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Navigating the Waves: How Technology Revolutionizes Ocean Shipment Tracking

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Navigating the Waves: How Technology Revolutionizes Ocean Shipment Tracking

In today’s globalized economy, efficient transportation of goods across oceans is vital for businesses worldwide. 

However, the industry faces challenges like lost containers, port congestion, shipping container shortages, rising freight rates, lack of carrier capacity, and crew shortages. Many ocean carriers that ship through the Red Sea are still struggling with attacks from Houthi rebels, causing carriers to increase delivery times by ten days or more as they are diverted to travel around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. On the other side of the globe, a severe drought at the Panama Canal is slowing maritime trade due to increased restrictions on ships that travel through the canal. Tracking ocean shipments has traditionally been a complex task using manual methods.

Read also: 10 Ocean Carrier Experts For Project Cargo And Heavy Lift

With globalization and the rise of containerization, the need for more sophisticated tracking systems has become evident. Thanks to technological advancements, ocean shipping and the tracking of shipments are more streamlined and transparent. Following is a list of technologies that can revolutionize ocean shipment tracking: 

  • RFID and IoT: Integrating Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies marked a significant leap forward in ocean shipment tracking. RFID tags attach to containers to enable real-time monitoring of a ship’s location and condition. IoT devices embedded within containers collect data on temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors, ensuring the integrity of perishable goods during transit. This granular level of tracking enhances transparency and enables proactive management of supply chain disruptions.
  • GPS and Satellite Tracking: Global Positioning System (GPS) and satellite tracking have become indispensable tools in ocean shipment tracking. GPS-enabled devices installed on vessels provide accurate location data, allowing stakeholders to monitor the progress of shipments in real time. Satellite communication ensures seamless connectivity even in remote maritime regions, enabling continuous monitoring and communication with vessels regardless of location. This level of connectivity enhances operational efficiency and reduces the risk of lost or delayed shipments.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics are reshaping ocean shipment tracking by leveraging vast data to forecast trends and anticipate disruptions. Machine learning algorithms analyze historical shipping data, weather patterns, port congestion, and other factors to predict potential delays or inefficiencies in the supply chain. This foresight enables stakeholders to take proactive measures, such as rerouting shipments or adjusting inventory levels, to mitigate risks and optimize operations. AI-powered solutions also enhance decision-making by providing actionable insights and recommendations based on real-time data.
  • Mobile Applications: Mobile applications have democratized access to shipment tracking information, empowering stakeholders to monitor their cargo from anywhere, at any time. These apps provide intuitive interfaces for tracking shipments, receiving notifications on status updates, and communicating with logistics partners. Mobile applications improve transparency and responsiveness by putting real-time information at users’ fingertips, enabling faster decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Cloud-based Platforms: Cloud-based platforms have revolutionized how stakeholders access and analyze shipment data. These platforms provide a holistic view of the supply chain by centralizing information from various sources, including GPS trackers, IoT devices, and customs documentation. Real-time updates and analytics empower decision-makers to identify bottlenecks, optimize routes, and mitigate risks proactively. Moreover, cloud-based platforms facilitate stakeholder collaboration, fostering transparency and accountability across the supply chain ecosystem. 

What is Needed in Cloud-Based TMSs

A cloud-based TMS is the top platform of choice for ocean shippers, especially if the TMS can integrate different data sources from tracking devices, along with tracking, booking, and execution, to become the integrated command center for a shipper’s transportation logistics needs. This all-in-one platform should provide visibility for more modes besides just ocean, as some shippers use a combination of modes—truck, barge, and rail. 

