Neptune Lines to fly the Hellenic flag on four of its vessels

by Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

In a bid to bolster the Hellenic Shipping Registry and enhance the government's efforts to create a more competitive flag state, Hellas-based Neptune Lines, one of the country's leading car carrier shipping company, announced yesterday the decision to fly the Hellenic flag on board of at least four of its vessels. Starting today, Neptune Kefalonia will make the transition from the Maltese to the Hellenic Shipping Registry, while according to company officials, the vessel Neptune Ithaki, is scheduled to follow, during the first days of February. Finally, two newbuildings that the company is currently building, will also fly the Hellenic flag.

Neptune Lines is controlled by the Travlos family. It is regarded as a key player in the Mediterranean car carrier market with an integrated agency network and independently operated car terminals. At present, Neptune Lines owns and operates 11 Pure Car and Truck Carrier vessels, each with a capacity ranging from 430-3.200 medium sized cars. In 2009 and 2010, four sister vessels, namely Neptune Kefalonia, Neptune Ithaki, Neptune Odyssey and Neptune Iliad were added to the fleet. These vessels can be used for both transeoceanic and short sea trade and they each have a capacity of 3.200 medium sized cars. As of February 2012 and July 2012, the fleet reached 13 vessels, as two new vessels, Magny Cours Express and Le Mans Express, with similar characteristics to Neptune Kefalonia have been time-chartered. The fleet's capacity for trucks is 14.000 lane meters. The average age of the fleet, per car carrying capacity is 5,7 years.

Neptune Lines’ owned vessels are high-specification ones, each equipped with multiple thrusters, a high load capacity stern ramp and stern quarter ramp, an eco-friendly propulsion plant with a CPP propeller and shaft generator for high reliability and operational efficiency. An energy saving device will also be installed in each of these vessels, to reduce fuel consumption and emissions in league with the Company's Social Responsibility Policy.

In a recent meeting held with Finance Minister Mr. Yannis Stournaras, the Minister of Mercantile Shipping, Mr. Kostas Mousouroulis announced plans to modernize the current registry and make it more competitive. On the forefront of this effort, will be the sharp reduction of paperwork and bureaucracy that prevails and acts as a major block towards the atrraction of more ship owners and vessels. The aim of the Ministry is to retain the current number of vessels and also attract new ones, both from Hellenic-based ship owners, but also from foreign owners as well, not to mention the fact that through this process and its potential success, the state will enjoy higher revenues and also help reduce unemployment among the lower crews. 

It is worth noting that as it stands now, it takes more than 30 signatures from various officials, in order to complete the process of registering a vessel in the Hellenic Registry. As a result, according to the most recent official figures, out of a total of more than 3,760 vessels owned by Hellenic ship owners, just 862 are registered under the Hellenic flag. By comparison, during 2011 the relative number was 917 and in 2010, the number had reached 969, still low compared to the total size of the Hellenic-controlled shipping fleet. The new initiative, details of which, are to be expected within the following weeks, will introduce a so called electronic registry, which will enable owners to complete the process online.

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