NLFlag - Cora van Nieuwenhuizen - ministerie van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat

Launch of NL flag website by Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen

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On Thursday 7 November, the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen officially launched a new website: The launch took place at the NL flag stand at Europort, the leading maritime exhibition for special ships in Rotterdam.

The NL flag website is the all-encompassing information portal for the registration of sea-going vessels and superyachts under the Dutch flag. The portal is publicly available without restricted access and provides information on the vessel registration and certification process, manning requirements and the Netherlands’ shipping and tax policy.

The Dutch government has the aim to increase the number of vessels flying the Dutch flag, currently over 1,220, in order to continue to strengthen the maritime cluster in the Netherlands and to further develop maritime related economic activity and employment.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: “The Netherlands has a rich maritime heritage and a strong performance in water management and maritime business. We are front runners with respect to innovation of the shipping sector. With a ship register ranked in the top of the Paris MoU, the Netherlands remains well represented at the International Maritime Organization with its main purpose of safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.”

The launch of the website coincides with the start of the promotion campaign of NL flag which is executed by Marstrat on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

Marstrat - Maritime Awards Gala 2019

Marstrat continues support of Maritime Awards Gala

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Rotterdam based maritime consultancy firm Marstrat has supported Maritime Awards Gala (MAG) over the years and became Gold Sponsor for the first time in 2018. Marstrat confirms to continue the sponsorship agreement in 2019.

Marstrat and MAG share the same vision when it comes to appreciating the significance of the Dutch maritime industry: from creating world class innovative solutions and highly advanced shipbuilding to realizing sustainable maritime solutions with the strong support of finance providers. Marstrat has been involved in various mandates promoting the Dutch maritime sector internationally and has been guiding companies and the public sector to develop maritime business activities locally.

Every year almost 900 maritime professionals attend the annual networking event to celebrate the innovative power and achievements of the Dutch maritime industry. The event hosts five prestigious awards in the categories designer, innovation, ship-of-the-yearshipping and student innovation.

Marstrat is a strategic consultancy firm based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands that provides a unique combination of business, financial, and operational expertise to the maritime sector. Marstrat simplifies, organises and supports in order to solve your cross-disciplinary maritime challenges. Marstrat’s partners speak the language of the sector and understand the international markets. They have extensive experience, and an undisputed track record in the maritime sector.


Marstrat shipbuilding


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Turkey; where east meets west, where ancient meets modern, but also where maritime recovery meets continued struggle for the countries shipyard industry.

Shipping is a global industry. Turkish shipowners are benefitting from the gradual improvement in some (but definitely not all!) main shipping sectors but the shipbuilding industry is still lagging behind.

Turkey is among the top-ten shipbuilding nations. The Turkish shipbuilding industry is strategically important for Turkey because of the contribution it makes to the national economy. In addition, as one of the country’s core industries, it has a positive effect on deficit reduction efforts by bringing foreign currency into the country and driving employment. The government wants to boost the national export and import volumes to 500 billion USD each by the year 2023.

But the financial crisis that started 10 years ago had a major negative impact on the Turkish shipbuilding industry. And the sector is recovering only very slowly. To overcome the negative consequences of the global economic crisis, the Turkish shipbuilding industry is trying to take measures to tackle the overcapacity problem. In particular, it has begun to economise and merge shipyards. Furthermore, Turkey is leaving the commodity markets and has focus to build specialised types of vessels rather than the standard ship types in response to market demand and trends.

Because, much like other shipbuilding nations, Turkey is lagging behind China, South Korea and Japan in terms of output, especially so with larger ship types such as bulk carriers, tankers and containerships. Turkish shipyards will focus on the construction of smaller-tonnage chemical and oil tankers. In the mega yacht segment, Turkish yards produce an annual volume worth 300 million euros, taking third place globally.

Ubald Nienhuis - Partner Marstrat - Operational Management

Data: the key to the future

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Marstrat is a strategic consultancy firm that provides expertise to help companies solve their maritime challenges. One of Marstrat’s clients is Royal IHC, a developer and supplier of vessels, equipment and services for the dredging, offshore and mining industries. For IHC, continuously optimising its business process is important. With a solid background in maritime technology and management, Ubald Nienhuis, partner and consultant at Marstrat, has been leading the One IHC Program since 2012.


Five years ago, IHC decided to make its entire business process and all related data and applications uniform. No matter the stage in the process of sales, engineering, procurement, manufacturing or services, it is all done in a uniform way, and all IHC employees use the same state-of-the-art software and equipment. As a result, employees are more agile to move between IHC’s operating companies, and data and experiences are collectively shared. And Royal IHC gains in competitive edge vis-à-vis its global competitors.