Features needed within a TMS for ocean tracking: 

  • Connections to hundreds of ocean carriers, NVOCCs, and freight forwarders, eliminating the need for shippers to reach out to each carrier by email, phone, or carrier website. Knowing the schedules of these carriers allows shippers to pick the exact time needed to cover the load.
  • The ability to submit booking requests and receive booking confirmations electronically would make bookings faster, easier to track, and more automated. Orders should be able to be shipped via a full container or less than full container load, with the tracking data and shipment execution exchanged between carriers and shippers all in the same portal.
  • Electronic bill of lading (BOL) and online shipment instructions comply with industry-standard data points. Shippers can view historical shipping instructions and compare them to current ones to generate insightful dashboards with KPIs.
  • Booking and shipping instruction templates with pre-populated forms make it quicker and easier to execute a shipment, enabling staff to focus on more value-added tasks.
  • Seamless in-transit shipment tracking for ocean vessels and inland moves ensures shippers always know where their shipments are. Shipments should be viewed on maps, regardless of mode, so ocean, rail, and truck appear on the same map for a holistic view of transport operations. Maps may be used internally or securely shared with customers for a better experience by a shipper’s customers.
  • The platform should provide a dynamic ETA calculated using multiple data points, providing shippers with a more accurate estimated time of arrival for improved operational planning.
  • Offers industry-standard value codes, UN location codes, and HS codes for approximately 38,000 products, avoiding transmission failures to ocean carriers. The benefit of this would be that when a user enters a transaction into the system, the location and product fields have pre-established values, which avoids bad data entry.
  • This includes ocean schedules that enable planners to determine the best route option, with available transit dates, estimated arrival times, voyage information, and terminal information so that planners can confidently pick the best lane.
  • Container tracking captures future critical events when importing containers, allowing shippers to tender a truck quickly and pick up the shipment on time.
  • Should be able to virtually connect with any TMS, ERP, and third-party providers’ systems, enabling shippers to have visibility from a purchase order number and other essential reference numbers or information. 

Technology integration has transformed ocean shipment tracking from a cumbersome process into a streamlined and transparent operation. From RFID and IoT to AI, innovative solutions are revolutionizing how businesses manage their supply chains. By leveraging these technologies, stakeholders can gain unprecedented visibility and control over their shipments, enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and mitigating risks. As the pace of technological innovation accelerates, the future of ocean shipment tracking promises even greater connectivity, efficiency, and resilience in global trade.

Author: Bernard Cohen, Group Product Manager, IntelliTrans


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Impressive Growth at the Port of Virginia 

Total annual cargo transported by ultra-large shipping vessels has more than doubled since 2020. Shippers are increasingly opting for vessels capable of 20,000 plus TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), and the Port of Virginia appears poised to capitalize on this trend. 

Read also: Port of Virginia Cargo Volumes Continue to Soar

Massive ocean containerships naturally require more space to maneuver in and out of ports. For most ports, these ships reduce traffic to a one-way system where one ultra-large vessel, in the case of the Port of Virginia, must leave the channel before the next ship can enter. Financially, the port does not make money on transit in and out, but rather, turning ships on the berth. A $450 million dredging project that began in 2019 will transform the port into the deepest and widest on the East Coast, allowing for ultra-large vessels to move through the channel, in and out, simultaneously. 

The Port of Virginia has witnessed laudable growth over the first quarter 2024. Container volumes are 7% above 2020, and strong growth is coming from India as well as South and Southwest Asia overall. The port counts on Lowe’s, Walmart and similar retailers as its main clients, and while the India to East Coast trade has been hampered by the Red Sea Houthi attacks, volume remains positive despite the rise in fuel prices. 

The channel deepening project is part of a larger $1.4 billion outlay to modernize and grow the port’s capacity. The total number of berths is planned to expand to five, and the wider shipping channel is already reducing stay times by nearly 15%. Efficiency metrics are up, and carbon emissions are down as ships idly waiting for the channel to clear are entering and exiting quickly. 

The closure of the Port of Baltimore rerouted vessels to Virginia. The port’s terminals feature one shared system that truckers use to plan their moves, as opposed to decentralized and less efficient terminal-specific systems. The state has invested $5 billion-plus in improving bridges, highways, and tunnels to receive additional freight, while the port began an expansion project on its central rail yard that should help absorb increased traffic. 

In January of this year, the Port of Virginia was the first on the East Coast to power its terminals with 100% clean energy. This is an impressive eight years ahead of its 2032 target, and the port is now only buying nuclear, wind, or solar energy.  

