Crisis averted after tanker stuck in Suez Canal is refloated

The 64,000-ton fuel tanker AFFINITY V drifted southbound, blocking the southern segment of the canal at around 7.00 pm local time on 31 August.

Lieutenant-General Osama Rabie, Head of the Suez Canal Authority, announced at midnight on 1 September that rescue units and the authority’s tugs had successfully refloated the tanker, with traffic returning to normal.

The vessel failed due to a technical malfunction at the ship’s rudder, which caused the ship to lose the ability to steer and strand.

Immediately after the accident, a working group was formed under the leadership of the Lieutenant-General and the navigation monitors, and coordination was made with the Port Tawfiq Movement Office to take the necessary measures.

The Suez Canal was crippled in March 2021 when the Ever Given ran aground, causing billions in lost trade.

The mega-ship ran aground on 23 March as it travelled through one of the globe’s main trade arteries.

The canal was unblocked after the vessel was fully refloated on 29 March.

Liebherr unveils first all-electric transshipment crane

Liebherr has introduced its first ever all-electric transshipment crane.

The CBG 500 E crane combines drive technologies with Liebherr’s own crane control system “Master V”.

Another highlight is the energy recovery system LiCaTronic®, which makes optimum use of the energy available.

The new all-electric crane CBG 500 E expands the transshipment solutions portfolio with a reliable machine that offers a handling performance of up to 2,000 tonnes per hour.

The all-electric drives inside the crane in combination with the supercapacitors turn the rope luffing CBG 500 E into a unique handling solution in the market.

The supercapacitors used as standard in Liebherr’s own LiCaTronic® energy recovery system support the increasing requirements regarding energy efficiency.

The boom of the CBG 500 E was designed as a lattice boom. This makes it particularly stiff and light, which further improves the turnover performance and at the same time reduces the energy need.

READ: Automation and the path to sustainability

The result is a lifting capacity of up to 105 tonnes in hook operation and a maximum grab capacity of up to 90 tonnes.

The extension of the cabin and the high positioning ensure that the crane operator has an optimal viewing angle of all processes. The crane operator is supported operationally by the new, integrated “Master V” crane control system.

Together with a more efficient software architecture, it forms the basis for integrating future assistance and automation systems into the crane in the long term.

The crane can be configured with 43 metre and 50 metre boom. The longer boom variant offers the decisive advantage of enabling direct transshipment between two vessels in sheltered and open water.

The modes of operation range from bulk to container handling and are independent of the area of operation.

For installation on a barge, the crane can be equipped with additional counterweights, enabling safe cargo handling. Optional configuration options such as a comfort ascent or additional platforms and boom walkways for maintenance purposes can also be configured.

Port of Singapore to install major 5G network

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a 5G mobile network at the Port of Singapore.

Full maritime 5G coverage will be deployed in major anchorages, fairways, terminals, and boarding grounds.

Delivery is scheduled to be delivered by mid-2025.

The announcement was made as part of the MPA’s 9th edition of the International Safety@Sea Week, launched by Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Finance.

A 5G network has the potential to unlock a full suite of maritime solutions leveraging complementary technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, big data, drones and autonomous vehicles, to improve safety, effectiveness and efficiencies in maritime operations.

Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said: “Digitalisation continues to shape and transform the maritime industry, acting as a key driver for global trends such as logistics and supply chain efficiency and decarbonisation.

“MPA is taking the lead to help build a robust digital maritime ecosystem for Maritime Singapore, with fast, secure and high capacity 5G connectivity as one of the cornerstones to support real-time data exchanges in the maritime domain.”

Elsewhere in the port, MPA’s incident response management and safety enforcement capabilities across the full spectrum of operations will be further strengthened through the development of the Integrated Port Operations C3 (Command, Control and Communications) system (IPOC system).

READ: Port of Tyne to install new 5G Private Network

The system is developed in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and will enhance situational awareness and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of incident responses.

The IPOC system will be progressively phased in from 2023 to 2026 as MPA upgrades its systems.

The port will also further develop its online booking and clearance platform, digitalPORT@SG.

The second phase of the port will include the Active Anchorage Management System (AAMS).

The AAMS taps on various data sources to optimise allocation of limited anchorage space for vessels. It ensures that the vessel is anchored safely taking into consideration various conditions including the wind, tide, depth and proximity to hazards.

The AAMS is scheduled to be launched in in the third quarter of 2023.

Earlier this month the MPA announced that three more berths will come into operation at Singapore’s Tuas Port by the end of the 2022.

PortMiami receives $16 million RAISE programme grant

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that PortMiami is the beneficiary of a $16 Million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant.

The grant comes as part of the department’s NetZero: Cargo Mobility Optimization and Resiliency Project.

The NetZero Program is a plan to convert the entire cargo movement chain to a carbon neutral operation, from PortMiami’s channel to its final distribution site.

The RAISE grant, awarded earlier this month, will help fund PortMiami’s intermodal rail expansion by adding two rail tracks and three new electric rubber-tyred gantry cranes.

Grant funding also provides for the installation of LED lights and the reconstruction of the stormwater drainage system to address sea level rise.