Benefits for all

Eight of the twenty operating companies of IHC have partly or fully gone live with this new solution. The implementation will be finalised late 2019. Even though IHC is still in the middle of this big ‘change’ project, the company anticipates that the One IHC Program will increase efficiency for IHC and its partners and, just as important, lead to better solutions for the client. Where in the past every business unit responsible for an individual vessel part worked with its own information model and tools, the IHC employees now have access to all information within the same tools – of course only to what they are entitled to see. Business units can better put their own work in the overall product and project context, which enables them to perform better. Another benefit of having one information system is that it becomes easier to re-use what was developed in the past, which leads to more efficiency, less risk (the same mistakes will not be made again) and a shorter time-to-market. For clients, this new solution leads to better performing products that are also more recognisable to crew and staff. This limits training efforts and supports customer’s crew rotation schemes, a huge advantage as vessels get more and more complex. Last but not least, having a fully integrated information model of a vessel is a boon for lifecycle support.

The future

The program can be an inspiration for other companies in the Drecht Cities. IHC built a highly advanced business process, supported by an innovative data model and software platform. According to Nienhuis, this platform could be interesting for partners and even clients for optimal collaboration and information exchange. Big players in the Drecht Cities using the same data platform could stimulate research and product development. It could also provide a starting point for a joint education platform to train young people in the new ways of working and to introduce them to potential future employers.

According to Nienhuis, innovation and automation are inevitable, also for the Drecht Cities. Automation will cost jobs but also create new ones. “In order to survive competition, we all take part in this social experiment where systems and robots are taking over the manual and lower-skilled labour. My advice to the Drecht Cities is to be the first mover. If we embrace automation and information technology, we will create many higher-skilled jobs while safeguarding as many lower-skilled jobs as possible. If we take the lead, for example by creating a joint, truly state-of-the-art learning environment, we can help young people find a well-paid job in the future and stimulate career changes for people who wish to develop themselves in other directions.”


This article was published in the Deal Investment Guide.

SMM Smart Maintenance Business Lunch - Marstrat IFS

Smart Maintenance Business Lunch Catches on in Hamburg

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The number of participants to the Smart Maintenance Business Lunch is rapidly growing. Up to 150 specialists from the maritime sector will discuss this niche topic, during world’s leading maritime trade show SMM. Specialists from Northwest European shipyards and operators will share their views on the highly relevant topic of smart maintenance in relation to reducing operational expenses. They will discuss new technologies to save costs and improve performance by applying the latest technologies available.

Speakers include Dr. Monika Griefahn of AIDA Cruises, Commodore Peter Knipping of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Patrick van Eerten of Royal Boskalis Westminster and Fred van Beers of Blohm + Voss. The Dutch Ambassador to Germany, Monique van Daalen, will open the conference and the maritime technology region Drecht Cities Maritime Delta will introduce their newest campaign. Moderator Meindert van Genderen will challenge the panellists and speakers to give provocative statements and facilitate an open discussion with the attendees.

An excellent three course lunch will be served by the Radisson Blu Hotel, thus combining business with pleasure as well. Do not miss out on this opportunity and enrol through, either through your personal invitation or through self-enrolment. The lunch will take place on Wednesday 7 September 2016 in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Hamburg. For more information, kindly contact Steven van der Weele, Senior Consultant at Marstrat by phone (+31 10 310 30 80) or

Arklow Valliant - Photo by Ruud Aantjes - Navingo

The general cargo fleet : A long tradition of survival within the Dutch-German niche market

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Photo General cargo fleet by Ruud Aantjes, Navingo

“You will never see a seagull following a ship from Groningen”. This funny line refers to the tradition of never throwing anything overboard, and consuming every resource. In other words: a rather Calvinist attitude to saving costs, and keeping things as simple as possible. This is, in short, the world of the Dutch general cargo fleet. Surviving every crisis by tightening the belt, and thus building up a successful tradition of Dutch seamanship. Marstrat dives into the world of this specific dry cargo segment.

The Dutch general cargo fleet consists of a range of ship types. Typically they are relatively small ships, decreasingly ice classed, geared with cranes, especially in the larger segments. Single or tween decked, generally with box shaped holds and some vessels hold open hatch notation. In smaller sizes, sea-river type vessels are sometimes fitted with hydraulic wheelhouses in order to reduce air draft. All vessels are fit to purpose  to fulfil the wish of charterers to serve specific markets. The total Dutch owned fleet consists of 1,985 ships, with a total cargo carrying capacity of 18 million dwt. A quarter of this fleet consists of general cargo and multipurpose vessels up to 20.00 dwt.

