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.
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.
This has made it possible to maintain, on a constant basis, productivity per crane between 35 and 45 moves per hour with a large number of equipment working simultaneously on the ships.
In these specific instances BEST has worked with up to seven cranes and on average more than five cranes operating constantly during each call, and with productivity levels above 35 moves per hour per crane (sometimes exceeding 42 moves per hour), far above the average for European terminals it is stated.
Productivity, frequently exceeding 200 moves per hour onboard the ship reduces call time at the port by several days, thus lowering the shipping lines’ port and operational costs.
Furthermore, time gained at BEST, enables shipping lines to cut steaming time to reach their next port of call, thus leading to significant fuel savings.
Finally, the terminal operates with equipment that, for the most part, does not use fossil fuels and applies energy regeneration technology, allowing BEST to reduce the environmental impact of traffic on its estate.
In short, BEST’s operational efficiency complements the Port of Barcelona's strategic position, generating a competitive difference based on three fundamental pillars: Closer, Faster & Greener.
Hutchison Ports BEST
This the first semi-automated terminal in the Hutchison Ports Group and the most technologically advanced port development project in Spain.
It is capable of serving many huge vessels simultaneously and has an eight-track rail facility, the biggest ondock railway terminal of any port in the Mediterranean, connecting it to traffic coming from and destined for Southern Europe.
Hutchison Ports BEST is a member of Hutchison Ports, the port and related services division of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited (CK Hutchison). Hutchison Ports is a world leading port investor, developer and operator with a network of port operations in 52 ports spanning 27 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia.
Over the years, Hutchison Ports has expanded into other logistics and transport-related businesses, including cruise ship terminals, airport operations, distribution centres, rail services and ship repair facilities.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the World Health Organization’s decision to name seafarers as one of the groups of transportation workers that should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in instances of limited supplies. This was reported on 22 July.
Updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) states: ‘Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions.’
IMO Secretary General Lim commented: ‘I am glad to see that the WHO recognises the importance of vaccinating seafarers on cargo ships.
‘These individuals are responsible for transporting over 80% of all goods around the world, including food, medicine and vaccine supplies – and have continued to do so despite extremely challenging circumstances. Seafarers will play a key role in the global recovery, and barriers to international travel and crew change must be removed.’
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board the Cayman Islands registered chemical tanker Stolt Groenland ruptured causing an explosion and fire. The tanker was moored alongside a general cargo berth in Ulsan, Republic of Korea and the Singapore registered chemical tanker Bow Dalian was moored outboard. Ignition of the styrene monomer vapour resulted in a fireball, which reached the road bridge above. Both vessels were damaged, and two crew suffered minor injuries. Fifteen emergency responders were injured during the fire-fighting, which lasted for over six hours.
Rupture of the styrene monomer tank resulted from a runaway polymerisation that was initiated by elevated temperatures caused by heat transfer from other chemical cargoes. Elevated temperatures caused the inhibitor, added to prevent the chemical’s polymerisation during the voyage, to deplete more rapidly than expected. Although the styrene monomer had not been stowed directly adjacent to heated cargo, the potential for heat transfer through intermediate tanks was not fully appreciated or assessed.