Welcome to my blog series that dives deep into the ever-evolving world of ocean freight logistics! Join us as we embark on a journey through the vast seas of trends, opinions, and innovations that shape the shipping industry today. From the latest technological advancements transforming supply chains to the diverse perspectives of industry experts, we’ll explore how ocean freight logistics continues to navigate the tides of change, carving new routes towards a more efficient and sustainable future. Whether you’re a seasoned maritime professional or a curious enthusiast, this series will keep you anchored to the forefront of this dynamic and vital global business. So, hoist the sails and let’s set course for an enlightening voyage together!
VP, Head of Ocean Services USA, DB Schenker
Cargo Ship Safety: Lessons from the Fremantle Highway Incident
You won’t believe what happened off the coast of the Netherlands! The Fremantle Highway cargo ship caught fire near a famous bird habitat. Now, here’s the scary part: the ship was carrying almost 3,000 cars, including 25 electric ones.
If the ship sinks, fuel, and pollutants will start leaking into the sensitive North Sea ecosystem. “A totally normal car transport by sea could turn into an environmental catastrophe of unknown proportions,” German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said in a statement.
The ship was on its way from Germany to Singapore when the fire broke out late Tuesday night. It happened in the North Sea, not far from the Dutch island of Ameland. The cause of the fire is still a mystery, but the situation seems to be under control for now, according to the Dutch coast guard. Though, there is still worry about the potential environmental impact on the migratory birds in the area.
This was no easy task. Firefighters and salvage crews had to wait until the flames calmed down before trying to board the ship. They managed to turn the vessel using the tide and a tugboat, so it’s drifting eastwards away from the coast. Earlier this month, a similar incident in New Jersey occurred with another car-carrying cargo ship catching fire. It took them almost a week to put out that fire, so it is really important that your logistics company are using crews that are properly equipped to handle disasters of any size.
Ensuring the proper handling and stowage of cargo, especially when transporting hazardous materials like cars with electric batteries, is crucial to prevent accidents that can lead to devastating consequences. Check out how DB ensures safe transport and storage for all kinds of batteries: new, used, and damaged. Our dangerous goods experts ensure hassle-free processes and more peace of mind.
I highly recommend reviewing your company’s risk profile to ensure that your logistics partner can deliver your good safely. With the current El Nino forecasts, we can expect maritime transportation to be disrupted, and crews will face hazardous conditions like storms and increased wave heights. When those on board are exposed to high-risk conditions, it is important for everyone to feel safe, even in the most challenging circumstances.
This unfortunate incident with the Fremantle Highway serves as a reminder that maritime authorities and shipping companies must continuously work together to enhance safety standards, minimize risks, and safeguard sensitive ecosystems from potential disasters. Regular inspections, adherence to safety protocols, and firefighting equipment onboard are essential to swiftly respond to emergencies and protect the crew and the environment.
Let’s hope the Dutch Coast Guard continues to control this situation and prevent further environmental damage. Fingers crossed for the crew’s safety and the wildlife in the area!
July Sees Exponential Rise in Asia-US Spot Container Shipping Rates
Good news on the shipping front! It looks like shipping lines are finally getting a grip on managing vessel capacity in the Asia-U.S. trades. Spot rates have been rising for three weeks straight, reaching levels last seen in early 2023 and late 2022, according to several index providers.
The U.S. import bookings are still going strong, even surpassing pre-COVID levels. And guess what’s helping these positive rate effects? Yep, reduced vessel capacity is doing the trick.
Interestingly, even though demand has improved, liners are focusing on tightening service offerings. This has led to some capacity constraints, forcing shippers to book earlier and driving expectations of continued spot rate gains in August.
The trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trades are experiencing divergent trends. The trans-Pacific rates are rising, while the Asia-Europe rates are still falling, partly due to the new ships with a capacity of 24,000 twenty-foot equivalent units designed for Asia-Europe service.
Spot rates in the trans-Pacific are gradually getting closer to breaking even and have already exceeded or are close to pre-COVID levels. Different indexes might have slightly different numbers, but they all show an upward trend in the past three weeks.
U.S. import bookings are looking healthy, and if they keep up or increase in August while carriers continue to reduce trans-Pacific capacity, we might see spot rates moving closer to profitability.
All in all, shippers need to be aware that rates are changing. Working with your logistics provider will allow you to project future trend and keep your business profitable.