Twenty-first-century shipping history is littered with failed online procurement and auction sites.

So why are some of the biggest names in German shipping staking their reputation on a new one that claims to be different?

Launched this month, ShipStock is a networking and trans­action site that purports to be “the first purely online maritime ­network”.

It will go head to head with rival online valuation and auction sites and expects to complete its first vessel sales this year.

ShipStock is backed by heavyweight German names that have hitherto had limited involvement in digital shipping projects.