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RACCA Opens 2024 Scholarship Applications for Aspiring Aviation Professionals

Applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA) scholarships, aimed at supporting aspiring pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs), and airline managers in their career pursuits.

Read also: 8 Strategies for Empowering Emerging Talent in the Supply Chain Industry

“Awarding the four scholarships is one of the most important things the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association does,” said RACCA President James Goddard. “Each year we are impressed with the quality of the applications and what these young people will contribute to the industry once they complete their education. Our members support our scholarships with generous donations because they believe in paying it forward and encouraging the pursuit of cargo careers.”

The RACCA Aviation Scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, were established to promote aviation as a career choice and raise awareness of opportunities within the air cargo industry. Representing 50 air cargo carriers, many of which support FedEx, DHL, and UPS networks, RACCA provides these scholarships to assist with tuition, flight training, or obtaining new or additional licenses. Four awards are made annually in November.

Goddard highlighted that flying for a RACCA carrier is an excellent way for pilots to build flight hours, offering experience with scheduled flights, inclement weather, inflight and procedural issues, night flying, busy airspace operations, cockpit resource management, and required recordkeeping—key elements of airline operations. He emphasized the importance of maintaining professionalism and discipline, as instilled during student training, for aspiring pilots to effectively build their flight hours.

To qualify for the scholarships, applicants must:

– Be a college student currently enrolled in an accredited aviation program.
– Be a resident of the United States.
– Maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

The Richard Mills Memorial Scholarship requires an additional letter of introduction from a current RACCA member or associate member to help candidates learn about the air cargo industry. Candidates are encouraged to visit a nearby RACCA member’s operation or contact a member to ask questions about the industry if no member is locally available.

The Terry Hibler Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage careers in industries supporting cargo operators, including maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), aviation management, financial careers in insurance and leasing, manufacturing, airports, and other aviation services.

The application deadline is October 15, 2024. Scholarship selections will be made by November 30, with distributions to accredited schools on December 15.

The RACCA Aviation Scholarship application is available on the RACCA website

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A Closer Look at Life on a Cargo Ship: 7 Realities

The water transportation industry rarely gets the spotlight. That said, delivering freight from country to country is hard work that deserves more recognition. 

Read also: Innovative Strategy Reduces Cargo Ship Emissions by 17.3%

A great number of people contribute to a package’s journey and destination. Here’s a closer look at what to do to get and stay on board a cargo ship.

Applying to Become a Cargo Worker

There are many jobs in the sector, with seaman and material handler as the entry-level roles. It can take some time to climb the ranks and become a senior member of the crew or ship captain. However, some are content with taking on more niche roles such as ship cook or rigger.

Cargo ship jobs usually have fewer educational requirements, with some accepting high school graduates. However, maritime training and certification is key. U.S. companies and sole proprietors must obtain a license from the Federal Maritime Commission to qualify for ocean freight transportation.

Sending in an application does not guarantee landing a role. Logistic jobs may be in demand with the growth of e-commerce and globalization, but most enterprises look for people with experience handling inventory and shipping.

It’s also important to check on one’s health before pushing through with becoming a cargo worker. Unlike shipping roles on land, a crew member will have to face the sights and motions of the sea throughout their career.

Checking Compensation for the Crew

Compensation can vary from role to role. Experience and rank can also play a big part in the salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, water transportation workers had a median pay of $31.22 per hour or $64,930 annually in May 2023. Some shipping businesses offer a premium for overtime work.

Some people receive their pay weekly or monthly, depending on management. However, some crew members need compensation due to unfair employers and rogue manning agents. The International Transport Workers’ Federation recovered over $35 million in wages owed.

Cargo ship workers must be wary of their employers and any payment problems that may arise. Check the agency’s legitimacy by checking its registration and whether it is under an ITF agreement. A claim against brands that have breached those conditions will be easier to process and resolve.

Crew members can connect with the rest of their shipmates to address delays and collect their salaries. However, being wary of acquaintances who will take advantage of the situation and extort money is also essential.

