Panama has increased its lead as the world's largest shipping register, figures published by Lloyd's Register (LR) reveal. During 1998, Panama's fleet grew by almost eight per cent to 98.2 million gross tonnage (mgt), although in terms of numbers its fleet fell by 45 ships to 6,143 ships. Panama now has some 18.5 per cent of the total world fleet, leading the next flag state - Liberia - by 37.7 mgt. World Fleet Statistics, published annually by LR, shows that the world merchant fleet has reached a new record tonnage, standing at 531.9mgt (85,828 ships), an increase of 9.7mgt over the previous year. The rate of growth was, however, slower than the previous year, showing an increase in total fleet size of 1.9 per cent for 1998, compared with 2.8 per cent the previous year.
During 1998, Liberia's fleet rose less than 0.5 mgt to 60.5mgt (1,717 ships) and, in third place, the Bahamas registered fleet increased by 8.6 per cent, to 27.7mgt (1,286 ships). For the second year running, the Greek registered fleet fell, although this year the fall was only 63,909 gt compared with 1997's 8.1 per cent drop. The Greek fleet now stands at 25.2 mgt, leading Malta by only 1.2mgt. Malta's fleet increased considerably during the year, pushing ahead of Cyprus with an increase of 4.7 per cent. Another fleet to show a decrease was that of Cyprus, where it fell, in terms of gross tonnage, by 1.5 per cent to 23.3 mgt (1,602 ships). In contrast, the Singaporean registered fleet grew by nearly 8 per cent, some 1.5 mgt to 20.4 mgt (1,677 ships).
Overall, ships completed during 1998 totalled 25.3 mgt (1,726 ships), a slight increase on the 1997 total of 25.2 mgt. Japan and South Korea were responsible for 69 per cent of this tonnage. The only other countries to complete more than a million gross tons were China (1.4 mgt) and Germany (1.0 mgt). The graph above shows the comparative growth of the leading six countries by registration over the past five years. More information: Lloyd's Register Sue Powell, Press & PR