Editor’s Note

Tuesday, April 01, 2003
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but if you haven’t noticed, the earth has stopped spinning, the sun has gone dark and the world is coming to a cataclysmic end any day now. A bit extreme, you say? Perhaps.

But frankly, the dour reports coming from all four corners is starting to have an effect. Not in recent memory have so many had so little to be happy about.

Cruise? No orders in more than a year. Offshore? Starting a down cycle. Tanker? Too much capacity/too many subsidies. Most everything else? Terrible.

Is it all that bad? I think not.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the marine business, an industry which is notorious for it’s cyclical nature, there is seldom if ever an upbeat tone. The very nature of this diverse business, though, practically mandates that there is always an opportunity ... sometimes they are simply harder to find.

There has been a lull in new cruise ship construction, a fact most assuredly tied to the events of 9/11. But lost sometimes is the fact that the cruise industry has, over the last decade, simultaneously experienced a record number of new ships and endured ceaseless corporate consolidation. These two factors alone could provide a cause for pause in the ordering of half-billion dollar ships. The fact that more people were unable or unwilling to travel down south to jump aboard a cruise ship is real, but this situation has spawned cruises from a host of new, non-traditional cruise home ports that have proven popular and could spur real passenger growth in the years to come.

Maritime Security is an area for obvious growth, with the demand for vessels and equipment climbing rapidly around the country, and around the globe. The time to target the vast “homeland security” market is yesterday, but it is still not too late to jump on now. The government, with the official “opening of the doors” of the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003, has undergone one of its most radical restructuring in almost 60 years. Security starts at the borders, and at last check, the U.S. has more than 95,000 miles of navigable waterways with which to contend. New missions, new technologies, more vessels ... sounds like an opportunity to me.

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