May 28 - Presenting on the opening day of the Breakbulk Europe conference in Antwerp, keynote speaker Dirk Visser, senior shipping consultant with Dynamar BV forecast that operators of multi-purpose and heavy lift vessels would weather the current economi

Mr Visser said that breakbulk carriers have avoided the massive ship-ordering splurge that has container shipping lines with more capacity than can be filled .

Mr Visser also indicated that the mid and long-term operating fundamentals for the carriers have not changed, although the outlook for 2010 is 'not yet too clear'.

Quoting statistics from Lloyds's MIU, Mr Visser reported that as of April 1st, there were 4,028 breakbulk ships of over 5,000 deadweight tons, with 48 percent of this capacity over 25 years old, and replacement tonnage on order totalling just 40 percent of these older ships, and just 28 percent for vessels 15 years or older.

Mr Visser indicated that in his opinion, such figures clearly show that the multi-purpose and heavy lift sector is far from overtonnaged, although the ongoing encroachment of container, ro-ro and even reefer carriers into the breakbulk market was a challenge that needed to be faced. Mr Visser added that operators of vehicle carriers now get 25 to 30 percent of their liftings from "high and heavy" cargoes such as agricultural machinery, roadbuilding equipment and wind turbines and blades.

Concluding his presentation, Mr Visser suggested that the heavy lift and project forwarding sector has been very successful since the turn of the century, benefitting from massive investment taking place as part of ongoing and massive economic development around the globle. "It turned around from an ailing into a thriving industry, helped by a lack of newer, more efficient ships."