The attention of the shipping industry soon will be focused on Stamford as more than 2,000 executives from 30 nations gather to grapple with challenges ranging from finance to piracy.
The attention of the shipping industry soon will be focused on Stamford as more than 2,000 executives from 30 nations gather at the Hilton Stamford Hotel to grapple with challenges ranging from finance to piracy. Owners and operators of more than 5,000 vessels will participate from March 23 to March 25 in the Connecticut Maritime Association's Shipping 2009, its 23rd annual conference and trade show, which has become the largest gathering of the ship-owning community in the United States.
"It's only appropriate as Fairfield County and environs is the home of the largest communities of professional shipping industry executives in the country," said James Lawrence, publisher of Stamford-based Marine Money magazine and an organizer of the event. "These executives comprise all the skills and talents necessary to move commodities and finished goods around the world on tankers, bulk carriers, specialty ships and container ships."
Shipping is a $1 trillion industry, and 94 percent of all goods go by sea at some point, he said. Lawrence is expecting a near-record turnout, despite the decline in the global economy.
Among participants will be U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Marine Transportation; Alberto Aleman, administrator of the Panama Canal; and U.S. Coast Guard Adms. Vivien Crae, James Watson and Brian Salerno, as well as representatives of international shipping trade associations and U.S. maritime labor organizations.
Ship owners will participate in a panel to map strategies for surviving the economic turmoil, while another panel session will address the issue of piracy on the high seas, a matter that has reached into Connecticut. Several ships controlled by association members have been seized by pirates off
Meetings of industry leaders will tackle problems such as regulatory conflicts among nations, environmental protection issues and the recruitment of a future generation of seafarers.
Charles Weber Co., a Greenwich-based tanker chartering broker, will be well represented, with John Kulukundis, director of research, among those attending. He said it is a must-attend event.
"Whether the market is up or down, global transport continues. We'd be remiss not to be there," he said. "Fairfield County is the shipping center of the U.S."
Given the state of the global economy, the timing could not be better for the conference, said Richard du Moulin, president of Intrepid Shipping, a Stamford-based company that manages a fleet of three bulk carriers and two crude oil tankers.
"Business has been a huge shock to the shipping industry since last summer. . . . This is the first CMA conference since the big downfall," he said.
Marty Kavicky, former vice president of the CMA and one of its early members, said the event has come a long way from its first gathering at the Old Greenwich Civic Center.
He recalled when the brokers living in lower Fairfield County started to meet in the early 1970s at Pastrami Dan's in Greenwich.
"As a lark, they formed the Connecticut Maritime Association in 1984," Kavicky said, noting that many moved their shipping operations from lower New York City to the area. "Now it's the biggest shipping organization in the U.S."
The event's 19th commodore award will be presented to Capt. Wei Jaifu, chief executive officer of China Ocean Shipping Co., the world's largest shipping company. du Moulin will be master of ceremonies at the commodore gala dinner, which closes the three-day affair.
The Connecticut Maritime Association will holds its 23rd annual conference and trade show, Shipping 2009, from March 23 to March 25 at the Hilton Stamford Hotel. Owners and operators of more than 5,000 vessels are expected to participate.