March 26 - A colleague was taken aback when he saw the images of the ships laid up at Singapore Harbour because falling demand has made them unprofitable to operate.
The striking shot reminds us of nothing less than the great Royal Navy reviews pre-World War II off the Isle of Wight. However, instead of naval might defending a world empire, these are ships that have been defeated by a world economic crisis. They are not all container ships, of course, many are bulk and oil carriers which were built when the maritime industry boomed and the good times seemed set to last.
Not only does each ship represent lost business for the forwarders and shipping lines but we are concerned that each laid up ship means a laid up crew, much of whom will be lost to the industry as they seek less risky employment on land.
It's a sobering thought as so many pundits toss around arguments for and against the economic situation, its cause and eventual solution, out in the Singapore Harbour roads these reminders of excess and redundant capacity serve to show the consequences of what has been in our headlines for the last two years.