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What a shipping company does

Building and staffing ships

Buying or building ships

The shipping company will raise the finance to build or buy the ship, and often has a big say in its design. Some of the bigger companies, like Ropners, actually bought their own shipyard to supply their ships.

When an owner wants to buy or sell a ship, he approaches a sale and purchase broker. This broker keeps details of ships for sale, and will circulate them to potential customers. His payment is a commission based on a percentage of the sale price.

Staffing the ships

Men sign up for ship service

Magnifying glassMen sign up for ship service

The shipping company usually employs the officers and crew. To train officers, many companies had cadetships or apprenticeships. Although the cadets and apprentices may have thought they were just cheap labour, they got a very thorough grounding in their chosen profession.

Always an international business, shipping has become even more so in recent years. For instance, the flag a ship flies now often has nothing in common with the nationality of those who crew it. Many ships flying European flags, and most of those flying `flags of convenience`, will be crewed by people from relatively low-wage countries, often in Asia or Eastern Europe. To provide shipowners or managers with these crews, crewing agencies have sprung up.

Some owners prefer to just invest in a ship and leave a manager to run it profitably. Thus, ship managers may not own a ship, but will find it employment. They will provide crews, and undertake all the other jobs involved in running a ship, such as insuring and repairing it.


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