Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for March 1, - March 5, 2010:
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Top Story

China targets bigger role over Arctic shipping issues

China is stepping up efforts to secure a role in deciding the future of Arctic issues such as shipping and energy extraction, as melting ice raises hopes of a shorter shipping route to the Atlantic, a report said on Monday.

Beijing is putting more resources into researching the high north, although officials are pushing for a cautious policy approach to avoiding causing alarm among Arctic states, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

The export-dependent structure of China's economy means shorter routes to Europe and North America could have a massive impact, the report said, citing estimates that nearly half of gross domestic product could be reliant on shipping.

The Northern Sea Route could shave over 6,000 kilometres off some journeys, it added.

A shorter route would also allow China to shave the cost - and the risk - of shipping crude oil and other commodities from the Atlantic coasts of Africa and the Americas.

-Montreal Gazette

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Buffett predicts U.S. housing slump will end in 2011

Billionaire Warren Buffett said the U.S. residential real estate slump will end by about 2011, predicting that’s how long it will take demand for homes to catch up with the supply.

“Within a year or so, residential housing problems should largely be behind us,” Buffett wrote Feb. 27 in his annual letter to shareholders of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. “Prices will remain far below ‘bubble’ levels, of course, but for every seller or lender hurt by this there will be a buyer who benefits.”

-Business Week/Bloomberg

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Slowdown in China manufacturing index for February

One of two Chinese purchasing managers' indexes unexpectedly eased to 52.0 in February from 55.8 in the previous month, indicating a slowdown in manufacturing growth, according to data released Monday by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. The PMI reading was lower than the 55.45 median forecast in a poll of economists by Reuters. However, the result was still above the 50 mark, which indicates expansion in manufacturing. A competing PMI data set, published by HSBC bank, was due out later Monday.


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Chile’s defense minister calls out Navy, praises port captains over tsunami warning

Chile's defense minister said Sunday that the navy made a mistake by not immediately issuing a tsunami warning after a mammoth earthquake, a step that could have helped coastal villagers flee to higher ground sooner.

Francisco Vidal said, however, that an alarm was later sounded by port captains. He said that saved hundreds if not thousands of lives.
Vidal said that fortunately the navy has an emergency plan that allows navy officials in each port to sound alarms automatically when a rise in the sea is observed without waiting for an order from above. In this case, port captains sounded an alarm alerting coastal populations.

Thirty minutes passed between the quake and waves that inundated coastal towns.

Many of the more than 708 known dead from the quake were in Chile's coastal regions swamped by the tsunami. Among those hit were San Juan Bautista village on Robinson Crusoe Island, the port of Talcahuano and Vichato in the BioBio region.


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Asia’s booming demand for coal could increase Somali pirate activity

Booming Asian demand for South African coal will put more ships at risk from Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean and raise insurance and freight costs already hiked due to seaborne attacks.

Emboldened by rising ransom payments, Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars by hijacking ships in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

While pirates have hijacked oil tankers, passenger ships and yachts, they have started to target slow moving coal bulk carriers, which are easier to overcome than a large tanker.

A Somali pirate who gave his name only as Hassan told Reuters that armed gangs can operate far out to sea and were able to dodge naval warships deployed to combat their activities.


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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top Story

Horizon Lines to launch trans-Pacific service

Horizon Lines, Inc., the number one U.S. domestic container-shipping group, announced it would launch its own trans-Pacific service between Asia and the U.S. West Coast in December of this year.

The Charlotte-based carrier said it had reached an agreement with Denmark’s Maersk Line, to not renew its current trans-Pacific space sharing agreement with the world’s largest container-shipping line by December.

Horizon said the new service would employ the company’s five 2,824-TEU, U.S. flagged Hunter-class containerships that currently call on Guam and continue on to China as part of the space share with Maersk.

“Our study of the market reveals an opportunity for a niche player that can offer quick transit times with the highest levels of service excellence,” said Horizon Chairman, President and CEO Chuck Raymond.

“We believe the time is right. Container rates in the Pacific tradelane have bottomed out and are rebounding. China’s economy is showing solid signs of recovery and many major importers have reported that their service needs are not being met,” Raymond said.

Meanwhile, Horizon also announced it had reached what it termed “a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” with APM Terminals North America (APMT) for a new six-year U.S. terminal services agreement that is effective immediately.

The company said its new MOU applies to APMT’s stevedoring and terminal services for Horizon in Jacksonville, Florida, Houston, Los Angeles, Tacoma, and Elizabeth, NJ through 2015, with an option to extend for two years.

“We are thrilled to continue to work with APMT as a trusted partner of 10 years, serving both our continued dedication to our Jones Act trades and our new Asian expansion,” said Raymond.

Horizon Lines named Brian Taylor senior vice president, international services, to oversee the shipping company’s Asia expansion. Taylor was formerly president and COO of Horizon Logistics.

Horizon also announced Horizon Logistics would no longer be reported as a separate business segment, effective the first quarter of 2010.

MSC launches Asia-Suez service out of Charleston

The Suez option of shipping freight from Asia to the U.S. East Coast became a reality with the second largest container shipping line in the world, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), launching its Golden Gate Service (GGS) out of the Port of Charleston, SC.

The service out of Charleston’s Wando Welch Terminal will connect with ports of call in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
The first containership in the service to call Charleston was the 8,085-TEU, 1,065-foot-long MSC Rita, and at its 47.5 -foot draft, was barely able to advantage of the port’s 48-foot depth at high tide.

"Importers and exporters across the US southeast and Gulf region will benefit from additional connections into China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and India through Charleston," said South Carolina State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome.