Experiencing the Working Conditions

The sun and the sea are both unpredictable natural elements. Docking at the port and moving the freight onto the boat can already be a taxing experience. Depending on the size of the vessel and the number of crew members working together, the movement can take a while.

Some people may experience muscle soreness with a delayed onset afterward. These aches show up 24 to 72 hours after strenuous activities. However, staff can’t get rest right away, especially when the ship finally sails.

Material handlers need to recheck inventory to ensure nothing is missing. Engineers need to monitor and maintain the motor to keep the ship afloat. The captain and officers must navigate the waters and steer the freight to their destination.

As bigger ships need hands on deck 24/7, someone will always be working. The shift assigned to a worker will typically state their exact hours and when they can rest in their personal quarters.

Living on a Water Vessel

A cargo ship is quite far from a cruise ship, as it is more optimized for transporting different packages. Being in the middle of the ocean makes Wi-Fi connection quite difficult to come across. Even when an email does get out, the captain is in charge of reviewing correspondence.

While it lacks the amenities and entertainment required, most cargo ship workers can find plenty of solace in the endless sky and sea. Taking in the sights in between monitoring the mechanisms and freights can be relaxing.

Most cargo ship organizations provide meals for the crew at specific times of day. Vessels with longer journeys have a limited food supply, so each person gets only one portion. Fresh food is hard to come by after a few months since it will have gone bad already.

For sleeping accommodation, ship crewmates of a higher rank may get their own room and bed. Deckmates and other roles share a cabin and bunk bed with others on the boat. Toilets and a shower room are also for communal use.

Maintaining Gear and Equipment

Cargo ship workers are responsible for a lot of gear and equipment, which isn’t always smooth sailing. For instance, marine freshwater tanks store water for drinking and cooking. These portable liquids should be clean and free of infection. Unfortunately, they are still subject to contamination, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease among the crew.

There’s also the struggle of inclement weather when on board. Whether rain or shine, the boat needs to continue moving forward. The crew must be prepared to move items and evacuate the area if any damage occurs to the hull due to turbulent sailing conditions.

Foul weather gear is recommended since it has a water-repellent finish to protect the material. However, it diminishes after every 20 to 30 uses. Wearing it every day during the rainy season can affect its quality before the ship even gets to its destination.

In those cases, workers have to rewax the area to achieve the waterproof effect again. If the layers are separating from the interior fabric, report to a manager to get a new suit.

Navigating the Work Culture

There is still a stigma that the maritime industry is only for men due to traditional gender roles. However, many female seafarers have created a mark on the industry. For example, Caroline Mayhew became a captain in 1846 after her husband and crew members fell victim to the smallpox epidemic. She was able to steer the vessel to safety.

Numerous modern-day heroines are still pursuing careers on cargo ships. While some crew members are less than respectful towards women and the work culture still needs improvement, the space is slowly changing to become more inclusive. Look for employers focusing on each person’s safety and mental well-being while on the clock.

Managing Personal Time

One key reality about working on a cargo ship is how hard a work-life balance is to achieve. A rating can take around nine months or so. In that time, a crew member can miss a holiday, a loved one’s birthday and other important events.

It’s challenging to manage personal relationships. However, some people do maintain friendships and families while sailing worldwide. Just communicate and set expectations with loved ones before the next venture.

The Truth of Cargo Ship Life

Staying afloat during a cargo ship’s trials and tribulations is challenging and rewarding. Acknowledge the realities and appreciate the people within the field. Those with a newfound respect or admiration for the trade are more than welcome to join.

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10 Ocean Carrier Experts For Project Cargo And Heavy Lift

Container cargo gets most of the attention, but project cargo and heavy lift services are crucial for several reasons. They enable essential construction and development, as these services move the massive and unusual cargo that underpins infrastructure projects like power plants, refineries and bridges. Without them, building these structures would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

Read also: Innovative Strategy Reduces Cargo Ship Emissions by 17.3%

Many industries rely on project cargo and heavy lift to function, including energy (wind turbine components, oil rigs), manufacturing (large machinery) and transportation (locomotives, airplanes).

