Help from Berlin as even yards like Meyer go quiet (Photo: Tom Todd)
The Berlin Government has approved €1 billion in crisis aid over the next two years for new ships and projects in the German maritime sector, reports Germany Correspondent Tom Todd.
The money is coming out of a special €130 billion fund created by the government to offset the effects of corona virus over the next two years. It covers a raft of economic relief measures including those in the transport, shipbuilding and maritime sectors.
Berlin will make available €1 billion to support German ship and shipbuilding projects which begin in 2020 and 2021. It includes federal funding for ship innovation advances, ongoing maritime research and research ship development and for Germany’s on-shore power plant installation programme.
The fund will also be available for work including waterway bank improvements, lock modernisation, the replacement of ships and digital projects.
New on the funding spectrum is a programme being set up to support the development of LNG bunker ships, a fleet renewal programme for mainly smaller vessels serving with government agencies, and what the government describes as a “crash ‘clean ship’ programme now being set up.
Daniela Schmidt, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education and Research told The Motorship the reference in the government’s crisis fund approval announcement to funding for maritime research reflected the ministry’s interest in modernising the country’s research fleet.
However it did not appear to mention a reported new ministry proposal that to help shipyards hit by the corona virus some government, contracts for new research ships be brought forward and that €340 million be made available to build them earlier than planned.
Trade union and local government politicians have reportedly welcomed the research ship proposal.
The latest Berlin funding decisions follow appeals by shipbuilding industry associations such as the VSM and the IG Metall trade union urging greater government commitment to deal with the consequences of the crisis in shipbuilding. Early and accelerated orders from federal and state authorities of the kind now proposed by the Research Ministry have been one of their central demands.
The new Berlin funding plans appear to be taking the appeals to heart. German shipbuilding has been doing well but is now reeling from the effects of the corona pandemic with yards big and small struggling – among them giants like Meyer and MV Werften.