Monday, 29 December 2008

Big boxships join anchored fleet;jsessionid=E38DBF38DD4D884C9830BFEF5461B2D9

CONTAINERSHIP owners are now prepared to leave even their very large vessels idle as market conditions continue to worsen.

Latest figures from AXS-Alphaliner show that the number of boxships at anchor has increased significantly over the past couple of weeks, with total unemployed capacity now put at 165 vessels of 430,000 teu.

The figure only passed the 300,000 teu mark just two weeks earlier, but since then several more services have been suspended, with others due to be axed in the coming weeks.

AXS-Alphaliner reports that six very large containerships have joined the pool of out-of-work tonnage, while others of that size will soon be in a similar position as lines prepare to withdraw more services. Another 19 ships in the 5,000 teu-7,500 teu range are also at anchor, along with 22 in the 3,000 teu-5,000 teu bracket.

But the biggest casualties of the slump are ships of 1,000-2,000 teu capacity, with almost five dozen now unemployed.

AXS-Alphaliner calculates the amount of idle tonnage at equivalent to 3.5% of the total cellular fleet, the same in percentage terms as that reached during the last downturn of 2002, when the fleet was much smaller.

Around 105 of the 165 ships at anchor are usually employed in the charter market.

German shipowners recently re-activated the Containership Association, whose members will be entitled to temporary loss-of-hire compensation for ships that are unable to find employment.

A number of owners are also planning to put their surplus boxships into full lay-up because of the absence of any positive signs on the horizon.

The downturn comes at a time when the fleet is growing at record speed, with total capacity passing the 13m teu level just before Christmas.

That represents growth of more than 100% since mid-2001 when the fleet stood at 6m teu.

It then took 21 months to climb by another 1m teu, whereas this year, the fleet gained 1m teu in the space of just nine months, and is on course to grow to 14m teu by August 2009.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Felixstowe South Piles Ahead

The first shipment of piles for the new quay wall at the Port of Felixstowe’s Felixstowe South development have arrived at the UK’s largest container port.

Nineteen of the large tubular steel piles were discharged from the vessel Arklow Rainbow directly onto the Felixstowe South construction site. Each of the huge piles is up to 38 metres in length, 2.56 metres in diameter, and weighs in excess of 45 tonnes.

The piles are being supplied by Corus, fabricated by Arcelor Mittal in Holland and shipped to Felixstowe from Dintelmond. In total over 350 piles will be transported to complete the 730-metre quay wall for the first phase of Felixstowe South.

Commenting on the latest phase of the development, Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, owners of the Port of Felixstowe, said:
“We are pleased with the progress being made on Felixstowe South. The construction programme remains on schedule and we expect to handle the first ship on what will be the UK’s most modern container terminal in 2010.”

Referring specifically to the piling operations, he added:
“A special acoustic fence has already been constructed between the Port and our nearest neighbours, and the contractors will be using special vibrating hammers to the greatest extent possible. Although the use of the noisier percussive hammers will be needed for the final stage of each pile, we hope the noise will be kept to a minimum.”

The first of the piles is expected to be driven in week commencing 19 January 2009 by main contractor Costain.

The timing of piling operations will be restricted. Percussive piling will not commence before 08.00 in the morning Monday to Friday, and will be completed by 18.00 each evening. Between these times, there will be no more than five hours piling each day. Percussive piling on Saturdays will not commence before 09.00 and will finish by 13.00, and will not take place on more than 13 weeks in a six-month period. There will be no piling on Sundays or public holidays.

Hutchison takes control of Amsterdam's Ceres terminal;jsessionid=F03F0FAEFB5F30E23ECE025C91BF8D62

HONG Kong terminal operator Hutchison Port Holdings has tightened its grip on the Dutch waterfront by acquiring a majority stake in Amsterdam’s Ceres Container Terminals Europe.