The safe and timely movement of oversized cargo is vital for keeping projects on schedule and within budget. Delays due to mishandling or logistical issues can be incredibly expensive.

Project cargo and heavy lift services require specialized expertise for complex cargo. Standard shipping methods simply aren’t suitable for project cargo. These specialized services provide the engineering, permits and equipment necessary to move these unique pieces safely and efficiently.

Large, heavy cargo is vulnerable to damage during transport. Project cargo and heavy lift teams that excel have the know-how to plan, package and move these items securely, minimizing the risk of costly repairs or replacements.

What follows are 10 ocean carrier companies that excel at project cargo and heavy lift:

Cosco Shipping Heavy Transport (Americas)

Houston, Texas &

A subsidiary of the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), Cosco Shipping Specialized Carriers boasts a large fleet of specialized vessels for project cargo and heavy-lift transportation. They’re a major player in Asian routes and have a growing presence globally. Cosco Shipping Heavy Transport (Americas) is widely recognized as a leader in the semi-submersible market, handling high value heavy cargoes with safe, reliable and fast transports.

Intermarine Americas

Houston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana

Intermarine operates a fleet of specialized vessels designed for project, breakbulk and heavy-lift cargo. A wide range of services are offered including engineering, routing, permitting and insurance. Known for expertise in handling complex project cargo shipments, Intermarine is part of the JSI Alliance, which has offices on every continent.

SAL Heavy Lift

Hamburg, Germany

Another member of the JSI Alliance, SAL Heavy Lift is a global leader in heavy lift transportation with a fleet of specialized vessels. The variety of services the carrier offers include feasibility studies, route engineering and on-site project management. They are experienced in handling some of the world’s largest and most complex cargoes.

Jumbo Maritime

Schiedam, The Netherlands and Houston, Texas

Our third and final member of the JSI Alliance, Jumbo is known for its innovative approach and use of advanced lifting technologies. Together with SAL, Jumbo operates a versatile fleet of 30 in-house designed heavy lift vessels with lifting capacities ranging from 400 to 3,000 tons. The services of the Jumbo-SAL-Alliance range from transporting large and heavy pieces of equipment requiring maximum lifting capacity and outreach, to smaller, lighter cargoes. 

BBC Chartering

Leer, Germany & Bellaire, Texas

A leading provider of chartering services for project and heavy lift cargo, BBC Chartering has offices around the world, including BBC Houston. They don’t own vessels themselves but act as intermediaries, matching shippers with the most suitable vessels for their specific needs. Their motto is “Any Port. Any Cargo.” And they bill themselves as being fast, flexible and competitively priced.


Papendrecht, The Netherlands

A global leader with a strong track record in complex projects, Boskalis owns and operates a fleet of heavy lift vessels and have expertise in offshore decommissioning, salvage operations and transporting massive structures. Their variety of projects range from ocean transport of a drilling rig to the subsea installation of an offshore production platform or an offshore wind farm. 

United Heavy Lift and United Heavy Transport

Hamburg, Germany

United Heavy Transport GmbH focuses on heavy maritime transport solutions, fully integrated maritime project management solutions and consultancy. Operating globally, United Heavy Lift has attuned its fleet expansion and renewal to the prospects of the growing market for eco-friendly breakbulk and heavy lift sea transportation. They are part of United Group, which since its 2015 inception has grown a state-of-the-art fleet to become global leaders in the heavy lift sector. The MV UHL Fresh set sail on her maiden voyage from Tianjin, China, to Europe with project cargo onboard after being officially delivered to the shipping company on Jan. 24.

