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Ocean shipping companies lead the fight against the empty container build-up

The willingness of shipping lines to make direct cost outlays and forego revenue to reduce the empty container backlog shows the incredible support being given by ocean carriers to keeping Australia’s supply chain functioning.

Empty container congestion has been a problem at major ports all round the world. This is a result of unprecedented consumer demand driven by a Covid-induced shift from spending on services to spending on goods. In Sydney, the problem was exacerbated by weather events and industrial action. Carriers are being limited to their contracted container exchanges to recover schedules. For instance, if a ship has two thousand imports and is only allowed 2500 exchanges, then only 500 boxes can be exported.

Container congestion is inevitable unless additional calls are made just to pick up exports. Shipping Australia members are paying for extra ships and extra port calls in an effort to alleviate the problem.

NSW Transport and Roads Minister, Andrew Constance, has noted that record numbers of empty containers have been exported recently. He points out that in October 2020 more than 78,000 empty teu were exported and in November more than 75,000 empty teu were exported. That compares to a low of about 51,000 empty container exports in February and a monthly average of about 64,000 empty teu in the preceding 12 months.

Smart port innovation alliance established at Dalian

The alliance aims to service world-class intelligent port construction and the development of Dalian to be a shipping hub in northeast Asia. According to the alliance programme, it will be engaged in research of 5G, artificial intelligence, internet of things and blockchain technology application on smart port development, promoting intelligent port and infrastructure construction. Meanwhile, Liaoning Port Group also started the information team integration project with China Merchants Port to consolidate information resources from the two parties and establish a new technology company acting as the technology innovation platform for port, shipping and logistics sectors.

Container lines cancelling hardly any services over Chinese new year period

Analyst eeSea said that its Blank Sailings Tracker showed that 1.7 percent of head haul services on the three main east-west trades have been cancelled in February, which includes CNY, and in March this figure falls to 0.6 percent.

eeSea said that effective capacity in January 2021 on the main east-west head haul trades was up 7.6 percent, over the same period in 2020, when Covid-19 was only starting to make an impact on the Chinese market in the run-up to CNY.

A similar picture was painted by Sea-Intelligence (SeaIntel) looking at the specific period around CNY of weeks seven to nine. As 1 January 2021 lines had blanked just five sailings on the transpacific during this three-week period and seven on the Asia – Europe trade.

SeaIntel said this compared to 88 blank sailings in the same period 2020, although figure drops to 73 if Covid-19 related cancellations are removed, and 67 blank sailings on the trades in 2019.

Philippines in temporary crew change ban on vessels arriving from 20 countries

The Philippines Port Authority (PPA) said in Facebook post that from 30 December 2020 to 15 January 2021 it would disallow crew change for vessels from an initial list of 20 countries at it’s crew change facilities including those in Manila South Harbor, Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan, Port of Sasa in Davao and Port of Batangas.

PPA said the ban of crew change from vessels coming from these countries was part of the “country’s bid to prevent the entry of the new Covid-19 strain through the country’s ports”.

“Based on the Memorandum released by DOTr (Department of Transport)assistant secretary for Maritime Narciso Vingzon, Jr. to guide the crew change hubs, the initial list of flagged countries includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom,” PPA said.

The move by the world’s largest supplier of seafarers will come as another blow to owners and managers seeking to conduct much needed crew changes, and seafarers themselves desperate to return home to the Philippines, in some cases many months after their contracts have expired.

As the new, more virulent strain of Covid-19 continues to spread, PPA said more countries could be added to the list.

Largest Quay Cranes in US west coast arrive at Oakland’s OICT terminal

SSA Marine, the operator of OICT, purchased these ZPMC cranes which can work containers 24 wide while accommodating up to 14 high on deck.

The new cranes will compliment four existing cranes which were recently raised, providing OICT with a total of ten cranes servicing its five-berth facility.

The investment in the new cranes comes on top of SSA Marine’s recent efforts to convert their 13 OICT Rubber Tire Gantry (RTG’s) yard cranes from strictly diesel powered to employing hybrid technology.

“We are always looking for commercial ways to pursue sustainable approaches to our operations. This conversion of our RTG’s to hybrid is a perfect case in point. Using hybrid technology will allow us to reduce RTG emissions by nearly 90 percent, said Jim Rice OCIT general manager.

“We believe The Port of Oakland and OICT, have a very strong future ahead. The purchase of these new cranes and upgrading of our hybrid RTG’s underscores our commitment to the market and our customers. We know larger ships carrying increased volumes are coming. We want to be out in front of that curve and are preparing our terminal to service our customers’ needs,” stated Ed DeNike, president of SSA Containers.

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