Ed Driscoll

Change: World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes in Industry Slide

“The world’s oldest shipping company sold its last vessel and is going out of business,” Bloomberg News reports:

Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd., started in 1730, has been placed into liquidation, according to a statement from accounting firm Tait Walker. The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England- based shipper, which employed nine people, sold off its final vessel in July, according to the statement.

The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of rates to transport dry- bulk commodities including grains and coal by sea, is down 55 percent this year and on course for a fourth annual slide in five years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The current slump is “one of the worst experienced for many years,” the shipping company said in the statement.

“News of the closing of Stephenson Clarke clearly shows how challenging the current economic climate is for shipping,” the U.K. Chamber of Shipping said in an e-mailed statement. “Stephenson Clarke was an historic company and longstanding member until recently and we were very sorry to hear this news.”

We mentioned the container industry’s slump back in September of 2009, along with a link to a Daily Mail article on “The ghost fleet of the recession,” complete with appropriately eerie photos of the container industry’s armada of modern day Flying Dutchmen anchored near Singapore. Fortunately, it was merely an aberrant and temporary fluke; a bit of Fleet Street hyperbole, as the Obama administration’s first year efforts at jump-starting the economy quickly righted the industry once again…

(Perhaps the industry is merely having a run of “bad luck.”)

Related: Bill Whittle at PJTV on “Going Out of Business:”