Container Feeder Barge: A solution for a grounding such as Ever Forward?

by Rish Madden – Ever Forward grounded on the Chesapeake Bay on March 13, 2022.  The current salvage plan includes removal of a large number of containers – loaded and…

by Rish Madden – Ever Forward grounded on the Chesapeake Bay on March 13, 2022.  The current salvage plan includes removal of a large number of containers – loaded and...

Is Taiwan’s Evergreen Helping To Finance China’s Naval Expansion?

A new report says that commercial shipbuilding efforts by prominent companies – including Carnival Cruise Lines, CMA CGM, and Taiwan’s Evergreen Shipping – are helping China finance warships. By Michael…

A new report says that commercial shipbuilding efforts by prominent companies – including Carnival Cruise Lines, CMA CGM, and Taiwan’s Evergreen Shipping – are helping China finance warships. By Michael...

Evergreen has plan to refloat Ever Forward

The refloating of the container ship stuck in Cheseapeake Bay could be a “long, laborious operation.”

Evergreen Line has a plan to refloat the container ship aground in Chesapeake Bay.

“Donjon Smit, the salvor appointed by Evergreen, has conducted several underwater inspections of Ever Forward. The data collected has been analyzed and an effective refloating plan has been designed. This plan can be implemented after approval by the competent authority,” an Evergreen spokesman said in a Friday afternoon email to American Shipper. 

The Ever Forward, with a carrying capacity of 11,850 twenty-foot equivalent units, ran aground last Sunday after departing the Port of Baltimore. 

“In terms of planning for rescue operations, dredgers will be used to excavate around the stranded vessel to remove part of the mud, increase the buoyancy of the hull and increase the space (clearance) between the rudder and the seabed to ensure the safety of the ship,” the Evergreen spokesman said. 

“The rescue team is mobilizing all available local tugboats to join in the refloating operation,” he continued. “After sufficient mud is excavated, the amount of ballast water on Ever Forward will be adjusted to reduce the ship’s weight and the refloating operation will begin using both the tugboats and the power of her main engine. The rescue team will carry out the plan utilizing the most beneficial high-tide period in the port area.”

The spokesman did not say when the dredging would begin or how long it was expected to take to free the Ever Forward. But Sal Mercogliano, a Campbell University department chair and frequent FreightWavesTV guest, predicted in a video this week “a long, laborious operation.”

The Ever Forward was bound for Norfolk, Virginia, when it ran aground. In addition to Baltimore, the container ship had called Colon, Panama, and Savannah, Georgia. The Ever Forward sails on the Ocean Alliance’s Asia-U.S. East Coast service. It was expected to call New York before transiting the Panama Canal to pick up cargo in China. 

Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Marine, this week cautioned against comparing the case of the Ever Forward to that of another Evergreen container ship, the Ever Given, which notoriously was wedged between the banks of the Suez Canal for a week in March 2021. 

The Ever Forward incident “should not be blown out of proportion,” Jensen said in a LinkedIn post, adding that the “reality is that vessels do at times get stuck and this is not an event with major global ramifications.”

William P. Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, confirmed in an email to American Shipper late Thursday afternoon that the Ever Forward’s location just off Gibson Island near the Craighill channel is not preventing other ships from transiting to or from the Port of Baltimore.

Ever more speculation about Evergreen groundings

Container ship runs aground in Chesapeake Bay

Car carrier — and Bentleys, Porsche and Lamborghinis — sinks

Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Container ships suffer record delays as demand spikes

container ship reliability storyWill your cargo ship arrive on time? Globally, the chances are now 50-50. In the Asia-U.S. container trade, it’s less than one in three.

container ship reliability story

You need your ocean cargo ASAP. You know which container ship it’s on. What’s the chance that your ship arrives at the port on schedule? For the answer, flip a coin. Heads: The ship will dock on time. Tails: It’ll be late — possibly very late.

On Thursday, Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence released its Global Liner Performance Report for November. It found that average global carrier schedule reliability across 34 trade lines fell to just 50.1% last month.

It is the worst global score recorded since Sea-Intelligence introduced its reliability measure in 2011. The second- and third-worst scores were recorded in September and October. 