Ocean Air Network (OAN)

Miami, Florida

A Federal Maritime Commission-licensed ocean freight forwarder and a Non-Vessel Ocean Common Carrier (NVOCC) for project cargo, on U.S. outbound and inbound, OAN has service contracts with most of the major carriers to provide very competitive project cargo rates at an optimal service level—to most worldwide destinations.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL)

Tokyo, Japan

The MOL Group introduced six multi-purpose vessels, the Triumph series, with a total crane capacity of 150 tons (78 tons x 2) in 2013 to address the diversification of project cargo loading sites in Asia and the Middle East, and enable flexible and regular services in waters between the two areas. Two years later came MOL Project & Heavy Cargo (PHC) to cater to the expanding needs for heavy and oversized cargo transportation. PHC offers door-to-door services featuring optimum transportation utilizing a wide variety of vessel types, as well as vanning, coastal and inland transportation, customs clearance and equipment installation.

Seatrans Maritime

Bizkaia and Madrid, Spain

Seatrans has the expertise and technical engineering services to manage a project entirely from the beginning until the ending destination. The Spanish company offers a wide variety of tonnages such as heavy lift vessels, multipurpose vessels, gear or gearless, dry cargo vessels, ro-ro vessels, and semi-submersible dock ships, for the worldwide transport of any serious or of any voluminous cargo, including equipment for the oil, gas, windmills, power generation, steel mill, chemical, manufacturing and mining industries.

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Innovative Strategy Reduces Cargo Ship Emissions by 17.3%

A groundbreaking approach known as the “Blue Visby Solution” has demonstrated significant reductions in cargo ship emissions during its first trials, achieving a 17.3% decrease without any modifications to the ships themselves. This innovative method focuses on smarter speed and timing management to eliminate inefficiencies.

Read also: Changes in Agrifood Production Can Cut Greenhouse Emissions by a Third

Shipping, while efficient for bulk goods transport, accounts for about 3% of global man-made carbon emissions and is challenging to decarbonize. Traditional solutions like hydrogen, green ammonia, and sail-wings are being explored, but the Blue Visby Solution offers a simpler alternative by changing operational practices.

Typically, cargo ships follow a “sail fast, then wait” (SFTW) approach, racing from port to port and often waiting idly, burning fuel until it’s time to dock. The Blue Visby Solution proposes slowing ships down to arrive just in time, reducing hydrodynamic drag and consequently cutting fuel consumption and emissions.

A study of 3,651 Panamax vessels showed a potential median emission reduction of 23.2%. Another broader study by NAPA involving 150,000 voyages from 13,000 ships in 2019 suggested a 16% reduction by slowing down by an average of just one knot.

Recent trials with two bulk carriers, M/V Gerdt Oldendorff and M/V Begonia, confirmed these projections, recording CO2 reductions of 28.2% and 12.9% respectively. The overall average reduction was 17.3%.

Despite the promising results, shifting from the deeply entrenched SFTW practice presents a significant challenge. The Blue Visby Consortium has addressed this by developing a benefit-sharing mechanism, incentivizing all stakeholders, including ship owners, charterers, and ports, to participate.

Beyond emissions and fuel savings, the solution offers additional benefits such as reduced hull fouling, improved air quality at ports, and lower underwater noise pollution.

As decarbonization technologies evolve, the Blue Visby Solution’s efficiency gains will complement these advancements, making it a crucial element in maritime decarbonization strategies. With continued trials and anticipated commercial deployment, this method holds promise for a more sustainable future in global shipping.

MSC loreto global trade

The World’s Largest Cargo Ship Makes Impressive Arrival in Britain

Britain’s largest and busiest container port, the Port of Felixstowe, witnessed a remarkable event as the MSC Loreto, one of the world’s joint-largest cargo ships, docked at its shores. Spanning an impressive 400 meters in length, this colossal vessel boasts the capacity to hold a staggering 24,346 standard containers, setting a new benchmark in maritime transportation.

Sharing its title with its sister vessel, the MSC Irina, the MSC Loreto is a marvel of modern engineering, boasting a gross tonnage of over 238,000 tonnes. Operated by the Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company, the ship’s arrival at the Port of Felixstowe from Le Havre, France, marks a significant moment in maritime history.

Read also: Port of Felixstowe Becomes First in Europe to Launch Autonomous Trucks Into Ops

Following its arrival, the MSC Loreto is scheduled to embark on a voyage to the Algerian capital of Algiers, situated on the Mediterranean coast, underscoring its global reach and importance in facilitating international trade. Notably, this voyage is a testament to the ship’s versatility and capacity to navigate diverse routes and destinations.

