Booming trade

Boomsma Shipping is a family-owned and run vessel management company, specialising in multi-purpose vessels (MPVs) on short sea shipping routes. Anne Boomsma established the company in 1967; living onboard a 47-metre spit called Frisiana with his wife Regina, the couple shipped steel products between France and Germany. Hard work and success saw Boomsma Shipping upgrade its vessel four times, each time naming the ship Frisiana, until 1998 when it welcomed a second vessel into its fleet as well as more family members including current managing director Johan Boomsma.

Today, Boomsma Shipping’s responsibility stretches across a total nine vessels, six of which are owned directly by the company itself and three that are captain-owned in managerial co-operation with the company. “We offer complete management services,” Johan begins, “which means finance, crewing, ISM, ISPS and technical operations. All our vessels are between 2000 and 10,000 deadweight tonnes (DWT) and carry general cargo on short sea routes exclusively. We have no intention of moving outside this sector.”

Crewing is one of Boomsma Shipping’s most important services with a roster including captains, chief engineers, mates and trainees. It forges close working relationships with all crew, ensuring highly motivated staff and high quality seafarers for all its clients. A wide roster means Boomsma Shipping is able to offer crew flexibility in sailing schedules. It also takes trainee officers onto its vessels thereby giving young seafarers the opportunity to gain practical experience in working maritime environments.

In 2011 Boomsma Shipping introduced three vessels to its fleet, all of which follow its small short sea philosophy: Leah, Frisian Ocean and Marfaam. “The Leah is a 6000 DWT vessel, originally a container ship but converted into a MPV when it entered our fleet. We bought that in June,” illustrates Johan. “The Frisian Ocean is an 8000 DWT newbuilding that was delivered in July. On 17th November we added the motor vessel Marfaam to our fleet; it is a captain-owned ship built at Damen Shipyards, with Boomsma Shipping handling vessel management and NedNor handling commercial management.”

NedNor BV is a commercial management firm for the short sea trade sector that was set up by Øyvind Sivertsen in collaboration with Boomsma Shipping. Established in April 2008, it is headquartered in Groningen, the Netherlands. Boomsma Shipping is a 50 per cent shareholder in the company – the other half owned by Øyvind – so the two companies have maintained a close relationship: NedNor handles the commercial management for Boomsma Shipping’s vessels as well as a variety of third party clients, with a total of 17 vessels receiving its services.

The collaboration with NedNor has been a blessing for Boomsma Shipping throughout a very turbulent period in the market. “Everybody knows that business is not easy,” says Johan. “We have had some tough times but also some very good years; at the moment we are suffering from lack of business but remain on the safe side of the current market. We can pay all the invoices, interest on bank loans and even the majority of the loans themselves but we know that it is possible something could go wrong at any moment. Starting up NedNor was a very good decision, Øyvind’s and his team’s wide network of contacts in the commercial sector bringing us closer to this crucial aspect of the sector. That has been very helpful in today’s market.”

One of the biggest problems for the company has been gaining finance for new vessels. Even though Boomsma Shipping has good relations with banks, gaining investment capital remains difficult in an ongoing recession environment and requires having highly attractive, fully laid out projects to gain their favour. Boomsma Shipping achieved this with its three vessels last year but currently there are no plans for further expansion of its fleet, meaning it will focus in the short term simply on what it has become best known for: delivering high quality services.

Nonetheless, as Johan concludes, Boomsma Shipping is optimistic about the future and the chances it will bring: “Within the next few years our ambition is to be managing between ten and 12 vessels. Though there are no opportunities at the moment, I am pretty sure there will be some in the next year and we will not hesitate in pursuing them. It will be important to add new vessels because our ships – all ships – get older with each passing day: we have one to three vessels that should be sold in the coming three years so we’ll have to add four or five new ships to achieve that ambition. If in five years time we can be managing 15 ships then I will be very pleased indeed.”

Three new vessels in 2011
Short sea specialist
Complete vessel management