The year-on-year decline has been precipitous. In November 2018 and 2019, carrier services were far more reliable, averaging 75.5% and 80% reliability, respectively.

container reliability data
(Chart: Sea-Intelligence Global Liner Performance Report: November 2020)

The November data was particularly ominous for U.S. importers. Asia-U.S. reliability was far below the global average. Trade-lane stats are analyzed on a two-month rolling basis. For October-November, on-time arrivals were down to 28.6% in the Asia-West Coast trade and 26.4% in the Asia-East Coast trade.

In other words, for U.S. importers, it’s not a coin toss. The chance of avoiding ocean delays is less than one in three.

This could get worse before it gets better. American Shipper asked Sea-Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy whether reliability could hit new lows by January, amid the pre-Chinese New Year rush.

“It’s not impossible,” Murphy warned. “Especially given what we’re seeing with [container] equipment shortages.”

Not just more delays, but longer delays

The news for shippers gets even worse. It’s not just that delays are becoming more frequent. It’s that delays are getting longer.

Sea-Intelligence calculated that the average delay for late vessels had risen to 5.1 days in November. That’s an 11% increase from average delays of 4.51 days in August.

container reliability data
(Chart: Sea-Intelligence Global Liner Performance Report: November 2020)

The all-time monthly global high in this Sea-Intelligence data set came in January 2015 — 5.5 days — amid labor unrest at U.S. ports.

Even so, 2020 stands out. In each month since April, 2020 average delays set records for that particular month. 

And while November’s number is still below 2020’s peak of 5.48 days in May, the situation in May was different.

In Q2 2020, carriers “blanked” (canceled) an unprecedented number of sailings. The lower number of vessels in service was easier for carriers to manage, so schedule reliability improved. While delays were longer in May, schedule reliability had rebounded to 74.8% that month.

In contrast, November suffered a worst-case combo of much higher unreliability plus extended delays.

Ranking the carriers: from best to worst

Sea-Intelligence also analyzes schedule reliability by carrier.

Hamburg Sud ranked first in November, with schedule reliability of 61.5%. Rounding out the top five were Maersk Line (56.2%), CMA CGM (53.7%), Wan Hai (51.9%) and MSC (50.9%).

On the other end of the spectrum, the worst performer was HMM, with just 32.2% reliability. That’s about half of Hamburg Sud’s score.

Rounding out the bottom five were Yang Ming (35.6% reliability), ONE (38.1%), PIL (39.7%) and Evergreen (45.1%).

container reliability data
(Chart: Sea-Intelligence Global Liner Performance Report: November 2020)

Reliability slump could last until Q2

“With news of widespread port congestion, and with carriers not letting off capacity-wise until at least Chinese New Year, shipping might not see improving schedule reliability until Q2 2021,” warned Murphy.

Chance your ship will arrive on time? Heads you win. Tails you lose. (Photo: Flickr/frankieleon)

As he explained to American Shipper, “reliability was quite good” during the heavy blanking period in Q2 2020. “My assumption is that this was because you had fewer ships [in service], so it was easier to manage. It’s as simple as that.”

If so, the antithesis should also true, which is what the market is experiencing now. “From July onwards, the carriers put in more and more vessels and extra loaders [ships not part of a regular service]. Since they started doing that, reliability has gone to hell. As long as you’re piling in tons of extra capacity, it’s going to be a challenge.”

The ports factor

Beyond carrier capacity, the recovery of container-service reliability also hinges on ports.

SeaIntelligence Consulting Lars Jensen wrote in an online post, “The reality is that many ports suffer from catastrophic indigestion due to the sudden boom in demand owing to the pandemic effect. Such port congestion leads to massive waiting times for simply getting a slot at a berth. It would not be reasonable to purely blame the carriers for this dramatic drop in performance,” said Jensen. Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Greg Miller 

MORE ON CONTAINERS: Liner capacity control and the future of container shipping: see story here. Q&A: Flexport on 2021, container crunch and liner pricing coup: see story here. The mystery of the frozen trans-Pacific spot rates: see story hereCOVID lockdown sequel threatens container shipping demand: see story here. Containers are the ‘new gold’ amid ‘black swan’ box squeeze: see story here.