Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Queue for Service

All sorts of curious excuses are being advanced for the queue of containerships waiting off terminals and not just at the ports of southern California. It’s the Christmas rush. It’s the blooming authorities with all sorts of new regulations for terminal safety. It’s the idle longshoremen. It’s the first Christmas since 2008 when the ships have been fully laden, not to mention the enormous ships which have entered service since the lights went out in Lehman Brothers. There is probably a little sprinkling of all of these behind these aggravating delays. It is not quite such a problem in Europe, as there is rather more choice of port, and a few new terminals anxious to demonstrate their abilities.

We should perhaps welcome these occasional interruptions to the smooth… Continue reading

Value Subtracted

Shipping folk fond of history occasionally point out the useful fact that the cost of carrying a ton of cargo from Shanghai to the London River aboard the clipper Cutty Sark was sixty times that earned by a modern containership carrying the same weight in one of its boxes. You can argue forever about the relative importance of world trade then and now, but the fact remains that the rewards for sea carriers, except in rare circumstances, are by comparison so derisory, one wonders why they bother.

This thought broke through the background chatter at the recent Capital Link CSR Forum in London, listening to one of the keynote speakers suggesting that besides reducing CO2 levels and the lives lost in maritime accidents, the lowering of freight cost levels… Continue reading

Designed for Death?

Yet another death in a lifeboat, aboard the cruise ship Coral Princess in Colon, when a boat fell from its falls, killing a seaman and injuring the boatswain. These would be skilled people, used to handling boats aboard a vessel which would use its tenders regularly to take passengers ashore in anchorage ports. Why cannot this steady loss of life, aboard craft which were supposedly designed to save it, be stopped?

By grim coincidence, as the crew of the cruise ship were mourning their loss, safety expert and accident investigator Captain Denis Barber was speaking to naval architects in London about the failure of the maritime regulatory establishment to deal effectively with this ongoing tragedy. Captain Barber, who has personally investigated two separate fatal lifeboat incidents aboard Bahamas flag… Continue reading