businesses turned their focus towards shipping, often run by members of the Greek Diaspora. The tradition of endowment continued, and it was shipping that funded institutions such as the National Library of Greece. Many changes and upheavals affected their markets: the Russian Revolution, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and restrictions in Egypt that closed their markets to foreigners. The Greek grain merchants in London and Odessa (such as the Vaglianos Bros. and Rodocanachi family) lost access to their traditional grain suppliers and markets and, rather than close, they seized the chance to invest in merchant fleets of steamships, and specialized in tramp shipping.

Greek firms have managed to greatly capture the immense expansion of Asia, particularly China. It is majorly the dry bulk shipping firms that have benefited the most from the development since iron ore and coal are the two major resources that are required for a country's infrastructure to be taken to the next level. Ever since the beginning of the new millennium, China has provided very lucrative contracts both on the spot, and time charter market for dry bulk shippers. As a result, many new shipping tycoons were created.

Most Greek shipping has been run as a family business

The association of Greece and shipping became more apparent when in the 20th century people known as "The Golden Greeks" like Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos attracted a lot of spotlight due to their entrepreneurial success and lavish lifestyles. As a matter of fact, the story of these two men sounds like an ancient Greek myth taking into account that they both were a nemesis of each other, both started out from nothing, and both were able to build fleets larger than national navies in just a few decades. They resembled ancient Greek titans more so than 20th century entrepreneurs. Moreover, a lot of mystery lies behind Greeks in shipping but the financial numbers indicate that they go very well together.

The oldest and currently most honored Greek shipping families include Onassis, Niarchos, Latsis, Goulandris of Andros, Embiricos of Andros, Angelicoussis , Lemos of Chios, Pateras of Chios, Hatzipateras of Chios , Stathatos and Lyras, Papalios, Rethimnis, Vergotis of Ithaca, Coulouthros, Mavroleon, Livanos, Carras, Polemis, Likiardopoulos, Kolokotronis, Dracoulis, Menis Karageorgis, Kulukundis, Nomikos, Hadjilias, Xylos, Fafalios from Chios, Negroponte, Tsavliris, Gregos, Koumantaros, Pittas, Chandris, Theodoracopoulos, Apadiakos from Chios, Vatis, Economou, Kalimanopoulos, Tsakos, and Paris Dragnis from Nea Anchialos.

Other contemporary shipowners include Valmas, Martinos, Laskaridis, Kollakis, Panagiotidis, David, Los, Tsakos, Constantine Samartzis, Vafias, Kalamotusis, Koustas, Petridis, Angelopoulos, Costantakopoulos, Efthimiou, Fais, Giannis Vardinogiannis, and Georgiopoulos.
The Onassis and Niarchos families were well-known rivals during the 20th Century, and both controlled fleets exceeding one million tonnes.
John Latsis built a shipping empire out of nothing and his son Spiros took over with great success expanding the empire even further than shipping into banking and finance.
The Goulandris brothers started out from the Greek island of Andros and have built a multi-billion dollar empire over many years of trading.
John Theodoracopoulos was a well known shipping magnate of the 20th century who controlled a large fleet from New York. Theodoracopoulos started out his fleet by buying many Liberty ships from the Americans during WWII.

Some notable Greek shipping companies include:

  • Aries Maritime Transport Ltd.
  • Kronos Maritime Agency
  • Transocean Steamship
  • Danaos Corporation
  • Euroseas Ltd.
  • Quintana
  • Tsakos Energy Navigation
  • Overseas Shipholding group- Stelmar Ltd
  • Diana Shipping Ltd
  • Dry Ships Ltd
  • Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd
  • Eletson corporation
  • Freeseas Ltd
  • Goldenport Holdings Ltd
  • Loucas G. Matsas
  • Marmaras Navigation Ltd
  • Minerva Marine
  • A.M. Nomikos
  • Omega Navigation Enterprises Inc.
  • Primera Maritime (Hellas) Ltd.
  • Seanergy Maritime BCCtm
  • Spanos Maritime
  • Stealth Gas Ltd
  • Target Marine S.A.
  • Thena Maris S.A.
  • Top Tankers
  • Trefin Tankers
  • Tsavliris Salvage Intrnational Ltd
  • Continental Maritime S.A.

More here:
Shipping Taxation: The Comparative Position of Greek Shipping
Article: The History of Aristotle Onassis (Αριστοτέλης Ωνάσης)

Shipping Summit 2008
Wednesday 5 November 2008

Greek Shipping Summit 2007 Retrospective:
The second Greek Shipping Summit, co-organised by Seatrade and TradeWinds, brought more than
174 participants from 17 countries to the Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens to hear from leading industry representatives from home and abroad.
The Greek Shipping Summit united Greek and international shipowners with charterers, bankers and financiers, lawyers and lawmakers, regulators, port authorities, shipbuilders and representatives of class societies from all major world maritime centres.

Greek Shipping Summit 2008

Seatrade and TradeWinds are delighted to announce the return of the Greek Shipping Summit for the third year this November 5, 2008.
Join leading representatives from home and abroad to focus on this year’s crucial issues such as:

Nikos Deja Vu

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