Specifically, on a year-on-year basis, the tanker index was down by 3 points, or 1.7%, while the bulker index also fell by 3 points, or 1.9%. The container ship index, meanwhile, was down by 1 point, or 0.6%. The corresponding figures in last year’s OpCost study showed falls of 6 points in both the bulker and container ship index, and of 4 points in the tanker index.

In addition, there was a 0.4% overall average fall in 2016 crew costs, compared to the 2015 figure, which itself was 1.2% down on 2015. By way of comparison, the 2008 report revealed a 21% increase in this category.


  • Tankers overall experienced a fall in crew costs of 1.8% on average, compared to the 1.3% fall recorded in 2015.
  • All categories of tankers reported a reduction in crew costs for 2016 with the exception of Aframax Tankers and Suezmax Tankers, which recorded increases of 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, compared to reductions for 2015 of 1.9% and 2.6%.
  • The most significant reductions in tanker crew costs for 2016 were the 2.8% and 2.7% recorded by Tankers 5,000 to 10,000 dwt and by Handysize Product Tankers respectively.


  • For bulkers, meanwhile, the overall average fall in crew costs in 2016 was 0.6%, compared to 1.1% recorded 12 months ago.
  • All categories of bulkers reported a reduction in crew costs, the biggest fall being the 1.2% reduction in spending by the owners of Capesize Bulkers.


  • Expenditure on crew costs in the container ship sector was up by 1.1% compared to the fall of 3.3% recorded for 2015.
  • The biggest increase in this category was the 2.1% recorded for ships of between 2,000 and 6,000 teu, which in 2015 led the reductions in the container ship crew costs category with a fall in expenditure of 3.6%.

Further, expenditure on stores was down by 2.9% overall, compared to the fall of 4.3% in 2015. The biggest fall in such costs was the 5.1% recorded by owners of container ships of between 100 and 1,000 teu. In the same tonnage category, the fall in stores costs for owners of container ships of between 1,000 and 2,000 teu was 4.9%, the same figure as that recorded in the tanker sector for Aframax Tankers. Other significant reductions included Handysize Bulkers (4.8%) and Panamax Bulkers (4.4%).

For bulk carriers overall, stores costs fell by an average of 4.2%, compared to a fall of 7.7% in 2015, while in the tanker and container ship sectors the overall reductions in stores costs were 2.2% and 5.2% respectively, compared to the corresponding figures of 4.3% and 5.5% for 2015. The only rise in stores expenditure by any category of vessel was the 0.3% increase recorded by Coastal Tankers.

There was an overall fall in repairs and maintenance costs of 0.8% in 2016, compared to the 4.3% reduction recorded for 2015. The biggest fall in such costs was that recorded by Panamax Bulkers (3.2%), closely followed by Capesize Bulkers (3.1%). All vessels in the bulker category recorded reduced repairs and maintenance expenditure, but there were increases in the tanker sector, most notably the 2.4% additional outlay by Panamax Tankers compared to 2015. There were examples of small increases in repairs and maintenance expenditure in the container ship sector, while for RoRo’s the increase amounted to 2.2%.

The overall drop in costs of 3.0% recorded for insurance compares to the 3.2% fall recorded for 2015. No vessel types in any of the tonnage and size categories included in OpCost paid more for their insurance in 2016 than in 2015.The biggest reduction in such costs was the 5.2% recorded by container ships of between 2,000 and 6,000 teu. Not far behind were Handysize Bulkers and Panamax Bulkers (4.7% and 4.6% respectively), while in the tanker category it was Aframax Tankers which led the way in terms of reduced insurance expenditure (4.6%). Ro-Ro owners, meanwhile, paid 4.0% less for their insurance in 2016 than in 2015, in which year they spent an additional 2.4% in premiums compared to the previous year.

Richard Greiner, Shipping & Transport Partner, said: “Although 2016 was another difficult period for shipping, the year closed on a note of rising confidence, according to the Moore Stephens Shipping Confidence Survey...That increased confidence, which has carried over into 2017, should logically lead to greater activity, which will mean higher operating costs. When freight rates allow owners to absorb such increased costs, the numbers start to look healthy. At present, however, owners and operators are not earning what they should be, or would like to be, from most of the markets in which they operate. Positive net sentiment is good, but it is not enough. Something has to change."