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Ministry of Merchant Marine (MORFLOT)
State Maritime Administration
Maritime Administration
Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport
Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport
Federal Sea and River Transport Agency

As of the year 2000 maritime transport comprised 10 major state and joint-stock shipping companies and about 300 private shipping companies, 44 commercial ports, 146 berths owned by commercial structures, 13 shipyards, the Russian Register of Shipping, 4 research institutes and 2 design bureaus, 3 naval (maritime) academies, 6 colleges and 40-odd other enterprises and entities.

Since 1996, administration and supervision of the sector was the primary concern of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, and more specifically of its Maritime Administration. The principal activities of the Maritime Administration included: - creation of conditions propitious to the growth of the competitive power of maritime transport; - adoption of transportation schemes for a safe and secure delivery of cargoes to the regions of the polar North; - a firm guarantee of safety of navigation; - implementation of the Programme for revival of Russia's merchant marine; - promotion of international cooperation and foreign economic relations in the field of maritime transport; - supervision of shipping in the area of the Northern Sea Route.

With the object of enhancing safety of navigation, minimizing the incidence of accidents and preventing environmental pollution of coastal waters and port water areas, the Maritime Administration has taken the following measures: - distinct separation of shipping routes and lanes; - systems for vessels traffic control in the port areas and on the approaches to them; - zones of permanent and reliable ultra-short wave communications in coastal water; - regions of highly-accurate operation of vessels (navigation) with the use of control and adjustment differential stations of the Global Navigation Satellite System. The Maritime Administration has numerous business partners worldwide and attaches great importance to furthering international cooperation.

A new Merchant Shipping Code came into force in Russia on May 1, 1999 to replace the 1968 Code that was applicable in Soviet days. In preparation for this Russia has formally acceded to the Hague Visby Rules and other international conventions including the 1962 Arrest Convention. The new code is accordingly more closely allied to international maritime law.

In 1998 the Russian merchant fleet carried 36 million tonnes of freight, 26 percent less than in 1997. All of the world's major fleets saw similar drops in the wake of the Asian economic crisis. Russian shipping companies carried just 1.3 million tonnes in 1998, of 4 percent of a total of 32.5 million tonnes of international Russian sea-borne cargo. This was compared with three-fifths in 1997. The drop cost Russia more than $6 billion in lost revenues. The sector received 4.3 billion rubles, the equivalent of more than $500 million, under the Revival of the Merchant Fleet Program, approved in 1993. Marine shipping companies received 23 new ships in 1998, with a total deadweight of 800,000 tonnes. Overall tonnage at shipping companies increased by 7 percent.

The Russian shipping industry really developed over the two years after 2000, particularly in the international sphere. International shipping freight rose to 270 million tons in 2001 (from 240 million in 1999). Around half of this was oil and oil products. Total revenues in the Russian shipping industry were more than $1.3 billion in 2001, with net profits of $300 million. About 50% of profits comes from oil and gas companies. Russian shippers could double the amount of oil they export. The only thing holding them back was the lack of ships. The state of the fleet is the main problem facing the industry. The average age of a Russian ship was more than 20 years. Around 80% of shipping tankers belong to three companies: Sovkomflot (100% state-owned), Novoship, and PRISCO.

By 2003 Russia took the 22nd place in the list of the world leading marine powers, having under its flag the fleet of 7,7M DWT by 01 January 2003. By that time the total number of sea transport vessels under Russian control amounted to 1,117 units of total capacity of up to 11.9M grt. That figure included 58.3% of tonnage flying foreign flags. In 1992 that number had amounted to 18.4%.

As of 2004 the fleet of the Russian Federation's nine marine shipping companies consisted of 973 vessels, while its river fleet amounted to 35,000 vessels of different types. Together they can carry 24.7 million tons of freight. The state owns five atomic and two diesel engine icebreakers, ecological and hydrographic ships, as well as a fleet of ships to deepen the marine or river bottom. The majority of Russian ships were built in the Soviet era and their average age is about 20 years. Foreign fleets are usually 4-5 years younger. About 34% of river fleet vessels are too old to be used, yet they still work on internal water routes.

Inland waterways suffered more than any other mode in post-Soviet times. Traffic declined by about a quarter. They were responsible for moving goods to the North, more so than ocean shipping, but with the disappearance of subsidies for Northern development, shipments to the North declined precipitously. The rivers used to have a lot of passenger traffic, mostly by hydrofoils, which became far too expensive to operate. River shipping companies instead concentrated on one profitable activity: river-sea vessels which can operate both on the rivers and larger canals as well as at sea and in coastal waters.

Russia's river-shipping sector carried 117.5 million tons of cargo in 2000, registering a healthy 14.3 percent growth over 1999. But results were mixed in different regions and river systems. The largest increases were seen in shipment of construction materials, such as sand and stone, which rose by 10.7 million tons; logs, up 600,000 tons; other timber cargoes, up 630,000 tons; oil, oil products, and fertilizers. Transport Ministry figures indicate that 50 new vessels were built for the Russian river fleet in 2000; this compared with 68 in 1999, 43 in 1998 and 34 in 1997.

In the 1990s, of somewhat over 800 vessels, most were used in foreign traffic to go to the Baltic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia. Nearly half the tonnage of Russian foreign exports had gone out in river-sea vessels rather than other ocean-going vessels. As of 1998 Russian inland shipping authorities believed that 4,500 of the country's fleet of 12,500 river vessels were due to be written off. But the companies plying Russia's inland waterways only had the funds to order eight new ships for $30 million.

Russia possesses the World's largest medium-payload fleet capable of navigating both inland waterway and sea routes. Such smaller ships with a payload of 4,000 to 6,000 tons are highly popular among European charters. River-sea ships operate on international lines on Baltic, Caspian, BlackSea and Mediterranean routes after the summer navigation season has ended.They are chartered to foreign companies because Russia's inland watersare frozen from November to March.




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