More Room to Develop Vietnamese Shipping Fleet

Vietnam’s merchant fleet ranks third among ASEAN nations and 22nd in the world.

As of December 31, 2021, Vietnam’s fleet had 1,502 ships, including 1,032 cargo vessels. Photo:

Vietnam’s shipping fleet has recently undergone an increase in its performance to rank third in Southeast Asia and 22nd in the world overall, VOV reported, citing the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Back in 2019, the Vietnamese fleet was ranked fourth in ASEAN and 30th globally.

According to the information given by the Vietnam Maritime Administration, the country had 1,477 ships as of December, with a total tonnage of approximately 11.6 million DWT and a capacity of roughly seven million GT.

The transport fleet alone reached 1,009 ships with a total tonnage of about 10.7 million DWT and a total capacity of some 6.4 million GT. In addition, the number of bulk carriers stands at 709 ships, accounting for 70.3% of the overall figure.

Currently, the average age of the Vietnamese fleet stands at 16.5 years old, while the average age of the global fleet is 21.9 years old.

This year has seen the total volume of cargo by the Vietnamese shipping fleet estimated at 128.7 million tonnes, a decline of 13% compared to 2021.

The volume of imported and exported goods by the Vietnamese shipping fleet for international transport increased by 10%, equivalent to about 1.29 million tonnes, compared to 2021, with this mainly occurring on major transport routes such as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Southeast Asia, and some European routes.

The Ministry of Transport recently approved a project on Vietnamese merchant fleet development, aiming to handle as much as 10% of the country’s exports by 2026, and 20% by 2030, according to VNA.

A 2021 report by the Vietnam Maritime Administration (VinaMarine) showed that the volume of goods through Vietnam’s seaports has grown steadily for many years with an average rate of 13.8%.

Despite the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021, it increased 2% year on year, reaching more than 703 million tonnes. The volume of container cargo was estimated at nearly 24 million TEU, up 6% year-on-year.

Illustration. Photo:
Illustration. Photo:

As of December 31, 2021, Vietnam’s fleet had 1,502 ships, including 1,032 cargo vessels – down from the 1,267 cargo ships in 2016.

In terms of the fleet structure, just a small part of the Vietnamese-flagged merchant fleet are container ships. That means that the fleet is mainly suitable for domestic or short regional coastal routes. According to the transport ministry, they cannot compete in the international shipping market, where the world is tending to develop larger ships to optimize costs.

Therefore, the project’s main goals include the development of a modern fleet, improving efficiency and quality, and greater integration into the international market.

The immediate focus is to build a fleet of container ships to work in the Asia-Pacific, with an objective to gain operational experience and set the foundation for long-haul trips in the future.

In recent years, the country’s ports have developed considerably in size, and are now able to accommodate the world’s largest ships.

Hannah Nguyen