World Maritime Day: Belgian shipping looks back at milestones achieved

World Maritime Day: Belgian shipping looks back at milestones achieved

30th September 2021

As a proud and long-established maritime nation, Belgium and its shipping industry have been spearheading many of the innovations and developments in recent years. This World Maritime Day, Belgian shipping looks back at some of the recent milestones achieved as Belgium presents its candidature to the IMO Council in December.

While Belgian shipping may not be the biggest in the world, our ships cover all the freight segments from tankers and containers to short sea and general cargo.

Belgian shipowners control 440 vessels, amounting to 30.8 million dwt.

The diversity of our fleets means that Belgian shipping companies go far and wide, calling at 7301 ports in 2020 and covering 11,506,677 nautical miles or 21,310,366 km in distance.

Among the major ports that Belgian ships most frequently call at, the three maritime hubs of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Singapore top the list.

Seafarers at the core of shipping’s future

In line with the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day, Belgian shipping once again highlights the priority it places on seafarers. Earlier in June on the Day of the Seafarer, Belgian shipowners honoured their maritime professionals together with video tributes coming from Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and the North Sea, Hilde Vautmans, Belgian MEP, Renew Europe Group, and Magda Kopczynska, Director for Waterborne Transport in the European Commission’s DG MOVE.

The global crew change crisis brought about by the lockdowns and travel bans imposed by COVID-19 measures is one of the most difficult challenges faced by seafarers in recent decades. Despite all these difficulties, Belgian shipowners went above and beyond to help seafarers in every way they can, as explained in a video by our member Boeckmans. Another video by Fast Lines explains that shipping is synonymous with trade, and Belgian shipowners and crews are doing all they can to keep the supply chain running.

Belgian shipping worked with the Belgian government, port medical professionals and other maritime stakeholders to ensure international seafarers were able to receive their COVID-19 vaccination to help resolve the global crew change crisis. Belgium was the first EU member state to inoculate seafarers. Then through a roving medical team which administers the inoculation onboard, Belgium became the first country in the world to provide the vaccination for seafarers in this way.

Moving #boldlyBEyond today’s limits towards decarbonisation

True to the slogan of its forward-looking campaign launched earlier in May called ‘#boldlyBEyond’, Belgian shipping under the umbrella of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association moves decisively towards the goal of decarbonisation.

The latest developments include the joint development by our member Euronav with Hyundai  Heavy  Industries  (HHI),  Lloyd’s  Register  and  DNV to accelerate the development of dual- fuel ammonia (NH3) fitted VLCC and Suezmax vessels. Another member Exmar is partnering with Nutrien to develop a low-carbon ammonia-fueled vessel. In June, CMB.TECH, the cleantech division of CMB, opened the first multimodal green hydrogen refuelling station in Antwerp which will be used to power ships, pipe trailers, cars, trucks and buses. Besides the hydrogen refuelling station, CMB.TECH also introduced a hydrogen truck and a hydrogen excavator.

Belgian shipping supports Belgium’s bid for IMO Council

The RBSA also fully support the candidature of Belgium in its re-election to the IMO Council in category C. Belgium has been a member of the UN organisation since 1951 and has contributed enormously to the global maritime industry.

Under the slogan of “Be sustainable, be safe, be together, be Belgium”, Belgian’s candidature is highlighted in a video that features the key aspects of its maritime contributions.

Click on the image above to see the infographic in full size.