Hutchison has signed a share swap agreement with Japanese shipping group NYK, which gained full control the Ceres facility since 2006 after holding a 50% interest since 2002.

NYK will retain a small stake in Ceres, and will also get a minority shareholding in Hutchison’s giant Europe Container Terminals in Rotterdam.

The deal was revealed a few days after Hutchison acquired an interest in Evergreen’s Taranto terminal in southern Italy, with the Taiwanese group securing minority stakes in ECT and the UK’s Thamesport in exchange.

Maersk Line pulls out of Charleston

MAERSK Line has decided to leave the Port of Charleston, opting to transfer its services to other regional ports over the next two years rather than take on a powerful US dockers' trade union.
The South Carolina port, which has been seeking to establish a niche in the face of stiff competition from regional rivals such as Savannah, would lose about one-fourth of its container volume as a result of the defection, including the immediate loss of some 100 ships a year as Maersk begins its drawdown in early 2009.

South Carolina State Ports Authority chief executive Bernard Groseclose Jr said in a statement emailed to Lloyd's List that the authority "hopes to welcome Maersk back to Charleston at some point in the future", and expressing his confidence that the two dozen-odd other carriers in the port would "continue to be very successful".

Maersk's decision would end a presence that dates back half a century. It comes a week after International Longshoremen's Association locals in Charleston expressed opposition to the carrier's preference to transfer its terminal operations to another site where it could use non-union workers.

Maersk, which is a concessionaire at a dedicated space in Charleston's Wando Welch terminal with a lease that runs through to the end of 2010, has been forced to pay "shortfall fees" to the landlord port this year, as cargo volumes shrivelled and operating costs began to bite.
In October the carrier threatened to pull out of Charleston unless "a path which enables profitability" could be found.

Despite having an enforceable contract the harried ports authority came up with two alternative solutions at Maersk's request, as the line sought the authority's help in containing costs. One would have reduced Maersk's space at Wando Welch, with the landlord repossessing some of the more than $8bn infrastructure that would then become surplus.

The other option was to shift Maersk to a "common-use area" in the yard, where non-union employees would handle its cargo. Maersk said it preferred the second option.

Mr Groseclose said this common user gate model is preferred by "more than half the business currently moving through the port".

However, members at three ILA locals last Thursday overwhelmingly voted against the carrier's choice, saying their wage costs were competitive and comparable with non-union workers, and protesting the impending loss of "dozens of union jobs" because of the carrier's decision.

Maersk said in a statement on Thursday: "The ports authority offered us a workable solution, but we needed the consent of local ILA to accomplish the move. [Since the union refused], we are forced to move.

"By moving to other regional ports, we will once again be able to compete on a level playing field with other ocean carriers while continuing to provide excellent service to our customers."

Maersk is moving one service, the South Atlantic Express, representing about 25% of its Charleston business, to "other nearby ports" in early 2009. The remainder of the business would be moved out "strategically" over two years, and the carrier does not intend to renew when the lease runs out at the end of 2010.

At Charleston, state employees handle cranes and container-lifting operations, while ILA workers hired by stevedores perform shipboard work and gate activities in dedicated spaces used exclusively by Maersk, Evergreen, the CKYH carriers and Atlanticargo.

Maersk said this model placed it at a competitive disadvantage compared with rivals that use common user gate areas.

Mr Groseclose said: "This port, our region and our state will suffer greatly from Maersk's departure. This will mean great losses for our economy at a time when we can least afford it.
"However, we will work tirelessly to backfill this area with new business and keep as much of that cargo moving through Charleston as we can."

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Evergreen takes stake in Thamesport and ECT Delta

TAIWAN’s Evergreen Group has secured a minority stake in Hutchison Port Holdings’ Thamesport and ECT Delta box terminals as part of a deal which sees HPH become an unconfirmed 50% shareholder in Evergreen’s Taranto Container Terminal on the heel of Italy

Friday, 19 December 2008

Box line chiefs back IMO efforts to cut emissions;jsessionid=A20985756D75A09A1F28A47FF026DD35

CONTAINER shipping bosses are giving their full backing to efforts by the International Maritime Organization to find a way of cutting ships’ carbon emissions rather than put forward proposals of their own at this stage.

