Maritime Draw

April 23, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s ship registry, which governments have long promoted with little success, will get six brand new vessels belonging to a group with German interests with close links to the island, starting this year. Two of the ships, multi-purpose vessels being built by a Dutch yard, are owned by Mercantile Shipping Company, which for years was the island’s biggest ship owner.

The company, in which German’s DEG, a finance company for investment in developing countries, and Reederi Eugen Friedrich of Bremen have stakes, is re-fleeting, having sold most of its old ships.

The other four new ships set to fly the Sri Lanka flag are owned by Mercantile Shipping’s German partners and are being built in China.

Stephan Kühl, general manager of Mercantile Shipping, said they decided to register the six ships in Sri Lanka because of their long-standing ties with the island.

“The Sri Lankan registry will get six brand new ships starting from this year,” he said.

The island’s ship registry has only a few dozen ships, mostly aging cargo ships, and tugs and small tankers.

The company also runs a merchant seamen training school in Galle, which supplies the crews for its fleet, and has a ship manageme