Maritime service provider Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) has opened its first office in Turkey as it looks to take advantage of what it calls the “burgeoning Turkish maritime cluster”. 

The new CSM Turkey operation in Istanbul will be headed by Captain Ozgur Gunes and offer the full range of the Columbia Group’s integrated maritime services.

Xanthos Kyriakou and Johann Meyer from the company’s Italy and Germany offices will also oversee the work of the Istanbul office. 

As part of the opening, the company will also explore working on joint ventures with Turkish ship owners and investing in the local economy through possible Columbia scholarships for Turkish cadets. 

President and CEO Mark O’Neil described the importance of the Turkish market to the company, saying: “We want to talk to [the Turkish market] about managing its ships, about building vessels, about building barges and offshore units in Turkey. 

“We want to advise on how to manage, operate and invest in private jets and the superyacht industry. If there is a market for cruises in Turkey, come and talk to us. We will invest in that market, and we will invest in those vessels.” 

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Other services to be offered by CSM Turkey include tanker pool management, mental health and crew wellbeing services, crew management, and vessel digitalisation and optimisation services, through the company’s performance optimisation control room. 

Columbia Finance will also be able to offer Turkish market stakeholders with necessary project equity. 

According to the Türkiye Chamber of Shipping, the Turkish merchant fleet consists of 1,117 vessels of all types, with 351 of those on the national registry, accommodating over 6 million gross tonnes. 

The size of the fleet has grown from pre-pandemic levels of around 800 vessels in 2018, though it has stabilised around the 1,100 mark since 2020.  

As of May 2023, the three primary types of vessels in the merchant fleet are dry cargo vessels, passenger and cargo ships, and service ships.