These small work horses of the maritime industry carry a range of cargoes within the bulk and breakbulk markets. As such they are an essential part of the logistics chain. The breakbulk that is transported includes forestry products from Scandinavia, grain from the Black Sea region, ores and minerals for the British market, fertilisers and big bags for North Africa. Special cargoes include pipes and wind mill blades, dredging material, steel tanks, coils and cranes and many more.

The European players

Marstrat : EU players in the GC-MPP market up to 20.000 dwt per April 2016The market of GC/MPP ships is dominated by players around the border of Groningen, a province in the North of the Netherlands. The largest player in this segment is Briese Schiffahrts from Germany, a shipowner that combines chartering with another big player form just across the border: W. Bockstiegel. Their BBC Chartering from Leer is responsible for the commercial management of a versatile fleet of medium-sized heavy lift vessels and general cargo ships. The second and third players are Dutch: Wagenborg Shipping and the combined fleet of Spliethoff Group. Another shipowner not mentioned here is Norwegian Wilson AS, with 80 vessels in this range.

The EU  fleet of 2,665 ships are owned by some 2,000 individual ship owners, with no single owner representing more than 10 per cent of the cargo volume. This means that the market is highly fragmented. In his reports on the European shortsea sector (Wagelaar, 2015), eminence grise Johan Wagelaar concludes that indeed this is the case. All efforts to come to a European consolidation have failed so far, although the recently announced merger between Navigia and Feederlines may be a first sign of  changing times.

Marstrat Table 2 : EU fleet size-age compositionEspecially in the smallest segments the effects of the fragmentation can be seen. There are some 1,200 vessels active in the market below 4,000 dwt. Their average age is 31 years, which is mainly caused by an overaged fleet below 2,000 dwt. Experts believe that this segment will disappear in time, being overtaken by port efficiency and multimodal alternatives. The market between 2,500 and 3,500 dwt however is interesting. There is a demand for these sea river type ships, but charters are too low to rationalise newbuilding costs. Table two shows the linear relationship between size category and age: the smaller the vessel, the older it is.

New designs

In spite of the tough market conditions (or should we state; inspired by tough market conditions?), there are however some examples of newbuilds,  the strategy differs from owner to owner. Wilson is building three ships at record low price levels in China, whilst Spliethoff’s Wynne & Barends is building the revolutionary ‘Lady A’ series at Groningen Shipyards. Arklow is building at Royal Bodewes.

Smaller ship owners active in the segments up to 3,000 dwt are studying new innovative designs. Conoship International is now working on improved performance vessels with their Cono Duct Tail technology. Trends are: lower installed power (<750 kw main engine), simplified and lighter constructions leading to a higher cargo capacity under the same ship dimension, and improved underwater ship designs. Shortsea shipping is not untouched by  seven years of crisis , however there may be light at the end of the tunnel. A number of factors point in that direction, such as;

  1. The earlier mentioned aging existing fleet. Vessels above 25 years of age are under increased focus from port state control, insurance companies, chartering clients and class societies, making it more difficult to trade these vessels.
  2. New and fuel-efficient designs, not only good for the environment, but (and for the ship owner probably a more convincing argument), good for the liquid assets of the ship owner.
  3. The appetite from the shipyards around the globe. Shipyards came through the initial years of the crisis rather well on the back of existing order books. These order books have in the meantime dried up, and yards are keen for new business, resulting in historically attractive newbuild prices.
  4. Finance. Banks have also learned their lesson from the crisis. A large number of restructurings and in some cases even foreclosures have left the banks more restrictive compared to the situation before the crisis. Now finance is a much more scarce resource, putting a natural lid on the risk of over contracting.

So after many years of downturn we cautiously look ahead  in a positive manner for the short sea sector. As long as contracting is controlled (and this seems to be the case due to the absence of easy financing possibilities), a more sustainable market equilibrium seems around the corner. It seems the seagulls will be chasing short sea vessels without much luck for the seagull for quite some time to come.

Marstrat General cargo fleet - Lady Anna - Photo by Frits OlingaMarstrat NL Ships

Photo by: Frits Olinga

This article was written by Marstrat’s Diederik Legger and was published in Maritime Holland Magazine, No. 3 May-June 2016

Marstrat - Steven van der Weele

Marstrat welcomes Steven van der Weele

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In order to meet Marstrat´s expanded business, Steven van der Weele has joined the ´International Business´ team. Steven has worked as a consultant at an international risk advisor and as a QHSE manager at an international shipping company. As a result, he possesses both consulting experience and practical experience within the maritime sector. Based on this experience, his arrival at Marstrat can be seen as a logical outcome. Steven will focus on many types of projects, including feasibility studies, business risks assessments and, most notably, market analysis.

