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Published: 25 February 2022

Gross tonnage of the regular Finnish merchant fleet increased in 2021

Corrected on 12 April 2022. The corrections are indicated in red.

At the end of 2021, the size of the Finnish registered merchant fleet was 1,235 vessels. They are divided into the regular merchant fleet (engine-powered vessels with a length of 15 m or more), small vessels (engine-powered vessels with a length under 15 m) and barges and other engineless vessels. The regular merchant fleet included 669 vessels and the number of small vessels was 283. The number of barges and other engineless vessels was 283. The gross tonnage of the entire registered merchant fleet was 1,862,051. The share of gross tonnage of the regular merchant fleet was 1,738,552, that of small vessels was 4,807 and that of barges and other engineless vessels 118,692.

Finnish registered merchant fleet at the end of the year 2000–2021

Finnish registered merchant fleet at the end of the year 2000–2021

The size of the registered merchant fleet decreased by eight vessels compared to the end of 2020. The regular merchant fleet decreased by 11 vessels, the number of small vessels diminished by two and that of barges and other engineless vessels grew by five vessels. The gross tonnage of the entire registered merchant fleet remained practically unchanged. The gross tonnage of the regular merchant fleet increased by 0.6 per cent and that of small vessels by 1.4 per cent. Despite the increase in the number of vessels, the gross tonnage of barges and other engineless vessels decreased by around 8.4 per cent.

Regular merchant fleet

At the end of 2021, the regular merchant fleet comprised 669 ships with a combined gross tonnage of 1,738,552. The regular merchant fleet can be divided into four main categories, which are passenger ships, dry cargo ships, tankers and other vessels. In addition to pure passenger ships, the main group of passenger ships includes ro-ro passenger ships, the main group had 245 ships and a gross tonnage of 660,737. Dry cargo ships include ro-ro cargo ships, bulk carriers, container ships and other dry cargo ships, the main group had 139 vessels and a gross tonnage of 810,822. The main group of tankers consists of oil, gas and chemical tankers, the main group had nine vessels and a gross tonnage of 176,061. The main group of other vessels includes, for example, tugboats, icebreakers, pusher lighters, fishing vessels and administrative vessels, the number of vessels of the main group was 276 and the gross tonnage 90,932.

The regular merchant fleet by main group in 2000 to 2021

The regular merchant fleet by main group in 2000 to 2021

Passenger ships numbered 191, ro-ro passenger ships 54, ro-ro cargo ships 42, bulk carriers 10, other dry cargo ships 87, tankers 9, special vessels 180 and other vessels 96. Measured by gross tonnage, the largest vessel type groups were ro-ro passenger ships and ro-ro cargo ships. Ro-ro passenger ships and ro-ro cargo ships make up almost two-thirds of the tonnage of the entire regular merchant fleet.

The size of the regular merchant fleet has grown during 2021 measured by gross tonnage, while the net tonnage and number of vessels have decreased. The number of vessels belonging to the category passenger ships, ro-ro cargo ships, other dry cargo ships, tankers and other vessels has decreased by 15 in total from one year ago. The number of special vessels has grown by four during 2021. The numbers of ro-ro passenger ships and bulk carriers have remained unchanged. As a whole, the gross tonnage of the regular merchant fleet increased by 11,196 during 2021.

Table 1. Regular merchant fleet at the end of the year 2019-2021

Vessel type Year
2019 2020 2021
Amount Gross tonnage Amount Gross tonnage Amount Gross tonnage
Merchant fleet total 687 1,737,284 680 1,727,356 669 1,738,552
Passenger ships 197 23,088 196 23,082 191 22,467
Ro-ro passenger ships 55 604,149 54 603,936 54 638,270
Ro-ro cargo ships 42 509,021 44 511,702 42 484,851
Bulk carrier ships 10 106,356 10 106,356 10 106,356
Other dry cargo ships 94 230,558 90 220,509 87 219,615
Tankers 10 182,031 10 180,453 9 176,061
Special purpose ships 177 67,782 176 67,421 180 78,438
Other ships 102 14,299 100 13,897 96 12,494

Most of the regular merchant fleet belongs to the 1A Super or 1A ice class according to gross tonnage. In practice, the tonnage of ro-ro passenger and cargo ships, bulk carriers and tankers belongs to these ice classes as a whole. Ice classes II and III refer to vessels that do not meet the requirements of the ice class regulations. Ships with ice class II may be eligible for icebreaker assistance under mild ice conditions if they have sufficient deadweight. Ships with ice class III are never eligible for icebreaker assistance.