World Shipping Council board members met IMO officials in London yesterday to discuss pollution issues and expressed confidence that the UN agency would be able to produce a solution that would avoid the risk of regional regulation.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Dockers in protest over liberalisation of port services

Thousands of dock workers have gathered in Strasbourg at the weekend to march on 16 January against a draft EU directive to liberalise port services. MEPs are divided over whether to reject or modify the proposal.

A divided European Parliament is gearing up for a vote in Strasbourg on 18 January over a proposal to liberalise port services in the EU. The proposal has attracted additional controversy as fears of excessive economic liberalism were cited as one of the main reasons that led French people to reject the draft EU Constitution in May last year.

Unions say they have mobilised 6,000 dock workers in the French city at the weekend for a mass demonstration on 16 January aimed at pressuring MEPs to reject the text. The European Transport Workers' Federation says the proposal "could dramatically affect European port operators and investments in the sector" and eventually lead to job cuts. "No one can ignore the impact that deregulatory proposals will have on jobs, working conditions, health and safety and the quality of port services in Europe," the Union says.

British opt-out from 48-hour working week defeated in Strasbourg

Britain’s opt-out from the EU’s 48-hour working week was soundly defeated in a vote by the European Parliament today, with many Labour MEPs voting against the Government’s attempts to keep the measure first won by John Major in 1993.

The defeat marks a humiliation for Gordon Brown who signed up to a parallel agreement to give temporary and agency workers full employment rights after just 12 weeks in the hope of a deal to save the British opt-out from the EU working time directive.

It will trigger last-ditch talks between the European Parliament and the 27 EU member states on the directive although the two sides are a long way apart. They have until May to reach a compromise or the entire revised directive will fall, leaving the status quo — and the British opt-out — in place.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

CTASF Gain share payments.

I get lots of people asking about the gain share payments and are we (Tug drivers) getting it? To try answer the question I'll quote from the agreement.

Page 158. General rules. 3.3

Gain share is a retrospective payment based on actual savings delivered over the previous 12 months. It is not paid upfront based on projected saving which have not yet materialised.

So if we haven't made the savings we will not get it.

Page 159. Gain share types. 4.1

Additional change payments.
Lump sum payments to nominated sections who are making the greatest change and so contributing disproportionately to the overall savings.

The berth operators lost a big part of their division and will be entitled to the additional change payment.

Page 162. Detailed qualification rules. 6.1 b

They were employed in a qualifying area as defined in 2 above on the day prior to the start date of this agreement (i.e 9th March 2008).

If your job title is tug driver you will not get the additional change payment even if you work as a berth operative regularly.

Page 163. Payment. 7.1

Notwithstanding 3.3 above, the company will pay an up front sum of £1000 to all qualifying employees on acceptance of this agreement. This will be deducted from the gain share payment at the end of year 1. If the year 1 gain share is less than £1000, the overpayment will be deducted from the gain share in subsequent years.


The additional change payment for all qualifying employees will be £1000 per person per year of the gain share period. This payment will be made at the end of the year and will not be subject to any annual increase.

If we don't make the savings the shortfall will come off next years payment.

The CTASF document is available on the company intranet if you feel the need to read it or are suffering from insomnia. I have tried to give you the points that are raised most.


I get quite a few searches directed to this page from people trying to get onto the Port of Felixstowe intranet. The link you need to use is

While you're here why not have a little read. Add this to your favourites and check back once a week.

Global box carriers axe more of their Asia-Europe capacity.

THREE of the world’s largest container carriers that had tried to stay aloof from service rationalisation efforts have finally bowed to the inevitable by scaling back their Asia-Europe services as trade growth heads towards zero.

