Category "Trends"


How American ports are rebounding after the pandemic

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The pandemic has been hard on almost all sectors, where many global economies were headed towards a close recession. It was only after when lockdown restrictions eased worldwide that the economic situation began to improve.

One of the sectors that suffered a deadly blow was the shipping industry. Consumer demands dried worldwide and ports were the first to feel the crunch. With declining tonnage throughout 2020, compared to 2019 levels, the only ports that benefited were transshipment hubs like Panama, where ships had to stop over when the US declared a complete lockdown.

Ever since consumer demands began picking up to pre-pandemic levels before Christmas last year, the port sector has seen significant changes. Now, American ports, being backed by considerable investments are eying for the future. New container terminals are being built with private-sector partners, showing the way for construction companies worldwide.

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Imprisoned on board ship

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“Ninety percent of everything” was how Rose George titled her 2013 book on the shipping industry. That is how important the world’s merchant fleet is to global trade. Yet when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, politicians the world over were seemingly unaware of the significance of cargo-ship crews’ work. Unlike cross-border lorry drivers, airline pilots, and cabin crew, seafarers were not designated as key workers – with tragic consequences for the sailors and their families in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.

Stranded at sea

The travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world have made crew changes and repatriation of seafarers massively difficult. The result has been a humanitarian crisis of unheard-of proportions – and one made worse by a widespread lack of interest in the seafarers’ plight. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) estimates that around 400,000 seafarers were stranded on their ships in December 2020 – unable to make their way home and many months past the end of their original contracts. A similar number of seafarers were stuck at home, prevented from joining their ships and earning much-needed money to support their families in countries without welfare networks.

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Insights on Emission Reduction With AIS Data

in Decarbonization, Research by

Researchers at ETH Zurich provide new insights on the emission reduction potential of shore-side electricity using AIS data from FleetMon.

Port of Felixstowe and high-traffic vessel lanes using FleetMon Explorer

The urgency for climate action expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demands a rapid market uptake of CO2 reduction measures in all sectors. For international shipping, the European Commission has frequently emphasized the important role of providing shore-side electricity to ships at berth, being a rather simple way of reducing CO2 emissions of ships, but also due to considerable co-benefits: Local air pollution in sea ports is primarily caused by emissions of ships at berth and poses a severe threat for premature mortality on the local residents.

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Container ships: Who is the “biggest loser?”

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While international shipping is making intensive efforts to demonstrate its environmental awareness, for example by introducing cleaner propulsion systems, it is creating negative headlines elsewhere.

We encounter increasing reports on losses of large quantities of containers on the high seas as a result of severe storms and other extreme weather conditions. The World Shipping Council (WSC) recently released its 2020 update showing that, on average, 1,382 containers are lost at sea each year.

The most spectacular example is the 2019-built Japanese 14,000 TEU freighter “ONE Apus” (IMO 9806079), which lost over 1,800 containers on Nov 30 2020 in the middle of the Pacific being en route from China to the US west coast. Initially, media reports stated that over 1,900 boxes were swept overboard by a storm. Some 64 dangerous goods containers were lost as well, alongside 54 with fireworks, eight with batteries, and two with liquid ethanol. On Dec 8 2020 the ship has arrived in Kobe, where the big clean-up and safety check-up has started.

Top 5 container ships with most freight loss

The loss of large amounts of cargo due to difficult weather conditions occurs equally for all shipping companies. FleetMon.com has put together a Top 5 of the “biggest losers” of freight in the container shipping industry.

#1: Container ship ONE Apus

End of November 2020, container ship ONE Apus will go down in history with 1816 containers lost in the North Pacific west of Hawaii. 64 contained hazardous goods like fireworks, batteries, and liquid ethanol.

Image of ONE Apus by ship spotter linse51
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Brexit’s done – or is it?

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Boris Johnson’s winning election slogan, “Get Brexit done”, is now reality. But is Brexit really done? And how will it impact ports and supply chains?

Spot the famous White Cliffs of Dover in the distance? This was a sight at least 10,000 lorry drivers waited many days to see around Christmas 2020. They were stuck in massive queues on the motorway to Dover or forced to park at Manston Airport far from the port. Some ended up spending Christmas in their lorries before they could cross the Channel. What went wrong? Britain’s Health Minister, Matt Hancock, had issued a panicky statement on the new corona virus mutation (“We’ve lost control!”) and many countries closed their borders to road, rail and air travellers from Britain. France shut the Port of Calais and the Eurotunnel. Was the resultant chaos a foretaste of Brexit’s impact on ports and European supply chains?

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The data revolution in shipping

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Artificial intelligence in today’s world:

AI or Artificial Intelligence is a blanket term that refers to many computer systems having “intelligence” in some form or another; even if the program is highly overseen by humans. Nevertheless, “Narrow AI’s” (AI’s that do not have general autonomy), while far less interesting constitute far more of what the society today perceives as AI.

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Inland waterway transport systems

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Vessel traffic and cargo and tanker density with FleetMon Explorer for real-time vessel tracking, Mississippi River, New Orleans area

A key cog in the wheel of global supply chains

The huge barge chugs its way southwards towards the Gulf of Mexico. A passer-by on the banks of the Mississippi can hardly hear the boat’s engine: the other shoreline is scarcely visible, so wide is America’s second-longest river at 3,730 km. Its length is just one of the Mississippi’s many superlatives. As an inland waterway transport system (IWTS), its economic significance cannot be overstated.

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Drone Ships: A not so distant maritime future

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Credits: IBM

There’s no denying that advancements in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) technology are affecting every sphere of our lives, ranging from agriculture & filmmaking to security and communications down to logistics.

With growing worldwide interest in commercial, scientific, and military issues associated with both oceans and shallow waters, there has been a corresponding growth in demand for the development of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) with advanced guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) capabilities.

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A cost-benefit analysis of LNG in maritime shipping

in Decarbonization, Trends by
Cargo and tanker traffic in the area of Japan’s Futtsu LNG terminal via FleetMon Explorer

Paving the way for a greener future

To date, IMO is the only organization worldwide that has adopted energy efficiency measures that are legally binding across the world. IMO also regulates the emission standards for ships, which are more strict in areas designated as Emission Control Areas (ECAS). As the MARPOL Annex 6 regulations restricting air pollution, another of IMO’s measures, is progressively setting more exacting standards, the shipping industry is looking for alternatives; such as ships powered by distillate fuels, using scrubbers, alternate fuels such as LNG, Hydrogen, or ammonia, even nuclear powered or completely battery-powered ships are a possibility. However one of the most feasible possibilities in the short to mid future is LNG.

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