The billionaire head of shipping giant CMA CGM SA pushed back against a plan by some French lawmakers for a windfall tax on excessive corporate profits to fund measures to soften the impact of inflation on households.

“We are putting money on the table and it’s not only charity. We are helping consumers,” Chief Executive Officer Rodolphe Saade told a French Senate hearing Wednesday in Paris. “What I want is that we stop looking at CMA CGM and we start looking at my competitors.”

Saade was speaking as the world’s third-largest container carrier comes under increasing political pressure for its extraordinary profits. Strong demand for consumer goods has helped raise shipping rates more than ten-fold during the pandemic.

A group of French lawmakers is calling for a temporary tax of as much as 25% on what it calls the “superprofits” of energy and transport giants including CMA CGM, TotalEnergies SE and Engie SA. The money is meant to help fund measures aimed at protecting consumers’ purchasing power. While the plan doesn’t have government backing, it has shone a spotlight on the closely held Marseille-based shipping firm whose net income more than tripled to $7.2 billion in the first quarter.

During his more than two-hour testimony, Saade portrayed CMA CGM as a “patriotic” French champion that has put down deep roots in the country, reinvests profits and hires local workers. The firm operates a fleet of some 580 vessels and this year invested in flag carrier Air France-KLM.

“When my freight rates were at $350, where were you?” Saade asked senators during the hearing. “We weren’t sure at one point if we would get through the week. No one came to speak with us or say something. We had to figure it out.”

CMA CGM has already ceded to French government pressure to help offset inflation by agreeing to cut shipping rates by 500 euros ($510) per container starting next month on consumer goods imported via French ports, as well as on all imports to the country’s overseas territories. Last September, the company had capped its spot freight rates.

While shipping rates have since come down somewhat, they remain elevated enough to likely result in “peak earnings” for the industry this year, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Lee Klaskow said in a note this week.

Saade said he’s expecting a gradual slowdown and “normalization” of global trade after months of supply bottlenecks, and added that he’s noticed over the past weeks that demand is falling.

“Some are talking about a recession, I would speak more of a soft landing,” he said. “This will normalize trade and necessarily lower prices of freight.”

–With assistance from Brendan Murray and Ania Nussbaum.


Smart Ship Hub (SSH), a software-as-a-service (SaaS) maritime digital automation solutions company has raised a pre-series round of $2.5 million to further develop its ready-to-deploy digital platform for global maritime logistics. The round has been led by Ideaspring Capital and StartupXseed Ventures.

SSH provides cloud-based and on-demand digital services to deliver a single source of truth for shipowners, operators, charter parties, maritime insurers, and port authorities to help combat vessel operational inefficiencies, lack of visibility and transparency, commercial leakages, and ultimately improve vessel uptime.

Smart Ship Hub Digital is an easy-to-deploy digital remote vessel management platform that identifies machinery malfunctions and predicts possible downtime. It detects performance deviations to improve voyage and vessel performance. Using big data, actionable intelligence, smart alerts, and performance advisories for entire fleets are provided. The platform’s Performance Advisory feature has reportedly helped reduce ship incidents, saving maintenance costs and fuel consumption.

According to SSH, its digital platform is helping its customers to achieve minimal breakdown maintenance, optimum fuel utilisation, total compliance including for emissions, cost optimisation with condition-based maintenance, and ensure a high level of voyage control.

SSH is suited to all ship types including merchant ships, naval ships, oil rigs, river-going barges and fishing vessels.

The funding from Ideaspring Capital and StartupXseed will be used to help SSH expand its product IP and global customer support.

“Digital platforms will play a fundamental role in disrupting maritime legacy processes. Inefficient and legacy workflows in ships and shore is gradually giving way to automated remote management. The funds raised will allow us to pass on more value to our customers globally. Customers will now have a captive performance centre for a fraction of the cost they incur today. Shipowners, operators, charter parties can get a digital upgrade for “zero” CAPEX, allowing them to unblock their capital and upgrade more vessels,” said Joy Basu, founder of Smart Ship Hub.

