Sudden spike in demand for China-Europe rail services, post-Suez

Forwarders in China are reporting a sudden spike in demand for Silk Road rail freight, post-Ever Given.

According to Shanghai-based Marco Reichel, APAC business development director at Crane Worldwide Logistics, space on trains to Europe was already tight before the week-long Suez blockage.

He told The Loadstar: “We already had limited space in late March, and for the whole of April, and we now expect capacity to stay almost sold out until May.

“As demand increases, we expect to see rate increases follow,” he added.

Indeed, scarce capacity in both air and ocean helped China-Europe rail volumes to huge gains last year, up 56%, to 1.14m teu and 12,400 train journeys. And in January and February, they were up 96% year on year, with volumes of 209,000 teu, according to Chinese media.

South Carolina Ports breaks all-time container record

South Carolina Ports turned in its best cargo-handling performance in history in March — and the volume was 34% higher year-over-year.

“This significant achievement leads up to another historic milestone as we prepare to welcome the first ship to the Leatherman Terminal on Friday,” South Carolina Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement. “Our all-time container record reinforces that we are adding more capacity to the Port of Charleston at the right time. The state-of-the-art Leatherman Terminal will add 700,000 TEUs [twenty-foot equivalent units] of throughput capacity and a 1,400-foot berth to the East Coast port market when it is most needed.”

The Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal will have five ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck, 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes and an expansive container yard, the South Carolina Ports Authority has said. At full build-out, the terminal will add 2.4 million TEUs of capacity — doubling existing port capacity.

In its all-time container record, the SCPA moved 248,796 TEUs across the Port of Charleston’s Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in March. The previous record was set in August 2019 with 233,110 TEUs.

In March 2020, as the supply chain stoppage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic was felt at U.S. ports, the SCP

South Carolina Ports breaks all-time container record

The Pandemic Made Manufacturing Stronger

One year into the pandemic, the manufacturing industry has undergone significant disruption and transformation. For a sector that works primarily on-site in physical spaces, the workflow and production changes were abrupt and highly impactful. Leaning on technology, adapting quickly to new demands and supply chain restrictions, and adopting contactless safety processes—all while maintaining productivity and manufacturing essential items to fight COVID-19—were enormous challenges to overcome.

How shipping giant MSC reacted to billion-dollar cocaine bust

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) — which recently surpassed Maersk to become the world’s largest ocean carrier — confirmed it “suffered significant financial and reputational damage” from the record-breaking drug bust aboard its ship, the MSC Gayane, in 2019.

MSC detailed the extent of the consequences in a newly filed court document — consequences that include over $100 million in additional security costs. “The company and everyone in it are victims,” MSC wrote in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III.

Stranger than fiction

The MSC Gayane drug-smuggling case calls to mind a quote from Mark Twain: “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

The ship at the center of the story was new, very large and very expensive. It was built in 2018, with a capacity of 11,600 twenty-foot equivalent units, valued at around $90 million, owned by an entity affiliated with JP Morgan and leased by MSC.

When U.S. authorities swarmed the ship in Philadelphia on June 17, 2019, they found almost 20 tons of cocaine worth over $1 billion hidden in seven shipping containers. That’s the same weight in cocaine as three adult male African elephants.

Of the ship’s crew of just over 20, at least eight — around a third of the crew — were involved in the drug ring, according to prosecutors. Four crew members from Montenegro led the operation, taking jobs on the ship with the intent to smuggle cocaine. They recruited at least four other crew members.

How shipping giant MSC reacted to billion-dollar cocaine bust

Savannah leads US ports in expansion drive to beat congestion

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has shifted up a gear in its efforts to boost capacity.

Prompted by delays at Savannah, the authority has added $100m to its capital expenditure budget, bringing its spend on capacity expansion this year to $205m.

By the end of the year, GPA wants capacity to handle an additional 650,000 teu a year, an increase of 20% at Savannah.

The expansion is needed because of a surge in throughput that is expected to continue, said GPA chairman Will McKnight, and according to CEO Griff Lynch, Savannah has been handling volumes not expected until 2025.