India Sets Ambitious Goal to Expand Domestically Flagged Fleet 10X

In light of the global supply chain disruptions and enhanced focus on international trade, India is looking at the fleet expansion of large domestically flagged ships.

Highlighting that nations often withhold flagged ships when there are disputes between nations, a senior government official said that India will increase the number of Indian-flagged ships by ten times to make the country a formidable force in global maritime trade.

He further said the plans to achieve this goal are being drawn up and will be finalized soon after the next government takes charge after the general election, expected to be held in April-May.

According to data from the shipping ministry, India has 1,500 registered vessels with a gross tonnage of 13.69 million GT. Of these 1500 vessels, more than two-thirds are engaged in coastal trade, while the rest are operating on overseas routes. India’s 486 overseas vessels have a capacity of 12.11 million GT, while the 1,034 coastal vessels have a capacity of 1.58 million GT.

China is also furthering its domestically flagged ships. With more than 5,000 flagged ships, the Dragon Nation has orders for about 1,500 large ships in the pipeline. It is estimated that China has close to 2,200 flagged vessels already engaged in overseas trade, with the ability to stunt global trade.

Whereas most of the Indian-flagged vessels are engaged in local trade, Moreover, India’s overseas vessels have a large number of aging ships. According to official data, 184 of the 486 vessels are more than 20 years old.

Thus, with this expansion, India aims to increase the number of overseas vessels as the country expects growing exports and global trade.

In overseas trade, the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is the largest Indian shipping company. It has 57 vessels with 2.85 million GT, followed by Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd., which has 46 vessels with 2.06 million GT.

In line with the new goal, it has also been decided to defer the proposed disinvestment of SCI.

“Recent developments have reinforced the strategic importance of SCI. The government wants to maintain its presence and grow in the sector. SCI will be encouraged to increase its fleet size and ramp up its global presence,” the official said.

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