Mediterranean Shipping Co has withdrawn capacity from the route while CMA CGM and China Shipping are axing a recently launched joint service.

The two partners have decided to suspend the FAL4 loop, which they inaugurated in July with eight 9,700 teu vessels.

This is the biggest service cut carried out by CMA CGM since growth in cargo volumes between the Far East and Europe began to slow down. Until now, the group has only admitted to dropping two smaller services, one between Asia and North Africa, and another serving the eastern Mediterranean.

With other services being adjusted to allow for the withdrawal, MSC said it would be reducing weekly space availability on its Asia-Europe services by 2,000 teu. That is thought to be around 5%, and reflects the fact that larger ships are now being phased in on other loops, so leaving the net reduction at less than 6,500 teu a week.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Ballot of tug drivers.

I've been informed that there will be a ballot of tug drivers about the driving times. This is going to take place in January. I'll let you know the dates on here and there will be notices in the messrooms.

The options on offer are staying on 3 hours 20 minutes driving with 40 minute breaks or 2 hours 30 minutes driving with 30 minute breaks. They are the only deals on the table, that is what we will be voting on.

The new breaks:

Break 1 7.00-7.30 10.00-10.30 1.00-1.30 4.00-4.30

Break 2 7.30-8.00 10.30-11.00 1.30-2.00 4.30-5.00

Break 3 8.00-8.30 11.00-11.30 2.00-2.30 5.00-5.30

Break 4 8.30-9.00 11.30-12.00 2.30-3.00 5.30-6.00

Break 5 9.00-9.30 12.00-12.30 3.00-3.30 6.00-6.30

Break 6 9.30-10.00 12.30-1.00 3.30-4.00 6.30-7.00

As you can see the early would be 6.30

Friday, 12 December 2008

Teesport box volumes could fall 15%.;jsessionid=7B5F7E234A620ACB0E5DAD7D3FA02629

PD Ports, whose £330m Northern Gateway container terminal is delayed by the credit squeeze, expects a 15% fall in UK box volumes for 2008 at its Teesport facility as the High Street bloodbath dampens dock throughput.

Group development director Martyn Pellew said: “Christmas is not going so well for the retail trade and this has been reflected in container volumes. Last year we handled 120,000 boxes and I would expect that this year we will be some 15% down on that figure.”

Although PD Ports volume mix has a far greater component of short sea and ro-ro traffic than southern deep sea container ports Southampton and Felixstowe, the figures chime with industry reports of at least a 10% dive in UK box throughput in recent months.

However, PD Ports is keen to emphasise that its existing giant distribution centre for supermarket chain Asda, and the under construction mega-warehouse for Tesco will attract more and more container traffic to the north east port next year.

The ports group says that crude oil volumes, lo-lo and new car traffic are also suffering, but that ro-ro is doing well, possibly benefitting from trade surges caused by the dramatic fall in sterling against the Euro.

The company also reports that its offshore business has seen an upturn, as has its volumes linked to renewable energy.

Advice and guidance on the application of road traffic legislation to roads in docks

There have been a number of serious and fatal accidents recently involving vehicles on roads in and around ports. It is not always clear what legislation applies to such roads, and the relative roles of the HSE and the police in any investigation. This SIM draws attention to the various forms of legislation and guidance on road traffic in docks, and should be read in conjunction with other existing guidance on HSE's policy on investigation of road traffic incidents.

Docks Regulations 1988
21 Pertinent sections of the Dock Regulations 1988 that deal with vehicles and traffic management include:
regulation 2 interpreting certain words and phrases used within the regulations including definitions of “dock operations”, “dock premises” and “vehicle”;
regulation 11 requiring employer to authorise who can drive and operate powered vehicles and lifting appliances;
and regulation 12 requiring vehicles to be properly maintained, a safe means for vehicle movement to be provided with adequate arrangements to control traffic including proper signs and markings.
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
22 Pertinent sections of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 include:
regulation 2 interpreting certain words and phrases used within the regulations including definitions of “workplace”, “traffic route” and “public road”;
regulation 12 requiring floors of workplaces and traffic route surfaces to be suitable for use;
and regulation 17 requiring workplaces to be organised so that vehicles and pedestrians can circulate safely and traffic routes are suitable for use.
23 It should be noted that these regulations do not apply to ships - Regulation 3(1a).