“Ideaspring Capital is very happy to be part of Smart Ship Hub’s growth and its journey towards being the digital platform of choice for global maritime companies. The maritime industry has embarked on a journey of digital transformation and Smartship is poised to take advantage through their world-class solution.  We are very impressed with the Smart Ship Hub team and their product” said Naganand Doraswamy, managing partner, Ideaspring Capital.

“StartupXseed is a sector agnostic fund with investments from SaaS to Space (Tech), including the areas of cybersecurity, Semicon, AI/ML, drones and new frontier start-ups in India with a global focus. Smart Ship Hub is an early growth stage company and we are particularly impressed with the product and marquee customers base they have built globally in a very short span of time,” commented Ravi Thakur, designated partner, StartupXseed Ventures.


Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation, has delivered a new pilot boat to the Lake Pilots in Port Huron, Mich., by road transport. The Resilient Class high-speed launch is the pilots’ third boat built by the Somerset, Mass., shipyard since 1979.

Designed by Ray Hunt Design, the waterjet-driven, all-aluminum launch measures 42.5 feet long overall. It has a 14-foot beam and a 2.5-foot shoal draft. The deep-V hull features a steep 24-degree dead-rise at the transom that increases to a very fine entry forward. The perimeter of the launch is fitted with a large foam-collar fendering system. A flat chine and multiple spray-rails provide an efficient running surface and deflect spray away from the collar to produce a dryer ride and reduce collar maintenance. A heavy-duty pipe guard is installed across the transom, along with a platform above the launch’s waterjets.

The boat is powered by twin Cummins QSL-9 diesel engines, which are fully accessible through large lift-assisted deck hatches. The engines, each rated at 450 bhp, at 2100 rpm, turn a pair of HamiltonJet HJ-322 waterjets through Twin Disc gearboxes. Fuel capacity is 300 gallons. A Zipwake interceptor auto trim-control system will be installed on the transom. Top speed is over 37 knots.

“The vessel is an excellent summer complement to the Lake Pilots’ 53- foot Chesapeake Class, burning half the fuel at higher speeds,” said Gladding-Hearn co-president Peter Duclos.

An aluminum pilothouse on a flush deck, with forward-leaning front windows, is set aft of amidships with 18-inch walk-around side decks. Access to the pilothouse is through the aft hinged door. The pilothouse has five Llebroc Stalker XT seats – four pilot seats and one helm seat – and a control console with instruments and controls. A Porta Potty is installed in the forecastle. The launch is outfitted entirely with LED lighting.

The Lake Pilots’ pilot boat is the fourth of the Resilient Class built since its introduction in 2005. The three previous vessels, operating in Texas, Virginia and South Carolina, combined have more than 45,000 operating hours of continuous service, according to Gladding-Hearn officials.

Gladding-Hearn built pilot launch is protected by foam collar fendering
The perimeter of the launch is fitted with a large foam-collar fendering system.

Are the maritime industries about to be revolutionised by smart shipping or is the sector not yet ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It is a highly emotive subject and the Parliamentary Debate at Seatrade Maritime Middle East will see six leading industry executives, all with strong opinions debate the motion: “This House believes the shipping industry is not yet ready to embrace smart shipping”.

On the one hand Smart Shipping has the potential to transform the fundamentals of ship operation, with digital technology and big data driving radical new solutions up to and including autonomous ships.

But on the other what does the industry actually want from these new technologies, how real are the efficiencies they offer and what changes to the regulatory framework would be needed prior to significant implementation?

The Parliamentary Debate held on 29 October at Seatrade Maritime Middle East in Dubai will be chaired by leading maritime lawyer Jasamin Fichte, Managing Partner of Fichte & Co.

Speaking for the motion are: Khalid Hashim, Managing Director, Precious Shipping, Ali Shehab Ahmad, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) and Captain David Stockley, Chief Operating Officer, Oman Ship Management Company.

On the side against the motion are: René Kofod-Olsen, Chief Executive Officer, Topaz Energy and Marine, Oskar Levander, Senior Vice President Concepts & Innovation, Rolls Royce Marine, and Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime.

So is the industry ready or not to embrace smart shipping? There is only one way to find out – attend the debate, listen to the arguments, and then as the parliamentarians (audience) you vote on which side wins the debate.



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