World Maritime News
COVID-19 changes big ships, Asia focus for US ports
The chief lesson going forward is that the reliance by retailers and manufactures on a China-plus-one strategy is too risky, A China-plus “three or four strategy” is less risky, an economist warns. The impact of COVID-19 on the US container trade will force US ports to position themselves for more diverse trade lanes, smaller vessels, and accelerate the shift of imports away from the West Coast as retailers increase sourcing in South East Asia, according to port directors and industry analysts. Gene Seroka of the Port of Los Angeles believes the 14,000 TEU vessels on fixed weekly services in the trans-Pacific lane are the most efficient. However sourcing in South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Latin America, and possibly Africa will require deployment of 8,000-10,000 TEU ships which are better suited to the ports and infrastructure there. This may lead to the move via all-water services transiting Suez Canal and could mean more opportunities for second-tier US ports such as Boston, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Jacksonville and Miami.
Read more: JOC
No plans by cash-strapped carriers to ease zero-carbon goals
Maersk and CMA CGM are rejecting suggestions that industry commitments to decarbonize shipping may lose priority in the struggle to rebuild balance sheets devastated by the demand-crushing global measures to combat the COVID-19.But the commercial realities of operating large vessels fleet in the current low-demand environment appear to be testing the environmental resolve of carriers, considering the renewed interest in using the longer route, with the current low price of fuel, via Cape of Good Hope on the backhaul return from Northern Europe to Asia. Faced with growing financial pressure, carriers are desperate to ease the operating costs of the vessels. So far only CMA CGM has taken this option. Maersk and MSC have not announced plans to bypass the Suez Canal, but the carriers have said they will extend voyage time on some Asia-North Europe services by seven days. Alan Murphy CEO of Sea-Intelligence said “If bypassing Suez Canal can reduce the cash flow hemorrhage, a clear side effect is an increase in not just transit times, but also emissions.” It looks, at moment, financial pressures on carriers could outweigh environmental considerations and slow a commitment from the shipping industry towards meeting its GHG emissions reduction goals.
Read more: JOC
China steps up crew change efforts
Beijing has made it more imperative for a timely repatriation of Chinese crew, through a joint statement from six major central government agencies pledging to solve the issue amid the coronavirus-led disruption. China started to relax crew change restrictions for its own nationals in March when domestic infections came under control. But lack of co-ordination between different state authorities was viewed as one of the reasons for slow progress in driving the policy. An expert warned that a prolonged period of service was likely to cause extraordinary mental issues of seafarers, which could pose service risks to the safety of ships and ports.
Read more: Lloyd’s List
Rotterdam warns throughput could fall by 20%
Rotterdam expects full-year throughput to fall by up to one fifth as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on economic activity. Ro-Ro traffic was also directly affected by a decline in economic activity in Europe, and volumes would be significantly lower as long as the lockdown in various countries continued. The flow of iron ore and coal to German steel industry will decrease in response to falling demand from automotive and construction industries. The decline in the use of oil products for transport will reduce need for crude oil supplies. Closed factories, stricter border controls and restrictions on personal freedom of movement have disrupted society around the globe. This unprecedented situation and the consequences are affecting international trade hubs such as the port of Rotterdam, according to Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
Daimler, Volvo partner on hydrogen-powered trucks
Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group, two of the largest global diesel truck makers, signed a preliminary joint venture agreement to develop hydrogen fuel-cell technology for electric heavy trucks, with the goal of producing those trucks commercially in the second half of this decade. The challenge is to develop technology that will allow heavy electric Class 8 trucks to operate long distances without the need to plug into the electricity grid to recharge, as battery-powered vehicles must do. Instead of plugging into the grid, fuel-cell systems convert the electrical energy of hydrogen and oxygen into electricity to power vehicles on the road. Electricity may be used to convert water to hydrogen, or hydrogen may be produced from natural gas captured during oil extraction. Both solutions would require building an energy distribution infrastructure that does not currently exist in US nationwide. That may take longer than development of better electric batteries or hydrogen fuel-cells.
Read more: JOC
MSC confirm malware attack
In mid-April MSC experienced an outage at its data centers, which affected the availability of some of MSC’s digital tools, including the company website. An investigation was carried out and found that it was a cyber-attack and that no data was lost or compromised as a result of the malware attack. The outage had minimal impact as MSC terminals and depots operated without disruption. This is not the first maritime cyber-attack to be made public this year. Toll Group was forced to shut down IT systems across multiple sites after an attack on 3 February. MSC said in a statement that it is very conscious of the perennial threat of cyber-attack in the shipping industry and adopts all necessary security protocols in its communications and transactions. MSC also offers cyber-security training for employees on shore and at sea.
Russia details plans for satellite monitoring of the NSR
Russian federal space agency Roscosmos will deploy a network of satellites to improve satellite link communication and remote sensing in the Arctic along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) by December 2025. Four Express-RV satellites will be launched to improve Arctic communications by 2025. The highly elliptical orbit of the satellite system would provide broadband satellite for fixed and mobile applications for all of Russia and the Arctic. Roscosmos said this would include the northern latitudes above the 80th parallel-a circle of latitude 80 degrees north of the Earth’s equational plane-where geostationary systems cannot currently provide coverage. The new system would meet communication needs in the region for vessel types traversing the Arctic, including icebreakers, merchant ships, various research and scientific expeditions, meteorological services, rescuers, and coastguards.
Read more: Safety at Sea