The program will support cargo gate improvements, including roadway realignments, gate canopies, and technology upgrades. Improved access and staging for trucks and new gate technology upgrades will allow for faster movement of goods and reduced dwell time for trucks.

“We want to thank both our Congressional delegation, who worked diligently to secure this funding, as well as the Biden Administration and Secretary Buttigieg for supporting our seaport and helping to grow our green economy,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

“The RAISE grant will help us attract more business to PortMiami and fuel our NetZero program, which is pushing Miami-Dade towards a cleaner, greener future.”

Port of Houston records best July ever

Port Houston has recorded its biggest July ever for containers, marking the sixth month of double-digit growth this year.

Total volume in July was 328,498 TEU, a 10 per cent increase over the same month last year and the fourth-biggest month ever at the port for container volume.

Container throughput has reached 2.2 million TEU year-to-date, a 17 per cent year-on-year surge according to the port authority.

In July of this year, the Port of Houston loaded import containers were up 17 per cent compared to the same month last year, at 159,881 TEU. Loaded exports for the month stood at 102,644 TEU, a 36 per cent growth.

The port authority reported data from PIERS, showing containerised imports from Asia grew by 6 per cent in the first half of 2022 compared to the same time last year.

Port Houston continues to build capacity and adjust to the changing market by providing more yard space, more equipment, and more hours of service to our customers,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston.

“Port Houston is meeting with customers, communicating updates, and working with our partners in the ILA to maintain cargo fluidity despite the extraordinary volume.

“Our most pressing concern is the urgent need for importers to quickly evacuate their containers to open up space, and for exporters and importers alike to increase their use of our Saturday gates, which are now open from 8.00 am-5.00 pm every Saturday.”

Total tonnage at the port’s facilities was up 24 per cent for the year through July, while general cargo climbed by 26 per cent at 3.4 million tons.

In June, the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority awarded two contracts totalling $430 million to complete the remaining Galveston Bay segments of the Houston Ship Channel expansion project.

California State names ‘Long Beach International Gateway Bridge’

The State of California has officially named the new bridge connecting Terminal Island and Downtown Long Beach at the city’s port complex – now ‘Long Beach International Gateway Bridge’.

The bridge opened in October 2020 as part of the state highway system. The port handed over ownership of the bridge to Caltrans, placing responsibility for the bridge’s name with the state Legislature.

“Since our new bridge officially opened in 2020, it has been a bright new landmark for our city – welcoming visitors from close to home and around the world,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

“The approval of its official name as the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge perfectly fits all that it represents, and we are excited to have it serve our community and our great port for generations to come.”

The iconic Long Beach International Gateway Bridge features two support towers reaching 515 feet into the sky and a multi-coloured LED lighting system.

The six-lane bridge was designed to last 100 years as a critical piece of infrastructure to sustain the port’s long-term growth, according to the port’s recent statement.

“The new name reflects that this truly is a bridge to everywhere by connecting Long Beach to the rest of the world as a critical link in the global supply chain,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.

“The Long Beach International Gateway Bridge represents our ongoing commitment to invest in infrastructure projects that will strengthen the Port’s competitiveness for decades to come.”

The $1.5 billion Long Beach International Gateway Bridge replaced the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which opened in 1968 and named after a former Long Beach City Attorney and City Councilman – who helped secure funding to build the through-arch span.

Demolition of the Gerald Desmond Bridge began in July and is expected to conclude by the end of 2023.

Taller and wider than its predecessor, the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge accommodates large cargo vessels to improve truck and commuter traffic for Southern California’s transportation network.

“The Long Beach International Gateway Bridge is both an architectural marvel and a vital part of our continued growth,” said Harbor Commission President Sharon L. Weissman.

“It is fitting that the bridge’s official name reinforces the port’s standing as a gateway to the national economy and a symbol for sustainable goods movement.”

READ: New Long Beach Harbor Commission President outlines port goals

The bridge-naming bill was introduced to officially propose the bridge’s new moniker following a public survey conducted last year. The measure received unanimous approvals in the state Senate and Assembly.

“Like our port and its workers, this iconic bridge represents the very best of Long Beach,” said Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell, author of the bill.

“The International Gateway Bridge connects our great community and state to the entire world. With a fitting new name, our port will handle the largest cargo ships and meet the ever-increasing demands of today’s global supply chain.”

The Port of Long Beach witnessed its busiest July on record despite curbed consumer spending.

Container throughput reached 785,843 TEU in July, a slim 0.13 per cent increase from the previous record in the same period a year ago.

Excess container demand begins to fizzle out

Demand for containers is slowly coming into line with global fleet capacity according to latest findings from Sea-Intelligence.

In its latest issue of the firm’s weekly Sunday Spotlight, CEO Alan Murphy looked deeper into what the removal of capacity from the market – due to vessel scheduling delays – meant for the growth in the global fleet and its impact on the global supply and demand balance.

Analysing demand as per Figure 1, Murphy wrote, while the nominal fleet grew at a steady rate of roughly 4 per cent year-on-year in 2020-2022, there was a substantial decline in the available fleet growth as delays began to worsen – reaching a low point in February 2021.