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Container capacity shrinks

Ocean container carriers have cut capacity on the three main east-west liner trade routes by 6.7 percent, or 61,000 TEUs a week, over the past four months amid stalling cargo volumes and falling freight rates.

The Far East- Europe-Mediterranean trade saw the biggest drop, with weekly capacity down 9 per cent from 418,000 TEUs to 380,000 TEUs.

Northern Gateway construction work could face delay.

WORK on PD Ports £330m ($488m) Northern Gateway container terminal in Teesport may not start until 2010 as a result of the global financial crisis which has seen commercial borrowing dry-up.

Graham Wall, PD Ports group commercial director, said that while the intention is still to go-ahead with the terminal’s ground breaking ceremony next September the actual start is “subject to finance” and could slip to 2010.

PD Ports chief executive David Robinson confirmed that work was expected to start in 2010.

The first of three mainline and two feeder berths would become operational about two years after construction started.

Mr Wall also indicated the company had been approached by an international container terminal operator to partner in the development of the terminal which would have an initial capacity of 1.5m teu, rising to 1.8m teu. But he would only confirm that the firm was not Hong Kong’s Hutchison Port Holdings.

Weigh boxes at dock gate, urge industry leaders.;jsessionid=DE69DB6EAFD4B634046590EE4C5917A4

DRAMATIC improvements in container shipping safety would be achieved by weighing every box at the dock gate, industry leaders said today as they unveiled best practice guidelines.

Ensuring that container weights are accurately declared would eliminate many of the accidents that have dogged the industry in recent years and go some way towards satisfying regulators who are starting to take a closer look at industry standards.

The International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council produced the document, that sets out recommended procedures for each stage of a container move, following failings that were highlighted during the investigation into a container stack collapse on the shortsea ship Annabella in 2007.

The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch was particularly critical about the lack of a code of practice for container shipping and urged the ICS to remedy this situation.

Container shipping came under further scrutiny when MSC Napoli was grounded early last year, but that accident also provided a unique opportunity to conduct a forensic examination of a containership and its cargo. Investigators discovered that around a fifth of all containers MSC Napoli had been carrying were either badly packed, inaccurately labelled, or the wrong weight.

The biggest problem, though, is shipper ignorance of the risks they are taking with the lives of others by not stuffing and labelling containers properly, or weighing them accurately.

Mr Hinchliffe is urging ports to weigh all containers entering their gates to verify that the declared weight was correct.

“We recognise that this is not achievable at all terminals at present, but we want this to become the international expectation,” he said.

Over-heavy or underweight containers should not be loaded onto the ship, a sanction that would soon persuade shippers “to take the subject more seriously”.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Air fumes fear at port.

FUMES from ships, traffic and quayside operations at the Port of Felixstowe are becoming so bad special measures may have to be taken to improve air quality.

Emissions from ships' funnels, dredgers, cranes, tug vehicles, and the thousands of lorries visiting every day are causing concern.

Suffolk Coastal says measuring equipment shows the area around the port is just below acceptable limits, but at the Dooley pub, Ferry Lane, nitrogen dioxide is above the permitted level.

There is a similar situation at the Adastral Close housing estate, where it is feared increased activity from port expansion could lead to levels being exceeded by 2010.

I'm glad I don't live next door to the port!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Land in spotlight for Port expansion.

MORE than 800 acres of potential land for port operations has been identified in a major new study to assess the impact of the growth of the Port of Felixstowe.

