GREEK SHIPOWNERS WANT IMPROVED IMAGE FOR SHIPPING INDUSTRY
A delegation of Greek shipowners met with members of Congress and federal agencies last week to highlight the importance of Greek shipping in the U.S. export/import trades.
The United States and Greece have traditionally had close maritime ties. However, on occasion, that relationship has been interrupted by accidents involving oil spills.
“We feel it’s not an industry of ships that pollute,” said John C. Lyras, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners at a press conference in Washington on March 21. “It’s a very crucial sector … These days people take it for granted, because it’s not visible.”
“We find it disconcerting when you talk with U.S. policymakers about bulk shipping and they stare back at you blankly,” Lyras added. “Our relationship is much weaker than it used to be.”
Other members of the delegation were Nicolas Efthymiou, vice president of the Union of Greek Shipowners; Spyros Polemis, vice president of the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee; Anna Bredima-Savopoulou, director of the European and International Affairs Department of the Union of Greek Shipowners; Capt. John Panopoulos, technical advisor to the Union of Greek Shipowners; and Edmund B. Welch.
During their visit to Washington, the delegation met Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta; Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Harold Creel and Commissioner John Moran; Adm. David Brewer, commander of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command; members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; and officials from Customs and the Coast Guard.
In addition to marine environmental issues, the delegation’s meetings focused on proposed U.S. maritime security measures and promoting policies of free and open trade. The last time the Union of Greek Shipowners came to Washington was in late 1997.
The Greek merchant fleet, while mostly bulkers, provides about 16 percent of the world’s maritime transportation. The Greek-registered fleet is third in size after Liberia and Panama.