The Sea-Intelligence CEO added that the “extreme strength” in favour of the carriers in 2021 was driven by the consistently high demand growth compared to the fleet – beginning in July 2021.

The pandemic-driven surge in demand has led to carriers publishing operating profits of a staggering $43.9 billion in Q1 2022.

The lopsided demand/supply relationship has only begun to taper off in recent months, Murphy noted.

Demand was consistently 10 per cent higher than capacity from November 2020 to January 2022.

More recently, the gap has been narrowing, and is now down to 2 per cent versus pre-pandemic levels.

“All in all, what the data shows is that the extreme spikes in freight rates in 2021 were indeed driven by a situation where demand suddenly exceeded capacity at a global level, primarily driven by the unavailability of capacity,” Murphy wrote.

“The recent trend towards normalisation has in turn also been primarily driven by gradual improvements in schedule reliability and vessel delays, and as long as improvements continue, we should expect that the supply/demand balance will also continue to decline, and freight rates will be under increasing downwards pressure.”

Rhine levels drop worryingly as more disruption on the way

Rhine River’s water levels are expected to fall again as dry weather forecasted for the coming days – more delays to operations anticipated.

Levels had recently rebounded, but continuous heatwaves and little rainfall are draining Rhine’s waters again causing disruptions and driving high freight rates.

The disruption could knock half a percentage point off economic growth in Germany this year, according to Reuters.

Shallow water forced barges to sail at only about 25 per cent full capacity this month, leading to an increase in costs for cargo owners who had to deploy more vessels.

The reference water level at the chokepoint of Kaub WL-KAUB near Koblenz was at 1.20 metres on 24 August, against only 32 centimetres on 26 August.

Vessels need about 1.5 metres of Kaub reference waterline to sail fully loaded.

“We ship operators are breathing a sigh of relief but only temporarily,” said Roberto Spranzi, Director of the DTG shipping cooperative which operates about 100 cargo vessels on the Rhine.

“If you load a ship in Rotterdam with coal now you have to calculate what the Kaub level will be in three to four days when the vessel arrives there, and we are expecting a sharp fall in Kaub again next week.

“We need lasting increases in water levels to operate normally.”

The Rhine River is a major petroleum product transportation node in Europe.

Oil industry company Shell recently slashed its refinery output as low water levels halted the flow of goods, according to a company’s release.

In the meantime, ports in Germany struck a landmark collective bargaining agreement with its workers after months of strikes unrest – as inland Europe’s supply chain may finally some relief.

Ever Given remains stuck in Egypt as legal battle over its release drags out

A court in Ismalia, Egypt rejected the appeal of the owners of Ever Given, a containership that ran aground in the Suez Canal in March, against the ship’s arrest order.

The Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha filed an appeal before the Ismalia court in Egypt against the arrest of Ever Given and its cargo back in April.

The appeal was dismissed earlier this month and the Ismailia court of the first instance in Egypt upheld their original order that the vessel and her cargo can only be released from arrest upon the owners’ payment of the SCA’s full claim.

On Saturday, the Ismailia Economic Appeals Court in Egypt hosted a validation hearing of the Suez Canal Authority’s claim arising from the Ever Given’s grounding, and the Ever Given owners’ further appeal against the arrest order.

“In a reserved judgment issued today (May 22), the court rejected the owners’ appeal but accepted the owners’ objection that the Appeals Court was not competent to hear the validation proceedings, which were referred back to a court of first instance for further hearing on Saturday 29 May,” the UK P&I Club, the liability insurance provider for the owner, said in an update.

The club said that talks between the Suez Canal Authority and the owners of the ship resume.

Meanwhile, the canal authority continues to seek damage claims worth $916 million for the grounding, citing costs arising from the salvage of the ship, dredging works as well as the losses represented by the sinking of one of the boats during the rescue work, which claimed the life of one rescue worker.

SCA also wants to be compensated for the impact of the traffic suspension in the waterway during the grounding period as numerous ships opted for alternative routes due to the incident.

Chairman of SCA Osama Rabie has reportedly offered to lower the claim to $550 million, slightly lower than the $600 million offered earlier this month for a potential out-of-court settlement, Reuters reported citing a TV interview at a local media outlet.

According to the report, Rabie said a $200 million deposit could be enough to secure the ship’s release, with the rest payable separately.

However, when Offshore Energy-Green Marine reached out to the owners for a comment on the matter earlier this month, the UK Club explained that the reduced amount had not been reflected in the SCA’s claim filed at court.

Ever Given’s owners still have not been provided with evidence that would support a claim of this size, which remains exceptionally large,” the statement read.

Separately, during the hearing the owners’ defense team said that SCA was responsible for the accident as it allowed the containership to sail under unfavorable circumstances.

To remind, Ever Given was faced with poor visibility resulting from the bad weather conditions as a dust storm was passing through the country.

The legal team said there were disagreements between SCA pilots and its control centre over whether it should enter the canal, adding the ship should have been accompanied by at least two tug boats suitable for the ship’s size.

As informed, Shoe Kisen is seeking damage compensation of $100,000 for the losses related to the ship’s arrest.

SCA has refuted all the claims from the shipowners’ defence team in its statement