The average age of Finland’s regular merchant fleet was 51 years at the end of 2021. When the age is proportioned to the gross tonnage, the average age is 18 years. Thus, large ships are, on average, clearly newer than smaller ones. Relative to the gross tonnage, the newest vessels were tankers. Their relative average age was as low as just three years. The next most recent were bulk carriers with an age of eight years, ro-ro cargo ships and ro-ro passenger ships with an age of 17 years relative to the gross tonnage. Passenger ships were the oldest, their average age proportioned to the gross tonnage was 60 years.

Register of Merchant Vessels

Of the vessels registered in Finland, the Register of Merchant Vessels contained 106 vessels at the end of 2021. A majority of the vessels entered into the Register of Merchant Vessels were other dry cargo ships, ro-ro cargo ships and special vessels. There were 35 other dry cargo ships, 27 ro-ro cargo ships and 17 special vessels. The biggest groups by gross tonnage were ro-ro passenger ships, ro-ro cargo ships and other dry cargo ships. The gross tonnage of ro-ro passenger ships and ro-ro cargo ships was two-thirds of the entire tonnage of the Register of Merchant Vessels.

Vessels in the regular merchant fleet and in the Register of Merchant Vessels by gross tonnage and vessel type 31.12.2021

Vessels in the regular merchant fleet and in the Register of Merchant Vessels by gross tonnage and vessel type 31.12.2021

Small vessels, barges and other engineless vessels

At the end of 2021, there were a total of 283 small vessels. The gross tonnage of the vessels was 4,807 in total. Most of the small vessels, 128 or almost one half, were passenger ships. The number of small vessels decreased by two during 2021, there were two fewer vessels belonging to the category other small vessels, and one fewer passenger ship at the end of the year. There was one more tugboat.

At the end of 2021, there were a total of 283 barges and other engineless vessels. The gross tonnage of barges and other engineless vessels totalled 118,692. The number of barges and other engineless vessels grew by five vessels during the year, but the gross tonnage fell by 10,866.

Table 2. Small vessels and barges and other engineless vessels year 2019-2021

Vessel type Year
2019 2020 2021
Amount Gross tonnage Amount Gross tonnage Amount Gross tonnage
Small vessels total 284 4,702 285 4,742 283 4,807
Fishing vessels 46 617 46 617 46 617
Tugboats 38 620 38 620 39 634
Small dry cargo vessels 12 186 12 195 12 195
Small passenger vessels 130 2,385 129 2,386 128 2,434
Other small vessels 58 894 60 924 58 927
Barges and other engineless vessels 275 131,151 278 129,558 283 118,692
Barges 245 126,176 248 124,583 252 113,644
Dredgers 30 4,975 30 4,975 31 5,048

Vessel mortgages

For the entire registered merchant fleet, 402 vessel mortgages with a total value of EUR 3.1 billion had been confirmed at the end of 2021. Vessels in the regular merchant fleet had 287 mortgages with a combined value of EUR 2.9 billion. Measured in euros, ro-ro cargo ships and ro-ro passenger ships had the most mortgages among vessels in the regular merchant fleet. Small vessels had a total of EUR 10 million in vessel mortgages and engineless vessels had EUR 211 million.

Structure of the merchant fleet

In Finland, the entire registered merchant fleet comprises the regular merchant fleet, small vessels and barges and other engineless vessels. Vessels are registered based on their domicile either in the register maintained by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom or the register of ships maintained by the State Department of Åland. The regular merchant fleet comprises vessels with a length of 15 metres or more that have an engine. Small vessels refer to vessels with a length of under 15 meters, but at least 10 meters, which have been voluntarily entered in the Finnish Transport Register or the register of ships. Barges and other engineless vessels refer to vessels that run without machine power regardless of size. These include barges and other engineless vessels such as dredgers.

According to the Act on Enhancing the Competitiveness of Ships Engaged in Sea Transport (1277/2007), financial support can be granted from state funds to ships registered in the Register of Merchant Vessels. A passenger ship, cargo ship, tugboat or pusher tug that is intended to be used primarily in foreign traffic during the year of support and that is registered in Finland can, upon request, be entered into the Register of Merchant Vessels.


Source: Transport and Tourism, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Olli Kajava 029 551 3531, olli.kajava@stat.fi

Head of Department in charge: Hannele Orjala

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Updated 25.2.2022

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Merchant Fleet [e-publication].
ISSN=2670-1669. 2021. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 26.6.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/klaiv/2021/klaiv_2021_2022-02-25_tie_001_en.html