The number of Hong Kong ships under the flag of the SAR has climbed by almost 20 per cent, reflecting the success of improvements to the home register.
It also shows the success in attracting local operators to the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, the association says.
As of December 1 last year, the number of Hong Kong-flagged ships owned, managed and/or operated by association members had increased to 319 compared with the previous year and deadweight tonnage had increased about 33 per cent to about 12.43 million tonnes, the association said.
In contrast, Liberian-flagged vessels of association members were down about 30 per cent in number to 131 and 37 per cent in deadweight tonnage to about 9.31 million.
The Panama flag stayed constant over the period, at 355 vessels of about 15.87 million deadweight tonnes (dwt). Regional rival Singapore had 52 Hong Kong ships under its flag, representing about 3.6 million dwt.
The number of vessels under the Bahamas flag was 49, of about 1.9 million dwt, while Bermuda-flagged ships numbered 36, of about 4.2 million dwt.
The number of ships declared to the association last year was almost the same as 1998, at 1,117. However, deadweight tonnage was down 3.1 per cent to about 56 million tonnes.
Bulk carriers, the largest category by number and deadweight tonnage, dropped by 24, or 4.8 per cent, in number and 3.9 per cent in deadweight tonnage. The number of container ships fell about 6.3 per cent and tonnage fell about 5.2 per cent.
General-cargo ships rose 38 per cent to 96 in number, the largest increase among all categories. Deadweight tonnage increased about 66 per cent to reach about 1.5 million tonnes.
Although the number of tankers, including chemical, product and crude tankers, rose about 3.9 per cent, tonnage dropped about 15.3 per cent, showing a trend towards the use of smaller ships.
The association figures revealed the average age of its fleet was 11 years last year. Bulk carriers had an average age of nine years, as did those under the Hong Kong flag.
The number of mainland officers on Hong Kong ships rose sharply in the year to 29 per cent, although Indian officers still accounted for the greatest percentage.
The number of Indian officers fell to 30 per cent and Filipino officers to 14 per cent.
While the number of mainland ratings has remained constant, at 27 per cent, over the past two years, those from the Philippines dropped 31 per cent in number, though still representing the largest percentage in the rating workforce. Indian ratings accounted for 19 per cent of the total.
More significantly, the number of Hong Kong officers and ratings employed on the ships owned, operated and managed by association members has increased over the past two years.
The number of officers rose to 8 per cent and the number of ratings to 12 per cent.
The association said this was possibly due to the addition of several local vessels to membership.