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.
Early in January North Sea Port posted a record year for the third year in succession. It was reported that the firms based in the port transhipped 71.4 million tonnes of seaborne cargo, an increase of 1.5%. The growth is mainly due to dry bulk and containers. (Our illustration kindly provided by North Sea Port shows a bulk trade.)
Moreover, the figure of 71.4 million tonnes means North Sea Port has broken the 70 million tonne barrier for the second time. This rise is primarily down to a growth in exports for the third consecutive year (+9.9%). Two years after its launch as a merged port, North Sea Port is maintaining its position as a true bulk gateway and is also making progress as a hub for containers between maritime and inland waterways.
Dry bulk and containers on an upward trajectory
Almost half of the goods that North Sea Port tranships is dry bulk. That volume rose to 34.6 million tonnes last year (+5.4%). Over two years, this segment is up 10%. A strong construction sector again meant increased transhipment of sand, gravel and construction materials in 2019. Coal transhipment – especially for processing industries – and agricultural products remained steady. Scrap and ores showed a small decline.
With very strong growth of 48.7%, container transhipment amounted to a total of 2.5 million tonnes and 330,000 TEU. This segment has doubled in two years. As in previous years, this is the result of attracting new services and an increase in refrigerated containers. North Sea Port is also growing as a hub for onward transport of containers from maritime shipping to the hinterland via inland waterways.
Transhipment of wet bulk fell slightly to 20.1 million tonnes (-2.2%). This decrease was mainly evident in the (petro)chemical sectors, largely due to a maintenance shutdown. However, a sharp increase (+42%) was recorded in the transhipment of biodiesel and vegetable oil.
Transhipment of conventional break bulk cargo totalled 11 million tonnes (-6.6%). Part of this decrease is attributable to fruit because this is increasingly being transported in containers. However, the transhipment of machines is on an upward trend.
Ro/ro fell to 3.2 million tonnes (-9.6%), with a noticeable fall in the number of vehicles and trailers.
Inland navigation gets in on the act
The record-breaking was not confined to transhipment via ocean going vessels – inland navigation also set a new record, with an increase from 58 million to 60 million tonnes (+3.4%).
With transhipment of 71.4 million tonnes via ocean going traffic and 60 million tonnes via inland navigation, North Sea Port achieved a total of 131.4 million tonnes transhipped in 2019 (+2.1%). And this does not include a further 15 to 16 million tonnes of transhipment via pipelines.
Short sea shipping and transatlantic freight traffic
North Sea Port focuses on both European coastal shipping (short sea shipping) and transatlantic freight traffic. The share of short sea shipping within total freight transhipment via maritime services remained at 63%. As in previous years, goods traffic with Europe and North and South America accounted for more than 90% of total cargo transhipped last year (93.5%).
In 2019, North Sea Port released 44 hectares of land.
With a record year behind it and rising freight transhipment in dry bulk and containers, North Sea Port is cautiously optimistic for 2020, as it was in early 2019. A continuation of the current trend of light growth is anticipated. Brexit, shrinking economic growth and (anticipated) trade wars provide reasons for caution.
Unlike an emergency situation on land, when a ship faces a crisis at sea, Masters cannot simply dial the emergency services for instant assistance. They take responsibility for dealing with the situation, acting decisively to protect lives and prevent or minimise damage to the ship, environment and cargo.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) have worked in partnership to provide the industry with a practical guide
Peril at Sea and Salvage: A Guide for Masters outlines the actions a Master should take when confronted with an emergency: from the initial assessment and immediate actions, through to towage or salvage arrangements, as may be necessary. It also explains the importance of prompt notification to relevant parties with onshore support, particularly coastal States and the company.
A section is included with recommendations for a company’s shore-based personnel.
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping commented: ‘Over the years we have seen a reduction in shipping emergencies and major incidents due to the development of regulations governing the safe operation and management of ships. Crews are regularly trained in emergency response preparedness and the industry has adopted a compliance culture.
According to a media briefing from IMO the key project to support the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping in developing countries through regional maritime technology cooperation centres has been extended to June 2021.
Known as the Global MTCC Network (GMN) Project this implemented by IMO and funded by the European Union.
There is a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs). These undertake pilot projects and promote technologies and operations to improve energy efficiency in the maritime sector, it is reported.
Since their establishment three years ago, the MTCCs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific have established strong regional networks and are becoming important regional players, with technical expertise in the field of maritime energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions knowledge.
These Centres have undertaken a range of pilot projects, completed port energy audits and established branch offices in three countries. IMO report that more than 50 capacity building activities have brought together a total 2,400 delegates from various parts of the maritime sector.