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.
On 13 March the Fairplay Towage Group announced that it had been awarded the licence to operate harbour tugs in the port Las Palmas / Gran Canary and extended its operational area now into Spanish waters for the first time.
Walter Collet MD and spokesman of Fairplay Towage Group: ‘We are confident, that this expansion into Spanish waters will be appreciated by our international clients. The preparation and the necessary documentation of our application under Spanish rules was quite challenging. The conditions to be met are considerably higher compared to other jurisdictions in Europe, however our Fairplay Team and legal consultants handled all aspects of the licensing process very focused and professional.’
Collet added: ‘Our tugs all named after landmarks on the Canary Islands already performed the first assistances in the Port of Las Palmas. The fleet currently consists of four modern tugs under Spanish flag manned by Spanish sailors under a local Spanish contract. This setup allows us to offer to our clients an attractive and competitive package for harbour towage and for the first time clients have a choice in the Port of Las Palmas.
‘Currently the licence Conditions for the surrounding waters at Lanzarote, Tenerife and Fuerteventura are under review. Once the conditions have been published Fairplay Towage Group will comply with such conditions in order to work in the entire Canary Islands region. At the same time we are of course monitoring the developments on the Spanish mainland.’
The Fairplay Towage Group activities are handled by the Spanish outfit Odiel Towage SLU. The office located in Las Palmas is also coordinating the local harbour towage operations.
The Fairplay Towage Group operates a fleet of more than 100 tugs and ranks among the leading European tugowners. It is headquartered in Germany with branches in Poland, Belgium, Netherlands and Bulgaria. After the successful takeover of the German Bugsier Group in 2017 Fairplay Towage Group is also a leading O & G Service Provider in the North Sea and the Baltic. The Group also operates several Oil Recovery vessels and the Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV) in Germany and the Netherlands as part of the European Coastal Protection Scheme.
French container carrier, CMA CGM has announced its intention of launching a new product called Round the Africa (RTA) service to add to and complement the current 31 CMA CGM services already operating to sub-Saharan Africa.
A bit of a misnomer, the service is unique in terms of providing a direct service from Asia to Senegal and Sierra Leone along with best transit times, as well as calls to other selected West African ports.
Dakar is reached weekly from Ningbo in 35 days, from Nansha in 32 days. Freetown (Sierra Leone) is reached in 35 days from Nansha. The service offer to Tema (Ghana) is improved with three weekly departures.
‘Our exporters from West Africa will benefit of excellent transit time and direct service to China. Shanghai is reached in 29 days from Abidjan, 31 days from Tema, 36 days from Freetown and 39 days from Dakar,’ says the line in a statement.
One is left to assume the Round Africa part comes from the ships returning to Asia via the Cape of Good Hope.
Round the Africa service rotation is as follows:
Shanghai – Ningbo – Nansha – Singapore – Malta – Tanger – Dakar – Freetown – Tema – Abidjan – Port Kelang – Shanghai
In the current context, marked by the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, terminals are showing a considerable drop in overall port volumes. This is associated with a decline in economic activity, and with a large number of blank sailings due to shipping lines’ attempts to align capacity with existing demand.
However, the paradox is that despite the fact that calls and volume arriving at the Port of Barcelona's BEST terminal have decreased, moves per call have significantly increased. This was reported from the port on 29 June.
During week 23 (1-7 June), BEST terminal welcomed the largest vessel to call at the Port of Barcelona, MSC Sixin, with a capacity of almost 24,000 TEU.
Subsequently, similar ships from the 2M alliance (Maersk + MSC) have been arriving on a recurring basis on passage between the Far East and Europe, grouping together all the moves that a few weeks ago were made between different services of the same alliance and which were cancelled due to the exceptional situation currently experienced.
During May and June, BEST terminal saw how the number of moves per call had broken all existing records in the Port of Barcelona – starting with almost 8,000 moves in week 22, all move records broken to reach almost 8,500 moves in week 24.
This change in demand, with large cargo concentration peaks on large deep sea vessels and a smaller number of calls, directly impacts on the way terminals must approach the services they offer.
It was found that the way to put forward a valuable proposal to shipping lines with these types of calls, is to offer productivity per call that exceeds by far the average efficiency in container terminals. With this in mind, it is important to highlight the relevance of the important investments made by BEST, both in the number of cranes capable of operating these types of ship, and in the terminal operating system (TOS) at all levels.