In his acceptance speech Admiral Efthimios E. Mitropoulis is critical as he accepts the IMO International Maritime Prize.
The popular Admiral (known as EEM) made the speech at the recent ceremony awarding him the IMO Maritime Prize for 2011 at MO Headquarters, London.
He said (amongst other things):
"Shipping, we all know, is a service industry. With the exception of the cruise liner sector and passenger ships on domestic service, it is there in order to serve the needs of trade. The bigger the needs of the latter, the more shipping finds itself in demand, the more it prospers – provided, of course, that there exists, at any given time, a reasonable and manageable ratio between supply of shipping tonnage and demand for shipping services.
As shipping does not, and cannot, dictate the demand for its services, going to banks to secure funds before going to shipyards to order newbuildings should be a process that ought to be characterized by elements of due prudence and diligence. It follows that to have, as recently happened, so grossly over-ordered new ships mainly with borrowed money, and with little reference to the levels of demand needed to profitably employ them, does not make commercial sense.
As shipping is a global industry with few barriers to entry except money, the effect of any excessive speculation on the supply and demand ratio is felt across its entire domain – a feature that has the potential to severely damage even those shipowners, who have a reputation for being conservative.
No matter, however, how dire the times may occasionally be (as they certainly are at present), one thing should always be remembered thus setting the tone of cautious optimism when it comes to ponder the future of shipping: that it is an industry that serves the needs of an ever growing world population and the needs of an ever increasing appetite for development. The combination of both drives international trade up and this means increased demand for shipping services, given the industry’s unrivalled superiority in mass transportation of goods and people."