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IAPH issues a caution on shipbuilding

IAPH Presidents call for a “better understanding among parties in the supply chain, most notably between shipping and ports”.

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IAPH issues a caution on shipbuilding

The new International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) President Subramaniam Karuppiah has issued a caution that building more ships will not alone increase the overall capacity of the container supply chain. President Karuppiah said that “building infrastructure is more complex, takes longer and is much more costly than building a new ship”.


At the closing of the IAPH World Ports Conference, IAPH’s outgoing President Santiago Garcia-Milà handed over the reins to his successor Captain Subramaniam Karuppiah, with both reflecting on the discussions over the event.


“Some shipowners mentioned that the disruptions that we have seen lately are due to infrastructural bottlenecks, some which were present already before the pandemic,” said IAPH’s outgoing President Santiago Garcia-Milà, who is Port of Barcelona’s Deputy General Manager. “As we have seen during the conversations this week, I do agree optimising port operations through better data collaboration and ensuring 24/7 operations are certainly priorities we should work on collectively. However, the scale of funding that is needed to expand physical infrastructure is in a different league to shipping, also requiring complex public-private partnerships.”


Captain Subramaniam Karuppiah, who is General Manager of Port Klang Authority agreed, stating “We cannot overlook the fact that the lead time for building new port infrastructure is much more complex and costly – and therefore takes much longer – than that of building a new ship.” Noting that there are a lot of permitting and planning issues to address in any port expansion, Captain Subra, believes that shipowners do not always realise these challenges when they are making their next ship orders.


“Especially when it comes to ships with new fuel requirements, such as LNG, methanol and ammonia, much higher and more complex investments will be required on land than in the shipyard. As mentioned by several port CEOs during the conference, achieving this in a sustainable manner - both economically and from an environmental standpoint - will require much closer cooperation between shipping and ports than we currently see, and will also require working closely with the energy majors and future providers of bunker fuel for these new ships.”


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