Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Two years’ pre-Brexit investment in North Sea container shipping services (illustrated) is proving decisive in winning shippers away from cross-Channel ferry routes at a critical time for UK-EU relations, according to leading multimodal operator Samskip which issued the news on 5 November.
With many questions remaining over the exact nature of the future EU-UK trading relationship, Samskip says that regular, reliable and cost competitive container services are a key element in planning for the future.
In the words of Andy Foulds, Samskip UK Sales Director: ‘The months ahead will see uncertainty for companies trading goods between the UK and the EU and businesses are looking to secure their supply chains. Samskip is moving cargo for blue chip customers now which have never done business with us before and which seek containerised transportation solutions to ensure the availability of their products on the shelves.’
The company recently scaled up sailings between Hull and Benelux ports to eleven per week, adding to its existing three calls per week into Tilbury and a weekly call into Grangemouth. Container volumes are growing quickly to fill the extra capacity.
Foulds added: ‘Under normal circumstances, offering to run “business as usual” is not news, but the impending Brexit makes it the freight industry news that business is crying out for.’
Samskip’s Brexit preparations began in early 2017, with the introduction of larger tonnage on its Rotterdam-UK routes. Preparation accelerated in 2018 to include the launch of a new three-times a week Amsterdam-Hull service and a separate twice weekly link between Antwerp and Hull to offer an additional UK-destined containerised solution to the markets of Belgium and Northern France.
This enhanced containerised shortsea capability integrates with the largest multimodal network in Europe, connecting into Norway, Iberia and the Baltic, to inland barge services, and rail connections throughout the EU and beyond.
Samskip recently supplemented its six times weekly rail service between Rotterdam and Melzo (Milan) by launching new regular rail connections between Italy and Amsterdam, opening up new routes, new connectivity and further strengthening containerised links between the Continent and the UK.
Furthermore Foulds stated: ‘Three continental ports and three UK East coast ports, plus Samskip’s separate dedicated Irish services, linked to deep reaching rail and barge services into Europe offer a diversity of routes to defray current and future transportation risks.’
He also contrasted Samskip’s strategic approach with post-Brexit risks associated with ferry-based trucking: ‘Lack of space at UK ferry ports introduces the prospect of delays and trucking queues returning as goods are customs cleared. This influences where drivers want to work at a time when there is already a Europe-wide shortage of drivers. It’s a real concern to our customers.’
Samskip has verified that its UK port operations have ample capacity to cope with longer clearance processes.
Fould concluded by saying: ‘The viable reach of trailers is already shrinking and Brexit has accelerated the process on routes between the UK and Sweden, Italy and the Czech Republic. A round trip between the Czech Republic and a UK destination occupies a driver for a week; a driver picking up in Hull could make six to seven deliveries to Manchester per week. Samskip’s three-port strategy in the UK also minimises truck miles and reduces carbon emissions.’
Brexit is sharpening the focus on Samskip’s traditional advantages of scale and security, a feature underpinned by its established status as an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). However, to meet growing demand, Samskip is reported to be broadening its logistics offering, with cross-docking services in Amsterdam able to consolidate part-loads inside the port, bringing more flexibility to the multimodal option.
Piracy increased on the world’s seas in 2018, with a marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest annual piracy report reveals. The document was issued jointly in London and Kuala Lumpur on 16 January.
Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017.
The Gulf of Guinea remains increasingly dangerous for seafarers. Reports of attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2018, accounting for all six hijackings worldwide, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages taken globally, and 78 of 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom.
The region saw a significant new spike in violence in the last quarter of 2018. Vessels have been boarded by pirates well outside territorial waters, with crew kidnapped and taken into Nigeria where they are held for ransom.
On 16 January the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs launched a new sectoral strategy for the shipping industry. This strategy is a part of the Danish government’s national strategy for cyber and information security.
The strategy contains a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening IT security and preventing cyber threats in the maritime sector.
The objective of the strategy is to ensure that safety in Danish waters and on board Danish ships is not compromised by cyber attacks.
The responsibility for cyber and information security in the maritime sector lies with the Danish Maritime Authority. The new strategy covers navigational safety in Danish waters and safety on board Danish ships, including systems and software for operation, propulsion and navigation of the ship.