Skip to content
dls insights

Bedlam in the Time of COVID-19

Bedlam is defined as a scene of uproar and confusion. The term comes from the St. Mary Bethlehem Hospital in England which long after its beginning became an asylum to treat the mentally ill. In the Jacobean Era, with the help of playwrights putting on some successful plays using the hospital name as a site for titillating insanity, the name morphed along the lines of Bedleheem, Bedleem and then to Bedlam, i.e. chaos and insanity.

Worldwide right now the marine industry is in a state of chaos. And for those trying to plan, budget, forecast – unprecedented disruption. Insanity. Bedlam.

Many of the experts expect this to be long-term. I agree, with the out that long-term is different to different players.

For many in the offshore services industry with idle vessels and looming debt, long-term can be three to six months. That may be as long as they can last. This hasn’t been helped by the drop in oil prices due to the Saudi-Russian oil pricing battle. And while the U.S. has become a net exporter of oil, the LOOP terminal offshore Louisiana is now expecting an influx of loaded Saudi Arabian VLCC’s.

For those owners wondering about what to do for vessel replacement, long-term is the life of a vessel – twenty years. What designs? What fuels?

In between these time frames are lenders with loans and leases in the next one to five years, and major oil companies and their contractors whose planning and budgets are often four to six years out.

In the current worldwide COVID-19 crisis, the ripples spread. Vessels in some sectors have become surplus. The auto trade is dormant so older Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTC) are laid up. With the world economy slowed, less steel is needed, steel production has slowed, and along with it the use of bulk carriers with coal and ore.

Container traffic is upset. First nothing is coming out of China. Then China recovers and the ports for Chinese goods in the west are shut down due to the virus. The latter also affects grain movements. Even restaurant closures have shut down the fishing fleets around the world and affect reefer shipping and refrigerated container movements of fruits, vegetables and meats.

The international drop in people’s income means a drop in consumer spending and a reduction in container and general shipping. Feeder systems between the U.S., the Caribbean and South America, such as Crowley Liner Services, are being cut.

Even the end game, scrapping, is being affected. The loss of demand for steel can reduce the need for scrap steel, particularly in the Chinese steel mills with electric arc furnaces. On top of that the Hong Kong Convention call for “green” scrapping which has affected some yards. Even today working scrap yards do not want ships so they can avoid the risk of handling the possibly sick seamen that bring the ships to the scrap yard and must be repatriated to their homelands.

For some of the same reasons, Sales & Purchase is down as ship inspections are difficult to carry out due to transportation of surveyors and vessel access. The terms of long- and short-term financing are also in flux due to the many risk factors.

As Mongkut, the King of Siam, said in the musical The King and I, “Tis a puzzlement.”

As things have been unfolding, we at DLS Marine have been keeping up with the day-to-day happenings in the industry. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, every DLS surveyor has been able to operate independently from anywhere there is internet connections. While most air travel has been curtailed, our field staff can travel as deemed necessary, with discretion. In the last year we also integrated our entire system so that our office staff can work from home, which they have been doing for several weeks now. There has been no break in production of reports and to ensure security, we have recently gone to two-factor authentication for our remote systems.

In learning that classification societies have moved to more drone inspections to cut down on the need for assistance on vessels and in shipyards, as well as to carry out competent inspections at a distance, DLS Marine received its certification from the American Bureau of Shipping to carry out external inspections and expanded its use of DLS drones into inspections/documentation of condition on vessels for leasing companies and lenders. We were the first independent survey group to achieve this certification.

In an industry with a long history of cyclical economics, some with wild and extreme swings, this may be the first time since WWII that the economic tide is moving almost every sector of the industry. Yet the marine industry rethinks and regroups.

With the rapid changes in technology, constant IMO and individual country regulations, and changes in international financing and international financial valuation standards, it will take all of the experience of the old line shipping families and the thinking of the modern globalist to carry our industry through the recovery.

And it will recover. There is no substitute for inland, coastal and ocean shipping to economically move the goods, raw and completed, to world markets. All associated with the industry will also be part of the recovery. DLS Marine, with our staff with decades of experience in hull and machinery, appraisal, inland river movements and cargo, will be here to support you along that road to recovery, bringing you many of the answers you need in a timely fashion – as we have for over 50 years.

Norman Laskay

Follow Us for more like this:

Additional articles

Hot Air?

U.S. offshore wind farms come up frequently in the news, often related to politics and with a list of players that seems to change monthly. The number and location of sites in this industry, fledgling in the U.S., is confusing. To help visualize what is happening, I found several websites with information on the U.S. Windfarms operators.

Read More »


In September 2021, I looked at the growing use of Lithium-Ion batteries in forms of transportation. It was researched for my own education as well as for my readers. This blog will try to give basic information on the new generation of batteries and the systems that will be necessary for them to be used in various types of transportation as stored electrical power starts to take over from fossil fuels.

Read More »

THE FUEL RACE REVISITED…and other subjects

The fuels of the future will be impacting everything that we do. They are already impacting commerce, from moving to more electric and natural gas-powered vehicles in cities, to the billions of dollars being diverted to research, development, production, and distribution of these alternative fuels.

