The Chamber's role is threefold:
. To provide members with comprehensive and up-to-date information relevant to their business.
. To formulate industry policy, in consultation with members, in order to protect and promote the interests of British shipping.
. To launch, co-ordinate and pursue initiatives to acheive policy objectives.
The Chamber is recognised by the Government, EU institutions and other international organisations as the focal point for consultation with the British shipping industry on regulatory and other key developments, thus giving it advance notice of forthcoming changes. The Chamber has a well-developed mechanism for promulgating relevant information throughout the industry; complementary electronic methods of disseminating information are being developed.
The Chamber also produces a portfolio of publications.
The Chamber has close working contacts with many Government Departments, enabling it to press the industry's case throughout the UK's corridors of power. Good links are also maintained with other maritime-related industry organisations, with maritime trade unions, and with City of London institutions.
Reflecting the international market in which British shipping companies trade, the Chamber has cultivated links with a broad range of European and international organisations - governmental and non-governmental - whose activities have an influence on members' businesses.
All these enable the Chamber both to advance the cause of British shipping and to advise individual member companies on specific matters or processes.
History of the Chamber
In the early nineteenth century, there were more than 30 regional shipowners' associations. In 1878, most of these associations agreed to support the formation of a national trade association, the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom. This rapidly became the dominant trade association for shipping. The Chamber was granted a Royal Charter in 1920.
In the meantime, in 1890, the Shipping Federation was formed as an employers' association in response to increasing trade union activity. Its principal role was strike breaking by the supply of non-unionised seamen to members' ships. The First World War largely ended the bitter conflict between the unions and the Federation, and in 1920 the two sides agreed to negotiate on seafarers' pay and conditions within the National Maritime Board (NMB).
The Federation played a vital role in manning the nation's merchant ships throughout the Second World War. In 1947 it became a joint supply system, with union involvement, as the Merchant Navy Establishment (MNE).
Following the Rochdale Report, the Chamber and the Federation (by now the British Shipping Federation) merged in 1975 to create the General Council of British Shipping (GCBS).
The NMB continued until 1990, when it was abolished as changing conditions made it more appropriate for conditions to be agreed at company level, rather than nationally. The MNE was also closed at the same time.
In 1992, the GCBS was renamed The Chamber of Shipping. The BSF is now dormant.
Following the 1975 merger, the BSF staff moved into the premises owned by the Chamber at 30/32 St Mary Axe. A terrorist bomb destroyed this building in 1992 and the site was subsequently sold for redevelopment. After a period in temporary accommodation at 2-5 Minories, the Chamber purchased its current building at 12 Carthusian Street in 1994. HM Queen Elizabeth II opened it in 1994.
Joining the Chamber
The Chamber believes it offers benefits to all shipping and maritime-related companies, whether British or overseas owned, which have their operating base in the UK.
In addition to receiving the advantages which membership brings, they would also strengthen the Chamber's resources and enable it to act with increased weight on behalf of the industry.
Applications should be made in the first instance to the Director-General, Mark Brownrigg. With the Secretary, he will be able to discuss your particular interests and the most suitable degree of involvement in the Chamber's activities for your company. He will also be able to give you an estimate of the cost of membership.
For further information on how to join visit the British Chamber of Shipping website.