As businesses operate in a network environment with various dependencies and interdependencies, thorough knowledge is required of the market it operates in. A lack of knowledge may result in unforeseen situations and consequential operational or financial losses. Through extensive market analysis, valuable insights can be obtained in the operating environment. The objective is evident: how can threats be mitigated and opportunities be captured.

One of Steven´s current projects is executing a comprehensive market analysis for an international shipbuilding group. The group intends to introduce a new product range to a new sub-market. In the market analysis, a unique approach has been applied that focuses on the entire value chain. By using this approach, important dependencies and interdependencies within the market are made clear and understandable. As a result, the Board of Directors will be able to make a more balanced decision on the intended entry.

Marstrat De Hoop Lobith

Ubald Nienhuis : ICT is the key competitive factor

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So if I were your customer at Marstrat, what is it exactly that you, Ubald Nienhuis, will do for me?

In one sentence? I take your process as it is now and change it to what you want it to be.

That’s it?

In essence yes. Of course, there is much more to it. My colleagues and I analyze the good things of your current process. We reflect with you on what the future may bring. We find out what will work for your organization, customers, products and culture. And what won’t. Together we define the “to be” situation. We detail the plan to get from here to there. Help you detail all the requirements. Devise your information model, select ICT tools, and drive the architecture behind it all. We manage the realization, the transition process, and drive the change. And involve you and your employees along that path.

Why is this interesting?,

To customers it should be interesting because, while you make money with clever, innovative products, you squander money by being bad at realizing them. I specialize in preventing the second part.

What makes you good at this?

All my life I worked on honing my soft skills (being sensitive to organizational behavior, overcoming resistance to change, stimulating people to grow, etc) and combine them with hardcore rational analysis (datamodels, ICT configuration, KPI’s, process models, etc). The same attitude of combining soft and hard skills applies to all Marstrat specialists.

Why choose you?

Primarily because I understand the business and the underlying dynamics and decision-making. Also because we are highly motivated by it. And I have done it before.

What will the future bring?

I think that companies insufficiently realize the change that is going on right now. Data is the key to success. ICT is the key competitive factor. Automation and technical integration will take on forms not believed possible. And the organization will have to follow suit. A fun time if you stay ahead of the pack, a scary time if you don’t.

Marstrat Shipbuilding

Prosperous future for Turkish and Dutch maritime technology

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Full understanding and insight into Dutch and Turkish maritime expertise is a good start for cooperation between both maritime clusters. For this purpose Dutch government launched the 4Tune “ A prosperous future for Turkish and Dutch maritime technology ” program. Maritime consultancy Marstat is one of the participants that offer solutions to improve sustainable shipbuilding and shipping to the Turkish market. Solutions in relation to equipment packages, ship finance and ship building. Marstat’s efforts led to a successful inbound mission, development of a finance model and a design order for a 3000 dwt coaster.

During Europort 2015 Marstrat organised a two day inbound mission themed: ‘sustainable shipping in shortsea shipping’.  A delegation of 30 Turkish maritime specialists was introduced and familiarised with Dutch expertise on these subjects. Marstat organised several matchmaking activities with shipping companies and shipyards. Supported by presentations by experts from the shortsea shipping field.

Marstrat partner and ship finance expert Diederik Legger: “Whereas many segments of the shipping market are still in crisis, some owners in the short sea arena are interested in modern, more eco-friendly coasters. And many of the shipyards we talk to in Turkey are very keen to build these vessels, both for domestic and for international shipowners”.

Finance however is a challenge. Not only do most banks active in short sea shipping have a number of non-performing coaster assets on their books (so called ‘stranded assets’) which is putting the relevant shipping department under a lot of pressure. But also under the prevailing market conditions with depressed freight rates newbuilding projects cannot demonstrate a positive exploration of newbuilding short sea ships. Therefore the banks will in most cases refrain from financing coasters. This situation is expected to last until the market will ‘balance out’.

Marstrat´s conclusion is that this market is at the moment ‘in the doldrums’, many of the stakeholders; shipowners, banks, port authorities etc. subscribe to the need for greener short sea shipping. But to replace existing tonnage by more eco type vessels implies that existing vessels will have to be taken out of service. And taking out existing vessels comes at a cost, selling a coaster for scrap today is not likely to satisfy the bank loan, let alone recover the equity!

Marstrat is working with many stakeholders, owners, yards, banks, equipment suppliers and governmental agencies to try and break the deadlock, and to structure a finance solution that can facilitate the construction of environmental short sea vessels.