Having previously made its inaugural visit to the UK in June 2023, the MSC Loreto’s return to British waters reaffirms its status as a key player in the global shipping industry. As it sets sail once again, the MSC Loreto leaves a lasting impression, symbolizing the relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation in maritime transportation.


Galveston Wharves Secures $42.3 Million State Funding Boost for Vital Cargo and Transportation Initiatives

In a groundbreaking development, the Galveston Wharves has secured a remarkable $42.3 million in state funding to propel essential cargo infrastructure projects and restore a crucial section of the port’s interior roadway, along with an enclosed pedestrian walkway over Harborside Drive (State Highway 275).

This substantial allocation was approved during the September 28 meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, the governing body for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). It came as a recommendation from TxDOT’s Port Authority Advisory Committee (PAAC) and will be channeled into three pivotal projects outlined in the port’s comprehensive 20-Year Strategic Master Plan.

Rodger Rees, the Port Director and CEO of Galveston Wharves, expressed enthusiasm for the transformative potential of these projects, stating, “These shovel-ready projects will expand our cargo business, improve traffic flow, and make it safer for pedestrians to access cruise operations and downtown Galveston.”

Rees went on to emphasize the historic nature of this funding, which marks the largest financial injection ever received by the port. He attributed this achievement to years of collaboration between the port, TxDOT, and the PAAC. Moreover, he highlighted the instrumental role played by the 88th Texas Legislature in making this major economic investment possible by allocating a staggering $640 million for both internal and external infrastructure projects within port precincts and enhancements to Texas ports’ ship channels.

Cargo Complex Advancements

A significant portion of the funding, amounting to $36 million, will be directed towards the West Port Cargo Complex. With the port contributing $14.1 million, this $50.1 million project will address aging infrastructure by constructing enclosure walls, a 1,340-foot-long berth spanning two open slips, and concrete paving. This expansion will create new berthing areas for cargo and lay ships, fostering job growth and generating additional revenue for the port. Anticipated to commence in 2024, the project is slated for completion by 2026.

Internal Roadway Reconstruction – $3.15 Million

The state has allocated $2.5 million to support the fourth segment of the port’s internal roadway improvements, situated between 33rd and 41st streets. The port will contribute $655,000 as matching funds. This expansion of the roadway on the far west end of the port will enhance access to the West Port Cargo Complex and divert cruise traffic from Harborside Drive (Texas State Highway 275), thus alleviating congestion in the downtown area.

Pedestrian Walkway Over Harborside Drive – $3.85 Million

A portion of the state funding, amounting to $3.85 million, will be directed towards the restoration and reopening of the enclosed walkway over Harborside Drive at 25th Street. This vital initiative will provide safe access to cruise terminals 25 and 28, the Shearn Moody Plaza parking garage, and the Strand Historic District for cruise passengers, workers, and the public. The walkway, which has been closed for approximately two decades, will undergo structural enhancements, interior improvements, and the installation of elevators and escalators at Cruise Terminal 25 and the parking garage.

Rees underscored the significance of this development, stating, “Reopening this walkway will give passengers, waterfront workers, and visitors safe, convenient access to the port and downtown.”

In conclusion, Rees acknowledged that these critical projects would not have been possible without the generous funding allocation from the 88th Texas Legislature, and he expressed gratitude to key stakeholders, including Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Mayes Middleton, the Texas Transportation Commission, the PAAC, TxDOT staff, and the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees for their unwavering support in advancing these crucial initiatives.

cargo ECS Weship tanker

Maritime Challenges – Fires, Economic Uncertainty, and “Dark” Tanker Fleets 

While shipping losses were at a record low in 2022, cargo and hull fires, economic uncertainty, and “dark” tanker fleets are safety challenges on the horizon for the maritime sector. Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) is a corporate insurance carrier providing risk consultancy and insurance solutions worldwide. The company’s annual Safety & Shipping Review looks at loss trends and risks for the maritime sector and the 2023 version is officially out. 