Read More »

Get A Quote

The Fastest Way To Get Your Project Started

DLS Marine Valuation Logo
Matt McDaniel DLS Marine Survey and Appraisal

Matt McDaniel

Hull & Machinery Surveyor

Areas of Expertise:

  • Hull and Machinery
  • Damage Assessment and Repairs
  • Condition
  • Inspections
  • Project Management

Memberships / Professional Certification:



Matt began marine surveying in 2014 and has experience with damage causation, reviewing transit plans, new construction, cargo transfers, salvage operations, on/off charters, and general condition surveys. He joined the Hull & Machinery department at DLS in 2019.
Charles Sterling - DLS - UAV Supervisor | Digital Inspection Manager

Charles Sterling

UAV Supervisor | Digital Inspection Manager

Areas of Expertise:

  • Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles & ROV’s
  • Digital Inspections
  • Computer Technology

Professional Certifications:

  • AS, Computer Information Systems
  • BS, Information Technology
  • FLIR Infrared Training Institute

Certified Specialist in Caterpillar diesel engines to include:

  • CFR Part 107
  • Level 1 sUAS Thermographer
  • Microsoft Certified System Engineer


Charles joined the firm in 2024, after managing an enterprise drone service provider based in New Orleans. He also teaches basic and advanced UAV class at Delgado Community College. Charles has extensive experience planning, flying complex missions in the Industrial, Chemical and Oil & Gas industries.

Ave P. Boudreaux

Marine Surveyor

Areas of Expertise:

  • Hull and Machinery
  • Project Management Supervisor (QC) – overseen numerous construction and delivery schedules for vessels
  • Extensive knowledge of U.S. Coast Guard and ABS rules and regulations for vessel construction and repair


  • Rolls-Royce Z-Drive Failure Analysis Seminar
  • Flex-Core and Aluminum Welding Course
  • Extensive training in engine, gear, and shaft alignment
  • Extensive training in vessel repair and new construction

Memberships / Professional Certification:



Mr. Boudreaux has 15 years experience with offshore supply vessels, crewboats, and anchor handling tugs. During this time, he served 8 years in vessel repair and new construction, 3 years in vessel operation and logistics, and 4 years as a vessel port captain.

Mr. Boudreaux served over 3 years as a marine surveyor performing numerous types of surveys in the marine industry prior to joining DLS.

Norm Laskay - DLS Marine Valuation

Norman F. Laskay

Of Counsel

Mr. Laskay joined Stickney, Dufour & Associates, Inc. in 1988 as a partner. He is now of Counsel. He became a Marine Surveyor in 1974, having gained prior experience in steamship agency, bulk cargo handling and vessel operations. He has been involved in many aspects of marine surveying including hull, machinery and cargo, both inland and ocean. Since becoming an Accredited Senior Appraiser of commercial marine equipment, he has been active with the American Society of Appraisers’ International Machinery and Technical Specialties Committee. He has written a comprehensive exam for the Commercial Marine Appraisal specialty and has written a 30-hour course for the American Society of Appraisers on appraising commercial marine vessels and yachts and is the lead instructor.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Commercial Marine Appraisal
  • Hull Damage and Repair
  • Cargo Loading, Securing and Trip in Tow Preparation


  • Maine Maritime Academy Graduate
    B.S. in Marine Transportation
  • Continuing education credits in Law, Appraisal, Marine Survey, and Diesel Repair.

Professional Certification/Memberships:

  • NAMS Regional Board of Directors Member 1989-1994
  • American Society of Appraisers – Chapter Treasurer 1991-1994
  • American Society of Appraisers – Chapter President 1994-1995
  • Mark Twain Club (Charter Member)
  • Machinery and Technical Specialties International Committee 1995-Present


  • The Journal of the International Machinery & Technical Specialties Committee of the American Society of Appraisers “TUGBOAT DESIGN 101” Vol 13 No. 2 Fall 1996
  • The Journal of the International Machinery & Technical Specialties Committee of the American Society of Appraisers “KEEPING AN EYE ON YOUR MARINE ASSET” Vol 13 No. 3 Winter 1996
  • Marine Money, The Ship Finance Publication of Record “ASSET BASED APPRAISAL:, Vol. 21, No. 3, May/June 2006 Wrote the chapter on Marine Asset Appraisal for the American Society of Appraisers text book: “VALUING MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT: THE FUNDAMENTALS OF APPRAISING MACHINERY AND TECHNICAL ASSETS” Second Edition. In 2008, revised the chapter for the future Third Edition and wrote an accompanying Work Book section.



Harry Ward President DLS Marine

Harry Ward


Harry Ward is the President of Dufour, Laskay & Strouse, Inc. Harry is a US Navy veteran and has spent much of the past decade in the maritime industry in sales, finance and general management. He has extensive experience in asset and business valuation and is working to maintain DLS leadership in marine appraisal and survey for another 50 years. Harry is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and served as a helicopter pilot and survival instructor through multiple tours of duty. He has an MBA from San Diego State University.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Fleet and Vessel Appraisals
  • Marine Business Valuation
  • Transaction Support – Due Diligence
  • Transaction Support – Marine M&A Advisory
  • Digital Inspection – Marine and Offshore Wind


  • U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD – 1991, Bachelor of Science
  • San Diego State University, San Diego, CA – 1999, MBA with emphasis in Finance

Licenses and Professional Associations

  • FINRA Licenses, Series 63 and 79 (Investment Banking)
  • American Society of Appraisers, AM
  • Certified Exit Planning Advisor, CEPA (Business value assessment and strategy development