The GGS rotation includes: Ningbo, Shenzhen (Chiwan and Yantian), Singapore; Salalah, Oman; Suez Canal; New York; Baltimore; Norfolk; Charleston; The Bahamas; Suez Canal; Jeddah, Colombo, Sri Lanka; Singapore; Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Ningbo. The GGS service also provides a 21-day outbound transit time from Charleston to Jeddah.

In 2009, MSC signed a five-year service extension with Charleston through 2017.

CSX nets $98 mil to increase double-stack capacity through National Gateway

CSX Corp. recently received $98 million in federal stimulus funds toward its goal of increasing the use of double-stack trains to move freight from mid-Atlantic ports to Midwestern markets.

The $842 million public-private partnership, known as National Gateway, involves upgrading existing track, modifying bridges and raising tunnel clearances along three major CSX routes -- the I-95 corridor between North Carolina and Baltimore, I-70/I-76 between Washington and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh, and the company's Carolina Corridor between Wilmington, N.C., and Charlotte, N.C. -- to accommodate the taller freight cars. One such train can carry the load of more than 280 trucks.

In Virginia, the project would take an estimated 1 million trucks off I-81 in its first 10 years -- far less than Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor plan, which boasts the ability to take 880,000 long-haul trucks off the busy commercial corridor annually.

-North Virginia Daily

Wal-Mart goes

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is calling it It’s the new global e-commerce unit designed to drive online growth in international markets, which Wal-Mart unveiled in January. The retail giant also restructured its U.S. division to integrate it more closely with its stores.

Wal-Mart, which operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Mexico and Brazil, says the unit will develop global e-commerce strategies and create a single global e-commerce platform that could be used in every market, similar to the single global platform that Inc. operates.

-Internet Retailer

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Danish attack ship sinks Somali pirate “mother ship”

The Absalon, a Danish attack support ship, sank a pirate control ship off the coast of Somalia on Sunday, according to a Nato press release.

The Absalon is the current flag ship of the Nato fleet operating in the pirate-stricken Gulf of Aden off the east African coast and has been involved in numerous pirate run-ins.

The latest saw a pirate mother skiff intercepted by a boarding team from the Absalon before it was scuttled. It had been spotted earlier in the day after leaving a Somali camp outfitted with pirate equipment and supplies.

-The Copenhagen Post

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Top Story

Maersk reports first-ever annual loss

Denmark’s AP Møller-Maersk made a $1.02bn net loss in 2009 – its first – thanks to a $2.09bn shortfall at its container shipping division.

The group loss, which compared with a $3.46bn net profit for 2008, came following the worst year in the history of container shipping, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the Maersk group’s revenue.

It was also a bad year for tanker markets, particularly for the oil product tankers, of which Maersk is the world’s largest operator.

The company, which is listed but controlled by the McKinney-Møller family, expressed concern about the outlook for some of its markets for 2010. Nils Andersen, chief executive, nevertheless expected the group to make “modest profits” in the current year.

-Financial Times

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U.S. Fed reports “modest” improvement to U.S. economy

The U.S. economy improved in nine of the Federal Reserve’s 12 regions in January and February while being hampered by snowstorms in the eastern U.S., the central bank said today.

“In most cases the increases were modest,” the Fed said in its Beige Book business survey, published two weeks before the Federal Open Market Committee meets to set monetary policy. Consumer spending increased in many regions, while commercial real estate and loan demand were “weak” and labor markets “soft,” the Fed said.

The report informs Fed policy makers ahead of their next meeting on March 16. While Chairman Ben S. Bernanke reiterated the Fed would leave rates very low for an “extended period” in congressional testimony last week, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig, the longest-serving policy maker, wants to eliminate the phrase because the financial crisis is fading.

-Business Week

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Study shows 90 percent of Tacoma’s port trucks compliant

A recent study shows that 90 percent of the heavy-duty trucks serving terminals meet the Port of Tacoma’s 2010 clean truck standards. That is 4 percent more trucks than a year ago explained Ron Stuart, environmental project manager for the port.

The study, presented to port commissioners on Feb. 18, captured about 3,100 short-haul drayage trucks that regularly serve terminals on the Tideflats. Along with highlighting the 90 percent benchmark set by trucks this year, staff also noted that about 6 percent meet the 2015 standard of model year 2007 or newer – up 2 percent from last year.

-Port of Tacoma

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Crowley doubles North Florida warehouse space

Jacksonville-based Crowley announced it has moved to a new 70,000 square foot U.S Customs-bonded warehouse at the Port of Jacksonville’s Dames Point, minutes from the company's headquarters and near the TraPac container terminal.

The company said it has doubled its north Florida warehouse space with 20 dock doors, 30-foot clear-height ceilings, and a 160-foot truck court that can be expanded to 200 feet.

Crowley said it would be able offer warehousing and distribution services to shippers involved in the Asia trade. The company said it is preparing for the expansion of the Panama Canal and expanded volumes of freight coming to Jacksonville from Asia.

Crowley says it both owns and manages over 900,000 square feet of warehouse space in locations ranging from Miami and Los Angeles to Guatemala and Honduras.

Rescue tug assists containership in PNW

The Coast Guard says it took a rescue tug based at Neah Bay just 15 minutes to reach a container ship that lost power in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (FEW'-kuh).

Petty Officer Eric Chandler in Seattle says the tug Hunter responded at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to the 712-foot Horizon Tacoma that radioed for help about three miles north of Neah Bay.

The tug has the ship under tow and it's expected to reach Tacoma Wednesday afternoon. The ship is coming from Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

-Seattle Times

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