The most notable headline of the report is the continued decline in shipping losses. Thirty years ago it was common for 200-plus vessels to go missing every year. It has been six years since triple-digit losses have been registered and last year there were fewer than 40. The “loss hotspot,” however, continues to be South China, Indonesia, Indochina, and the Philippines. Congested ports, extreme weather, and older fleets are the primary loss culprits. 

While losses are down, cargo and hull fires are a growing concern. Decarbonization efforts have introduced new types of cargo. Battery-powered goods featuring lithium-ion (Li-ion) are highly flammable and represent a concerning risk for carriers. Electric vehicle (EV) sales are increasing and the overall battery market is expected to grow by 30% annually between now and 2035. 

Decarbonization has also led to larger vessels and carriers seeking greater efficiencies. While larger vessels may prove more efficient, higher container cargo exposure and accumulation have led to more fires. Li-ion battery fires are additionally very difficult to extinguish. An AGCS analysis concluded that fire is the most expensive cause of loss – eating up approximately 18% of the value of the total claims. 

“Dark” tanker fleets, also known as “shadow” or “ghost” fleets, are unregistered tankers that slip through regulatory controls. Oil sanctions, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have resulted in Russia and some of its allies to implement dark tanker fleets to transport and sell Russian oil. Energy embargos are difficult to enforce, and according to Tanker Trackers, of the 900 ultra-large tankers at the global level, roughly one-fifth were breaking sanctions with Venezuela, Iran, and Russia. An uninsured dark tanker exploded in Southeast Asia in May killing crew. Tanker explosions result not only in loss of life but also environmentally toxic oil spills.   

Finally, the report is especially concerned with economic uncertainty. The sector is suffering from lower demand and depressed freight rates where shipping a container between Asia and the US in April 2023 costs roughly 80% less than at the same time in 2022. Commodity prices are up as are labor costs, and the price of steel is crippling manufacturing budgets. Between 2020 and 2022 some estimates point to an 18% + increase in ship repair costs alone. 

Inflated prices have been baked into the present figures based on the global inflation figure of 8.8% in 2022. The inflation outlook still remains uncertain adding to some very real challenges over the remaining four months of 2023.    


Qatar Airways Cargo Launches SecureLift: a solution for Valuable and Vulnerable shipments  

SecureLift is designed to offer optimum protection and secure storage for high-value and vulnerable shipments.

Qatar Airways Cargo today announced the launch of its special product SecureLift under its VISION 2027 and Next Generation strategy. SecureLift marks a significant milestone for Qatar Airways Cargo, as it allocates dedicated resources to cater to the specialized needs of valuable and vulnerable shipments, while maintaining an enhanced standard of security and vigilance.

Products having high declared value like precious metals, stones, gold bullions, banknotes, jewellery or watches would fall under the Valuable category while commodities that carry a risk of pilferage like high value electronics and newly launched products would fall under the Vulnerable category.

Key features include high loading priority, close monitoring of shipments, inclusion of approved data loggers and shipment escorts, in addition to secure handling, transportation and storage of the product. Valuable shipments would also be moved in specialized containers and boxes for protection of the product, and kept in the strong-room with restricted access providing added security.

The temperature inside the strong-room is maintained between 20°C – 25°C. The expert SecureLift team is well trained and plays a pivotal role by adhering to strict security protocols at every stage of the journey.

The cargo carrier achieved a remarkable track record having transported over 9,000 tons of valuable and vulnerable cargo in 2022, including electronics, banknotes, art shipments and various sensitive commodities. This impressive volume underlines the carrier’s expertise in handling cargo requiring special care with exceptional precision and attention to detail.

The carrier offers its customers an extensive network of more than 150 destinations as part of its scheduled services and can also provide part or full dedicated charters for SecureLift products to destinations not part of its network.

Digitalization is a key pillar for the world’s leading cargo carrier and it enhances the service further as SecureLift shipments can now be easily booked through Qatar Airways Cargo’s innovative online platform, the Digital Lounge, streamlining the booking process for customers.