Community leaders are fully behind the £250 million expansion of the port - the first phase of which is under way - and say it could bring thousands of new jobs if handled right.

But one major headache will be providing storage sites for cargo, places for modern distribution centres, and offices and yards for port-related business.

The logistics study - carried out by GHK for Suffolk Coastal and its neighbouring authorities, the East of England Development Agency and the port owners - says 286 acres of land will be needed by 2023 if the port grows as expected.

Thanks to the input of businesses, the study has identified 820 acres that could be used, although 320 of the acres has not yet been officially set aside for such use, and not all of the land may be suitable or available.

Sites under consideration include:Trinity 2000 on Clickett Hill alongside the A14 at Felixstowe.
Innocence Farm at Kirton, also next to the A14.
Land at Fagbury Cliffs, Trimley St Mary.
British Sugar site, Ipswich.
Shepherd's Grove, Stanton.

Colin Hart, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member said: “The primary goal of the study has been to identify the key land use requirements and issues that will occur as a result of the expansion of the port.
“It will help this council and others to maximise the opportunities for increased employment and stronger local companies that a bigger port will offer.
“This study that has been drawn up with input from local businesses is an important step forward in creating the support that can keep Felixstowe as the number one container location in Britain.
“This study highlights the importance of ensuring that there is sufficient land available to meet the future demands caused by the growth of the port.
“If we do not plan ahead, then it could have significant economic repercussions for the port, but it would also be a missed opportunity to maximise the local job and income benefits of the expansion.”

What are we worth. 31/12/2006


Last registered accounts: 12/31/2006*
Annual turnover: £204,583,000.00
Annual profit: £38,541,000.00
Turnover per employee: £72,779.44
Profit per employee: £13,710.78

* Data from this site is updated annually from official company reports, and any company reports issued since our last update will not be reflected until the next annual update. Take advice on the latest results before using this information.

Number of staff: 2,811
Total spent on wages: £92,081,000.00
Average staff pay: £32,757.38
*Average pay increase over last 4 years: 17.42%*

Number of directors: 39
Directors' remuneration: £365,000.00
Increase over last 7 years: -2.41%

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Maersk Line lays up eight vessels

Maersk Line announces the lay up of eight 6,500 TEU (twenty- foot equivalent unit) vessels. Our decision follows the recently announced changes in our Asia – Europe, Asia – Central America, and Transpacific service networks. This resulted in surplus vessel tonnage, which we will not redeploy in our service network.

“In view of the market conditions, we have reached the point where laying up the eight vessels makes better economical sense than redeploying them. Freight rates remain under severe pressure, and in several corridors the rates do not fully cover our variable costs. Rate improvements are imperative for the industry to create a sustainable environment,” says Michel Deleuran, Head of Network and Product in Maersk Line.

Maersk Line will continue to adjust capacity in light of market developments by optimising our schedules, consolidating services, vessel sharing agreements (VSA), enhancing port productivity, economical sailing (reducing speed), and – unless current market conditions improve – additional laying up of vessels.

“We make these changes to reduce capacity and save costs, while we at the same time seek to maintain or expand our service level and coverage. For example, our recently announced Asia – Europe and Transpacific service changes includes more direct services,” Michel Deleuran says.

“We belong to a financially strong group and we will continue offering our customers reliable services in line with their requirements, also in these challenging times”.

The eight vessels that Maersk Line will lay up are of the CV 65 class. We will lay them up from December 2008 to May/June 2009, predominantly in Asia.

CIMC suspends dry container production;jsessionid=26F215EE6323188BF18B0EFC7B0DFA0A

CHINA International Marine Containers. the world’s largest marine container maker, has brought forward its year-end holiday and suspended the production of dry marine containers due to exceptionally slow demand.

Shenzhen-listed CIMC, which has a 56% share of the world’s dry marine container market, halted all production lines of dry containers in October this year and 22,000 employees from the production department have been on leave since then, according to local reports.